106. Memorandum From W. Richard Smyser and Richard H. Solomon of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Again, on the Leadership of the Chiang Kai-shek Funeral Delegation

We understand that Chief Justice Burger is unable to accept the responsibility of heading up the delegation to Chiang Kai-shek’s funeral. We feel very strongly that we will be making a mistake of the most serious proportions if Secretary Butz heads up the delegation. We now have ample indication in reporting from Taipei that if the Secretary of Agriculture were the leading figure it would generate a major outcry from Americans friendly to the ROC and engender great bitterness in Taiwan.2

Let us emphasize the following arguments (which lead us to the conclusion that the Vice President remains the best choice to head up the delegation):

  • —Having repeatedly reassured Peking on the direction of our China policy (most recently in the President’s speech of last evening),3 [Page 659] if the PRC domestic political situation will turn against us on the symbolic matter of the Vice President attending the funeral, an argument can be made that our relationship with Peking is so fragile that it is no relationship at all. PRC leaders are in the political big-leagues, and they should be able to put their priorities in proper perspective. Moreover, they are more likely to respect us if we behave with dignity and a sense of self-confidence in difficult times; and to humiliate an old ally by sending an obviously insulting funeral delegation will not engender respect in Peking. It will be seen as a sign of weakness.
  • —The outcry we will get from Americans friendly to the ROC, and the press, if Secretary Butz heads the delegation, will significantly complicate our domestic political problems later this year if we wish to fully normalize relations with Peking. As Barry Goldwater’s letter to the Secretary indicates, our decision on this issue could mobilize the ROC’s supporters in a serious way.4
  • —We will engender great bitterness in Taiwan if Butz heads the delegation, which also will make it much more difficult to elicit compliance from ROC officials if we wish to alter our status with them later this year. We have clear indications that Taipei is already disturbed about the aloof quality of the official condolence messages that have been sent to them on behalf of the President.


For these reasons, we (including Win Lord), strongly urge you to choose one of the following options—which are in decreasing order of desirability:

Have the Vice President head the delegation.5
Reclame on the Chief Justice.
Have Secretary Morton head the delegation.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Box 4, People’s Republic of China. Confidential. Sent for Action. Scowcroft initialed this memorandum.
  2. As reported in telegram 1864 from Taiwan, April 10, the Embassy received many complaints from Chinese and Americans in Taipei over the “insulting” selection of Secretary Butz to represent the United States (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. In Ford’s April 10 address to Congress on U.S. foreign policy, he declared, “we are firmly fixed on the course set forth in the Shanghai communiqué,” and noted that he would visit China later in the year in order “to accelerate the improvement in our relations.” (Public Papers: Ford, 1975, vol. I, pp. 469–470)
  4. Goldwater’s letter was not found. Communications questioning the selection of Butz from Senator Strom Thurmond, Representative John Myers, Senator Jesse Helms, Senator Hiram Fong, and the Reverend Billy Graham are in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Box 4, People’s Republic of China.
  5. None of these options is marked, but the decision was to send the Vice President. Habib met with Han Xu to inform him in advance of the public announcement about Rockefeller’s attendance at Jiang Jieshi’s funeral: “I explained that this action, which had no international political meaning, was purely in response to our internal requirements and regular custom. I emphasized that our policy continued to be governed by the Shanghai Communiqué and Peking could be confident the Vice President would make no international political comments in Taipei.” (Memorandum from Habib to Kissinger, April 12; ibid., NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience Files, Box 39, Solomon Subject Files)