112. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Habib), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Gleysteen), the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lord), and Richard H. Solomon of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • U.S.–PRC Relations and Approaches to the President’s Peking Trip: Tasks for the Rest of 1975

Our China policy at present straddles two very contradictory trends: In one direction we are postured toward the objective established by the Shanghai Communiqué. The President, in his April 10 speech to the Congress, reaffirmed his interest in visiting Peking later this year in order to “accelerate” the normalization of relations.2 In your May 9 session with Huang Chen you raised questions about the timing and agenda of the Presidential trip, and expressed interest in Peking’s views on these issues.3 Thus, publicly and privately we have sustained the expectation both for Chinese leaders and our own public that there is still momentum in the normalization process.

In the other direction, however, there are domestic and international political forces enhanced by events in Indochina, and sustained by developments elsewhere abroad, which raise new obstacles to change in our relationship with the Republic of China on Taiwan. Senator Goldwater’s public challenge to the Administration at the time of the Chiang Kai-shek funeral4 is but the most visible indicator of a range of pressures on the President to avoid or delay the modification of our legal and security relations with Taiwan which are at the heart of “normalization” with Peking. As a reflection of these pressures, the President has now publicly (if inadvertently) reaffirmed our commitments to Taipei, and you have stated both privately (to the Japanese Foreign [Page 676] Minister) and publicly (in U.S. News and World Report) that the President’s trip to Peking will not necessarily lead to full normalization.

Underlying these contradictory trends, of course, is the continuing importance to the U.S. of normalization with the PRC for the longer term restructuring of great power political and military relationships. This objective is now in conflict, however, with the immediate need to reassure key allies (and warn possible adversaries) in the wake of our Indochina setbacks. It is further complicated by the domestic political factors the President must consider as he faces re-election in 1976.

This memorandum seeks to give you a sense of several very different ways we might proceed in our relationship with Peking during the remainder of this year. We assume that the actual decisions the President will make on China policy this fall will be shaped by a combination of international developments during the next several months (particularly those associated with Middle Eastern diplomacy and Soviet-American relations) and his own judgment about the impact of possible further moves with Peking on both his foreign policy and domestic political future.

In order to give you a range of approaches to our dealings with the PRC during the remainder of 1975, we explore in the following sections of this paper the problems and issues associated with three ways of handling the Peking summit:

  • —An indefinite postponement.
  • —A “sustaining” visit.
  • —Full normalization.

In addition, we review the issues which must be addressed if you wish to at least explore with Chinese leaders the terms for a comprehensive normalization agreement.
We summarize the tasks which remain for this year in our dealing with the PRC irrespective of the type of summit you and the President wish to organize.
We suggest some problem areas and themes relating to our official dialogue with the Chinese, and their relationship to your forthcoming discussions in Peking.
In an appendix (Tab A) we review the PRC’s current orientation toward the normalization process.5

Our own judgment is not that there should be “normalization at any price,” but that long-term American foreign policy interests will be served by a consolidation of our present, if limited, relationship with Peking, and that we can avoid future problems with the PRC at a relatively low price as well as posture ourselves in Asia favorably for the [Page 677] future if an acceptable normalization deal can be worked out now. We believe that at minimum there are important reasons for making a serious attempt to explore with senior PRC leaders the terms for a comprehensive agreement on full normalization, even though the President will ultimately have to decide how far he can go. The Chinese—in the wake of Indochina developments—appear to be more anxious than ever to have a visible relationship with the U.S. for security reasons. Thus, they probably are as likely as they may ever be to accommodate our political needs; and while Mao and Chou still live there is the authority in Peking to strike a deal and implement it. The exact degree of Chinese flexibility on the most sensitive issue of Taiwan’s future security, however, will only be known through direct negotiations.

At the same time, senior PRC leaders in recent days have publicly indicated that they will accept a Presidential visit which does not lead to full normalization. This gives us greater flexibility in planning for the President’s trip, although there remain risks (primarily in China’s domestic political process) in trying to sustain our relationship with Peking at its present level for several more years. Thus, we believe that if you can get substantial assurances from the Chinese on the Taiwan security question, and if other political and economic elements of a package agreement on normalization are positive, that our interests will be served by consummating a deal in association with the President’s trip.

Three Approaches to the Peking Summit: Indefinite Postponement; a Sustaining Visit; or Full Normalization

We assume, without a review of all the arguments, that it is still a basic American foreign policy commitment to work toward the full normalization of U.S.–PRC relations, and to complete the process in as short a period of time as is politically feasible. The questions which remain are the precise terms for a normalization agreement, and the timing of their realization.

We also assume (as you indicated to Huang Chen on May 9) that whatever type of a Presidential trip you wish to organize will be preceded by an advance visit by yourself to negotiate the political issues. This advance could be scheduled either before or after the Brezhnev summit, although we feel there are political advantages to such a trip beforehand. A visit to Peking sometime after your July meeting with Gromyko (in August, or the second half of September) would presumably build additional heat on the Soviets in advance of the Brezhnev visit; and while the Chinese might be inclined to be less forthcoming on terms for normalization as a price for being played so obviously against the Russians, they would be concerned that a stalling of the U.S.–PRC relationship would incline us toward a closer relationship with Moscow.

[Page 678]

From another perspective, Chinese uncertainty about the exact outcome of the Soviet summit (as will be the case prior to Brezhnev’s visit to Washington) could provide a better context for your discussions in Peking than a post-summit situation where we might appear to PRC leaders to have moved toward greater “collusion” with Moscow. All the same, however, it can be argued that even substantial movement in Soviet-American relations will just motivate Peking to want to “keep up” with us rather than back away (as appeared to be the case last November after the Vladivostok summit meeting).

Our summary judgment of these considerations is that an advance visit to Peking by yourself before the Brezhnev summit would be most useful and timely. If you were to go to Peking in October or early November there would be the additional disadvantages of having minimal lead time before the President’s visit to permit technical planning and preparations related to possible political developments. Such a late advance might force a delay in the President’s trip until December or the early winter of 1976.

Indefinite Postponement of the Peking Summit

Inasmuch as we now have a fairly clear sense of the likely elements of a normalization agreement, you and the President may decide that the time is not ripe to consummate a fully normalized relationship with Peking, and that as a consequence the PRC summit should be postponed indefinitely. Such a determination presumably would be crystallized by the discussions you will hold during your advance trip, although if you do not wish to formalize the Chinese or American negotiation positions you might work out a postponement indirectly through contacts with the PRC Liaison Office.

The impact of an indefinite postponement of the Presidential trip would be substantial on both the future of the U.S.–PRC relationship and on our other international dealings. A major source of pressure on the Soviet Union would be called into question (although this might be of lessened short-term importance in the wake of a successful Brezhnev summit), and there would be a general sense abroad that the U.S.–PRC relationship was stalling out. Indeed, we assume that a decision on our part to postpone the President’s trip to Peking would effectively freeze any substantial movement in the relationship until after the elections in the fall of 1976, presumably well into 1977.

In such circumstances, while the leaders in Peking that we have been dealing with will—by all currently available evidence—seek to sustain the relationship in its present form, we would be gambling that a number of developments would not occur which could close off the prospects of attaining a stable, fully normalized relationship with the PRC: Mao and/or Chou are quite likely to die in the next two or three [Page 679] years. As a result there could well be a diffusion of the policy consensus and leadership coalition which now gives Peking’s politics a coherence unknown for two decades.6 Pressures which we have seen reflected in PRC media for a moderated policy toward the Soviet Union—a line which seems to emanate from the military—might find expression in a succession struggle. And the possibility of a change of Administration in Washington after 1976 could confront Peking with a new cast of characters they might well view without sympathy, and with whom they would have to build a dialogue de novo.

In short, delay risks the intervention of political forces which could substantially complicate efforts to normalize—a consideration which of course has to be weighed against the factors on the other side of the equation which should continue to make it in the national interests of both the PRC and U.S. to complete the process which you and President Nixon, Chairman Mao and Premier Chou initiated in 1970.

Based on the above considerations, we frankly assume that indefinite postponement of the Presidential trip is a non-option. The political rationale which led to the onset of the normalization process still holds true; and despite some cooling of the atmospherics in our dealings with the Chinese, the importance of a stable U.S.–PRC relationship for the larger structure of the Administration’s foreign policy would make the virtual termination of the political dialogue with Peking and the elimination of even the optical aspects of our relationship more costly than, for example, a cosmetic Presidential trip. Furthermore, the Chinese are now signalling to us—in Teng Hsiao-p’ing’s remarks to a group of American newspaper editors in early June, and in other official guidance which reaches us via CAS reporting—that they want the Presidential visit to be held whether or not it leads to full normalization.

[Page 680]

A “Sustaining” Summit

If you and the President were to decide that Peking’s terms for normalization are politically unacceptable, but that you wish to sustain a visible relationship with the Chinese, we believe that Peking would see its own interests served by an optical summit meeting which did not produce a major breakthrough to establishment of diplomatic relations. As senior Chinese leaders have repeatedly told you, while they wish to move on the Taiwan question, they are prepared to wait if the U.S. “needs Taiwan.” The world press carried Teng Hsiao-p’ing’s comment on June 3 that President Ford will be welcome in China even if there are no agreements on any major questions between the two countries [i.e., Taiwan].

We do not even totally rule out the interpretation that PRC leaders may not want to move on normalization at this time, either because they know our price is unacceptable to them in terms of their domestic politics or because they do not wish to induce further political changes in their region in the wake of Indochina developments which would give the Soviets additional openings that China might have to counter with limited assets. At least one can say that the present state of U.S.–PRC relations, and the American “holding” position on Taiwan, represent an acceptable minimum position in terms of PRC interests at this time.

We see two problems, however, with a cosmetic summit meeting designed just to sustain our relationship with Peking at its present level—each related to problems of constructing a meaningful agenda. There will be problems in formulating a significant outcome short of full normalization which would clearly justify a second Presidential visit to Peking. A trip merely to “exchange views on issues of common concern” could be criticized in the press as unworthy of the occupation of so much of Mr. Ford’s time and an unnecessary commitment of Presidential prestige to a second visit to the Chinese capital. It would encourage cynicism about the U.S.–PRC relationship.

What agreements might we reach with Peking short of full normalization which would justify to our public a second Presidential trip? Thus far the Chinese have been unwilling to move with us on certain economic and exchange issues (solution of the claims/assets problem, or a more active cultural exchange relationship) in the absence of progress on the key political issue of Taiwan. The Chinese would have to re-evaluate this posture and be willing to show more flexibility in solving secondary issues than they have done to date. Thus, we might seek a final resolution of the claims/assets problem. Maritime or air transport agreements, or a governmental trade agreement, might be worked out “in principle” (although considerable time will be needed to negotiate the details of such arrangements). Or certain visible [Page 681] cultural programs might be worked out, such as exchange of students or permanent press representation. In return, we might “give” Peking virtually full withdrawal of our military presence from the island (except for a residual intelligence and liaison cadre of a few hundred men), or a reduction of the level of our diplomatic representation.7

Based on Peking’s position up to now, however, we have limited expectation that the Chinese will agree to further increments of the above sort without some fairly specific commitments to progress on the Taiwan issue. The problem the President faces, of course, is that any commitment he might make on the political issues really requires implementation in conjunction with his trip to Peking or its immediate aftermath. It will be difficult, for domestic political reasons, to reveal or institute substantial changes in our relationship with Taiwan during the 1976 campaign season; and the President presumably would not want to offer (and the Chinese would probably not accept) a political deal which is contingent upon his re-election—or left to the discretion of his successor.

A related agenda problem is reaction on the PRC side to a second summit meeting that does not solve the Taiwan question. Even though we believe senior PRC leaders wish to have a Presidential visit which may not produce a breakthrough, they may be faced with growing domestic pressures for some visible benefit to China from the Washington connection. A case can be made from a Chinese perspective that Peking has made all the compromises thus far while receiving little in return. Not only has Taiwan not been “liberated,” but the U.S. has a new senior Ambassador there and the ROC has two additional consulates in the U.S. Trade is substantially in America’s favor, is weakening China’s “self-reliance,” and is inducing PRC scientists to “worship foreign things.” The cultural exchange program is exposing Chinese intellectuals to disturbing foreign ideas; while the American journalists and intellectuals who visit the PRC return to the U.S. to publicly criticize what they see in China, especially domestic political problems.

While the above sort of argument can be overdrawn, there is good evidence from CAS reporting that our bilateral contacts with the PRC have generated the above sorts of criticism, especially from China’s political left. The argument that China increases her security against the Soviets by dealing with the U.S. is a very sophisticated rationalization accepted by a limited few. Indeed, China’s military seems to be [Page 682] a continuing source of pressure for a less hostile attitude toward the Russians (although we have no direct evidence of their opposition to dealings with the U.S.).

Given these considerations, the strategy of a “sustaining” agenda should be to include developments which will enable PRC leaders to hold the commitment of the “left” and military to our present relationship. Unilateral security actions we might take (such as further troop reductions from Taiwan), or proposals in such areas as technology transfer or military cooperation which would enhance PRC defenses, will be helpful in minimizing resistance to the relationship from the Chinese military. Unfortunately some of the things we need in order to cope with conservative American opinion, such as future sales of military equipment to Taiwan, will probably antagonize the PLA. Similarly, the kinds of cultural and scientific exchanges which will hold the interest of our intellectuals and journalists in the China relationship are exactly the programs which are seen as threatening by China’s political radicals. Such contradictory factors will have to be balanced out in almost any trip agenda, but particularly in one which seeks to sustain the U.S.–PRC relationship in its present, semi-consummated condition.

A Normalization Summit

We believe that despite certain signs of a hardening in Peking’s foreign policy orientation (such as increasing unwillingness to be cooperative with us on certain third country issues, their pressuring Japan on terms for a peace treaty, and somewhat more visible support for certain Maoist insurgent movements abroad) that the Chinese continue to see U.S.–PRC normalization as in their own interest. Developments in Indochina have sharpened PRC concerns about the Soviets having new political openings on their periphery; and we interpret the heightened visibility of Chinese support for North Korea and the new government in Cambodia as an effort to preempt Soviet access by presenting themselves to these and other countries in the region as a more reliable political ally than the Soviet Union. CAS reporting in recent weeks has revealed active concern among Chinese officials that President Ford might cancel his trip to Peking. Evaluated solely from the perspective of Peking’s mood, the current context may be as favorable as we may have for some time (in terms of the motivation of the Chinese leadership, and the state of the PRC political system) for a move to full normalization.

If there is one crucial point of concern in Peking about their dealings with us, it is uncertainty about how far we will go with Moscow, and new doubts about how actively we can and will work to counter the Soviet presence in their region. While the Chinese will not be in a position to pressure us on our dealings with Moscow as they are now [Page 683] attempting to do with the Japanese, there is no question that developments in Soviet-American relations in the coming months will be a major factor affecting the mood of the Peking summit.

The Chinese cannot demand that we give up “détente” as a price for normalization with them; but to the degree that we appear to be casting our dealings with the PRC solely in terms of our Soviet policy, we will heighten their fears about being exposed on security and political issues by their relationship with us. As Chou En-lai indicated to you as early as February, 1973, there are high-level concerns in Peking that we are dealing with them merely to get at the Soviets “by standing on China’s shoulders.”8

The implication of the above line of reasoning for the President’s trip is that our approach to resolving the Taiwan question and finding terms for a fully normalized relationship—along with the outcome of the Brezhnev summit—will be an important test for the Chinese of how seriously we take our relationship with them. If we are correct in the assumption that the Chinese see normalization as much in their interest as ever, the effort to negotiate an agreement on your next advance trip should expose their maximum degree of flexibility, especially on the issue of Taiwan’s security. Even if you are unable to achieve terms acceptable to the President, you will at least have put on the record for discussion at some future time as accommodating a position as the Chinese are likely to find acceptable. Moreover, we will be able to say to our own people (as well as to the Chinese) that we made a determined effort to reach agreement, and that we expect peaceful assurances on the Taiwan question before any future normalization deal can be made. In sum, we believe a serious effort should be made now to determine if agreement is possible.

Where do we now stand on the specific issues which must be addressed in negotiating a package normalization deal? Without reviewing in detail all the elements of such an agreement (which are discussed in the October, 1974 analysis, at Tab C),9 following are the major points which remain at issue:

  • Recognizing the PRC as the “sole legal government”of China, exchanging ambassadors, and upgrading our liaison offices to embassies. These developments will require working out arrangements to the following associated problems:
    Agreeing with Peking on some verbal formula by which we go beyond the Shanghai Communiqué statement that the U.S. “does not [Page 684] challenge” the assertion of “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait” that Taiwan is part of China to a more direct formulation implying or expressing support for the principle of the unity of China. This could be an indirect approach stressing continuity with past American policy by reaffirming our commitment that Taiwan be returned to Chinese control as was expressed in the Cairo and Potsdam declarations, or it could draw on the precedents of other recent recognition formulas in which various states have “taken note of,” “acknowledged,” “recognized” or expressed “understanding and respect for” Peking’s assertion that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. (Our specific position on this issue might be linked in negotiations to the degree of Peking’s assurances on the future security of the island.)

    We will have to develop an understanding with Peking about a residual (official or semi-official) presence on the island to replace the withdrawal of our embassy. Peking has now rejected the notion of such a presence being called a “liaison office” or a consulate. We will presumably have to find some new verbal formulation (possibilities range from a broad formulation such as a “U.S. Representative’s Office” or “Sino-American relations society” to a more narrowly conceived “trade office”) and institutional arrangements which will make it possible for seconded State Department and other governmental personnel to handle our contacts with the authorities on Taiwan.

    Undoubtedly Peking would prefer that our remnant presence in Taipei be formally unofficial—on the Japanese pattern. Such an arrangement, however, will be undesirable with regard to its impact on Taiwan and here at home. Furthermore, a preliminary analysis of such a non-governmental arrangement indicates there would be significant problems related to USG funding, the handling of consular matters, and management of a military sales program, if our Taipei embassy operation were to be taken over by a private American association. In addition, unless we maintain a government consulate in Taipei (by whatever name), the need for Congressional legislation to enable us to fund and conduct USG business through a private association would open up the Administration to the complicating political effects of legislators on the Hill shaping the process of institutionalizing a normalized China policy. These aspects of the situation are being thought through in a separate analysis which will give you options on how to retain a USG presence in Taipei.10

    We will have to negotiate with Peking an understanding that the U.S. will maintain its present economic and social ties to the island, including the ability to sustain investment in the island’s economy and [Page 685] physical access to Taiwan via air and sea communications. (In this regard, the playing out of the negotiations between Peking and Tokyo in 1973 on Japan’s air service with the PRC, in which the Japanese acceded to the Chinese demand that they cease treating the Republic of China’s flag airlines as a national airline, has set a difficult precedent for Taipei, and for us.)
  • The future security of Taiwanremains the core issue to be negotiated. The Chinese may ask us for an explicit, public declaration that we are abrogating the U.S.–ROC Mutual Defense Treaty. They also will probably want a constricting limit—and perhaps a rapid cut-off—in sales of American arms to the island. (Their counter concern will be that too-rapid a removal of the entire American security relationship with Taiwan might stimulate the ROC to turn elsewhere for weapons and political support. CAS reporting indicates that PRC officials see such a possibility enhanced now that Chiang Kai-shek has passed from the scene.) Chinese leaders also have not encouraged us to believe that they might make a public commitment of some sort expressing the intention to “liberate” the island by peaceful means only. Not only has Teng Hsiao-p’ing repeatedly emphasized to you privately that the PRC will permit no foreign interference in the process of Taiwan’s eventual reincorporation into the mainland, but in his June 2 interview with American editors he implied that force might have to be used, “as in removing dust from a floor with the aid of a broom” (a Mao quote). While past public and private statements to you by Chou En-lai suggest some hope for a Chinese statement of peaceful intentions regarding Taiwan, we are not overly optimistic that an acceptable unilateral formulation will be forthcoming.

State Department lawyers, in contrast, have urged that you seek from Peking a joint statement expressing a mutual commitment not to use force in settling the Taiwan question. Such a statement, they say, would at least enable us to plausibly claim that the U.S. retained a legal basis for assisting Taiwan in its defense if it were ever attacked from the mainland. We have no expectation, however, that Peking would agree to such a joint statement; indeed, the Chinese would very likely see a proposal for such an arrangement as a provocation or an unacceptable demand designed to stall negotiations. Other proposals for dealing with the security question (which we have not explored as they seem impractical) include an agreement between the U.S. and PRC to treat Taiwan and the Strait as a demilitarized zone, or to encourage Peking and Taipei to negotiate a mutual renunciation-of-force agreement.

Your own approach to this problem, since you first raised the idea during your October, 1971 trip to Peking, has been to seek from Peking a unilateral and general statement of intention—presumably to be included in a normalization communiqué—expressing the willingness to [Page 686] strive for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. Last fall you had us draft parallel, unilateral American statements (which could be either included “back-to-back” with a Chinese statement in a communiqué, issued separately in a press conference, or embodied in a Congressional resolution) expressing a residual interest in Taiwan’s security, the desire that the island’s future be resolved peacefully, and perhaps linking the maintenance of our fully normal relationship with Peking to the assumption that force will not be used against Taiwan.

Teng Hsiao-p’ing hinted to you on the last day of your November, 1974 talks that he assumes he will be discussing some arrangement of this type with you at a later date.11 Exactly how far Peking will go in this direction will not be known in the absence of direct negotiations. We believe you should negotiate for a unilateral statement by Peking expressing the idea that the PRC does not contemplate the use of force in resolving the Taiwan question. We assume that we will have to accept language which qualifies the circumstances under which Peking would exercise restraint (see suggestive alternative formulations which were drafted for your November, 1974 trip, at Tab D).12 We also assume we will parallel Peking’s statement with a unilateral statement of our own, as is noted above.

A less favorable alternative would be a statement by Peking which merely expresses the “hope for” and a willingness to strive for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue. A further fall-back would be a statement from the PRC side expressing a willingness to exercise patience and restraint in seeking settlement of the island’s future (see alternative formulations at Tab D).

We assume that the exact content of the parallel, unilateral statements which we and Peking might make about the future security of Taiwan will be linked in the negotiating process to agreement on a residual program of sales of American military equipment to the island (i.e., the more forthcoming a statement from the Chinese, the more limited our sales program might be). As noted above, the PRC will probably see its own interests served by having a gradual trail-off in U.S. arms sales; but you may wish to relate an understanding with Peking about the level and duration of such sales to the specific language of restraint that the PRC is willing to agree to, as part of a package agreement on normalization.

(An additional aspect of the modification of our security relationship with Taiwan will be further withdrawals of our residual military [Page 687] (and intelligence) presence on the island. While this will not be an issue you would negotiate with Peking, it will constitute one element of your discussions with PRC leaders. As such, further troop withdrawals directly relate to the consummation of a normalization agreement. You have been sent, via NSC channels, two options papers on reduction schedules for our remaining troop and signal intelligence presence on the island, and a residual program of military sales.)13

—Thus far in your approach to a normalization agreement, you have not linked third-country issues to consummation of the process—except for the matter of troop withdrawals from Taiwan being related to “reduction of tensions in the area.” For reasons that we detail on pages 25 and 26 below, you may want to consider relating increased PRC cooperation on issues like Korea to the evolution of a fully normal bilateral relationship.14

If the above issues are the key bilateral questions to be resolved through negotiation, it must be said that at this point in the evolution of your discussions with PRC leaders the room for maneuver on a normalization agreement does not seem great. If there is to be full normalization, we will have to recognize Peking as the sole legal government of China, and imply or express in some verbal formulation acceptance of the view that Taiwan is part of China. We will maintain some type of “private-but-governmental” office in Taipei staffed by seconded State Department personnel, and—on the Japanese pattern—we will maintain our trade and social contact with the island. At the time of normalization we will indicate tacitly or explicitly that the U.S.–ROC Mutual Defense Treaty is no longer operative, but that the end of this formal relationship will be compensated for by a Chinese statement of peaceful intent, by our own unilateral expression of concern (perhaps expressed in a Congressional resolution) for the future security of Taiwan and the expectation that its differences with the mainland will be resolved peacefully, and by a residual program of American arms sales to the island.

[If Peking proves unwilling to agree to any package of arrangements relating to the future security of Taiwan (including such elements as parallel public statements, a residual American arms supply [Page 688] arrangement, and a paced withdrawal of our remaining military presence) it seems likely that the President would find it impossible to reach a normalization agreement. Indeed, we would recommend against a deal on such a basis.]

We will have to answer those who criticize a normalization agreement on the grounds that we denied the people of Taiwan the option of self-determination with the argument that self-determination has never been an element at issue in America’s China policy, and that those Taiwanese intellectuals who have advocated independence (primarily as residents of the U.S. or Japan) have been unable to evoke a substantial response from the people or authorities on the island.

For those who would criticize normalization on the grounds of our having sold out an old ally, we will have to respond that even our recently deceased “old ally” maintained that Taiwan was part of China, and that our national interests require recognizing—belatedly in comparison with the rest of the world—the enduring reality of Peking’s control over the preponderance of Chinese territory. We will point to those aspects of the Asian political and military balance which are likely to stay Peking’s hand from a direct military effort to gain control over the island, and mention our continuing economic ties and program of military sales as a way of helping to preserve for Taiwan the reality of its present status. And we will presumably have a sufficiently direct statement of peaceful intent from Peking to reaffirm our own concern that the people of the island be able to work out in a peaceful manner the nature of their future relations with the mainland.

And for some, there will be the question of what, if anything, the U.S. has gained from Peking in return for normalizing on the PRC’s terms. This is a question that can only be answered in terms of the strategic value to us of a non-confrontation posture with the PRC, the impetus it has given the diplomacy of “détente” with the Soviets, and the long-term benefits to the U.S. of having eliminated one front of the Cold War battle lines of the 1950s and ’60s. (One additional reason for seeking greater PRC cooperation on third-country issues, of course, is to be able to justify normalization on broader international grounds than just gaining leverage over the Soviets.)

Tasks for the Remainder of 1975

In view of the above discussion and analysis, the following tasks remain for 1975 if you are to at least explore with PRC leaders the possibilities for further steps toward a fully normalized relationship:

  • Preparing a negotiating package. If you will give us guidance on your preferred approaches to further negotiations with the Chinese on the question of normalization, we will prepare a negotiating package for use during your advance trip to Peking later in the year. In addition to the bilateral questions which must be considered in such a package, [Page 689] there is the related issue of how you might wish to coordinate negotiations with the PRC with the evolution of our contacts with the Soviets during the year—specifically whether you want to schedule an advance trip to Peking before or after the Brezhnev summit. As well, there is the question of whether you want to begin to link [lack of]PRC cooperation on third-country issues (such as Korea) and perhaps international questions (food, energy, etc.) to further steps in our bilateral relations.
  • Planning further force withdrawals from Taiwan. On February 8, Mr. Habib informed PRCLO that by mid-1975 we will have drawn down our military manpower level on Taiwan to about 2,800 men, put Taiwan airbase on caretaker status by mid-year and Ching Chuan Kang airbase on caretaker status by the end of the year. the PRC was also told that they would be informed later about an even lower manpower level to be reached by the end of 1975.15

    Two major inter-agency studies relating to the U.S. military manpower presence on Taiwan and our military sales program have just been completed and sent to you and the President for decision via NSC channels. the NSSM 212 response provides you options on general policy guidelines for future sales of military equipment to—and U.S. force levels in—the ROC.16 The second study is an Intelligence Community staff analysis of our signal intelligence presence on Taiwan (which is oriented largely toward the PRC). This study presents options for further reduction of the approximately 715 military SIGINT personnel who will remain on the island after July 1975.17

  • Preparing our public. Thus far our relations with Peking have evolved with the government shaping public opinion through various official initiatives. You or the President have acted; the public has responded—with a substantial degree of support. We are now at a point in the evolution of U.S.–PRC relations, however, where difficult decisions are less likely to evoke a generally favorable public response. If there is progress toward a fully normalized relationship, certain issues (particularly those related to Taiwan) are likely to provoke a negative reaction from some members of Congress, the media, and private citizens. And if there is no progress, there are likely to be questions about why not. “Why has the relationship stalled” may become an issue in the 1976 campaign.

    The PRC in recent months has initiated more active efforts to shape opinion on the normalization question. These include the encouragement and covert funding of the “U.S.–China People’s Friendship [Page 690] Association” to tout PRC political views, cultivation of the Chinese-American community through the cultural exchange program and trips to the PRC, and various efforts to stimulate sympathetic Congressmen and the American press on the normalization issue. The Nationalist Chinese, for opposite reasons, have similarly sought to project their views on the growing U.S.–PRC connection in the Congress and the media. In the early months of this year Taipei’s diplomats embarked on an active effort to convince important opinion groups in the U.S. that normalization has proceeded as far as necessary to serve American interests, particularly by calling on the support of influential Americans like Senator Goldwater. Since the Gimo’s passing ROC public relations efforts have flagged, but we can anticipate more activity as the President’s trip to Peking approaches.

    The question we now face is how to try to shape with greater purpose from the Administration’s perspective public attitudes on the remaining issues associated with U.S.–PRC normalization.

    There is a basic problem to such an effort. Until you have made your advance trip to Peking and sounded out PRC leaders on the prospects for an agreement, it is obviously in our interest to prevent the build-up of a positive mood of anticipation about the Ford trip.18 This would only constrain your room for maneuver in negotiations with Peking, and might also mobilize groups hostile to further progress. At present we should project an attitude of “we would like to see further progress, but we have significant problems which have to be resolved—and which will require PRC accommodation—before further progress can be made.”

    Depending on the results of your advance trip, our public relations effort could go in several directions: If you see a strong possibility of full normalization associated with the President’s trip, you will have to build support for the terms of an agreement with the Congress (which may have to assist by passing a supporting resolution, or enabling legislation as we move to a “private” relationship with Taiwan) and prepare public opinion for anticipated developments. If your advance trip implies limited prospect for further progress, or perhaps a postponing of the President’s trip, we will be faced with the task of explaining [Page 691] to the Congress and public why the relationship has “stabilized” at its present level.

    At this point we will not go any further into the public relations aspects of our dealings with Peking other than to flag the issue as one which will have to be considered in greater detail as the year progresses.

  • Preparing Taiwan for normalization. Should the results of your advance trip imply strong prospects for a normalization agreement, there will also be the need to begin more active measures to prepare the authorities on Taiwan for the further evolution of our relations with both Taipei and Peking. There is obviously some danger in giving ROC authorities the kind of advance notification which might enable them to work against further progress with the PRC. At the same time, there are dangers in being totally passive about preparing the leadership in Taipei for moves on our part which will affect their basic interests (although they clearly anticipate that sooner or later we will recognize Peking and break with them).

    The recent passing of Chiang Kai-shek has removed one major constraining, and stabilizing, factor which has held Taiwan to a “one China” course for more than a quarter-century. There is no evidence as yet that the elder Chiang’s death has destabilized the situation on the island, or is inclining the Nationalists in some other direction. But as Peking, Taipei, and Washington adjust their policies to the new political and international context in the months ahead, we should be sensitive to new possibilities in the Taiwan factor, and seek to actively influence the evolution of the island’s policies consonant with America’s larger interests. (We are now preparing a separate paper for you on the Taiwan situation.)

  • Preparing Japan. While the Japanese, at some level of perception, assume we will eventually normalize with Peking, there still lingers the hope (particularly in the business community, and among Foreign Ministry officials) that the U.S. will sustain its present “two China” position. Our enduring relations with Taiwan give the Japanese a sense that their interests on the island are protected; and the measured pace of our diplomacy with Peking has given Tokyo greater freedom of action in dealings with the Chinese. Should we recognize Peking this fall, for example, the Japanese would feel under greater pressure to conclude a peace and friendship treaty with the PRC on Peking’s “antihegemony” terms.

    For these reasons, as well as to avoid recriminations on the basis that the U.S. never learned the lessons of the first “Nixon shocks,” we should make an effort to at least inform the Japanese in good time of any further developments in our relations with the PRC.

  • Preparing the PRC. While your advance trip to Peking will be the primary vehicle for developing the basis for further developments in U.S.–PRC relations, you may also want to take certain unilateral steps in advance of the President’s trip to generate an appropriate mood in Peking. These might include symbolic measures (such as having the President, or yourself, give a major speech on China in the fall, or having Mr. Ford receive at the White House the major PRC trade and scientific delegations which will visit Washington in September), or certain unilateral actions such as communicating to Peking further U.S. troop reductions from Taiwan, or perhaps an initiative in the economic area.

Some Final Thoughts on a Negotiating Posture

By way of conclusion, let us suggest several problem areas relating to the pace and orientation of our negotiations with Peking on the normalization issue which could significantly affect the future evolution of U.S.–PRC relations:

  • To Move or Not to Move to Full Normalization?As noted in the above analysis, the short-run costs of moving to establish diplomatic relations with Peking are substantial for the President, particularly in the wake of developments in Indochina and in the context of the approaching 1976 election campaign. All the same, we remain convinced that there are strong reasons for attempting to negotiate a normalization agreement within the coming five months which would help to stabilize a non-confrontation relationship with PRC. Without reviewing all of the arguments about the long-term value to us of such a development, we would like to emphasize three arguments for such an effort:
    • First, by following through on the diplomatic momentum we have established since 1971 we would complete normalization at our own initiativeand on the basis of a relatively cooperative relationship with Peking. If we let this momentum lapse, however, our relations with the PRC could deteriorate as internal pressures in Peking about being strung along by the Americans intensify. This could then mean that Peking would revert to pressure tactics to get us out of Taiwan and recognize the PRC as the sole legal government of China. Obviously in such a situation “normalization” would be much more costly for an Administration to carry out, for we would be doing it in a reactive way. Recall that in 1969 the Administration was concerned about the PRC playing on our domestic politics. This could become a problem again.
    • Secondly, the other side of the first argument is that if the Mao/Chou initiative toward the U.S. appears to have been successful from China’s perspective, we will have maximized the possibilities of the Chairman sustaining an anti-Soviet foreign policy line within China—with all its obvious benefits for our own foreign policy.
    • Thirdly, there remains the complex of international factors which make normalization basic to stabilizing the structure of the Administration’s foreign policy: maintaining one of our primary levers over the Soviet Union; preventing American isolation on the China issue in multilateral forums (such as the U.N.) and in our bilateral diplomacy; and maximizing the possibility of sustaining if not enhancing parallel foreign policy moves with Peking in a number of third-country areas (Europe, the Middle East and Subcontinent, Japan, and—hopefully—regarding Korea and Southeast Asia).
  • What Negotiating Themes to Emphasize?In reviewing the evolution of our negotiations with Peking on the normalization issue, we are concerned about the manner in which the Chinese have attempted to box us in on the themes of the “Japanese model” and Teng Hsiao-p’ing’s “three principles.” This is obviously a good tactic from Peking’s perspective; but at the same time we believe the Chinese have given us an opening on a more flexible general theme which could be used to structure the final phase of negotiations. In the November, 1973 Communiqué,19 Premier Chou En-lai explicitly gave you an apparently more flexible “condition” for full normalization—on the basis of “confirming the principle of one China.” We never really responded to Chou’s opening. It seems notable that the Premier repeated this formulation as the only condition which Chairman Mao had set for normalizationin the unpublished version of his speech to National People’s Congress delegates in January of this year.20 It is possible that the Premier (and perhaps the Chairman), in using this phrase both publicly and privately, are indicating the basis upon which they would attempt to sell a compromise normalization agreement to their own cadre. In preparing for your next round of talks in Peking, you could structure your discussion of the normalization issue around this theme and avoid being boxed in on the question of whether or not our terms strictly meet the “Japanese model” or Teng’s “three principles”—although obviously at this point in the discussions we will have to take these aspects of Peking’s private negotiating position into account.

    Similarly, we may find it in our interest to press the Chinese to make good on Mao’s comment to you about not needing direct control of Taiwan for “a hundred years.” While this statement may very well have been intended by the Chairman only as a symbolic formulation, it is one of the few points on which we can seek to box in the Chinese with the sacred words of their own leader. Similarly, past public and private statements by Premier Chou about a willingness to strive for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan situation should be cited as [Page 694] precedents for a forthcoming unilateral statement by the Chinese on the issue of the island’s security.

  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bear?While the Soviet factor has obviously been central to the evolution of our relations with Peking over the past five years, we are disturbed by signs that the Chinese feel they are being manipulated by us with the Soviet threat. There were a number of statements in 1974 by Vice Premier Teng and Foreign Minister Ch’iao to the effect that they were not certain they were getting the straight story on the Russians from the U.S.; and beginning as far back as the winter of 1973 Mao and Chou shifted from a posture of emphasizing the Soviet threat to China to the view that the Russians had only a million men on their border (which was not enough for defense, much less an attack) and that Moscow was “feinting toward the East while intending to attack in the West.” This led to some rather unproductive exchanges with the Foreign Minister over whether China or the U.S. was the party more threatened by the Soviet Union. Obviously the Chinese have attempted to create the impression that our leverage over them because of what we presume to be their fear of the Russians was not as great as we might wish it to be.

    Whatever the realities of the Russian threat to China, there are several difficult psychological dimensions to the way we might play the Soviet issue. To the degree that we appear to be emphasizing the Russian threat to “scare” Peking, we make the Chinese feel they are being manipulated, and thus erode whatever credibility we have built up with them. Moreover, in an ironic way we may be increasing the pressure on Mao to be more flexible in China’s dealing with Moscow. We know that in the wake of the 1973 U.S.–Soviet agreement on preventing nuclear war that Chang Wen-chin, one of your interlocutors in drafting the Shanghai Communique, and now PRC Ambassador to Canada, wrote a paper in the Foreign Ministry calling into question the value of China’s relationship with the U.S. in the context of our increasingly active dealings with the Soviets. The suspicion that we are manipulating them with the Soviet threat must also increase the inclination of “pragmatic” politicians like Teng Hsiao-p’ing (and perhaps even the Premier) to give greater flexibility to China’s foreign policy by a limited accommodation with the Russians (and to concurrently reduce our own maneuverability).

    How to be straightforward with Peking about our assessment of Soviet capabilities and intentions while not appearing manipulative in our use of this factor is a difficult problem in negotiating tactics.

    Furthermore, to the degree that the Chinese assume that our dealings with them are largely a function of our efforts to gain leverage over the Russians, the more they will probably assume that we will accommodate them on bilateral issues in order to sustain our position [Page 695] vis-à-vis Moscow. We believe such a situation would create substantial problems for the evolution of U.S.–PRC relations. Not only would it engender cynicism in Peking about their dealing with us, but it would increasingly tempt the Chinese to pose us with difficult choices about whether to accommodate their interests on particular bilateral issues or risk visibly damaging the Sino-American relationship—and by extrapolation, our leverage over Moscow. And to the degree that decisions on our part begin to convince our press, the Congress, and academic community that we are being “soft” on the Chinese, we will erode support for our China policy among important vocal elites whose patience with PRC game-playing is already wearing thin. (It was precisely for this reason, among others, that we urged a firm position on the Taiwan “liberation” song issue.21)

    In short, for tactical reasons if nothing else, we should approach Peking with a greater sense of concern about the evolution of our bilateral relationship. If we do not appear to take the Chinese seriously on their own grounds, we are unlikely to build a relationship with the PRC that will gain sustained support in Peking and the U.S.

  • Link U.S.–PRC Normalization to Cooperation on Third Country Issues. While the Shanghai Communiqué linked our military withdrawal from Taiwan to the reduction of tensions in Indochina, in general our relationship with Peking has evolved without much effort to directly relate further progress on bilateral issues to cooperation in international affairs. This is as it should have been, inasmuch as to press Peking for visible cooperation with us in areas where China’s own security interests would have been compromised (as in Indochina) very likely would have overburdened the fragile beginnings of normalization. Moreover, a review of Peking’s behavior on Vietnam and Cambodia over the past four years indicates that while the Chinese have not been positively cooperative, neither were they actively obstructionist in a situation where the trend of events was clearly in the direction of their allies, where our own ability to act was increasingly constrained by domestic factors, and where to actively resist the trend would have exposed them to serious political pressures from the Russians, who would have tried to embarrass them with their “third world” claque. Moreover, Peking was helpful to us on an issue like Korea as late as the fall of 1973—but pulled back from such “collusion” precisely when Moscow undercut their position at the UN GA on the basis of their cooperation with the U.S.

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At the same time, more recent PRC behavior on a range of international issues—Korea and the U.N. Command, Indochina, the food and energy conferences—has been such as to give us little prospect that after normalization we might expect to work positively with Peking in coping with a range of third country questions. There is now some grumbling both within the USG and in public to the effect that we are really getting very little out of our relationship with Peking.

There are major limitations on the leverage we might develop with the Chinese which might induce them to be cooperative on a range of international issues (Korea being a prime example); but at the same time you may wish to consider laying the groundwork for some linkage between further steps toward full normalization and more cooperation on third country questions. Just as important leadership groups in this country will ask what we are getting from Peking in bilateral affairs in return for our concessions on Taiwan, there will also be questioning about “normalization” if we cannot point to some degree of Chinese cooperation on international problems.


That you convene a meeting with us at an early date to discuss the issues explored in this paper, and to give us instructions on how we should proceed in preparing for your advance trip to Peking.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience File, Solomon Chron File, Box 40, July 1–3, 1975. Top Secret; Sensitive; Completely Outside the System. Sent for action. The memorandum is on National Security Council stationery. All brackets are in the original.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 106.
  3. See Document 109.
  4. Goldwater’s challenge was, “If they want to change our relationships with Taipei, as I told the President and I told Kissinger, they’ve got a helluva fight on their hands.” As quoted in Lou Cannon, “Goldwater Warns President Against Abandoning Taiwan,”The Washington Post, April 15, 1975, p. A2.
  5. Tab A, “Peking’s Current Posture Towards Normalization,” is attached but not printed.
  6. There is increasing uncertainty, however, about the physical health and political standing of both Mao and Chou. Indications persist that the Chairman’s relations with other senior leaders, particularly in the military, are somewhat strained; however, since his return to Peking in mid-April after a ten month absence, Mao has resumed an overtly active role in political affairs, as by receiving foreign visitors. At the same time, the Chairman’s health (as always) appears to be deteriorating. Chou’s health and role are also uncertain factors.

    We find it very difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the impact of the current leadership situation on our bilateral relations with Peking, although we do have a general sense of Mao and Chou fading from the scene. Day-to-day affairs are ever-more firmly grasped by a “successor” group led by Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing and Chang Ch’un-ch’iao (on the Party side). We see no evidence, however, which would indicate that Mao and Chou will not continue to influence major foreign policy decisions, or that their foreign policy line of the past five years is being modified. [Footnote is in the original.]

  7. See a more extensive check-list of possible areas for agreements which would sustain or broaden the relationship at Tab B. [Footnote is in the original. Tab B, a “Checklist of Possible Areas for Bilateral Agreements Which Would Strengthen U.S.–PRC Relations,” is attached but not printed.]
  8. See Document 8.
  9. Tab C, “The Operational Issues Associated With a Normalization Agreement,” is attached but not printed.
  10. This analysis was not found.
  11. See Document 98.
  12. Tab D, “Conceptual Approaches to Formulating U.S. and PRC Statements on the Security of Taiwan,” is attached but not printed.
  13. On May 23, the NSC staff sent Kissinger a memorandum on U.S. force reductions and future U.S. military assistance for Taiwan. (Memorandum from Solomon, Granger, and Froebe to Kissinger, May 23; Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–32, NSSM 212) [text not declassified] The Department of Defense also produced a study of options for changing U.S. force levels on Taiwan. (Memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements to Scowcroft, November 20, 1974; Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files:FRC 330–77–0063, Box 3, China, Rep. of, 1974, 0001–320.2)
  14. Reference is to the paragraphs at the end of the paper immediately preceding the Recommendation.
  15. Telegram 29717 to Beijing, February 10, summarized this meeting. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files, East Asia, Box 14, People’s Republic of China, DOS telegrams from SECSTATE–NODIS (5))
  16. See Document 90.
  17. Not printed. See footnote 13 above.
  18. Teng Hsiao-p’ing’s comments of June 2 to the American newspaper editors has already helped to deflate expectations that there must be a major outcome from the trip. We believe Teng made his remarks precisely because PRC leaders are concerned that the President might back out of the trip. They are well aware of pressures on him which make it difficult to bring about further change in the relationship. (This interpretation is supported by collateral CAS reporting.) We are also receiving indications of recent date that Chinese officials at PRCLO and in Hong Kong are sustaining Teng’s relaxed attitude about the need for progress on Taiwan, and their desire for a Presidential visit under any circumstances. [Footnote is in the original.]
  19. See footnote 7, Document 60.
  20. See Document 103.
  21. On March 20, Habib informed Han Xu that the United States “cannot allow the tour [of a PRC performing arts troupe] as long as the song about [liberating] Taiwan remains in the program.” (Memorandum of conversation, March 20; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 5, China Exchanges, unnumbered, 3/13/75–3/27/75) As a result, the tour was cancelled. See “U.S. Bars Chinese Troupe,” The Washington Post, March 28, 1975, p. A1.