119. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ch’iao Kuan-hua, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
  • Huang Hua, PRC Permanent Representative to the United Nations
  • Chang Han-chih, Deputy Director, Asian Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Lo Hsu, Deputy Director, African Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Shih Yen-hua, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interpreter [Notetaker]
  • Kuo Chia-ting, Second Secretary, PRC United Nations Mission, Notetaker [Interpreter]
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Philip C. Habib, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff, Department of State
  • William H. Gleysteen, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Richard H. Solomon, Senior Staff Member, National Security Council


  • The Soviet Union; CSCE; Europe; Japan; Angola; Indochina; the
  • President’s China Trip; the Global Strategic Situation; Korea

[Foreign Minister Ch’iao and his party were escorted into the Secretary’s suite. After initial greetings, representatives of the press were brought in for a few minutes to photograph the Secretary and Foreign Minister.]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: It has been almost ten months since we last met.

Secretary Kissinger: Your Ambassador [Huang Hua] has since learned the he has less of an [English] accent than I do.

You have met all of my friends here. Ambassador Moynihan—he is extremely competent. The other day the Albanian Ambassador attacked the U.S. Moynihan responded by attacking the Soviet Union. Malik did not know what hit him.

Ambassador Moynihan: What I said was that the Albanian Ambassador had missed an opportunity to attack that superpower which styles itself as Socialist.

[Page 728]

Secretary Kissinger: I have read the Foreign Minister’s speech.2 This time you fired some real cannons.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Half real; half empty.

Secretary Kissinger: The empty ones were fired at the British.

I told the Soviet Ambassador that we are gaining on them. Of course, he was so wounded by what you said [about the Soviet Union] that he didn’t notice [Ch’iao’s attacks on the U.S.]. But I told him that in every category we are gaining on him.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: So much about my speech. I would like to listen to your views, as I have not seen you in a while. I would like to listen to your views on the international situation as a whole.

Secretary Kissinger: We have kept you informed through Ambassador Huang Chen.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: We appreciate that. Every time there has been some development you have informed us. But what is your view of the international situation as a whole?

Secretary Kissinger: The basic situation—with respect to the Soviet Union—let me begin there. The basic tendencies which we have commented on before are continuing, or somewhat increasing. We believe they are divided evenly between East and West.

According to our perception, the [Soviets’] physical strength and the capabilities for pressure are the same in either direction. The danger is about even.

Our assessment is that they [the Soviets] are probably in a period of transition from one leadership to another.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But what is the tendency?

Secretary Kissinger: Well—[pause] I think the tendency—

[Mrs. Kissinger enters the room and is introduced to the Foreign Minister and the other Chinese guests. She departs after a few words with the Secretary on her plans for the evening.]

Secretary Kissinger (continuing): What is the tendency of their policy? It is very hard to tell in a succession situation, as those with the highest inclination to grasp power have the highest motivation to mask their intentions. Assuming that Kirilenko3—[the Chinese discuss among themselves to clarify the Soviet leader mentioned by the Secretary].

[Page 729]

We would expect them to continue on their present course, but with some less flexibility. But since he [Kirilenko] is likely to be even more dependent on vested bureaucratic interests than Brezhnev, the military element is likely to have a relatively larger influence. This [first] successor group is likely to be succeeded in three or four years by a younger group which will almost certainly try to establish the supremacy of the Party.

This is our assessment. I do not know whether it agrees with yours?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Well, on some points we do not share your views. We differ in that a change in the leadership in the Soviet Union—if a new leadership comes which is not the same as the old one, we are sure that its tendency will not change. As for the flexibility of that leadership, I have no information to indicate that Kirilenko will be less flexible than Brezhnev. We know him well, and have no such impression.

Secretary Kissinger: Will he be more flexible?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Such is the case with the Soviet Union that when a man is in power he sings a different tune when he is in power than a man who is not in power. So we do not think that the new man will be much different.

In 1964 when Khrushchev fell from power we knew this man Brezhnev well. When he took office we thought some change in their policy might be possible, as we had had previous contact with Brezhnev. But Brezhnev continued his expansionist policy even more viciously and actively.

Secretary Kissinger: So you think they will continue [on their present course]?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Basically. There is a false impression held by some of our Western friends because Brezhnev talks peace and coexistence. But their military talks strength. These are two tendencies in one situation.

Secretary Kissinger: Are we one of those friends?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (with a somewhat surprised look on his face): At least I think this idea is widespread in Europe.

Last year I met Chancellor Schmidt [and raised this topic with him]. He thought that Brezhnev was more flexible, and if it was a question of others coming to power it was better to keep Brezhnev.

Secretary Kissinger: You will see Schmidt in November?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Late October.

Secretary Kissinger: My view of the basic tendency of Soviet policy is that there is no basic disagreement within their leadership. But as in this country [the U.S.], ambitious people will express different attitudes. But this is not a reflection of basic differences in philosophy.

[Page 730]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course you have made a very detailed study of this. Since there are [now] economic difficulties in the world, all the Soviet leaders have made the same assessment of the West. They do not speak out [directly], but their scholars have. These scholars expressed differences in tactics, although their major assessments [of the situation in the West] are the same.

This is one subject. We can leave it aside and continue our studies [of Soviet intentions].

Secretary Kissinger: Let me say one thing. Our assessment of Soviet tendencies does not differ from yours, but our strategic problem is different than yours.

Your strategic problem is to call the attention to the dangers of this tendency. Our strategic problem is to be in a position to resist these tendencies when they occur. To do this we have to demonstrate for our domestic situation that no other alternative is available.

Therefore we must use language [descriptive] of our relations [with the USSR] which you do not like. But this is the only way for the United States to pursue a really strong policy. If you observe our actual policies in the Middle East, Portugal, Angola, or other areas, when the Soviet Union tries to expand we resist—even in the face of domestic or foreign criticism.

There is a prize fight on television every Tuesday night. You cannot stand flat-footed in the middle of the ring waiting for people to hit you. But not everyone who moves is running away.

Shall we have dinner?

[The party moved from the sitting room and seated themselves at the dining table.]

Secretary Kissinger: This is a brief visit for you, Mr. Foreign Minister. Are you going back [to China] next week?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: How is the Prime Minister’s health?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: He is still in the hospital, but he is better now.

Secretary Kissinger: I still think of him with respect and affection.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Thank you.

Well, you said just now that in my speech to the UN General Assembly I fired some real cannons. I feel that after a period of time you will come to understand [my reasons for firing these cannons].

One other point on which I do not agree with you: the Soviet Union, geographically speaking, is in the middle. But proceeding from the realities of the situation, as I have often told you on many occasions, the focal point of the Soviet Union is in the West, not the East.

[Page 731]

Secretary Kissinger: Frankly, I can develop an equally plausible interpretation for either course. I am not saying the focal point is in the East. I am saying that I do not know. But whether the focal point is in the West or the East, if they attack one, then the other will be the next victim. So it does not matter.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Well, this is a point of major importance, which affects how you look at the present situation and events of the future.

Secretary Kissinger: If the focal point is in the West, what should we be doing differently? How should we act [if the Soviets are primarily focusing on the West] as opposed to their focusing on the East? I am openminded—

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Quite differently. Well, let me give you an historical analogy on this. If in 1938 the Western politicians had had a clear idea that the focal point of Germany was in Europe, things might have turned out quite differently.

Secretary Kissinger: But if in 1939 the Soviet Union had understood whether the focal point was in the East or the West, the situation would also have been quite different. But I am openminded.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: To return to philosophy, you are a Kantian agnostic.

Secretary Kissinger: You have this basic advantage over me. You progressed to Hegel.

The Soviet Union believes that they can undermine the will to resist of the West politically—

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course they wish to achieve this.

Secretary Kissinger: —but in the East, they must undermine it militarily. That is my view, but it is based on agnosticism.

Our policy is based on the proposition that a strategic gain on either [the U.S. or China] is a disaster for the other. Therefore we seek to prevent either.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: You are right on this point. But you must have a very clear judgment about what is the focal point, as this has a bearing on many policies.

Secretary Kissinger: But if it is in the West, what should we be doing differently?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (pauses in reflection): Your—

Secretary Kissinger(Ambassador Huang Hua): You are my advisor this evening!

Chang Han-chih (whispers in Chinese to Ch’iao): Helsinki.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course, your moves have both internal and external considerations. We have our differences. We notice [Page 732] your moves in the West and Eastern worlds. But some of your moves are not necessary.

Secretary Kissinger: But we are speaking now as friends. I know you want to strengthen Western Europe. We want to also. I would not consider this criticism.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I would not like to mention highly controversial points, even among ourselves. But I should mention the Helsinki Conference. We do not see why it was necessary for you to take such a step. Why didn’t you delay? I do not know why you permit them to take such a form which is of need to the Soviet Union.

We do not exactly know your idea. Perhaps it was that Brezhnev is relatively good among the Soviet leaders and you thought you wanted to stabilize his position among these leaders. This is my own idea [of what the Secretary had in mind].

I will be very candid. There is a contradiction [in your position]: On the one hand you said that the Helsinki agreement has no binding force. On the other hand, [your agreement with the Soviets] took the form of a conference. This is contradictory.

Secretary Kissinger: Our motives had nothing to do with Brezhnev personally.

I once had the intention of writing a book on Bismarck. I find him more interesting than Metternich, with whom I am usually identified. Bismark was more modern. He once wrote that a sentimental policy knows no reciprocity.

The European Security Conference cannot be analyzed in the context of just this year. You have to understand it in terms of its history. It was around for more than ten years as an idea. We negotiated on it for three years. We used it as a safety valve these past three years for other problems.

My instructions to our delegation were that they should remain one step behind the other European governments. We did not take the lead—although we did not block the conference either.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is what you told me last year. But at that time you had not decided whether to convene it as a summit meeting or a conference of foreign ministers.

Secretary Kissinger: That is correct. The foreign ministers’ meeting was preempted as a result of Giscard’s meeting with Schmidt in December [during which they agreed to hold the Conference at the summit level].

But I submit that you overestimate the European Security Conference.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: No. That is not the case.

Secretary Kissinger: What is its significance?

[Page 733]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: The American press has almost compared the European Security Conference to another Munich.

Secretary Kissinger: The American press is in a mood of nihilism, complete unreality.

Mr. Foreign Minister, the same people who called the European Security Conference another Munich would organize a real Munich at the first crisis. The most destructive thing we can do is to pay attention to our press in its presently destructive mood.

There is one certain prediction: The only way to pursue a strong foreign policy is to do as we are now doing with the Soviet Union. If we are only rhetorically strong, the Washington Post and New York Times would be saying that we missed an opportunity for progress. Any third secretary in the Soviet Embassy could dangle hints of progress before the press, and we would be spending all of our time explaining why we are unresponsive. Just read our press of the 1960s! I would much rather have the New York Times to my right than on my left.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: About our assessment of the Helsinki conference, there is one point I would like to clarify: We do not attach much importance to that conference. There has not been even one editorial in our papers, only some commentaries.

Secretary Kissinger: I do not know if I like that. Indifference is a worse punishment than criticism.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: In our recent speeches we made criticism of the Helsinki conference. The Soviet Union has lauded it to the skies. But in terms of the international situation, this will all soon evaporate.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. It [the conference] had to be brought to a conclusion, as its continuation gave it a greater significance than it deserved. It was not worth a battle over the question of [whether to hold] a summit. If the Soviet Union gained [from the conference], it was internally not internationally.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Whether this conference was convened or not, how long it was held, or the form it took—a summit meeting or foreign ministers’ conference—these things cannot affect the international situation.

Secretary Kissinger: I do not think the results of the conference affected either. Borders—there are no unrecognized borders in Europe. They were all recognized before the conference.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But there are some difficulties in it. Politically, they [the Soviets] can make some propaganda—not legally—that the borders are now more settled.

Secretary Kissinger: But the borders of the Balkans were fixed in 1946; the borders between Poland and the Federal Republic were established [Page 734] at Yalta. There are no unrecognized frontiers. What fixes the borders now is the presence of 25,000 Soviet tanks between the Oder and the Elbe. Until that situation changes there will be no [political] changes.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But at least this conference gives people the idea that the Soviets can station troops in Europe.

Secretary Kissinger: I doubt that we gave the Soviets anything in this agreement. We are trying to weaken Soviet influence [in central Europe] by [Presidential] visits and by our developing military relations with the Yugoslavs. But change requires a political process in Europe.

At the conference, the attitudes of Yugoslavia and Romania, and less so Poland, were most interesting.

At any rate, I do not exclude the possibility that we make mistakes—although I seldom will admit it. But our strategy is to weaken the Soviet Union.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I know you have taken some steps toward the Soviet Union—tactical measures.

Secretary Kissinger: At present no other strategy is possible—unless you have some other idea?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (after a pause): Your former Secretary of State Stimson had a policy of “non-recognition.”

Secretary Kissinger: We tried that with you for twenty years. It was not one of our most successful policies. (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But in the end you gained the initiative. You did not recognize the Japanese occupation of northeast China as legal. In this you gained the initiative, so at the end of World War II as you did not recognize the Japanese occupation, the initiative was in American hands.

Secretary Kissinger: But the Soviets haven’t—

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Hasn’t the United States accorded more or less recognition to what the Soviets are doing in Eastern Europe?

Secretary Kissinger: This is a different situation from northeast China, as technically there are independent governments there [in Eastern Europe]. But our strategy is to weaken the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe; to make it more costly for them to hold on.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But that is only one example. I agree that it is not an exact analogy.

Secretary Kissinger: We do not believe that the European Security Conference changed that situation in favor of the Soviet Union.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Perhaps this is the case with you, but quite many other countries think that the problems in Europe have been settled.

[Page 735]

Secretary Kissinger: Which [countries]?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Just read their General Assembly speeches! You will see their groundless optimism, their great expectations about détente.

Secretary Kissinger: My impression—we have taken your advice about strengthening our relations with Europe. My meetings with my colleagues from Britain, Germany, and France, and others, indicate that they have no illusions.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: You are right. Our European friends also told us the same thing. Our friends in Britain, Germany, France, and Italy said that they would first of all strive for détente, and secondly heighten their vigilance. Some of our friends told us that they would seek to strengthen their defenses.

Secretary Kissinger: I would not necessarily rely on the Italians. The others, more so.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Theoretically speaking, this is a two-sided policy. In actuality, what do they stress? Do they strive for détente, or to prepare for war?

Secretary Kissinger: The basic problem in every European country is the complexity of their domestic situations. Strong Communist Parties directed by the Soviet Union seek to use their influence to pressure the Socialists—except in Germany.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Therefore, the illusion of détente can only help the revisionist parties gain in influence.

Secretary Kissinger: Unless a series of crises create a situation where what you call the revisionist parties can claim that only they can create peace.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But now there is such a tendency.

Secretary Kissinger: It existed all the time.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But the atmosphere of détente has helped them.

Secretary Kissinger: That is a matter of judgment. I believe the previous atmosphere was of more help of them [than the present one]. But I understand the argument [you are making]. I do not believe it is a trivial one.

You remember that I suggested that you invite Senator Jackson to China as he represents a tendency which, if strengthened, would make a really strong policy impossible.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I understand that.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree with your concern about Europe. The European political structure was so affected by two wars that their leadership has lost confidence.

[Page 736]

Take the Italian situation. This has nothing to do with détente. There is a complete collapse of will on the part of the leadership of the Christian Democrats and a misperception on the part of the Church of the real danger. Italy does not have a foreign policy.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: How do you look at Portugal?

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t want to be scolded by the Chinese representative at the United Nations again, so I will be careful. (Laughter)

One superpower has been active, so we are not far behind. Basically we thought that this was an internal Portuguese situation. And because of our internal situation we did very little.

We are now working with our European friends to keep groups supported by Moscow from gaining the upper hand. These has been a tactical improvement—a great tactical improvement—in the situation. The problem now is whether our European friends will celebrate a victory or realize that these Moscow-supported groups have to be systematically reduced in influence.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This struggle will be a long-term one. No matter what you tell your European friends, we tell our European friends not to overestimate the strength of the Communist Parties. We think we know them better than you do. We once told Western European friends to give a free hand to the so-called Communist Parties. Let them take power and expose themselves in power. They said that they couldn’t think of such a thing.

Secretary Kissinger: I do not think you really do either. Do you mean [let them take power] in Portugal, or elsewhere?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Portugal. In that case, the Communist Party of Portugal cannot control the Portuguese army.

Secretary Kissinger: We do not overestimate the strength of the Communist Party of Portugal. We have to let things mature to a certain point. First, we did not have the domestic capability; and secondly we had to bring Western Europe to understand what the situation was. Thirdly, we had to make certain that Soares was not Kerenski.4

Anyway, the situation in Portugal is at an early stage and can go in either direction.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Well, I think that if our European friends, backed by our American friends, take tactful action, the Soviets cannot gain the upper hand.

[Page 737]

I do not know if you remember, but you told me that ultimately the Soviet Union will have to use its army to gain influence.

Secretary Kissinger: What I said was that the Soviets cannot expand [their influence] without using military power to make their point. They have not won a political victory yet.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: There is a good example to illustrate your point. If it were not necessary for the Soviets to rely on military force then it would not be necessary for them to put so many troops in Central Europe.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, it is striking that thirty years after they put in troops [in the various Central European countries], the governments have no legitimacy. They have to govern with traditional nationalism.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: In our view, if the Soviet Union takes adventuristic action it will lose Eastern Europe.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree, where do you think they will take action? Western Europe? This is why I have my doubts about their real focal point being Western Europe.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (after a short pause): Well, the situation is very difficult. There are contradictions in everything.

We have stated our views to you on many occasions. Western Europe is the focal point—Chairman Mao told you—if the Soviet Union cannot gain hegemony over Western Europe, it cannot control the world. In our view, and your view, Eastern Europe is a liability of the Soviet Union, but they see it as an asset.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree that the Soviet Union’s long-range objective is to turn Western Europe into a kind of Finland. The question is how it will really do that. I am speaking now as a professor, not as Secretary of State. Either they can do it by a direct move against Europe, or they can do it by moves which will demonstrate to Western Europe that they are [an] irresistible [force].

The question is whether they might make some move in the Middle East, or in the Far East [to demonstrate their power to Western Europe]. But I am speaking now as a professor; I am not making any predictions. From where I sit, as Secretary of State, we have to be prepared for any possibility.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Yes, you are right, but you have to have priorities on the basis of the urgency of the problem. I agree that the best way the Soviet Union can do this is to defeat Western European countries one by one, and turn the area into a Finland.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, that is their strategy.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: That is the first part of their strategy, because the Soviets realize that unless they do this they cannot realize the rest of their objectives.

[Page 738]

There is an old Chinese expression said more than 2,000 years ago by a military strategist named Sun Tzu—Mr. Solomon will know this— that the best way to bring your opponents to their knees is not to use soldiers [but a political stratagem]. The Soviets want to do this, but in our opinion it is difficult to do.

Now the Soviet Union is waiting for an opportune time. Eventually it will see that its strategy will not work, and then it will have to use military means. Of course, now conditions are not right [for a resort to military force].

When I talked about the European Security Conference, I did not mean that it was important. I just meant that some words spoken in some quarters were not beneficial to Europe or to the U.S. This has caused some confusion in Europe.

Secretary Kissinger: Any confusion in Europe is not a result of the European Security Conference; it is a result of the domestic situation, particularly in Italy, and to some extent in Great Britain. It has to be dealt with at that level.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Let me add one point. After the European Security Conference, due to exaggerated and groundless propaganda, this has heightened the tendency of certain European friends to be negative [passive], especially these Christian Democratic parties.

Secretary Kissinger: The European Social Democrats are vulnerable to the Communist Parties. In Italy especially; not in Germany.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Not long ago I talked with Strauss. He said to me—this is no secret—the Soviet Union intends to bring up Willy Brandt again.

Secretary Kissinger: Perhaps that is correct.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: As he told me, they had grounds to expect this. I don’t know, as I don’t know Schmidt very well.

Secretary Kissinger: Brandt wants to bring up Brandt again!

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Schmidt is not in good health.

Secretary Kissinger: Schmidt is a good man, although he is not in good health. He has a thyroid condition, and some other [physical] problems, but he is very strong [as a leader]. Schmidt made a great mistake—we are old friends; we were introduced in 1955 as we were both considered promising young men—when I was made Secretary of State he was made Finance Minister. I thought I had finally gotten ahead of him. He now has retaliated and I can never outmatch him because of our Constitution [which prevents a foreign born citizen from being President]. So now I am a revolutionary. (Laughter)

He made a basic mistake. When he was made Chancellor, he did not also have himself made head of his party.

[Page 739]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: The Soviet strategy is to foster the Christian Democrats in Western Europe and then to encourage the Communist Parties to merge with them.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. This is why the Italian Christian Democrats are no barrier [to the expansion of Soviet influence] as they cooperate with the Communist Party. But as long as Schmidt is Chancellor in the Federal Republic, this cannot happen [in Germany].

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Let me tell you a joke I read recently. The German Christian Democratic leader Kohl visited Moscow at the same time that Strauss was visiting Peking to attend the West German [industrial] exhibition. Our press issued an announcement about Strauss’ visit to China, and so the Soviet Union refused to receive Kohl for three days.

Secretary Kissinger: The Soviet Union is very stupid. They should know that it is Strauss’ nature to visit all sorts of industrial exhibitions.

When I visited the Soviet Union last year, when I was in the Crimea, Brezhnev complained bitterly about Schmidt and Genscher. I said, “Of course you didn’t have to send two spies.” They replied, “First, East Germany sent the spies; and secondly, we did not order Brandt to hire them.”

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I heard that later Brezhnev apologized to Brandt. I do not know if this is true or not.

Secretary Kissinger: But Brandt did it to himself.

Anything we can do to strengthen Schmidt will be helpful. He is coming to Washington soon.

You mentioned earlier the Soviet speculation about the economic situation in the West. You might like to know that we are planning a meeting soon between the President, Giscard, Schmidt, and the Japanese to coordinate economic policy and deal with this situation.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: May I ask a question? How do you evaluate the Miki government? Because last year in Soochow we [Ch’iao and the Secretary] talked about the situation in Japan. We had not thought such changes [as have occurred since] were possible. We said we would keep you informed. I can tell you that before Miki took power we thought he was a friend of China.

Secretary Kissinger: I know he is a friend of China. He is a thoughtful man, but he heads a weak government. He does not have very great confidence. They are very timid. We do not think [the Miki government] will last more than two years. But I agree that his policy towards China is one of friendliness.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Not completely so.

Secretary Kissinger: Because of the hegemony clause?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Exactly! Do you agree?

[Page 740]

Secretary Kissinger: I told their Foreign Minister that you [Ch’iao] were right when you said I had something to do with drafting this [clause in the Shanghai Communiqué dealing with hegemony].

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I told them to criticize either me or you.

Secretary Kissinger: They fear that you will apply the hegemony clause to us.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Yesterday I talked with the Japanese Foreign Minister about this situation and made an explanation. I told them on this point that, first, it was discussed and agreed upon by the U.S. and China; secondly, I indicated that the anti-hegemony clause is not aimed at undermining relations between Japan and the United States. He understands this. The main trouble is pressure on them by the Soviet Union.

Secretary Kissinger: You must know that we told him [Miyazawa] that we cannot oppose something that we ourselves signed.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Yes. I also told the Japanese Foreign Minister that China and the United States had reached agreement on this clause, and that also we had reached agreement with some small Southeast Asian countries—Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. The Soviet Union did not protest then, only in the case of Japan.

Secretary Kissinger: Do you think they will sign [a peace and friendship treaty with the anti-hegemony clause]?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I don’t know. I do not understand their internal problems.

Secretary Kissinger (rising with his glass): Mr. Foreign Minister, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the United States. If I am not mistaken, this is your seventh visit to the U.S. It proves that you cannot let me be ahead in anything, even in the number of visits. (Laughter)

We have noted in general that you have this tendency not to let us get ahead of you. Next year we will be having our 200th anniversary. You sent us your archaeological exhibition to show us that 200 years is but a brief period in Chinese history.

Mr. Foreign Minister, your country and ours have a rather strange relationship. Many things we don’t agree upon. Occasionally we make that public. And yet, we talk more frankly to each other, and in more depth, than with almost any other nation. This is because of certain objective factors, and certain necessities which have brought us together and which we assess in the same way. Among these [areas of agreement] I must include the phrases in the Shanghai Communiqué concerning hegemony, which we just discussed.

As I said in my speech to the UN General Assembly, we attach great importance to our relations with the People’s Republic of China. We are prepared to cooperate in those basic perceptions we share.

[Page 741]

We value these visits and our conversations; therefore, we welcome you.

So now let me propose a toast: to the health and long life of Chairman Mao and Premier Chou En-lai; to the health of Mr. Foreign Minister, and friends, to the friendship of the Chinese and American peoples. Kan-pei. (All rise and toast.)

(There was some discussion back and forth between the Chinese and American sides to clarify exactly how many times Foreign Minister Ch’iao had been to the United States. It was finally agreed that the number was seven, including two visits he had made to the U.S. in 1950.)

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I would also like to say a few words.

Respected Mr. Secretary—or rather, respected Dr. Kissinger. We once reached an agreement that I would call you Mister Doctor, and that you would call me Mr. X. Today you have already breached our agreement. But this is not important, this is just a superficial phenomenon.

What is important is that each time we meet we discuss important questions. We are quite candid. Sometimes we have heated discussions, but this is not important. If we talked only superficially, that would be senseless.

As for relations between our two countries, they are stated clearly in the Shanghai Communiqué. I believe that our two countries, China and the United States, have a determination to continue on the path charted by the Shanghai Communiqué.

When I was young, I read a sentence—I do not know where, perhaps it was by a Marxist—“The situation is stronger than man. A man may think this way or that way, but the situation is stronger than man.”

I believe that in the present changing world, we have many common grounds—although you belong to the Kantian school, and I belong to the Hegelian school. They lived at the same time, under similar circumstances.

Now I would like to propose a toast: To Mr. President Ford; to our friend Mr. Secretary of State; to our new friend Mr. Moynihan; and to our old friends, Mr. Habib, Mr. Gleysteen, Mr. Solomon, and to Mr. Lord—who is half Chinese, because he has a Chinese wife. (All rise and toast.)

Secretary Kissinger: May I raise a few relatively brief problems here. Then we can talk about the President’s visit, and my visit.

First, Angola, I want to discuss this with you. First, what is the problem of Angola? Geographically the railways connecting Zaire and Zambia with the sea go through Angola. Therefore the future of Angola has considerable impact on countries beyond Angola.

The United States has been next to nothing in Angola for many years. Starting in the early part of this year, the Soviet Union greatly [Page 742] increased its arms deliveries in Angola, indirectly via the Congo Brazzaville and directly or through its friends in Portugal. Its sympathizers in the Portuguese army allowed soldiers to retire from the army and join the military in Neto. So the Neto forces, which were the weakest several months ago, now are the strongest—not by revolutionary activity, but by outside influence.

We agree with your view [expressed] in the General Assembly that the three revolutionary movements should combine. But if things are left as they are, Neto will defeat the others and there will be nothing left to combine. If nothing is done, Zaire and Zambia will learn that forces supported by the Soviet Union can prevail, and therefore they will shift toward the Soviet Union. So we are trying—so starting in August, not before, we began to try to establish a balance between the forces of Roberto, Savimbi, and Neto; to establish a balance, together with Kaunda and Mobutu.

I am surprised that China has said it would do nothing. As long as the Soviet Union is active in Africa, this is important to China. If we are concerned with hegemony, why let the Soviet Union stretch its hands into an area as far as this from the Soviet Union? We do not want anything for ourselves.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Our viewpoint perhaps is not alike.

We believe that by doing so, the Soviet Union will eventually fail even though it may gain some military advantages for a time.

Of course, what I said to the General Assembly is the policy of the Chinese Government. This policy is principled, and also may have some effect on our African friends.

I have discussed this question with some of our European friends. I told them that China will not object to their adopting measures to prevent the Soviet Union from taking advantage of Neto. It is clear now that the civil war in Angola was provoked by the Soviet Union. As they provoked it, they cannot prevent others from taking actions. Since the Soviet Union provoked the war, it has no moral justification for preventing others from taking action against its actions.

If you have made a detailed study of our speech, you will see we know where the blame lies.

Secretary Kissinger: But forget about the speech. What do we do now?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Some of our friends want to enlist the help of South Africa. This is short-sighted.

Secretary Kissinger: We have received the same proposal. We also refused. We worked with Tanzania and Zambia. This has to be done by the blacks there.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I suggest we give this further study.

[Page 743]

Secretary Kissinger: We have studied the situation. Do you want to exchange ideas on it?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: We have a rather strict position on national liberation movements. Chairman Mao, you remember, told you that regarding the Middle East it was necessary to use dual tactics, to use both hands.

Secretary Kissinger: That is just what we are trying to do.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: But the case of Angola is different. So far we haven’t given up hope that this problem can be solved between the African countries and the three liberation movements. Do you believe this cannot work?

Secretary Kissinger: No, I believe—I will be precise. Roberto and Savimbi have to be stronger. I get daily reports of Soviet military shipments to Luanda. It is mathematically certain that Neto will prevail unless Roberto and Savimbi are strengthened—or else when the Portuguese leave, Neto will take over. So unless Roberto and Savimbi are strengthened, then there can be no agreement between the three liberation movements and the African governments.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Can you do any work with the Portuguese government?

Secretary Kissinger: We are, but it does not help with the arms that the Soviets have already put in.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: How large are the Soviet deliveries?

Secretary Kissinger: Armored cars, they have about 30. That is a lot for Africa. 122 millimeter artillery. In Coxito they used the 122 millimeter artillery to great effect. The troops which had been trained on the Chinese model ran away. They need heavier weapons and training. Particularly Savimbi.

I understand that Chinese arms are held up somewhere. It is important that Roberto and Savimbi control the large part of Angola before independence. Otherwise Neto will declare independence and go to the UN.

Our people think this is a soluble problem it we act quickly. I repeat, we favor an outcome negotiated between the three liberation movements. But in a few weeks the outcome will be decided.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Good. I have taken note of your views.

Secretary Kissinger: If you want to be more specific, have your Ambassador in Washington get in touch with us. We can give you more precise assessments of the weapons they have and the weapons they need.

This is a clear situation of interference from abroad. We are prepared to help Roberto and Savimbi with weapons. Indeed, we are helping already to some extent.

[Page 744]

Now Habib will have another heart attack. This is against all the principles of his bureau.

Mr. Habib: We are just peace-loving.

(The party rises from the dinner table and returns to the Secretary’s sitting room.)

Secretary Kissinger: I will arrive in China on the 19th. I will stay a day in Japan [before coming to China].

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Will you bring your wife?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. I also was thinking of bringing Mr. Lynn, the head of our Office of Management and Budget. I thought it would be useful for him to know something about China.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Well, we will consider this.

So you will arrive on the 19th. In the morning or in the afternoon?

Secretary Kissinger: About 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: How many days will you stay?

Secretary Kissinger: Maybe until the 23rd.

Before I get to this, let me briefly discuss Southeast Asia.

We, of course, no longer have a principal interest in Southeast Asia. In so far as we have, it is in preventing the hegemonial aspirations of others. In time we will have no reason not to establish relations with Vietnam.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course, regarding this question we know your domestic situation. We believe that the U.S. should not mind what happened in the past.

Secretary Kissinger: We don’t. The question is that your friends in Vietnam do not have an excessively low opinion of themselves. Therefore, we want to let reality begin to sink in for a while. Then we can establish relations which will more accurately reflect the real world. This has nothing to do with the past.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Well perhaps. One thing that we told you is that you are too emotional in your actions.

Secretary Kissinger: We are trying to be practical.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course, it would not have been necessary for me to discuss this, but the Mayaguez was totally unnecessary.5 But this is not important.

Secretary Kissinger: This gets me to the real point I wanted to discuss.

[Page 745]

We see no reason not to begin discussions with Cambodia. If Prince Sihanouk or other members of the Cambodian delegation want to begin discussions, we are prepared.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I will be very honest with you. Prince Sihanouk and other members of the delegation feel that the U.S. harmed them so much that it is not easy for them to take the initiative.

In the interest of the overall situation, we hope you will have proper relations with Cambodia. Take the initiative with the Cambodians. I give you this advice as a friend and not on behalf of Prince Sihanouk, or the other Cambodian officials. Of course, I cannot reply on their behalf. But it is my estimate that they will give you proper courtesy.

Please go on with Southeast Asia.

Secretary Kissinger: Our only interest is in the independence of the various countries [in the region].

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is the same with us.

Secretary Kissinger: That is why we thought that the improvement of your relations with Thailand was a positive thing. We spoke in this sense to the Thai Foreign Minister last spring.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Chatchai. He has gone home already.

Secretary Kissinger: But he will come back.

So our policy is to support countries [in Southeast Asia] against foreign aggression.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course, bygones are bygones. But we hope you will learn lessons from the past and support the independence of these countries. This will make some real friends for the United States.

(The Foreign Minister rose and indicated he wished to take a break. The Secretary escorted him towards the washroom. After a few minutes the Foreign Minister returned and the conversation resumed.)

Secretary Kissinger: A great deal depends on Cambodia—on the exuberance of their language in the General Assembly—whether we can make any overtures to them this session.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Since they have come [to New York], and as the U.S. is a major power in the world, they should be received with a proper reception.

Secretary Kissinger: There are two questions here. First, they will receive a proper reception. But on the [second] issue of initiating discussions, it will be necessary for them to moderate their language.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is their affair. The Cambodians—I think their language is strong, although their actual language is another thing.

[Page 746]

Secretary Kissinger: I think there is a relationship between language and reality.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: As I told you just now, I don’t want to provoke a dispute—as there doesn’t exist such a thing in our relation-ship—but the Mayaguez incident hurt their feelings. It will take them some time to forget.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, it is up to them. They can’t do much for us. Hostile speeches won’t be printed on the front page of the New York Times. As far as we are concerned, our only interest is in the independence of the countries of Southeast Asia. I wanted you to know this.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I’ll very sincerely—I very sincerely hope you have learned your lessons from Indochina. It is up to you if you have learned your lessons. It is your affair whether you want to consider this [meeting with the Cambodians] or not.

In our view, the general situation in Southeast Asia is good. I don’t know how you view the situation?

Secretary Kissinger: I think we are seeing the beginning of a process of evolution. As far as the United States is concerned, we have good relations with all of the countries [of the region] except for Indochina. I would not preclude the possibility of Vietnam having certain hegemonial aspirations with regard to Laos and Cambodia.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: It is possible, as a result of the influence of outside forces. But we doubt that it can succeed.

Secretary Kissinger: With respect to Laos, it is easier to succeed than with Cambodia.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: If such is the case, there has only been a short period of time.

Secretary Kissinger: Our estimate is that there are now 2,000 Soviet technicians in Laos.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: What is the significance of 2,000 even 3,000 Soviet technicians? The main question is if they can achieve popularity there.

Secretary Kissinger: I think the main question is influence from Hanoi.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Perhaps. Anyway, the history of the 30 years after the war in Asia is that an outside country cannot dominate any country for long. The Soviet Union for ten years wanted to dominate China. They sent a large number of experts to us to try to dominate us.

Secretary Kissinger: The question is whether China is stronger than Laos. (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is only a matter of degree, not kind.

Secretary Kissinger: This is not our primary problem. I just wanted you to know our attitude.

[Page 747]

Shall we talk abut the President’s visit for a few minutes? We don’t need to discuss practical problems. I can do this when I come to Peking next month. The issue is what we are trying to achieve. What in your mind is the purpose of the visit [of the President]?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: We, when you were in China last time, when U.S. Senators or Congressmen visited China, we also discussed that it would be useful to exchange visits, to keep in contact. The visit of your President is a major event. In general we hope there will be some step forward on the basis of the Shanghai Communiqué.

Secretary Kissinger: It seems to me, as you said in your toast, the Shanghai Communiqué serves as a useful basis of our relationship, and we remain committed to it. We will carry out its provisions in all aspects.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: That is good.

Secretary Kissinger: That is our policy.

Strategically, in light of our discussions, we [the U.S. and China] have pursued somewhat parallel policies despite profound ideological differences as we have common concerns.

Therefore, what we should look for—to us politically, domestically, this is not now a major event, but from a foreign policy point of view there should be some symbolic advance. This should not be a visit of two enemies who are using each other, but rather of two countries who are cooperating on certain questions.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: There is no question about it. We have our common ground, as is stated in the Shanghai Communiqué.

Secretary Kissinger: But when you said we should have some advance [in our relationship], what did you have in mind?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (laughs nervously): I was just speaking abstractly. As Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing told many U.S. friends, it is useful for the two sides to have discussions. We can see if there is a step forward on the basis of the Shanghai Communiqué. But it doesn’t matter if there is none.

Secretary Kissinger: Do you have any idea about what kind of document might be published as a result of the President’s trip?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: On this question my mind is a blank.

Secretary Kissinger: Anyway, we will change it [the document] on the last night. You know, I cannot remember anything of the last night of our discussions [during President Nixon’s visit to China], of any of the issues discussed.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I admire you. Immediately after our talks you held a press conference, and did so at great ease.

Secretary Kissinger: I remembered the document in great detail— every version we had drafted.

[Page 748]

Let me speak of advances, on the problem of Taiwan, and then other problems.

On Taiwan: We cannot complete the process on this visit. It is domestically impossible on this visit, and I have told you this. But perhaps we can think of some formula that can take us short of [completion of] the process.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: That depends on you. I can do nothing. The famous version of the Shanghai Communiqué was proposed by you.

Secretary Kissinger: Except for the two sections [where the U.S. and Chinese sides expressed their differing points of view]. That was proposed by you.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is not a departure from diplomacy. This is a reflection of realities. The world is such that we have contradictions between us, but we also have common ground. So the Shanghai Communiqué is a new creation, a reflection of realities.

Secretary Kissinger: But should we have a communiqué, or just an announcement about the President’s visit?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I cannot tell you at this moment. As I told you, my mind is a blank.

Secretary Kissinger: That in itself is an historic event.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: We can discuss many problems in Peking.

Secretary Kissinger: My idea is not to take too many chances during the visit of the President. We should work out the outlines of a communiqué.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I agree.

Secretary Kissinger: Our idea is that in all categories of the Shanghai Communiqué on which we can come to some agreement, we be prepared to show some progress.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: It would be good if we can achieve that. We understand that you have problems. We have no problems.

Secretary Kissinger: But you understand that we cannot complete the process regarding Taiwan, but we can have some progress [in other areas]?!

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (obviously seeking to reorient the discussion): As friends, as this is not the first time that we have met, how do you view the world situation? Can we have peaceful coexistence; or will war break out?

Secretary Kissinger: As a friend?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I am not the Foreign Minister, and you are not the Secretary of State!

Secretary Kissinger: It is possible for war to break out. As an historian it [the prospects for war] is more likely than not. As Secretary of State, I have to act as if war will not break out, or do my best to prevent it.

[Page 749]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I do not think we disagree on this point. In your speech—in my speech to the General Assembly, my purpose was to raise the problem of the danger of war. Yours was to speak about the materialization of détente. But to speak of the materialization of détente, it may backfire.

Secretary Kissinger: But as a friend, when you speak of the focal point [of Soviet pressure being] in the West, this is part analysis and part tactics.

You are afraid—no, you are concerned that we will use détente to push the Soviet Union toward the East.

My view—that—maybe you are right. If the Soviet Union attacks in the West, we have no psychological problems, and of course we will resist. If the Soviet Union attacks in the East, the same psychological preconditions do not yet exist. And yet—if we are reasonable, the same strategic necessity exists [for U.S. resistance to a Soviet attack in either the East or the West].

Therefore, for us—a problem for us is to create enough of a relationship to China to make this [attempt to resist Soviet pressures] psychologically meaningful. This [discussion] is so you understand my thinking. From our point of view this is one purpose of the President’s visit.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I do not agree with you on the point that our analysis of the focal point of the Soviet Union in the West is a tactic.

Secretary Kissinger: Partly, partly—

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: —and that China fears the West will use détente to push the Soviets to the East.

Secretary Kissinger: That does not matter. We have to be prepared in the West [for either eventuality].

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I would like to remind you what Prime Minister Chou En-lai told you—

Secretary Kissinger: No, your position has been consistent.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Of course, when we talk you have your subjective views, and you have thought these out of our subjective views.

Secretary Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister, I do not exclude the fact that you may be right. We have to act as if you are right.

Shall we spend five minutes on Korea?

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Okay—such a wide range [of topics]!

Secretary Kissinger: I think we have publicly stated our positions [on Korea]. They do not seem to be easily reconciled. But we are prepared to improve our relations with North Korea, but not if the price is isolating South Korea. I hope a way can be found during the UN debate not to drive this contradiction to its ultimate limit. Your Ambassador is a procedural genius. (Laughter)

[Page 750]

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: This is not a big problem.

I think that after the events in Indochina, you exaggerated the situation in Korea. This problem is a very small one.

Our position is that your troops should withdraw at an early date. But you say this will not do. The overall situation of the world hinges on the situation in Korea?

Secretary Kissinger: You won’t agree with me, but I do not think it is in your interests to see another precipitate withdrawal of American power. This would have a significant influence on Japan.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Things are quite complicated there, but this question has to be settled. I would advise you to have direct talks with the Korean side. But you have problems.

Secretary Kissinger: No, at the right time we are prepared to talk with sides that we have not talked to before. (Laughter)

One problem is that if the UN Command is abolished, we have to find some way to sustain the Armistice arrangement. Secondly, if we talk to North Korea at some point, it must include South Korea at some point.

Incidentally, your ally [North Korea] did not appreciate my proposal of holding talks with you. So they complained and rejected our proposal.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Never mind. Things in the world are so complicated. But some day there will be a solution.

Secretary Kissinger (with emphasis): But not in an American election year. It will not come in the fourth year!

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: Everyone will be pleased if this question can be resolved this year. But it will not be terrible if it is not settled this year.

Secretary Kissinger: But then we need to have something to talk about next year! (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Ch’iao (in English): If we didn’t, Moynihan would be unemployed! (Laughter)

Secretary Kissinger: I can’t imagine the titanic struggle when Moynihan and Huang Hua clash at the UN. I will tell Moynihan not to be the aggressor.

I am advised that some television people are outside. It is not necessary for you to say something to them. We didn’t put them there. I think it is ABC.

Foreign Minister Ch’iao: I will meet them, but I won’t talk.

(The Chinese arose to depart. There was some light chatter and exchanges of farewells as the American side escorted the Chinese party down the hall to the elevator.)

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, Box 2, China Memcons and Reports, September 28, 1975, Kissinger’s Meeting with PRC Officials. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The dinner meeting took place in the Secretary of State’s suite on the 35th floor of the Waldorf Towers. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Qiao delivered a speech on September 26 to the UN General Assembly. President Ford received and initialed a copy of it while at Camp David. (White House telegram 51893 to the President at Camp David, September 28; ibid., Presidential Country Files for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 1974–1977, Box 13, People’s Republic of China)
  3. Andrei P. Kirilenko was a member of the Politburo and the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee.
  4. Aleksandr F. Kerensky became the leader of Russia following the revolution that overthrew the Czarist government in 1917. He was himself overthrown in the Bolshevik revolution later that year. Mario Soares, as the leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party, became prominent following a violent change of government in 1974.
  5. See Document 110.