12. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Mao Tsetung, Chairman, Politburo, Chinese Communist Party
- Chou En-lai, Premier of the State Council
- Wang Hai-jung, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Tang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
- Shen Jo-yun, Interpreter
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Winston Lord, NSC Staff
(At 11:00 p.m. February 17, 1973 at a meeting in a villa near the Guest House where Dr. Kissinger and his party were staying, Prime Minister Chou En-lai informed Dr. Kissinger that he and Winston Lord were invited to meet with Chairman Mao Tsetung at 11:30 p.m. that evening. He told Dr. Kissinger that he would come to the Guest House shortly to escort him to the Chairman’s residence.
Dr. Kissinger and his delegation members at the meeting went back to the Guest House. Prime Minister Chou En-lai came to the Guest House at 11:20 p.m. and rode with Dr. Kissinger to Chungnahai. Mr. Chu, Deputy Director of Protocol, accompanied Mr. Lord. Prime Minister Chou En-lai escorted Dr. Kissinger into the outer room of the Guest House and then through another room to Chairman Mao’s sitting room.
The Chairman was helped up from his chair by his young female attendant and came forward to greet Dr. Kissinger. Photographers took pictures. He welcomed Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Kissinger pointed out that it was almostly exactly a year ago that he had first met the Chairman. The Chairman then greeted Mr. Lord and commented that he was so young, younger than the interpreters. Mr. Lord replied that he was in any event older than the interpreters. The Chairman then motioned to the large easy chairs and the parties sat down. The photographers continued to take pictures.)
Chairman Mao (As he headed toward his chair): I don’t look bad, but God has sent me an invitation.[Page 124]
(To Mr. Lord) You are a young man.
Mr. Lord: I am getting older.
Chairman Mao: I am the oldest among those seated here.
Prime Minister Chou: I am the second oldest.
Chairman Mao: There was someone in the British Army who was opposed to the independence of your country. Field Marshal Montgomery was one of those to oppose your policy.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Chairman Mao: He opposed the Dulles policy.2 He probably doesn’t oppose you anymore. At that time, you also opposed us. We also opposed you. So we are two enemies (Laughter).
Dr. Kissinger: Two former enemies.
Chairman Mao: Now we call the relationship between ourselves a friendship.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s our sentiment.
Chairman Mao: That’s what I am saying.
Dr. Kissinger: I have told the Prime Minister that we speak to no other country as frankly and as openly as we do to you.
Chairman Mao (To the photographers): That’s all for you.
[The photographers leave.]
But let us not speak false words or engage in trickery. We don’t steal your documents. You can deliberately leave them somewhere and try us out. Nor do we engage in eavesdropping and bugging. There is no use in those small tricks. And some of the big maneuvering, there is no use to them too. I said that to your correspondent, Mr. Edgar Snow.3 I said that your CIA is no good for major events.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s absolutely true. That’s been our experience.
Chairman Mao: Because when you issue an order, for example, when your President issues an order, and you want information on a certain question, then the intelligence reports come as so many snowflakes. We also have our intelligence service and it is the same with them. They do not work well (Prime Minister Chou laughs). For [Page 125]instance, they didn’t know about Lin Piao.4 (Prime Minister Chou laughs) Then again they didn’t know you wanted to come.
I read two articles in 1969. One of your Directors of your China desk in the State Department wrote an article later published in a Japanese newspaper.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think I read that.
Prime Minister Chou: I hadn’t mentioned it to you before.
Dr. Kissinger: No.
Chairman Mao: Your business was done well. You’ve been flying everywhere. Are you a swallow or a pigeon? (Laughter) And the Vietnamese issue can be counted as basically settled.
Dr. Kissinger: That is our feeling. We must now have a transitional period toward tranquility.
Chairman Mao: Yes, that’s right.
Dr. Kissinger: The basic issues are settled.
Chairman Mao: We also say in the same situation (gesturing with his hand) that’s what your President said when he was sitting here, that each side has its own means and acted out of its own necessity. That resulted in the two countries acting hand-in-hand.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we both face the same danger. We may have to use different methods sometimes but for the same objectives.
Chairman Mao: That would be good. So long as the objectives are the same, we would not harm you nor would you harm us. And we can work together to commonly deal with a bastard. (Laughter)
Actually it would be that sometime we want to criticize you for a while and you want to criticize us for a while. That, your President said, is the ideological influence. You say, away with you Communists. We say, away with you imperialists. Sometimes we say things like that. It would not do not to do that.
Dr. Kissinger: I think both of us must be true to our principles. And in fact it would confuse the situation if we spoke the same language. I have told the Prime Minister that in Europe you, because of your principles, can speak more firmly than we can, strangely enough.
Chairman Mao: As for you, in Europe and Japan, we hope that you will cooperate with each other. As for some things it is alright to quarrel and bicker about, but fundamental cooperation is needed.
Dr. Kissinger: As between you and us, even if we sometimes criticize each other, we will coordinate our actions with you, and we would [Page 126]never participate in a policy to isolate you. As for Japan and Europe, we agree that we should cooperate on all essential matters with them. Europe has very weak leadership right now.
Chairman Mao: They don’t unite with each other.
Dr. Kissinger: They don’t unite, and they don’t take farsighted views. When they are confronted with a danger they hope it will go away without effort.
Prime Minister Chou: I told Dr. Kissinger you [the U.S.] should still help Pompidou.5
Chairman Mao: Yes indeed.
Dr. Kissinger: We are doing our utmost, and we will do more.
Chairman Mao: (Gesturing with his hands) Now Mr. Pompidou is being threatened. It is the Socialist Party and the Communist Party putting their strength against him.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, and they have united.
Chairman Mao: (Pointing at Dr. Kissinger) They are uniting and the Soviet Union wants the Communist Party to get into office. I don’t like their Communist party, just like I don’t like your Communist party. I like you, but not your Communist party. (Laughter)
In the West you always historically had a policy, for example, in both World Wars you always began by pushing Germany to fight against Russia.
Dr. Kissinger: But it is not our policy to push Russia to fight against China, because the danger to us of a war in China is as great as a war in Europe.
Chairman Mao: (Before Dr. Kissinger’s remarks are translated, he makes remarks in Chinese and counts on his fingers. Miss Tang then translates Dr. Kissinger’s remarks and after that Chairman Mao’s remarks.)
What I wanted to say is whether or not you are now pushing West Germany to make peace with Russia and then push Russia eastward. I suspect the whole of the West has such an idea, that is to push Russia eastward, mainly against us and also Japan. Also probably towards you, in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
Dr. Kissinger: We did not favor this policy. We preferred the German opposition party which did not pursue this policy. (Chairman Mao, smoking a cigar, offers cigars to Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Lord who decline.)[Page 127]
Chairman Mao: Yes, that’s our feeling. We are also in favor of the opposition party in Germany.
Dr. Kissinger: They conducted themselves very stupidly.
Chairman Mao: Yes, they were defeated. The whole of Europe is thinking only of peace.
Prime Minister Chou: The illusions of peace created by their leaders.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we will do our best to strengthen European defenses and keep our armies in Europe.
Chairman Mao: That would be very good.
Dr. Kissinger: We have no plan for any large reduction of our forces in Europe for the next four years (Chairman Mao turns to Prime Minister Chou).
Prime Minister Chou: In talking about reducing your troops, you mean only at the most 10 to 15 percent.
Dr. Kissinger: That is exactly correct.
Chairman Mao: What is the number of American troops in Europe? They are probably mostly rocket units.
Prime Minister Chou: There are between 300–350,000 including the Mediterranean.
Chairman Mao: That probably does not include the Navy.
Dr. Kissinger: It does not include the Navy. There are about 275,000 in Central Europe. That does not include the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Chairman Mao: And your troop deployment to Asia and the Pacific Ocean is too scattered. You have them in Korea. I heard the number is about 300,000.
Dr. Kissinger: About 40,000.
Chairman Mao: And from 8 to 9,000 with Chiang Kai-shek.
Prime Minister Chou: In Taiwan.
Chairman Mao: Then it is said that there are two groups in Japan, 40,000 in Okinawa and 20 to 30,000 in Japan proper. I don’t know how many there are in the Philippines. Now you have remaining in Vietnam a bit over 10,000.
Dr. Kissinger: But they will all be withdrawn.
Chairman Mao: Yes, and I heard that you have 40,000 in Thailand.
Dr. Kissinger: That is correct. But all the units the Chairman mentioned are mostly air force units and therefore they probably cannot be measured by the number of personnel.
Chairman Mao: You also have ground forces, for instance, in South Korea.
Dr. Kissinger: In South Korea we have ground forces.[Page 128]
Chairman Mao: That was all begun by Truman and Acheson. So this time you held a memorial service for Truman and we didn’t go. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: When you have a liaison office in Washington it will be more possible in the future.
Prime Minister Chou: You’ve held all these memorial services, both for Truman and Johnson (Chairman Mao and Prime Minister Chou laugh).
It seems to me that your voice is hoarse today. You should have a day’s rest tomorrow. Why do you want to continue to talk so much?
Dr. Kissinger: Because it is very important that you and we understand what we are going to do and to coordinate our actions, and therefore we always tell the Prime Minister what our plans are in various areas of the world so that you can understand the individual moves when they are made.
Chairman Mao: Yes. When you pass through Japan, you should perhaps talk a bit more with them. You only talked with them for one day and that isn’t very good for their face.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Chairman, we wanted this trip’s emphasis to be on the talks in Peking, and I will take a separate trip to Tokyo.
Chairman Mao: Good. And also make clear to them.
You know the Japanese feelings towards the Soviet Union are not so very good.
Dr. Kissinger: They are very ambivalent.
Chairman Mao: (Gesturing with his hand) In a word, during the Second World War, Prime Minister Tanaka told our Premier, what the Soviet Union did was that upon seeing a person about to hang himself, they immediately took the chair from under his feet.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Chairman Mao: It could be said that they didn’t fire a single shot and yet they were able to grab so many places (Prime Minister Chou chuckles). They grabbed the People’s Republic of Mongolia. They grabbed half of Sinkiang. It was called a sphere of influence. And Manchukuo, on the northeast, was also called their sphere of influence.
Dr. Kissinger: And they took all the industry out of it.
Chairman Mao: Yes. And they grabbed also the islands of Sakhalin and the Kuriles Island. (Chairman Mao and Prime Minister Chou discuss among themselves.) Sakhalin is the southern part of the Kuriles Island. I will look it up in the dictionary to see what its Chinese translation is.
Dr. Kissinger: The Japanese are tempted by the economic possibilities in Russia.[Page 129]
Chairman Mao: (Nodding yes) They want to grab something there.
Dr. Kissinger: But we will encourage closer ties between Japan and ourselves, and also we welcome their relationship with the People’s Republic.
Chairman Mao: We also believe that rather than Japan having closer relations with the Soviet Union, we would rather that they would better their relations with you. That would be better.
Dr. Kissinger: It would be very dangerous if Japan and the Soviet Union formed closer political relations.
Chairman Mao: That doesn’t seem likely.
Prime Minister Chou: The prospects are not too good.
Chairman Mao: We can also do some work there.
Dr. Kissinger: The Soviet Union has made overtures but the Japanese have not responded. They have invited Ohira to go to Moscow.
Prime Minister Chou: Yes, this year, the second half.
Dr. Kissinger: This year.
Prime Minister Chou: And it seems on this question that Ohira has a clearer idea of the Soviet Union than others. But there are some not so clear in their understanding as their Foreign Minister.
Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.
Prime Minister Chou: That is also the bureaucracy as you term it.
Dr. Kissinger: We are prepared to exchange information with you on these matters.
Prime Minister Chou: (To Chairman Mao) We have decided besides establishing a liaison office in each capital to maintain the contact between Huang Hua and the White House.
Chairman Mao: (To Prime Minister Chou) Where is the stress?
Prime Minister Chou: The liaison office will handle the general public exchanges. For confidential and urgent matters not covered by the liaison office we will use the channel of Ambassador Huang Hua.
Chairman Mao: Huang Hua has met an ill fate (Prime Minister Chou laughs). He was doing very well in your place and immediately upon his return to Shanghai, he twisted his back.
Dr. Kissinger: We will find a doctor for him when he returns.
Chairman Mao: Yes. (Prime Minister Chou laughs). He seemed more safe in your place. Immediately upon his return to Shanghai he collapsed.
From the atmosphere with which your President received our acrobatic troupe, I thought that the Vietnamese issue was going to be settled.[Page 130]
There were some rumors that said that you were about to collapse (laughter). And the women folk seated here were all dissatisfied with that (laughter, especially pronounced among the women). They said if the Doctor is going to collapse, we would be out of work.
Dr. Kissinger: Not only in China.
Chairman Mao: Yes, and the whole line would collapse like dominos.
Dr. Kissinger: Those were just journalists’ speculation.
Chairman Mao: Only speculation?
Dr. Kissinger: Only speculation.
Chairman Mao: No ground whatsoever?
Dr. Kissinger: No ground whatsoever. In fact the opposite was true. We have now been able to place our men into all key positions.
Chairman Mao: (Nodding yes) Your President is now saying that you are proposing something as if you were moving the Great Wall from China to the United States, that is, trade barriers.
Dr. Kissinger: What we want to do is lower barriers.
Chairman Mao: To lower them? Then you were doing that just to frighten people. You are saying that you are going to raise tariffs and non-tariff barriers and maybe you do that to intimidate Europe and Japan.
Dr. Kissinger: Partly. We are proposing a trade bill which gives both the power to raise and lower barriers, in order to get it passed through Congress. We must create the impression that we might increase barriers. We want executive authority to do it without Congressional approval, but if we ask Congress to reduce barriers they would refuse. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) And this is why we are asking for executive authority to move in either direction.
Chairman Mao: What if they don’t give it to you?
Dr. Kissinger: We think they will give it to us. It will be a difficult battle, but we are quite certain we will win. We are proposing it also in such general language that we can remove discrimination that still exists towards the People’s Republic.
Chairman Mao: The trade between our two countries at present is very pitiful. It is gradually increasing. You know China is a very poor country. We don’t have much. What we have in excess is women. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: There are no quotas for those or tariffs.
Chairman Mao: So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands. (Laughter)
Prime Minister Chou: Of course, on a voluntary basis.
Chairmain Mao: Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens. (Laughter)[Page 131]
Dr. Kissinger: Our interest in trade with China is not commercial. It is to establish a relationship that is necessary for the political relations we both have.
Chairman Mao: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: That is the spirit with which we are conducting our discussions.
Chairman Mao: I once had a discussion with a foreign friend. (The interpreters hold a discussion with Chairman Mao.) I said that we should draw a horizontal line—the U.S.–Japan–Pakistan–Iran (Chairman Mao coughs badly.)–Turkey and Europe.
Dr. Kissinger: We have a very similar conception. You may have read in a newspaper that Mr. Helms has been moved to Iran, and there was a great deal of speculation how this affected my position. In fact we sent Helms to Iran to take care of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, because of his experience in his previous position and we needed a reliable man in that spot who understands the more complex matters that are needed to be done. (Chairman Mao lights his cigar again.) We will give him authority to deal with all of these countries, although this will not be publicly announced.
Chairman Mao: As for such matters we do not understand very much your affairs in the United States. There are a lot of things we don’t know very well. For example, your domestic affairs, we don’t understand them. There are also many things about foreign policy that we don’t understand either. Perhaps in your future four years we might be able to learn a bit.
Dr. Kissinger: I told the Prime Minister that you have a more direct, maybe a more heroic mode of action than we do. We have to use sometimes more complicated methods because of our domestic situation. (Chairman Mao queries about the translation and Miss Tang repeats “mode of action.”) But on our fundamental objectives we will act very decisively and without regard to public opinion. So if a real danger develops or hegemonial intentions become active, we will certainly resist them wherever they appear. And as the President said to the Chairman, in our own interests, not as a kindness to anyone else.
Chairman Mao: (Laughing) Those are honest words.
Dr. Kissinger: This is our position.
Chairman Mao: Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you ten million. (Laughter, particularly among the women.)
Dr. Kissinger: The Chairman is improving his offer.
Chairman Mao: By doing so we can let them flood your country with disaster and therefore impair your interests. In our country we have too many women, and they have a way of doing things. They give birth to children and our children are too many. (Laughter)[Page 132]
Dr. Kissinger: It is such a novel proposition, we will have to study it.
Chairman Mao: You can set up a committee to study the issue. That is how your visit to China is settling the population question. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: We will study utilization and allocation.
Chairman Mao: If we ask them to go I think they would be willing.
Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily.
Chairman Mao: That’s because of their feudal ideas, big nation chauvinism.
Dr. Kissinger: We are certainly willing to receive them.
Chairman Mao: The Chinese are very alien-excluding.
For instance, in your country you can let in so many nationalities, yet in China how many foreigners do you see?
Prime Minister Chou: Very few.
Dr. Kissinger: Very few.
Chairman Mao: You have about 600,000 Chinese in the United States. We probably don’t even have 60 Americans here. I would like to study the problem. I don’t know the reason.
Miss Tang: Mr. Lord’s wife is Chinese.
Chairman Mao: Oh?
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Chairman Mao: I studied the problem. I don’t know why the Chinese never like foreigners. There are no Indians perhaps. As for the Japanese, they are not very numerous either; compared to others there are quite a few and some are married and settled down.
Dr. Kissinger: Of course, your experience with foreigners has not been all that fortunate.
Chairman Mao: Yes, perhaps that is some reason for that.
Yes, in the past hundred years, mainly the eight powers, and later it was Japan during the Boxer Revolution. For thirteen years Japan occupied China, they occupied the major part of China; and in the past the allied forces, the invading foreigners, not only occupied Chinese territory, they also asked China for indemnity.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, and extraterritorial rights.
Chairman Mao: Now in our relations with Japan, we haven’t asked them for indemnity and that would add to the burden of the people. It would be difficult to calculate all the indemnity. No accountant would be able to do it.
And only in this way can we move from hostility to relaxation in relations between peoples. And it will be more difficult to settle relations [Page 133]of hostility between the Japanese and Chinese peoples than between us and you.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. There is no feeling of hostility of American people at all toward the Chinese people. On the contrary. Between us right now there is only essentially a juridical problem. (Chairman Mao nods agreement.) Which we will solve in the next years. But there is a strong community of interest which is operating immediately.
Chairman Mao: Is that so?
Dr. Kissinger: Between China and the U.S.
Chairman Mao: What do you mean by community of interest? On Taiwan?
Dr. Kissinger: In relation to other countries that may have intentions.
Prime Minister Chou: You mean the Soviet Union?
Dr. Kissinger: I mean the Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Chou: Miss Shen understood you.
Chairman Mao: (Looking toward Miss Shen.) The Chinese have a good command of English. (To Prime Minister Chou.) Who is she?
Prime Minister Chou: Miss Shen Jo-yun.
Chairman Mao: Girls. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) Today I have been uttering some nonsense for which I will have to beg the pardon of the women of China.
Dr. Kissinger: It sounded very attractive to the Americans present.(Chairman Mao and the girls laugh.)
Chairman Mao: If we are going to establish a liaison office in your country do you want Miss Shen or Miss Tang?
Dr. Kissinger: We will deal with that through the channel of Huang Hua. (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: Our interpreters are truly too few.
Dr. Kissinger: But they have done a remarkable job, the interpreters we have met.
Chairman Mao: The interpreters you have met and our present interpreters who are doing most of the work are now in their twenties and thirties. If they grow too old they don’t do interpretation so well.
Prime Minister Chou: We should send some abroad.
Chairman Mao: We will send children at such a height (indicating with his hands), not too old.
Dr. Kissinger: We will be prepared to establish exchange programs where you can send students to America.
Chairman Mao: And if among a hundred persons there are ten who are successful learning the language well, then that would be a [Page 134]remarkable success. And if among them a few dozens don’t want to come back, for example, some girls who want to stay in the United States, no matter. Because you do not exclude foreigners like Chinese. In the past the Chinese went abroad and they didn’t want to learn the local language. (Looking toward Miss Tang) Her grandparents refused to learn English.6 They are so obstinate. You know Chinese are very obstinate and conservative. Many of the older generation overseas Chinese don’t speak the local language. But they are getting better, the younger generation.
Dr. Kissinger: In America, all, or the vast majority, speak English.
Prime Minister Chou: That is the younger people. The first generation ones don’t learn the local language. There was an old overseas Chinese who came back to China after living abroad. She was old and died in Peking in the 1950s when she was in her nineties. She was a member of our People’s Government. She didn’t speak a word of English. She was Cantonese, extremely conservative.
Dr. Kissinger: Chinese culture is so particular that it is difficult to assimilate other cultures.
Chairman Mao: Chinese language is not bad, but the Chinese characters are not good.
Prime Minister Chou: They are very difficult to learn.
Chairman Mao: And there are many contradictions between the oral and written language because the oral language is monosyllabic while the written language develops from symbols. We do not use the alphabet.
Dr. Kissinger: There are some attempts to use an alphabet I am told.
Prime Minister Chou: First we must standardize the oral language.
Chairman Mao: (Gestures with his hand and points to his books.) But if the Soviet Union would throw its bombs and kill all those over 30 who are Chinese, that would solve the problem for us. Because the old people like me can’t learn Chinese. We read Chinese. The majority of my books are Chinese. There are very few dictionaries over there. All the other books are in Chinese.
Dr. Kissinger: Is the Chairman learning English now?
Chairman Mao: I have heard that I am studying it. Those are rumors on the outside. I don’t heed them. They are false. I know a few English letters. I don’t know the grammar.
Miss Tang: The Chairman invented an English word.[Page 135]
Chairman Mao: Yes, I invented the English term “paper tiger.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Paper tiger.” Yes, that was all about us. (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: But you are a German from Germany. But your Germany now has met with an ill fate, because in two wars it has been defeated.
Dr. Kissinger: It attempted too much, beyond its abilities and resources.
Chairman Mao: Yes, and it also scattered its forces in war. For example, in its attack against the Soviet Union. If it is going to attack, it should attack in one place, but they separated their troops into three routes. It began in June but then by the winter they couldn’t stand it because it was too cold. What is the reason for the Europeans fear of the cold?
Dr. Kissinger: The Germans were not prepared for a long war. Actually they did not mobilize their whole forces until 1943. I agree with the Chairman that if they had concentrated on one front they would almost certainly have won. They were only ten kilometers from Moscow even by dispersing their forces. (Chairman Mao relights his cigar.)
Chairman Mao: They shouldn’t have attacked Moscow or Kiev. They should have taken Leningrad as a first step. Another error in policy was they didn’t cross the sea after Dunkirk.
Dr. Kissinger: After Dunkirk.
Chairman Mao: They were entirely unprepared.
Dr. Kissinger: And Hitler was a romantic. He had a strange liking for England.
Chairman Mao: Oh? Then why didn’t they go there? Because the British at that time were completely without troops.
Dr. Kissinger: If they were able to cross the channel into Britain … I think they had only one division in all of England.
Prime Minister Chou: Is that so?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Prime Minister Chou: Also Sir Anthony Eden told us in Germany at that time that a Minister in the Army of Churchill’s Government said at that time if Hitler had crossed the channel they would have had no forces. They had withdrawn all their forces back. When they were preparing for the German crossing, Churchill had no arms. He could only organize police to defend the coast. If they crossed they would not be able to defend.
Dr. Kissinger: It also shows what a courageous man can do because Churchill created by his personality much more strength than they possessed.
Chairman Mao: Actually by that time they couldn’t hold.[Page 136]
Prime Minister Chou: So Hitler carried some romantic feelings about Britain?
Dr. Kissinger: I think he was a maniac, but he did have some feelings about Britain.
Chairman Mao: I believe Hitler was from the Rhine area?
Dr. Kissinger: Austria.
Prime Minister Chou: He was a soldier in the First World War.
Dr. Kissinger: He was in the German Army, but he was a native of Austria.
Prime Minister Chou: From the Danube.
Dr. Kissinger: He conducted strategy artistically rather than strategically. He did it by intuition. He had no overall plan.
Chairman Mao: Then why did the German troops heed him so much?
Dr. Kissinger: Probably because the Germans are somewhat romantic people and because he must have had a very strong personality.
Chairman Mao: Mainly because during the First World War the German nation was humiliated.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, that was a very important factor.
Chairman Mao: If there are Russians going to attack China, I can tell you today that our way of conducting a war will be guerrilla war and protracted war. We will let them go wherever they want. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) They want to come to the Yellow River tributaries. That would be good, very good. (Laughter) And if they go further to the Yangtse River tributaries, that would not be bad either.
Dr. Kissinger: But if they use bombs and do not send armies? (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: What should we do? Perhaps you can organize a committee to study the problem. We’ll let them beat us up and they will lose any resources. They say they are socialists. We are also socialists and that will be socialists attacking socialists.
Dr. Kissinger: If they attack China, we would certainly oppose them for our own reasons.
Chairman Mao: But your people are not awakened, and Europe and you would think that it would be a fine thing if it were that the ill water would flow toward China.
Dr. Kissinger: What Europe thinks I am not able to judge. They cannot do anything anyway. They are basically irrelevant. (In the midst of this Chairman Mao toasts Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Lord with tea.) What we think is that if the Soviet Union overruns China, this would dislocate the security of all other countries and will lead to our own isolation.[Page 137]
Chairman Mao: (Laughing) How will that happen? How would that be?
Because since in being bogged down in Vietnam you met so many difficulties, do you think they would feel good if they were bogged down in China?
Dr. Kissinger: The Soviet Union?
Miss Tang: The Soviet Union.
Chairman Mao: And then you can let them get bogged down in China, for half a year, or one, or two, or three, or four years. And then you can poke your finger at the Soviet back. And your slogan then will be for peace, that is you must bring down Socialist imperialism for the sake of peace. And perhaps you can begin to help them in doing business, saying whatever you need we will help against China.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Chairman, it is really very important that we understand each other’s motives. We will never knowingly cooperate in an attack on China.
Chairman Mao: (Interrupting) No, that’s not so. Your aim in doing that would be to bring the Soviet Union down.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s a very dangerous thing. (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: (Using both hands for gestures) The goal of the Soviet Union is to occupy both Europe and Asia, the two continents.
Dr. Kissinger: We want to discourage a Soviet attack, not defeat it. We want to prevent it. (Prime Minister Chou looks at his watch.)
Chairman Mao: As for things, matters, in the world, it is hard to say. We would rather think about things this way. We think this way the world would be better.
Dr. Kissinger: Which way?
Chairman Mao: That is that they would attack China and be defeated. We must think of the worst eventuality.
Dr. Kissinger: That is your necessity. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.)
Chairman Mao: We have so many women in our country that don’t know how to fight.
Miss Tang: Not necessarily. There are women’s detachments.
Chairman Mao: They are only on stage. In reality if there is a fight you would flee very quickly and run into underground shelters.
Miss Wang: If the minutes of this talk were made public, it would incur the public wrath on behalf of half the population.
Chairman Mao: That is half of the population of China.
Prime Minister Chou: First of all, it wouldn’t pass the Foreign Ministry.[Page 138]
Chairman Mao: We can call this a secret meeting. (Chinese laughter) Should our meeting today be public, or kept secret?
Dr. Kissinger: It’s up to you. I am prepared to make it public if you wish.
Chairman Mao: What is your idea? Is it better to have it public or secret?
Dr. Kissinger: I think it is probably better to make it public.
Chairman Mao: Then the words we say about women today shall be made nonexistent. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: We will remove them from the record. (Laughter) We will start studying this proposal when I get back.
Chairman Mao: You know, the Chinese have a scheme to harm the United States, that is, to send ten million women to the United States and impair its interests by increasing its population.
Dr. Kissinger: The Chairman has fixed the idea so much in my mind that I’ll certainly use it at my next press conference. (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: That would be all right with me. I’m not afraid of anything. Anyway, God has sent me an invitation.
Dr. Kissinger: I really find the Chairman in better health this year than last year.
Chairman Mao: Yes, I am better than last year.
[The photographers entered the room.]
They are attacking us. (The Chairman then gets up without assistance to say goodbye to the Americans.)
Please give my warm regards to President Nixon. Also to Mrs. Nixon. I was not able to meet her and Secretary Rogers. I must apologize.
Dr. Kissinger: I will certainly do that.
Prime Minister Chou: We will send you a press release in one hour.
(Chairman Mao escorts Dr. Kissinger into the outer room where he says goodbye to Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Lord. Prime Minister Chou then escorts Dr. Kissinger to his waiting car.)
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 98, Country Files, Far East, HAK China Trip, Memcons & Reports (originals), February 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Mao’s residence at Chungnahai. All brackets are in the original. A February 17 memorandum from Kissinger, sent telegraphically through Scowcroft, to Nixon recounted that the meeting with Mao “was extremely frank and cordial, but the substance is of such sensitivity that I should report it to you in person.” (Ibid., HAK Trip Files, Box 29, Bangkok, Vientiane, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Peking, Tokyo Trip, Itinerary Como Info, Memos to Pres., February 7–20, 1973)↩
- This memorandum of conversation is also printed in The Kissinger Transcripts, edited by William Burr (pp. 86–101). In explaining Mao’s comment about Field Marshal Montgomery, Burr notes that the British war hero visited China in 1960 and 1961. On that trip he met with Mao and Zhou and condemned the American policy associated with former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles of opposing recognition of Communist China.↩
- The journalist Edgar Snow wrote the book, Red Star Over China, that introduced Mao to an American audience during the 1930s.↩
- Lin Biao, PRC Minister of Defense from 1959 to September 1971, allegedly plotted to assassinate Mao.↩
- France held a general election on March 4 and 11. The coalition associated with French President Georges Pompidou maintained a majority in the National Assembly.↩
- Tang Wen-sheng (Nancy Tang) was born in the United States.↩