125. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Teng Hsiao-p’ing, Vice Premier of the State Council, People’s Republic of China
  • Ch’iao Kuan-hua, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Ambassador Huang Chen, Chief of PRCLO, Washington
  • Wang Hai-jung, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Lin P’ing, Director of American & Oceanic Affairs, MFA
  • T’ang Wen-sheng, Deputy Director of American & Oceanic Affairs, MFA, (Interpreter)
  • Chien Ta-yung, Counselor, PRC LO, Washington
  • Ting Yüan-hung, Director for U.S. Affairs, American & Oceanic Affairs
  • Chao Chi-hua, Deputy Director for U.S. Affairs, American & Oceanic Affairs, MFA
  • Mrs. Shih Yen-hua, MFA (Interpreter) (plus two notetakers)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador George H. W. Bush, Chief of USLO, Peking
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Ambassador Philip C. Habib, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Richard H. Solomon, NSC Staff
  • William H. Gleysteen, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Oscar V. Armstrong, Country Director, EA/PRC M
  • Robert L. Funseth, Director, Office of Press Relations
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Karlene Knieps, Sec. Kissinger’s Office (Notetaker)


  • The President’s Visit and Communiqué; Bilateral Relations; Indochina MIA; Korea; South Asia

Teng: So you visited the museum?

Kissinger: Yes. It was fascinating.

Teng: It is similar to this building, in relation to the Square. They were both built in the same year.

Kissinger: It is a tremendous achievement to put up two such structures in one year.

Teng: Not two—there were ten built, including the compound guest house.

Kissinger: It’s an even greater achievement.

Teng: That was because we were commemorating the tenth anniversary.

Kissinger: Will you put out twenty structures on your twentieth anniversary? [Laughter]

Teng: That is past, and we have not added any more. That is sufficient.

Kissinger: There is only one thing I saw there I do not understand. There was a chariot that always pointed south. I do not understand what happened if you wanted to go north. [Laughter]

Teng: At that time the Emperor was situated in the northern part of China, where he had made his capital, and his attack was aimed at the nationalities in the southern part.

Kissinger: What if he wanted to go home again? [Laughter]

Teng: No. He must go through with his hegemonic aspirations to the end. Finally he won.

The President’s Visit and Communiqué

I believe your discussions yesterday with Chairman Mao were very interesting.

Kissinger: And very important.

Teng: Yes, and it can be said that he has put forward all our basic points in an extremely concise manner.

Kissinger: I agree.

Teng: So what do you feel we have left to discuss?

Kissinger: Well, we have to discuss President Ford’s visit.

[Page 800]

Teng: Would you like to do that?

Kissinger: And your ideas as to the possible outcome. And your proposals as to how it will develop.

T’ang: The ideas or the outcome?

Kissinger: Both. What concretely will happen when he comes here.

Teng: We have said before that we think it would be all right if our minds meet or if they do not, or whether we discuss more or less. Either way will be all right. The importance we attach to this visit is to the visit itself. As for the protocol and other matters, I think there is no need for your President to be worried about such things.

Kissinger: It is difficult to explain to the American public that we are going to China for no other purpose than a visit. For example, what is your reaction to the Communiqué we gave you?

Teng: We will try to give you our draft later this evening. And after that you can have discussions with our Foreign Minister. As we have heard that you are of the opinion that the time may not be enough to complete the entire agreement on the Communiqué, we were thinking you could take back our draft for further study, and if, after reading our draft, you think it would be easy to reach a common view, then you can have discussions with our Foreign Minister this evening.

Kissinger: If I do not think we can agree, what will happen?

Teng: Further consultations!

Kissinger: I cannot make a judgment until I have read the Foreign Minister’s draft.

Teng: Indeed. But there are some concrete issues in the matters in your draft that perhaps are not yet realistic, as can be seen from this morning’s session between Director Lin P’ing and Director Habib.2 Because, generally speaking, under circumstances where relations between states have not been normalized, it is not the normal practice to sign certain agreements between states, for example, commercial and navigation agreements, and on air traffic. We think it should be mainly the political aspect that should be able to manifest the significance of the visit. Of course, it should show that we are prepared to continue the move forward according to the principles of the Shanghai Communiqué; and of course, other matters such as trade, people-to-people exchanges, cultural exchanges, and things like that, can also be put into the Communiqué.

The important issue between us bilaterally is the Taiwan issue. And it seems to be that at present you are not yet prepared to put any [Page 801] essentially new language into the Communiqué. Under these circumstances we think it is appropriate to reiterate the language of the Shanghai Communiqué.

Kissinger: We thought we had put some changes into the Communiqué.3

Teng: There is a bit. We have noticed that. We noticed one phrase: “We agreed with that view,” something like that. [The Vice Premier leans down beside his chair and spits into his spittoon.]

Kissinger: But that is not a minor change. It picks up the principle of the November 1973 Communiqué.

Ch’iao: Of course, on the one hand it is slightly new; on the other side, it is not entirely. Because in the Shanghai Communiqué you have already stated that you did not challenge that view.

Kissinger: True. It is a nuance. It is related to our November 1973 Communiqué.

Teng: Anyway, when your President comes, we will be able to have a candid exchange of views, which might also be considered as a continuation of the exchange of views between the two sides during your visit this time.

Kissinger: The problem I think for both of us to consider is whether the points that have been made in today’s various discussions about the balance in our international relationship, and whether we do certain things in order to gain favor somewhere or whether we do them for tactical reasons, that these problems can only be solved—or can be solved at one level more effectively—by showing some progress in Sino-American relations. We did not ask for it. We did not even ask for the visit, particularly. If we cannot show some progress, then given the way our media will report the visit, the only way to solve it is to show concrete progress in our relations.

Teng: As for the Presidential visit, it was the proposal put forward by the Doctor during your last visit to China last November. But we do not attach such great importance to who raised the visit. We anyway express our welcome.

Kissinger: I think it is very difficult to discuss this in the abstract. And relationships can progress anyway only with the concurrence of both sides. We have, therefore, to see what—we will have to look at your draft before we can make any conclusions.

[Page 802]

Bilateral Relations

Teng: Do you have any concrete ideas about any issues that you would like to have settled? Apart from those which I just now raised, which were unrealistic only because of the fact that relations between our two countries are not normalized?

Kissinger: We put what we thought were soluble into our draft of the Communiqué. But we do not insist on any one in particular. I do not have any beyond those I have mentioned. Those two or three are not important. And they do not all require formal agreement.

Our basic concern, Mr. Vice Premier, is not what is in those proposals, because the essence of our relationship does not depend on any of this. But the question we discussed yesterday4—the symbolism of whether China is our fifth priority, or a higher priority, which is what I would say—would be reflected, if we can find some concrete expression of it. I do not think China is our fifth priority, and I think we know our priorities better than anyone else knows them. If we want to give our public a stake in this relationship, then there has to be some concrete expression of it at some time. But we are willing to listen to any other proposals.

Teng: Of course there are certain issues like, for instance, the assets and private claims and so on, which might be where agreements might be reached. But according to my knowledge of this morning’s session, each side was still at its original position. The words were not new at all. But this is not an issue we are concerned about; as we have said, it won’t matter if it is not settled in one hundred years.

Kissinger: The claims issue too?

Teng: We were saying that it would be all right if it was not settled in one hundred years, but if you think it possible to reach an agreement and settle it during the President’s visit, we would not oppose that. As for the Most-Favored-Nation treatment and so on, Chairman Mao has explained our view. He said we do not need such things. As long as you do not give it to that bastard. [Laughter] And there always exists the possibility that one hundred years might be cut down to one and a half months.

There also was the issue you raised in your previous visits about the search for American military men missing in China, due to the Vietnam war. There also have been some initial discoveries, but they are too few. Each side can just state this to each other. It is too small to be put into the Communiqué.

Kissinger: On the claims and assets… of course, we are primarily concerned with enabling the Foreign Minister to come to New [Page 803] York via Anchorage in a Chinese aircraft, which will ease his discomfort when he arrives. [Laughter]

Teng: I believe a trial flight was made before I was planning to go for the Special Session.

Kissinger: And we had some legal complications.

But the sums themselves are trivial. We are not interested in the sums that are involved here. It is not a commercial problem with us. Mr. Habib put forward our latest thinking on the subject, this morning. Which represented some modification of our previous position.

Ch’iao: Too marginal to be perceived.

Teng: Our perception is that it is basically the same position. And as you just now mentioned, we do not think a few dollars more or less is of any importance, and we do not think it necessary to get involved in legal terms to express a settlement. If the terms and if these two points can be worked out, that would be a settlement. And if it is, as you have mentioned before, that without getting involved with legal terms one cannot settle such issues as Most-Favored-Nation and the legal status, we are willing to give them up.

Kissinger: Is it true … one of our newsmen told me he asked last year how you would react to a Jackson amendment in regard to Most-Favored-Nation and one of the Chinese said to him: “Anytime you want fifty million Chinese, we are ready.”

That was a joke. It was told by a Chinese, not by us. [Laughter]

The basic obstacle to Most-Favored-Nation for the Chinese side is the claims problem. There is no other. There are no other obstacles.

Teng: I do not think it is necessary to get entangled in the legal matters of the Most-Favored-Nation status issue. We can just say that both of us agreed to settle it in one stroke.

Kissinger: To settle what?

Teng: To cancel the claims in one stroke. To just let it go with the wind.

Kissinger: Mr. Habib is afraid we will deprive him of his profession if we do that. [Laughter] If you can find some complicated way of expressing that same thought, he will probably be satisfied.

Teng: We can continue to study the problem. Anyway, we are not very interested or very concerned with the Most-Favored-Nation status issue. There is only one thing that is clear; it cannot be stated anywhere in any settlement that Chinese are required to observe American laws.

Kissinger: That is a very reasonable proposition, which is not self-evident to our Congress.

Teng: You can continue your study.

[Page 804]

Indochina MIA

Kissinger: You said you had some information on missing in action. That would be of some interest to us if you could give us whatever you know.

T’ang: You mean now?

Kissinger: Whenever. Either now or later. It does not have to be expressed in a Communiqué.

Teng: There is no need to make a Communiqué for that.

Kissinger: No, but we would appreciate if there is any information that we could give to the families.

Teng: Yes, I think it perhaps would be most appropriate for us to give you the material and the information we have on these issues during your next visit.

Kissinger: All right. If you can use your influence on occasion with the Vietnamese, we would also appreciate that; but we do not have to know what you are doing. On the issue of the missing in action.

[Teng leans down again and spits into the spittoon.]

Teng: As I think I mentioned to you last time during your previous visit, we do not think our saying anything would be of any use, and it is our policy not to raise any such questions of such a nature.


Kissinger: About Korea … Let me get a few other housekeeping things done. The Foreign Minister and I will have to agree on a Communiqué for this visit.

Teng: You mean an announcement of the date of the President’s visit?

Kissinger: I do not know whether there is any need to say anything about my trip here. The trip we are now concluding.

[The Chinese side confers.]

Teng: I think what is needed is just the announcement of the date of the President’s visit. Everything else is already in the press.

Kissinger: Plus some things that did not happen. [Laughter] [To Funseth:] Where did you get Growald [Richard Growald of UPI]?

Funseth: He is from the White House.

Kissinger: [To Teng] I think we probably want to do that in Washington and not from here.

Teng: You mean to discuss it?

Kissinger: No, the announcement of the President’s visit should be made from Washington.

T’ang: And discuss it later on?

Kissinger: No. We can agree on a text here. We can agree later on a time of the announcement.

[Page 805]

T’ang: After your return?

Kissinger: Yes. We can agree on the text here, and then set the time of the announcement after we return to Washington. It makes no difference to you on the time of the announcement?

Teng: Anytime will be all right for us.

Ch’iao: Yes, we can decide on the text of the announcement here and you can just tell us when you want to have it announced after your return. Any time will be all right with us.

Kissinger: All right. That’s how we’ll do it.

Ch’iao: Good.

Kissinger: Now, on Korea: We have said that we are prepared to talk to North Korea, in any forum that includes South Korea.

Teng: I think the views of each side are very clear by now to the other. I think you have several sufficient channels leading to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They have an observer at the United Nations.

Kissinger: Who is extremely active. [Laughter] He thinks David Rockefeller runs the United States. [Laughter] So I hear from him periodically.

Teng: You have others.

Kissinger: We can communicate with them. We just want you to know our position.

Teng: I understand your position.

Kissinger: What is your understanding of how the legal position can be fixed in Korea if the UN Command is abolished?

Teng: You are asking … ?

Kissinger: As I read your Foreign Minister’s speech at the UN, he said it is an easy problem, but he did not tell us how to solve it.5 [Laughter]

Ch’iao: That is to say that an armistice and a cessation of hostilities— an armistice agreement—cannot go on forever. There is bound to come a day when it will be turned into a situation of peace. That can be said. Our view is that once the Armistice Agreement is replaced by a peace agreement, it will not be difficult to settle the issue in principle.

Kissinger: Yes, but if the UN Command is abolished and before there is a peace agreement, there will be no legal status at all.

Ch’iao: Our understanding of the position of our Korean friends is that these two things are connected, that is, that the Armistice Agreement will be replaced by a peace agreement.

[Page 806]

Kissinger: Yes, but their position is also that the UN Command should be abolished.

Ch’iao: As for the concrete issue of dissolving the UN Command, I think it is something for you to discuss with Korea. And it seems that the time is not yet ripe for the solving of this issue.

Kissinger: I hope we will all not fire too many cannons in the debate that is now ahead of us. [Laughter]

Teng: It seems that it won’t do if certain cannons are not fired. I think it is a saying with you, you also have a considerable number of cannons. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Yes, but we lack the eloquence of some of our critics. [Laughter] And Mr. Habib is very sensitive, because he was Ambassador in Korea. [Laughter]

South Asia

On South Asia, we are often asked by Pakistan about our attitudes. The Chief of the Pakistan Air Staff is coming to visit us the end of November, and we will begin selling some equipment to them then. And we have also warned the Soviet Union against military pressure against Pakistan by them or their friends.

Teng: That is good. We have given them a bit of what we have, but that is very backward. I think that what they need more is things that you can give them.

Kissinger: And we will begin it after the visit of the Air Marshal. We have already agreed to sell them some anti-tank weapons and I think some artillery.

Teng: How is your work going on with India?

Kissinger: They are very eager to improve their relations with us. Their Foreign Minister visited Washington a few weeks ago. Our basic assessment is that in the next five years they may bring pressure on both Bangladesh and Pakistan, and maybe attack them both. Our information is that they are seriously considering engineering a coup in Bangladesh or seriously considering engineering refugees to give them an excuse to bring pressure on Bangladesh.

Teng: I think we still have to wait to see the development of events.

Kissinger: They would be more active if they were not also pacificists. [Laughter]

Teng: Aren’t they the origin of all peace? [Laughter] They have also been very eager to improve their relations with us.

Kissinger: Yes, they told us.

Teng: And want first of all to exchange Ambassadors. And during the recent visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister Bijedic to China, he also brought us a message from India and we gave him a message back. It [Page 807] consisted of no other content than of asking Madame Gandhi to improve her relations and policies toward neighboring countries.

Kissinger: They have asked us to be helpful with you. But I assume they have many channels to you.

Teng: Yes, there are plenty of direct channels. On the evening of May Day 1971, when the Chairman met with their Chargé d’Affaires on Tien An Men, he had already said to him we do not think the present state of relations between our two countries can continue forever like this. That shows that the channels in Peking are not clogged up.

Kissinger: It is not a matter of primary concern to the United States.

Teng: Correct. But there is one point that seems to be worth noting. It seems the dissatisfaction among the people about Soviet control of India has considerably mounted.

Kissinger: Yes. I am assuming that the desire to improve relations with you and us reflects a public necessity. And we favor anything that lessens Soviet influence in India.

Teng: It is my personal impression that there will inevitably come the day when the Indians are going to rebel against the Soviet Union.

Kissinger: It seems to be the Soviet destiny whenever they have close relationships. [Laughter] The ability to maintain allies is not one of their specialities. [Teng nods agreement.]

Teng: So what else do we have to discuss? I think the main issue is still the Communiqué, which I will leave to our Foreign Minister to discuss with you at a later hour.

Kissinger: Yes.

Teng: As for the discussions we have had, especially the discussion you have had with Chairman Mao, we believe them to be of positive significance.

Kissinger: So do I.

Teng: We will be seeing each other very soon.

Kissinger: That’s right. Very soon.

Teng: As for the announcement about your visit this time, perhaps we can save some of the words for the next visit, and use them for the next visit.

Kissinger: I agree. You save the words for the next visit. There is no need to say anything substantive.

Teng: So, do you think that will be about all for the talks?

Kissinger: Yes, I think so.

Teng: We will be seeing each other later on.

Kissinger: Yes, we will be seeing each other.

[The Secretary confers with Bush and Habib.]

[Page 808]

All right.

Teng: We will see each other at half past seven.

Kissinger: Yes, half past seven.

[The Chinese side hands over an advance text of the Foreign Minister’s banquet toast for that evening.]

Teng: Just words of gratefulness for your banquet this evening.

Kissinger: Thank you.

[The meeting adjourned.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Advisor, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, Box 2, China Memcons and Reports, October 19–23, 1975, Kissinger’s Trip. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Great Hall of the People. All brackets are in the original.
  2. The counterpart talks between Habib and Lin P’ing covered financial claims and “people to people” exchanges. Memoranda of conversation are ibid.
  3. The U.S. draft communiqué, which Kissinger gave to Qiao Guanhua on October 20, stated, “The United States side, recognizing that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China, expressed its agreement with that view. In affirming the principle of one China, the United States reiterated its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.” see footnote 3, Document 121.
  4. See Document 124.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 119.