130. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: The Chinese turned down our statement but accepted the cut-down version of the trip. They stressed that you would be received with courtesy. They need us more than we need them. They may be doing this to prove their manhood; having done so they may give you a good trip. These are two options: cancel, or else go but get the word out that we don’t expect anything of substance but that it is important to exchange views.

The President: I think we should do the latter.

Kissinger: Then I would tell the Chinese we find their communiqué unacceptable and since we submitted the last draft it is up to them to offer modifications. Ask them: Why does it serve their purpose to have the visit end on a statement advertising our differences? But say we are prepared to do without a statement. Then I think we [Page 835] should get to Indonesia and the Philippines and announce it all next Tuesday. [Discussed the sequence of Jakarta–Manila.]

The President: Is there any diplomatic difference?

Kissinger: I don’t know which way it would be easier to get out the crowds.

The President: Let’s go to Jakarta first if there isn’t any difference.

Kissinger: Okay. Let’s notify all of them and say we want to announce it at noon here on Tuesday.2 We will do a note to the Chinese: Since we have submitted something to them, could they submit their version of a press statement? Also could they tell us how to make our version acceptable. It is in the interest of both of us not to end on the point of our differences.

Actually the Chinese note was fairly conciliatory. Bush thinks it is best not to have a communiqué.

The President: I think to cancel it would be a disaster both internationally and with the left and right.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to China.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSA Memcons, Box 16, July–October 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. According to the President’s Daily Diary, it lasted from 9:18 to 10:10 a.m., with Scowcroft joining at 9:25. (Ibid.) All brackets are in the original, except the bracketed insertion describing the omission of material.
  2. November 4.