144. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Thomas S. Gates, Chief-Designate of U.S. Liaison Office in Peking
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[A press session takes place first for the public announcement. Then the press leaves.]

The President: The Ambassador issue is complicated. I can only grant it for six months.

[Page 922]

Gates: That would be fine. I gather it was in part because you plan some movement and want to signal the Chinese.

Kissinger: They will interpret it that way.

Scowcroft: It will be a sign of the importance we ascribe to them.

The President: We do have to begin some movement, perhaps in 1977. But we do have to bite the bullet sometime after the election.

Kissinger: They are cold, pragmatic bastards. The President is right—we will have to move after the election. I would like to give Tom a letter either to Mao or Hua. Then we could have a verbatim report of what they say, to see if there are nuances of change. Nixon didn’t record enough detail to be helpful.2

Gates: Hua may not have the confidence to make a policy statement.

Kissinger: Even if he reads it, it would be good. And I will give a lunch for you and invite the Chinese and put myself squarely behind you. I could also have Bush and Bruce there.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–1977, Box 6, China, unnumbered items (28), 3/9/76–4/27/76. Secret; Nodis. Ford’s talking points for this meeting are ibid. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Nixon had recently visited China. Telegram 325 from Beijing, February 26, transmitted a report on his trip. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)