152. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Huang Chen, Chief, PRC Liaison Office
  • Mr. Chien Ta-yung, Counselor, PRC Liaison Office
  • Ms. Shen Jo-yun, Interpreter, PRC Liaison Office
  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Arthur W. Hummel, Jr., Assistant Secretary, EA
  • Winston Lord, Director, S/P
  • William H. Gleysteen, National Security Council

Kissinger: When I asked to see you I saw no particular urgency but thought we would benefit from an exchange of views.

Huang: I agree.

Kissinger: We have already expressed our sympathy for the earthquake and the self-reliant approach you have taken in dealing with it.

Huang: Thank you.

Kissinger: It is certainly an unusual attitude in this day.

Huang: The earthquake was very serious, but under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Central Committee of our Party and with the support of the people, we have learned to overcome great hardships.

Kissinger: Perhaps it would be helpful if I were to review a few issues and bring you up to date on our thinking.

Huang: Since our last meeting I think you have visited Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Kissinger: Correct. I think you may remember my talk with Chairman Mao where I emphasized the great importance and stabilizing influence of Iran in terms of the Soviet Union. During this trip we discussed continuing military relations and also a considerable expansion of our technological and industrial relations. I visited Afghanistan because the brother of the President said Afghanistan wanted to be more independent of the Soviet Union and hoped for more visible support from the United States. If we can conquer our bureaucracy, we will commence certain projects over the next few months. One of these is a power [Page 946] project and another is an engineering school. We need a cultural revolution in our bureaucracy. (Laughter) Seriously, you know the importance of Pakistan and Prime Minister Bhutto to us. We are also working with Pakistan to improve our various relationships but these are affected by the nuclear issue on which our Congress has inhibitions.

Huang: Dr. Kissinger must still remember Chairman Mao’s comment about forming a horizontal curve. You have just visited three of the countries. This is fine.

Kissinger: My visit was very much in the spirit of my conversation with Chairman Mao.

Huang: During that talk Chairman Mao singled out Iraq as a point of particular interest. What is the current situation there?

Kissinger: Iraq is becoming somewhat more dubious about the value of its connection with the Soviets. When the head of our interests section returns to Iraq, he will talk to them on re-establishing relations. Throughout the Middle East the Soviets have proceeded with their usual method of threats such as cutting off aid. Where they do, it has always had a bad effect as we have seen in Syria.

We have also been somewhat active in Africa working particularly with Tanzania and Zambia as well as putting pressure on South Africa to bring about a settlement in Rhodesia and Namibia. A settlement is a possibility, and depending on the prospects I may go to Africa in the first half of September.

Huang: After Angola I have the impression that Soviet influence has been expanding in an even more pronounced way in Africa.

Kissinger: Correct, but we are trying to counteract it. That is why we are giving arms aid to Zaire and Kenya.

Huang: Some time ago Castro claimed, I think through the Swedes, that he would soon withdraw Cuban troops from Angola. By now we can see that this was nothing but a false profession.

Kissinger: Right. That is why we will not accept them (Angola) in the UN. Angola is occupied by Cuba and they cannot maintain themselves without Cuban arms.

Huang: In the long run we believe that foreign forces cannot control and plunder countries such as Angola.

Kissinger: In the long run you are correct though we wish to avoid a repetition of the Angolan situation in Rhodesia and Namibia where the Soviets may otherwise be tempted.

Huang: In the press we have seen some discussion of this possibility.

Kissinger: Yes, but we think we have a chance of defeating such Soviet moves if we succeed with our policies.

I also wish to discuss the matter of communist party participation in West European governments. We oppose such participation. I [Page 947] recognize that you are perhaps not an ideal target for our views, because we once opposed communist participation in the Chinese government. (Laugher) People say that the West European communist parties are independent of Moscow. I don’t know if one can judge this to be the case when it is so much in their (communist parties) interest to pretend this. I am suspicious, for example, of the French Communist Party which has always been one of the most loyal Stalinist parties, when it voted overwhelmingly 120 to 0 for a posture of independence. I would have been far more impressed by a closer vote. But the 120 to 0 vote suggests the largest mass conversion in history. I remember the time when the East European communist parties were saying the same thing that we are now hearing from the West European communist parties. I have had a compilation made of these statements and will send one along to you if you like. (Lord to send copy.) In any event our principal concern is that the communist parties will come into power with positions and the kind of public support that will undermine West European defense and lead to the Finlandization of Europe. This is what we are trying to prevent. If you believe the statements you have made to us that the Soviets’ basic objective is to make a feint toward the East while attacking the West, I think you must share our concern.

Huang: During our last conversation we also talked about this. Our views are still the same. We think you are too worried about this matter. We believe the West European parties are not simply tools of the Soviets. In saying this I should point out, nevertheless, that we don’t have connections with the French and Italian communist parties.

Kissinger: I just wanted to explain our position.

Huang: As we see it the problem faced by Western Europe is the Soviet expansionist threat. The Soviets operate under the banner of détente.

Kissinger: I agree that expansion is the Soviet strategy. The question is how do we deal with it.

Huang: Foreign Minister Chiao recently said to Senator Scott that a policy of détente with the Soviet Union is less and less effective. In any event we do not think the West European communist parties can be viewed simply as a Soviet fifth column.

Kissinger: I must say your Foreign Minister was effective in somehow managing to get his own views across during his discussions with the Senator. Senator Scott has his own ideas and his own solutions. I read with interest the reports of his conversations with your leaders.2

[Page 948]

Huang: What did you think of Senator Scott’s report?

Kissinger: The Senator raised a number of topics too insistently and he advanced certain solutions we would not have proposed. He was so persistent that he seems to have prompted some of your people into firing off some cannons. I say this on the basis of our reports though I recognize it is possible the reports were not accurate.

Huang: I would like to say something about this (Taiwan). Recently people in the United States have made many official and nonofficial comments about Sino-U.S. relations.

Kissinger: Which have been official? I don’t consider the Republican Party platform official.3

Huang: (interrupting) I wish to say something. I have something to say. The United States invaded Taiwan (the interpreter incorrectly translated this as “committed aggression against Taiwan”) thus owing China a debt. The U.S. must fulfill the three conditions of breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan, withdrawing its military forces from Taiwan, and abrogating its defense treaty with Taiwan. There can be no exception about any of these conditions, and there is no room for maneuver in carrying them out. The delay in normalizing relations is entirely the responsibility of the United States. The method and the time for liberating Taiwan is an internal affair of China and is not discussable. The Chinese position was clear to you even before you sought to re-open relations with us. Now Americans are saying that China’s liberation of Taiwan will cripple the development of Sino-U.S. relations. They (Americans) are saying that Sino-U.S. relations will prosper only if the Chinese side takes into account U.S. concerns. This is a premeditated pretext. It is a flagrant threat against China, and we cannot accept it.

Kissinger: What is a threat?

Huang: Vice Premier Chang Chun-chiao and Foreign Minister Chiao told Senator Scott very clearly (what is a threat), I think I should stop here.

Kissinger: I should point out that the statement about taking U.S. views into account doesn’t apply principally to the Taiwan issue but rather to our broader cooperation. Certainly I thought reciprocity was a basic Chinese policy.

Huang: I hope we can proceed on the basis of the Shanghai communiqué as Vice Premier Chang pointed out to Senator Scott.

Kissinger: It is our firm purpose to do so. We will act on this basis, and not on the basis of what is written in this or that platform. [Page 949] (This was translated in a way suggesting the Chinese did not make the connection to the party platforms.)

Huang: You remember Chairman Mao told you in 1973 that we would have to liberate Taiwan and that we do not believe in peaceful liberation. Vice Premier Chang explained to Scott that the Shanghai communiqué did not specify that the solution to the Taiwan problem would be peaceful or otherwise. May I remind you that I did not come (to see you) for this discussion but I had to say something (about the Taiwan issue).

Kissinger: I appreciate your comments. Basically Vice Premier Chang did not say anything new. Chairman Mao and others have made the same points to us before. We appreciate that this is your basic view. Quite frankly we would not have recommended that Senator Scott open this issue with you as he did. As we told you last year, these election months in the United States are not the time for working out an agreement on normalization of our relations. We must instead move not long after our elections. I assure you we will maintain our support for the Shanghai communiqué and will work to complete normalization. Nobody is authorized to speak for us. When we do it, we will do it at this level. I recognize there is not unlimited time. On our side we are doing our utmost to curb unhelpful discussion. We feel private discussion is better than public discussion.

Huang: Is there anything else? Are you going elsewhere in the near future?

Kissinger: Maybe to Africa, depending on the progress of discussions. And I am playing with the idea of going to the Philippines in October to discuss our base negotiations.

Huang: The Philippines also had an unfortunate earthquake.

Kissinger: We have offered them assistance. May I raise one or two bilateral matters. I remember a conversation with your trade minister and the President also mentioned that in certain special trade matters such as the sale of computers, we wish to be helpful to you. But the trouble is that you deal at a very low level through commercial channels. If you approach Mr. Lord or Mr. Hummel we will do our best to make special arrangements to help you. We have problems such as our procedures for dealing with the Soviets, but if we know what you want, we may be able to make exceptions.

Huang: (Following a query to Chien) As Chien says, President Ford did raise this issue with us, and he also points out that we have already replied that we will deal with these matters through commercial channels.

Kissinger: Yes I understand, but this creates infinite problems. I suggest instead that you informally tell Mr. Lord so we can watch and try to be helpful. We know your attachment to private enterprise [Page 950] (laughter), and we are not saying that you should avoid commercial channels. We are simply suggesting that you supplement these by keeping us privately informed.

Huang: All right. I understand and will report your suggestion to Peking.

Kissinger: On Korea. It would of course be best if we could avoid a confrontation. I realize you don’t have instructions on the matter, but I should note that there was an event in Korea today in which two Americans were beaten to death.4 This is a serious matter which could have grave consequences if restraint is not shown.

Huang: I heard about it on the radio, but I don’t have any details. As for solution of the Korean question, I think our respective views are well-known to each other. Although I am not informed about the latest incident I can say that we know the Koreans pretty well since they are friendly to us. The Korean people will put up a strong self-defense when they are provoked.

Kissinger: Two U.S. officers are dead and we know from very good pictures that no Koreans were killed. The U.S. officers couldn’t have beaten themselves to death.

Huang: Why were the cameras ready?

Kissinger: That is a good question.

Huang: Having the cameras there makes it look as though you were prepared for the incident.

Kissinger: The reason for the cameras is that the observation post nearby the site of the incident takes photographs constantly. Our people were trying to cut down trees which obstructed their view.

Huang: I see.

Kissinger: When is the Foreign Minister coming to the United Nations for the General Assembly?

Huang: I have no news of it so far.

Kissinger: Will you invite him to come down to Washington? I know he will not accept my invitation but he may accept yours.

Huang: As long as the Chiang Kai-shek Embassy is here, he will not come.

Kissinger: We can offer him Camp David.

Huang: We would prefer to come in through the front gate.

Kissinger: I hope we can have our annual exchange.

Huang: Sure we can in New York!

[Page 951]

Kissinger: Of course.

Huang: Are you going to Kansas City? We have watched quite a bit of television lately. Last night I watched until 12, although I gave up after the voting.

Kissinger: All the rest was quite unimportant.

Huang: I won’t take any more of your time.

Kissinger: You have had many visitors. I think you will have many visitors in September, won’t you?

Huang: To whom are you referring?

Kissinger: I think Senator Mansfield is going, and I understand that my former colleague Schlesinger will be inspecting your fortifications during September.

Huang: He will not be making an inspection; rather he has asked to get around the country, and we are trying to accommodate him. Moreover, Senator Mansfield will go to even more places.

Kissinger: I don’t object.

Huang: You remember that we invited him (Schlesinger) in 1974. Don’t be jealous. You have been to China nine times I believe. You even said you yourself wanted to go to Inner Mongolia.

Kissinger: But I didn’t get there. I wanted to go see the musk ox of Mongolia.

Huang: There is only one left. The Mayor of San Francisco offered us a second one, and it was reported to the State Department. But, there has been no action. I understand that the musk ox in San Francisco is related to the one we have in China.5

Kissinger: Either we didn’t like the musk ox’s political attitude or we feared incest. (Laughter) But, we will look into it.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–1977, Box 6, China, unnumbered items (33), 8/1/76–8/28/76. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in Secretary Kissinger’s office. The attached correspondence profile indicates that on August 30 Scowcroft discussed the memorandum with President Ford.
  2. See Document 150 and footnotes 2 and 4 thereto.
  3. The Republican Party platform of 1976 expressed support for “the freedom and independence of our friend and ally, the Republic of China, and its 16 million people.”
  4. U.S. and South Korean soldiers were attacked while pruning a tree in the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
  5. At the time of his February 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China, President Nixon brought two musk oxen as gifts for his hosts.