159. Editorial Note

On November 11, 1976, the Central Intelligence Agency issued National Intelligence Estimate 13–76 entitled “PRC Defense Policy and Armed Forces.” This estimate concluded that the People’s Republic of China perceived the United States as weakened and as less of a direct military threat than the Soviet Union. It also noted the PRC’s fear of a U.S.–USSR compromise that would leave the PRC to confront the Soviets alone. (National Intelligence Council, Tracking the Dragon from accompanying compact disc with additional documents)

On December 21, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with Chief of the PRC Liaison Office Huang Zhen from 4:35 to 5:40 p.m. [Page 980] Huang remarked that it had been several months since he had met with Kissinger. In the interim the United States had held a presidential election, while in the People’s Republic of China, “Our Party’s Central Committee headed by Chairman Hua Kuo-feng has followed Chairman Mao’s behest and smashed at one blow the ‘Gang of Four’ and the anti-Party clique.” Huang queried Kissinger about Cyrus Vance, whom President-elect Jimmy Carter had designated to be Secretary of State in his upcoming administration. Kissinger said, “It’s my conviction that the line as we discussed it with Chairman Mao and other Chinese leaders, especially Chairman Mao, about having common interests, especially in relations with the Soviet Union, must be a basic principle of American foreign policy. I will always support this policy and do my best to see to it that it is maintained, and I believe that Secretary Vance will also see matters in a similar light.” (Memorandum of conversation; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–1977, Box 6, China, unnumbered items (38), 12/3–12/29/76)

A few weeks later, on January 8, 1977, Kissinger hosted Huang and Vance in the Secretary’s Dining Room at the Department of State. Huang declared that his country continued to insist upon three actions that the United States must take before there could be an improvement in relations with the People’s Republic of China: “sever the diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, withdraw U.S. troops from Taiwan, and abrogate the Treaty.” Huang complained about Carter’s recent interview in Time magazine, in which “he openly called Taiwan ‘China’ and even in the same breath put Taiwan on a par with the People’s Republic of China. And we think this kind of remark runs counter to the principles of the Shanghai Communiqué.” Vance responded, “As far as President Carter is concerned, let me assure you that he stands firmly behind the implementation of the Shanghai Communiqué as the guiding principle which should govern our bilateral relations.” A few minutes later, Vance noted, “Let me say that I fully accept the principle of one China.” (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., unnumbered items (39), 1/6–1/14/77)