2. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Vice President Yen Chia-ken, Republic of China
  • Ambassador James Shen
  • Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tsai Wei-ping
  • President Nixon
  • Richard T. Kennedy, Deputy to the Assistant to the President for National
  • Security Affairs

Yen Chia-kan: Let me present you with this. It is a book of pictures of events since 1967.

President: I appreciate the long journey you have made to honor President Truman. It’s also an opportunity for me to welcome you here.2 I remember our meeting two years ago and my many visits to your country. I hope President Chiang is feeling better.

Yen Chia-kan: He is much better, thank you. His doctors advised him against travel. I do much of the protocol work, along with Premier Chiang Ching-kuo.

[Page 10]

President: I know you have had problems continuing your diplomatic ties with many countries but you still have great economic strength. It comes from hard work.

Yen Chia-kan: Yes, and we will even work harder. The important part of our international relations is trade. We have a great expansion. It has increased from $4.2 billion to $5.9 billion in just two years, and it’s going up. What you have done for us is bearing fruit. Our production is up per capita.

We know we will continue to work hard and face our future and keep the support of our friends. We have had an election of our legislative bodies. We are drawing more and more local people into politics, more younger people. Education is moving rapidly. We are also emphasizing citizenship and vocational education.

President: That’s an excellent move.

Yen Chia-kan: You have been kind to send us scientists for technical exchange. We hope we can increase this and intensify it.

President: We will do all we can.

Yen Chia-kan: A word about our military situation. We have made the transfer of aircraft to South Vietnam as you wished.

President: The purpose was to strengthen the GVN and our common interest. We hope to break the deadlock soon. They [the North Vietnamese]3 had agreed before our election, then they back off, that’s why we resumed the May 8 policy.4 Now they are willing to start the talks again. We want to settle it—it will include a cease-fire and the return of prisoners. On the political side, there is no coalition. We want to end it, but we must end it the right way. A bug-out would hurt us everywhere in the world. The Congress is giving us a tough time.

Yen Chia-kan: We will do everything possible to coordinate our policy with yours.

On the military side, we are giving gradually more and more attention to our Air Force and Navy. We have to do everything to prevent our isolation. We will appreciate your help to keep us in international organizations. We need your help and support. We will do everything to merit your support.

You know, there is possibly oil near Taiwan. We are cooperating with U.S. oil companies on this. It’s in the exploratory stage.

[Page 11]

President: I hope it is there. If you had the oil Saudi Arabia had, you’d be the strongest nation in the world. You’ve done remarkably with your resources. It comes from hard work and organization.

Yen Chia-kan: We are helping others in land reforms. Our success in land reform is the result of many factors. We are doing multi-cropping now—with up to four crops a year. We are now producing more industrially than agriculturally. Our industrial growth is greater than our agriculture now. Your help has been very important. Ford’s decision to come to Taiwan is very helpful.

President: How is Madame Chiang?

Yen Chia-kan: Fine.

President: She is strong and highly intelligent. We’ll keep in close touch. If there is any change in our Ambassadors, we will let you know.

[The President gave him a Presidential ash tray and pin and escorted him to his car].

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1026, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Jan.–Mar. 1973. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. In addition to the participants listed in the memorandum of conversation, the President’s Daily Diary indicates that a military aide, Lieutenant Colonel William L. Golden, also attended. (Ibid., White House Central Files) A tape of this conversation is ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation, No. 834–16.
  2. Kissinger initially expressed reservations about advising Nixon to meet Yan Jiagan. (Memorandum from Kennedy to Kissinger, January 4; ibid., NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. 11, Aug 1972–Oct 24, 1973) Kissinger modified his position after receiving a letter from Department of State Executive Secretary Theodore Eliot on January 3, which argued that it was important for the President to meet Yan since he was acting as Chief of State in place of the ailing Jiang Jieshi. (Ibid., White House Special Files, Subject Files, Confidential Files, 1969–1974, [CF] CO 34–1, ROC) On January 4, Kissinger sent the President talking points for this meeting. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1026, Presidential/HAK MemCons, Jan.–Mar. 1973)
  3. All brackets are in the original.
  4. On May 8, 1972, Nixon addressed the nation on the situation in Southeast Asia during which he announced the use of increased military measures against North Vietnam and the presentation of a new peace proposal. See Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 583–587.