34. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- The President’s Meeting with Ambassador Huang Chen, Chief of PRC Liaison Office in Washington
- The President
- Ambassador Huang Chen
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
The President greeted Ambassador Huang Chen. The Ambassador said he wanted to thank the President for the friendly reception. He brought with him best wishes from Mr. and Mrs. Mao, and Mr. and Mrs. Chou En-lai. The President thanked him, and said he wanted the Ambassador to convey his personal messages to Chairman Mao and to Premier Chou En-lai.
Dr. Kissinger had had sensitive talks with the Chairman and the Premier, the President noted, especially as the Brezhnev talks might [Page 268] affect third parties. Dr. Kissinger had told Huang Chen we were prepared to reach an understanding about consultations. His statements reflected U.S. policy. If the Premier and Chairman Mao approved, we were prepared to make a more formal understanding on these points.2
Our commitment to better relations with the PRC was made, the President stressed. People who knew the President well knew that his commitment, when made, was solid. Good relations with the People’s Republic of China were in the self-interest of the United States. Our self-interest required an independent and strong China. It was a cornerstone of U.S. policy to see that action was taken for the strength of China. A meeting was coming up with Brezhnev; the important thing was that there would be eight days of conversations.3 But nothing would be agreed to that in any way would be detrimental to the People’s Republic of China. The President had talked to Dr. Kissinger and instructed him to keep the Ambassador fully informed.
The other point the President wished to make to the Ambassador concerned the Southeast Asian situation. The Vietnam peace agreement removed a major irritant in our relations. But there was one outstanding problem, that is Cambodia. He could not emphasize too much the importance of reaching a settlement in Cambodia similar to that in Laos. Now China played a very important role. It would be a tragedy if we allowed Cambodia to flare up and reopen the conflict all over Indochina. The President wanted to emphasize that the United States was not committed to any one man. But there could not be peace at the point of a gun—on either side. We wanted a settlement that let the warring elements live together. Over a period of time the Cambodian people could determine which is better for their future. The highest priority, the President reiterated, was to work out some sort of peace agreement in Cambodia.4
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 94, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, May 16-June 13, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A tape of this conversation, which took place in the Oval Office, is ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation No. 930–7. Nixon saw talking points prepared on May 29 by Kissinger prior to the meeting. (Ibid., NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 94, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, May 16-June 13, 1973)↩
- On May 27, Huang Hua gave Kissinger a note that asserted that the latest Soviet draft of the “Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War” was unacceptable because it “still aims at the establishment of U.S.-Soviet nuclear hegemony over the world.” (Ibid.) Two days later, during a meeting that began at 6 p.m., Kissinger told Huang Zhen, “We would be prepared to consider some joint declaration that neither of us will engage in any negotiation against the other or that neither of us will join in any agreement without consultation with the other.” (Ibid.)↩
- Brezhnev arrived in the United States on June 16 and the summit began on June 18.↩
- During their meeting on May 27, Kissinger told Huang Hua of the U.S. determination to stabilize the situation in Cambodia. (Memorandum of conversation, May 27, 10:00–11:15 a.m.; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 94, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, May 16-June 13, 1973)↩