38. Letter From President Nixon to Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I have been following the discussions between Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Huang Chen with great attention and I have also studied the notes that have been sent to us by the Chinese Government with respect to the proposed draft agreement. As you know, we differ in our assessment of the consequences of the agreement, though not in the purposes it is supposed to serve. It remains our view that this agreement confers no special rights on the U.S. or the U.S.S.R.—and we would oppose any such claim. On the other hand, there is no way recourse [Page 279] to force can be initiated by the U.S.S.R. without violating this agreement and thus creating a legal basis for resistance. As we have told your representatives and also other governments we intend to use this agreement to obtain greater scope for actions in areas not now covered by formal obligations.

Whatever our disagreement as to tactics, I want to use this occasion to tell you formally that the U.S. will oppose a policy that aims at hegemony or seeks to bring about the isolation of the People’s Republic of China. For this reason Dr. Kissinger has assured Ambassador Huang Chen on my behalf that the U.S. will not change its vote at the United Nations on the issue of the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

I understand the hesitation of the Chinese side to sign a formal declaration along the lines proposed by Dr. Kissinger on May 29.2 Let me, therefore, state our policy unilaterally: The U.S. will not engage in consultations that could affect the interests of the People’s Republic of China without a full prior discussion with the Chinese Government. Specifically, any consultation under Article 4 of the agreement will be fully discussed with the Chinese Government before it is initiated and will not be concluded before the Chinese Government has an opportunity to express its view. In no case will the U.S. participate in a joint move together with the Soviet Union under this agreement with respect to conflicts or disputes where the People’s Republic of China is a party.

Dr. Kissinger will be prepared to repeat our opposition to hegemony and our readiness for full consultation publicly on the occasion of his visit in August if the Chinese Government should consider it appropriate.

I recognize that the Chinese Government will reserve the right to express its views on this agreement. I hope, however, that it will do so in a manner that will not complicate the fixed course of the U.S. policy which is to oppose hegemonial aspirations no matter what their pretext.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 95, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, June 14–July 9, 1973. No classification marking. According to a handwritten notation, Kissinger handed the letter to Huang Zhen during their June 19 meeting. (See Document 37) On June 20, Bruce delivered the contents of the letter to Qiao Guanhua. (Telegram 3 from Beijing, June 20; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 95, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, June 14-July 9, 1973)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 34.