44. Note From the Government of the United States to the Government of the People’s Republic of China1

The US side has consistently sought a ceasefire and political settlement in Cambodia since the January 27 Paris Agreement. The other side has continually refused to end the war in Cambodia and responded to the unilateral ceasefire proclaimed by the Phnom Penh government and the cessation of US air actions in Cambodia in February with an intensified military offensive.

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The Chinese side declared to the US side in its message of June 4 that it would communicate the US peace proposal of May 27 to Prince Sihanouk.2 This proposal accepted a long-standing Chinese suggestion for direct talks with Prince Sihanouk made during every visit by Dr. Kissinger to Peking. The contents of the June 4 message were reiterated on June 13 by Foreign Minister Chi P’eng-fei and again in the Chinese message of July 6, that this awaited only the return of Prince Sihanouk from his travels. On July 6, Ambassador Huang Chen declared that the Chinese side would convey the US proposal to Prince Sihanouk now that he had returned to Peking.3

The Chinese message of July 18 has therefore been noted with astonishment.4 There has been no change in US policy and no increase in US activities. In light of these earlier assurances, and the principles and spirit of the Shanghai Communiqué difficult to understand why the Chinese side is unable to communicate an American peace proposal to a leader located in Peking. It is utterly unreasonable that this leader should publicly demand that communications to him go through Mauritania to which the Chinese side would not entrust the original US communication of May 27. This raises special difficulties because in reliance on the June 4 note and subsequent assurances, the US had not engaged in any other negotiations or responded to any other channels.

As to the substance of the Chinese note of July 18, the Chinese side will not be surprised that the US side rejects a “solution” so arbitrarily weighted against it. This is inconsistent with the requirements of reciprocity and equality. It is beyond the bounds of logic to be asked to negotiate on an issue when the other side, clearly and from the outset, leaves no room for negotiations. In such circumstances the US side will leave negotiations to the Cambodian parties.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 95, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, July 10–October 31 1973 [2 of 2]. No classification marking. According to a handwritten notation, Scowcroft passed the note to Han Xu during a July 24 meeting, which took place in the MAP Room at the White House at 6 p.m. (Memorandum of conversation, July24; ibid., Box 1027, Presidential/HAK MemCons, MemCons-HAK& Presidential, April–November 1973 [3 of 5]) Scowcroft also communicated an oral message: “My Government notes, with regret, that this is the first time in the development of our new relationship that the Chinese word has not counted.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–1977, Box 4, China Exchanges) On July 25, Scowcroft informed Han that Kissinger could not arrive in China on August 16 and proposed instead that Kissinger visit September 13–16 or September 6–9. (Ibid.)
  2. See footnotes 4 and 5, Document 43.
  3. For additional information concerning Kissinger’s June 13 meeting with Ji Pengfei, see Document 36. For the July 6 note and meeting between Kissinger and Huang, see Document 41.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 43. Backchannel message 19 to Beijing, July 18, referred to the Chinese note as relatively “brutal,” asked the advice of the USLO, and proposed that “On Monday or Tuesday [July 23 or 24] Ambassador Bruce would pass a harsh response to their Cambodia note, express his astonishment and offer a fundamental discussion of the full range of US/Chinese relations.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 95, Country Files, Far East, China Exchanges, July 10–Oct. 31, 1973 [2 of 2]) In backchannel message 21 to Beijing, July 19, Jenkins and Holdridge responded: “We do not read this as a brutal message, but rather a restatement of a firm Chinese position.” They questioned whether a Party Congress might be about to occur and also noted, “Chinese calculate we are in weak position in Cambodia. They were unquestionably angered by our last spurt of intensified bombing, not to mention Chou’s anger produced by Magnuson’s counseling ‘patience’ while that was going on.” (Ibid.)