45. Memorandum From Richard H. Solomon of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U.S.–PRC Exchanges May be Adding to Chou En-lai’s Problems

Over the weekend additional corroborative evidence has become available which strengthens the interpretation that Chou En-lai is under some pressure from radical elements in the PRC who object to his relatively pragmatic policies toward the intellectual community and related efforts to depoliticize both university entrance requirements and scientific research. The available material is pieced together in a fine bit of analysis from the Hong Kong Consulate at Tab A.2

Of particular interest is the evidence (in paragraphs 2 and 3) that two PRC scientific groups which visited the U.S. last year3 drew criticism from radicals around Mao’s wife who found their attitudes toward America too favorable. If accurate, these reports suggest that U.S.–PRC exchanges, particularly those which involve China’s scientific and academic communities, may be adding to Premier Chou’s political vulnerability. The Hong Kong analysis adds, however, that Chairman Mao’s July 17 public meeting with Chinese-American scientist Yang Chen-ning may have represented Mao siding with Chou in this dispute.4

You should know that this evidence of political resistance in China to U.S.–PRC exchanges comes at a time when American academics involved in facilitating such exchanges—particularly those in the scientific community—are miffed at Chinese authorities for apparently calling all the shots on exchange programs and for not being responsive to the particular interests of American scientists. These same people feel that the U.S. Government has not pressed Peking sufficiently in [Page 308] terms of American interests in these exchanges. Department of State officers concerned with exchanges will be meeting with representatives of the Committee on Scholarly Communication and National Committee on U.S.-China Relations next week to discuss differences. I will attend the meeting in an effort to keep the participants sensitized to the larger interest that is being served by exchange programs, and to discourage any uncoordinated approaches to the PRC Liaison Office on exchange matters that might compound the above-mentioned situation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 527, Country Files, Far East, People’s Republic of China, Vol. 8, Jul 10–Dec 31, 1973. Secret. Urgent; sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates Kissinger saw it.
  2. Attached but not printed is telegram 7602 from Hong Kong, July 30.
  3. Eleven Chinese medical specialists visited the United States in October 1972. A delegation of nonmedical scientists from China visited the United States in November–December 1972.
  4. See footnote 9, Document 43.