5. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
Nixon: I also think when you’re in Peking you should explore the possibility of my taking another trip there. I don’t know whether we should or not, but let me say—of course, if I go we have to put Japan on.
Kissinger: But that might not be bad.
Nixon: Japan is always a problem because of the radicals. But at the present time, I saw something—a Japanese poll indicating that 60% thought that the Emperor should visit us, and 78% wanted the President to go to Japan. So we have a lot of friends in Japan, you know. The Japanese are not all that dumb.
Kissinger: But if you want that option we have to invite the [unclear] Emperor over here.
Nixon: Have the Emperor first?
Nixon: I don’t mind having the Emperor.
Kissinger: I mean, if we could put him on the schedule—
Nixon: That will be the only other visit this year, Henry. It can’t be the Zulus or anything else.
Kissinger: But if you have him here then after that you have the option of going there.
Nixon: I would like to go to China, you see, at a time, again, a better time of year, when it’s more pleasant. We might get a better reception too with the Chinese at that time.
Kissinger: Oh, no question.
Nixon: And I just don’t see him again, you know what I mean? Chou En-lai?
Kissinger: Oh, you certainly would get a popular reception next time.
Nixon: Yeah. And that could be helpful.
Kissinger: I’ll get this [unclear] set with Chou.[Page 19]
Nixon: Well, just tell him I’d like to do it. There are great important things that I feel that I have to turn this country around. You can tell him things like that. But I did not want to do it, but tell him that we have to meet with the Russians. But I want to keep talking to them.
Kissinger: Well, then I’ll tell him that—
Nixon: That I would like to do it.
Kissinger: Well, also that we expect if the Russians attack them it’s very useful to have [unclear].
Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Another point we have to have in mind is what the hell we do on Taiwan? Now, as you know, I think they might call in our chip on that. You think they will?
Kissinger: They will, yes. Well what I thought—
Nixon: Our chip there is not too much anyway. All we promised is that—
Kissinger: We’d pull out our forces.
Nixon: Cut down our sources—forces, right? Vietnam related forces come out anyway.
Kissinger: The Vietnam related forces come out immediately. And the other ones would be reduced gradually.
Nixon: So do it.
Kissinger: I thought I should preempt it by telling them when I get there that we will pull out the Vietnam related forces and give them a schedule.
Kissinger: That way they can’t raise the other forces.
Nixon: Yeah. But you see, what the Chinese have done to work out, Henry, is this. And I don’t know whether this is in their—I mean, it wouldn’t be possible with the jackasses from North Vietnam. The Chinese may be subtle enough to understand. Taiwan is such a bustling, productive, et cetera community, they ought to work out some kind of federation, you know what I mean?
Kissinger: I think they’re willing to do that.
Nixon: What I call—like basically, Puerto Rico. And I mean let both flowers bloom. See my point?
Kissinger: What I think they will come to, what they will gradually accept—
Nixon: Otherwise it’s war. You know what I mean?
Kissinger: No, they won’t use force. That you can count on.
Nixon: Well, not with us. But how else are they going to get the Taiwanese, for example? [unclear] But I don’t see—the Taiwanese are doing so well economically, Henry, they’re never going to let, never going to say, “All right, we’re now going to become part of the PRC.” Never.[Page 20]
Kissinger: No, it’s not going to happen that way. I think what they will want from us—well first, that we pull out some of our forces. That will get us through this year.
Kissinger: For the time being, what they really want from us is protection against Russia. Taiwan is subsidiary. Eventually, we may have to come to a position similar to Japan’s, which is that we maintain consular relations in Taiwan and diplomatic relations in Peking, in return for a promise by them they wouldn’t use force against Taiwan, but we hope that Chiang Kai-shek will have died before then.
Nixon: Japan has consular relations with Taiwan?
Nixon: It’d be a bitch for us.
Kissinger: It’d be a bastard.
Nixon: Well, the thing to do is to have it build up—
Kissinger: But this wouldn’t be, I don’t see that—
Nixon: The thing to do is have it build up in American public opinion before then. We just got to do it.
Kissinger: It can’t happen much before ’75.
Nixon: The later the better. I still think Chou En-lai should consider—reconsider—not Washington, but San Clemente. You see my point?
Kissinger: Let me talk to him about it.
Nixon: You see my point?
Kissinger: What he could do is go to the UN.
Nixon: He could go to the UN; we’ve talked about that. And then we’d meet up there, you mean?
Kissinger: No. In connection to that, stop in San Clemente.
Nixon: Oh, I see. I will not in 4 years go to the UN. I’m never going there again.
Kissinger: But of course, it hurts you. If he goes to the UN, he’s going to give a tough—
Kissinger: Now the disadvantage of having Brezhnev in October is that he’ll certainly go to the UN.
Nixon: Oh, well, Henry that’s part of it. What the hell do we care.
Kissinger: We shouldn’t care.
Nixon: Look, we always worry about them huffing and puffing. There are worse things.
Kissinger: I think, Mr. President, from our point of view, assuming—we could find a formulation on that nuclear treaty that doesn’t [Page 21] drive the Chinese up the wall. The Russians are sufficiently eager to have it, so if we could keep it out there in front of them until October it would buy us good Russian behavior for the rest of [unclear].
[Omitted here is discussion of Kissinger’s schedule.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 846–2. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. The President’s Daily Diary indicates that this discussion occurred as part of a longer conversation between 9:45 and 10:03 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)↩