61. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai
  • T’ang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
  • Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger
  • Commander Jonathan T. Howe, NSC Staff
  • Mrs. Bonnie Andrews, Notetaker


  • Japan, Congress, Pakistan

Prime Minister Chou: I wish to discuss with you our assessment of Japan. You mentioned two probable alternatives. There is a third alternative because they are under your nuclear umbrella and they have a very clear conception. And when you arrive on Japanese soil you will see that without the American umbrella, you will see what state they would be in. Then they would be under a different nuclear umbrella. I think that is a tendency that both of us should try to deviate. And the more farsighted statesmen of Japan must see the danger.

Of course, we don’t think it would be possible for you to tell them all of your own plans with regard to your nuclear umbrella over Japan. You have a defense treaty with them and you can’t tell them all the details but we feel you can come very close to them. Because at the present they cannot leave your nuclear umbrella or your energy resources. And to them their needs are not confined to energy but to all resources of their economy. Their main shortcoming is that some of their statesmen tend to be shortsighted, but I believe that in the turmoil of the world persons of great stature will gradually emerge. You have also included them in the economic aspect of the new Atlantic Charter.2 That will reassure them. They will meet with new difficulties and they have various odd notions.

Secretary Kissinger: They specialize in that.

Prime Minister Chou: You cannot ask too much out of consideration of their foundations. If the foundations are comparatively shallow, [Page 428] then you must have imagination and also when you have such hodge-podge public opinion. They are perhaps not second to us. (To you.)

Secretary Kissinger: Their public opinion is even more complex than ours and their government has even less freedom of action. In foreign affairs our government has greater possibility for action.

Prime Minister Chou: Although Congressional action has limited your President to war only 60 days, it would be temporary.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. And in practice, it will not make much difference, because what will they do if we go into a war?

Prime Minister Chou: But you would have to report that to them.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but you can’t hide a war.

Prime Minister Chou: Some of your measures do not seem too scientific.

Secretary Kissinger: Once we are in a war, they cannot stop us.

They could have always stopped us in Vietnam by withholding appropriations. But while they made unbelievable amounts of noise, they voted the appropriations each year.

Prime Minister Chou: That is the result of your constitutional system because various members wanted to make their views known to their constituents.

Secretary Kissinger: You saw Senator Magnuson.3

Prime Minister Chou: And this time the second visit of Senator Mansfield has been postponed. When there is a good time you might reconsider and tell us the result. We will also determine when the appropriate time would be. We don’t think it would be good to have it put off indefinitely.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. We don’t have any objections to Mansfield.

Prime Minister Chou: And Senator Jackson.

Secretary Kissinger: Jackson will be quite an experience. I meant, it would be helpful.

Prime Minister Chou: He is a Republican?

Secretary Kissinger: No, he is a Democrat. If I may make a suggestion as a friend about Senator Jackson. He is a friend of mine. You will find that he agrees with you completely about the Soviet Union but he has enemies in America who are more pro-Soviet but who are not against you. So, he should be handled in a way that when he comes back from here he doesn’t take such an extreme position that he alienates men like Senator Fulbright whom we need and who is his enemy.

[Page 429]

Prime Minister Chou: [Laughs questioningly] Oh?

Secretary Kissinger: It is a complex situation, but I think he should come.

Prime Minister Chou: Another issue would be that of South Asia which the Chairman mentioned to you the other night. And that is that we will be in great favor of your assisting Pakistan and building a naval port in Pakistan. Of course, that would take time but it would be a significant step. And as you told us, and as Prime Minister Bhutto and other Pakistani friends have mentioned, you are also considering how to assist them in military ways. We cannot help them much because our arms are lightweight. We have small arms but not heavy arms. You have heavy arms. The Soviet Union is always wanting to break through that knot. In South Asia it would be through India/Pakistan. And in the Middle East—it would be Iraq. And we can see that at present their greatest ambitions are there and to link the chain.

Secretary Kissinger: We have a tough time with our Congress on Pakistan—and their attitude is ridiculous. You should talk to Senator Mansfield when he comes.

Prime Minister Chou: They are probably favorable toward India.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes.

Prime Minister Chou: Perhaps it is the national character of the Americans to be taken in by those who seem kind and mild.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes.

Prime Minister Chou: But the world is not so simple.

Secretary Kissinger: On Senator Mansfield. If he comes, I might perhaps offer another thought. And we know it is difficult for him not to see Prince Sihanouk but it could help us if he does not receive too much ammunition from the Chinese side on Cambodia.

Prime Minister Chou: We understand. Perhaps he is partial on certain matters.

Secretary Kissinger: Right, he is singleminded.

Prime Minister Chou: But as a man, he is quite honorable.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, he is a fine and decent man.

Prime Minister Chou: And when he feels that your President is correct or when you are able to convince him, he is not obstinate. Perhaps you now, as Secretary of State, can play that role. Because you will now meet with Congress.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes and now I am doing that systematically. And as the Prime Minister may have noted, many Congressmen have made favorable comments supporting our foreign policy since I became Secretary of State. And when I return, I will meet with four Congressional Committees and with the leaders.

[Page 430]

Prime Minister Chou: We wish you success and also success to the President.

Secretary Kissinger: Thank you and thank you for the reception we have received as always.

Prime Minister Chou: It is what you deserve. And once the course has been set, as in 1971, we will persevere in the course.

Secretary Kissinger: So will we.

Prime Minister Chou: That is why we use the term farsightedness to describe your meeting with the Chairman.

Secretary Kissinger: We maneuver more than you but we will get in the same direction.

Prime Minister Chou: That is dialectic but we understand. Perhaps you need to maneuver. We want to be more straightforward.

Secretary Kissinger: We don’t complain. On the release time on the communiqué, would 10:00 Japan time in the evening be convenient?

Prime Minister Chou: It is most convenient.

Secretary Kissinger: We will adjourn then.

Prime Minister Chou: Please convey our regards to your President and his wife.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 a.m. As the Prime Minister was leaving, the following exchange took place:

Prime Minister Chou: Give my regards to Prime Minister Tanaka and Foreign Minister Ohira.

Secretary Kissinger: Can I?

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, of course. That is why I mentioned it.

Secretary Kissinger: I will do so.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 100, Country Files, Far East, Secretary Kissinger’s Conversations in Peking, November 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Guest House. All brackets are in the original.
  2. On April 23, Kissinger called for “a new Atlantic Charter,” which would include both Western Europe and Japan, to facilitate economic and security cooperation within the Western Alliance. The text of Kissinger’s speech appeared in The New York Times, April 24, 1973, p. 14.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 41 and footnote 7, Document 43.