89. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

[Omitted here are the title page and table of contents.]

THE SHIFT TO HARSHNESS IN PEKING’s POLICY TOWARD THE US

Principal Judgments

Since mid-1973 progress in normalizing Sino-US relations has slowed markedly. The Chinese in the past year have expressed dissatisfaction with the US, both privately and publicly; they have hinted to the US that it should commence formal diplomatic disengagement from Taiwan; and they have been less concerned about avoiding clashes of interest with the US.

The impetus for Peking’s shift has come from Mao himself, supported—probably reluctantly—by Chou En-lai. The Chinese leaders [Page 544]had anticipated a phased American disengagement from formal diplomatic ties with the Chinese Nationalists. Mao’s personal disappointment with the pace of US moves in respect of Taiwan has been genuine and crucial to the change in Peking’s policy.

Other apparent reasons for the shift have been:

  • —decreased fear of military attack by the USSR, permitting Peking to argue (unconvincingly) that the US needs China more than China needs the US;
  • —new perception of the Third World as the area from which Peking can obtain the most political help for those policies it directs against both superpowers; and
  • —Mao’s wish to synchronize foreign policy with the sharp leftward movement in Chinese domestic policies, particularly the intensification of the anti-Confucian campaign.

The most striking features of the shift have been:

  • —assertions by Chinese officials that Peking has been “deceived” about American policy, and that American “words” were satisfactory, but actions were not with respect to severing ties with Taiwan;
  • —decreased concern about risking public clashes with the US, e.g., in the UN and in special international conferences;
  • —reaffirmation by Mao himself that China will continue to assist “liberation” movements (expressed most importantly in increased material aid to the Communist insurgents in Cambodia); and
  • —a political swing to the Third World, identifying China more closely than ever before with the less developed countries and supporting them in a policy of increasing prices on oil and other raw materials.

Peking can be expected to prod the US harder to speed its disengagement from Taiwan. Specifically, what Peking seems to desire most now is for Washington to upgrade the US liaison office in Peking to an embassy while downgrading the US embassy in Taipei to a liaison office or consulate-general (roughly following the Japanese example). Peking will probably suggest this during the forthcoming high-level Sino-American talks.

The USSR will remain the “main enemy” for Peking, even if the US rejects the anticipated Chinese proposal. This basic fact sets limits on the degree of pressure the Chinese are willing to exert on the US; a visibly high degree of pressure would give aid and comfort to the Soviets. On the other hand, so long as Chinese fear of a Soviet attack remains low, as it is now, the Chinese will probably try to carry on with three not entirely harmonious lines of action:

  • —to continue the Sino-American détente as a long-term deterrent to the Soviet threat, while insisting that US disengagement from Taiwan must be a part of such a détente;
  • —to continue to selectively support “liberation” movements, most importantly in Cambodia; and
  • —to exploit the Third World against both the USSR and the US (immediately, on the oil-pricing issue), if this can be done without alienating the US to the point that the US is no longer interested in a new relationship with Peking.

[Omitted here are the evidence and analysis for the principal judgments.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, OPI 10, Job 80–M01048A, Communist China, 280174–151174. Secret; Exdis; No Foreign Dissem/Controlled Dissem; No Dissem Abroad; Background Use Only. On October 26, William Colby sent this paper to Kissinger under a covering memorandum stating that a senior analyst in the Office of Political Research of the Directorate of Intelligence had prepared it. (Ibid.)