107. Memorandum of Conversation, Shanghai, February 28, 1972, 8:45 a.m.1 2

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Memorandum of Conversation

DATE: February 28, 1972 8:45 a.m.

SUBJECT: Counterpart Meetings Between the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China - V


Chi Peng-fei - Foreign Minister

Hsiung Hsiang-hui - Secretary to the Premier (Foreign Affairs)

Chang Wen-chin - Director, West European, American and Australasian Affairs

SHEN JO-YUN - Interpreter

Hufang Shien, Stenographer

Hu Fang-hsien

William P. Rogers - Secretary of State

Marshall Green Assistant Secretary of State - EA

Alfred le S. Jenkins Director for Asian Communist Affairs - EA

Nicholas Platt - Assistant to the Secretary

Charles W. Freeman - Interpreter

PLACE: Guest House, Shanghai, PRC





WH - Dr. Kissinger

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A Gradual Approach

After pleasantries, the Foreign Minister opened by saying the President’s visit had been a good beginning for a gradual development of relationships between the two governments. Now that the communique has been published, more contacts will follow. Differences will continue, but we should exchange views in an effort to find areas of agreement. We shall agree on those things that are possible and leave to later the items on which we cannot agree. Although we have agreed views as set forth in the communique, implementation will be gradual. We will tackle it slowly. As far as exchanges in people and materials on culture, sports, medicine and science are concerned, we must go through certain formalities. The exchanges must be carried out gradually. The same is true of trade.

Channels of Communication

We want to consider channels of communications further, the Foreign Minister continued, and will let the US side know. Though the communique mentions that we will stay in touch through different channels, we still wish to study how and where implementation is to take place.

At the moment it is difficult for the US to establish any permanent non-governmental institution in Peking. The PRC prefers to deal through a third country, although we would like to consider further which one to use. As you know, the Foreign Minister continued, the Prime Minister criticized me yesterday for not having looked into the question of direct telephone communication with you. I will look into it.

The Secretary asked the Foreign Minister whether he had communication with his Ambassador in New York.

Not around the clock, the Foreign Minister replied, only during certain times of the day.

The Secretary suggested that although the UN could not be used as a permanent vehicle of contact without arousing resentment, it might be useful under special circumstances. If the need arose, the UN Ambassador might get in touch with the PRC Ambassador.

The Foreign Minister said that he preferred to study this question. The PRO UN Mission is new and not very effective yet.

The Secretary asked whether the Foreign Minister had given thought to the establishment of a non-governmental trade office such as those which had been established with the Japanese. Two could perhaps be set up, one in New York and one in Peking.

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The Foreign Minister said that the PRO had considered it, but does not think the conditions are right. The question can be considered later.

The Secretary added that as trade develops, the question can be reviewed.

As contacts develop, we shall see, was the Foreign Minister’s rejoinder.

Canton Fair

The Secretary asked the Foreign Minister whether the US could publicize the fact that the PRO would invite several American businessmen to the Canton Fair.

Director Chang Wen-chin noted that Seymour Topping had raised this point during his interview with Premier Chou. The Premier said that we would consider the application of several businessmen. The PRO is ready to accept some applications, but the number is not great.

The Secretary asked whether a statement to that effect could be made when we return to the United States.

The Foreign Minister replied that some applications would be selectively endorsed.

The Secretary replied that this would be most helpful.

Language Exchange

Director Chang said that the PRC was considering an exchange of interpreting and language teaching materials.

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The Secretary stated that he gathered the PRC side felt that our interpreter had done a capable job, but that linguistically at least he had not yet been “liberated.” Of course the English language used in the US had changed too.

The Foreign Minister confirmed that the Chinese side felt that the US interpreting had been very competent but agreed that language usage had changed. Time magazine, for instance, had been very easy to follow twenty years ago but now it was very difficult.

The Secretary said that he was not sure that he could be of very much help there.

The Foreign Minister said that if the US side had some materials ready they could be exchanged now, but the PRC materials were not yet prepared. Charles Freeman, the American interpreter, noted that US materials were not ready either.

The Secretary mentioned that the State Department would probably expand its course in Chinese at the Foreign Service Institute. Also, Assistant Secretary Green added, the President’s trip would be an encouragement to our younger officers to study Chinese. The Secretary suggested further that Chinese interest in English would probably expand as a result. Language studies which are basic to international communication represent a profitable field of cooperation which is to the mutual advantage of both nations.

Follow Up

The Secretary made it clear that Marshall Green, with the help of Alfred Jenkins, would be in charge of planning and supervising the follow-up for the visit. They would work with the White House staff, but now that the communique had been agreed upon, the Secretary wanted to develop contacts in a normal way. He hoped that Assistant Secretary Green would have the opportunity to get to know the Chinese side well.

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The Secretary thanked the Chinese side deeply for their gracious hospitality. The entire visit had been planned and carried out to perfection. The treatment we had received at the banquet table and at every meal, the Secretary continued, would be a challenge to our wives when we returned to the United States.

Both sides have to recognize, he continued, that once we are 12,000 miles apart again it will be difficult for misunderstandings not to arise. The United States has misunderstandings with other nations with whom we have instant communications and full diplomatic staffs. The Secretary pledged to do all he could to avoid misunderstandings. Although both sides must move slowly, it was very important to keep the momentum of the relationship going. In view of all the publicity given the trip, it would be disappointing if nothing concrete developed. The US would do its part to move gradually. Nevertheless, it was important that there be sufficient activity to provide evidence that the relationship was moving forward. In this connection, the results of the discussion just concluded on exchange of language materials will be welcomed even though it has little political significance in itself.

National Committee for US-China Relations

Assistant Secretary Green reminded the Foreign Minister that he had asked for US recommendations on what private group might coordinate exchanges in sports, medicine, science and culture. The US suggests merely as one possibility the National Committee for US-China Relations as an entirely private and effective organization which is representative of a broad range of opinion in the United States. The Committee has been involved in preparing for the visit of the PRC Table Tennis team. The Secretary added that this was simply a suggestion. The government has not mentioned the matter to the National Committee. If the PRC preferred another group, that would be fine.

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Director Chang Wen-chin pointed out that when the Chinese Table Tennis team invited the US team to China last year, the US Table Tennis Association returned the invitation. The PRC team accepted, and this was the understanding between the two organizations. Later, the US Table Tennis Association told the Chinese Table Tennis team that the National Committee would like to join in the arrangements for the visit. But the Chinese team has not given an answer.

The Chinese team, Director Chang continued, believes it better for the US Table Tennis team alone to present the invitation. If others are involved in the invitation, other friendly organizations will be unhappy. We have no objection, however, if the American Table Tennis team asks other organizations to help them make preparations.

The Secretary pointed out to the Chinese side that we were talking about two different things. We were not concerned about the table tennis visit in particular. What we were interested in was finding a coordinating body in which we both have confidence. Mr. Jenkins added that individual organizations will, in some instances, at least, need a central organization to help on the mechanics of visits: reception, hospitality, funding, etc. Otherwise, the only recourse would be some kind of government body. The Secretary added that the US is looking for a liaison group for people-to-people contact to whom other groups in the United States can come for help. The Secretary concluded with the hope that the Chinese would consider the National Committee and advise the US of the suitability of that organization or any alternative for this purpose.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 7 US/NIXON. Secret; Nodis; Homer. Drafted by Platt and approved in S on March 10. Copies were sent to S, S/S, U, J, EA, and Kissinger at the White House. The meeting was held in the Guest House Hotel.
  2. During their fifth counterpart meeting, Secretary of State Rogers and Chinese Foreign Minister Chi P’eng-fei agreed to gradually strengthen relations in the areas of communications, sports, cultural, and scientific exchanges.