11. Letter From the Military Attaché at the Embassy in France (Walters) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig), Paris, July 22, 19711 2
22 July 1971
Herewith the scenario of the latest episode. Today 21 July at 1300 I met the courier with your envelope. After opening and reading it, I telephoned to Tsao Kuei Sheng, 1st Secretary of the-Embassy of CPR, to ask when I could see the Ambassador. He suggested 1700 this evening and I agreed.
At 1700 I drove to the general neighborhood of their Ambassador’s residence and leaving my car several blocks away I walked to the residence where I was let in. I was received by Tsao Kuei Sheng and a few minutes later the Ambassador came in. I told him that I had received a message from Kirschman for transmission to the Prime Minister. He took it, passed it to Tsao Kuei Sheng who read it to him in Chinese. Tsao speaks fluent English and Wei Tung fluent French. At the meeting today only the Ambassador the Tsao were present. After hearing the translation he said that he would send this at once to the Prime Minister. He then asked about Kirschman’s visit and I replied that he was coming to Paris on Sunday evening late and would like to see the Ambassador either late that night or Monday afternoon. He indicated a preference for the afternoon.
He then asked about the verbal message and I told him that Kirschman felt it might not be too early to examine the technical details of the trip referred to in the previous message I had given him for the Prime Minister. He seemed slightly puzzled and said he was not sure what trip was being discussed as there had not been mention in the Peking Conversations of such a trip.
I replied that I believed it was the trip by Gen Kirschman and Amb Bruce referred to in the previous message. Gen Kirschman would like to know what their thoughts were on the mechanics and I proceeded to give him the questions in a low key. He said initially that where we came from was our problem and he did not see the need for a Chinese navigator, but after talking to Tsao in Chinese, he said that he would pass the question on. Again, on the matter of [Page 2] the participants and duration of the stay, he seemed slightly puzzled. I explained that I thought that we were “thinking out loud” to get their reactions and I would pass on any views of their side. However, as he had asked that if he were to see Gen Kirschman and the latter were to have any questions, he would like to know a few days in advance so he could get instructions on them. He then asked whether Gen Kirschman would expect to have the answers to these questions on Monday. I said that he hoped he might but if they did not arrive in time I was sure that it would be all right for me to transmit them subsequently. He appeared relieved at this and said that he thought that he would have the answers to at least some of the questions by Monday.
He commented that these were fairly complicated questions. I said that Gen Kirschman had long been a professor and they liked things neatly arranged. He laughed and said that he and I were soldiers and we liked things neatly arranged too.
The Ambassador said that in principle he agreed to see Gen Kirschman on Monday afternoon (providing his government authorized him to do so) and I could call Tsao to fix the exact time. The meeting would be at his residence some ten blocks from my home.
I did not indicate to him what was the purpose of Gen Kirschman’s visit to Paris and he asked for no details.
After several cups of jasmine tea and sweets, he walked me to the door, clapped me on the back and said that with all the languages I knew I should also learn Chinese. He could not have been more cordial throughout.
Frankly, I think he was a little taken aback at the speed of our action. His oriental mind is not yet used to the brisk American way of doing business. Time has a different dimension to him than it has to us. However, once he had recovered and had understood that our questions were exploratory in nature and aimed only at getting his government’s thinking on these matters, he relaxed visibly. I also believe that he is held on a tight rein by his government and does not enjoy anything like the freedom of action enjoyed by a Western Ambassador. I think he has authority to eat three meals a day, drink unlimited amounts of tea and make whatever visits are necessary to the sanitary facilities and little else. I may, however, be quite wrong in this.[Page 3]
I spoke in English. This was translated by Tsao and when he answered, it was also translated into English. No one else was present. I was with them about 45 minutes. The location was at 35 Boulevard du Chateau in Neuilly. The building is a large private home set back in a garden. There is a high wall and iron gate in front but this can be opened and cars driven right up to the entrance of the house. This is a quiet residential neighborhood on a wide tree-lined street.
P.S. The sweets are small pieces of preserved apple (quite good) and Lichee nuts which I would eat only in the service of my country.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File-China Trip, China Exchanges, July 1971-Oct 20, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at Chen’s residence in Neuilly. Kirschman is in reference to Kissinger.↩
- Walters described his late afternoon meeting with Chinese Ambassador to France Huang Chen on July 21.↩