146. Memorandum of Conversation, Beijing, June 22-23 1972, 11:03 p.m.-12:55 a.m.1 2


  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai
  • Chiao Kuan-Hua, Assistant Foreign Minister
  • Chang Wen-chin, Assistant Foreign Minister
  • Tang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
  • Chi Chao Chu, Interpreter
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • Jonathan T. Howe, NSC Staff

June 22, 1972


DATE & TIME: Thursday, June 22, 1972, 11:03 p.m.-12:55 a.m.

PLACE: Government Guest House #5, Peking

Prime Minister Chou: We will not stay up all night like October.

All this time we have had a discussion on various aspects of various matters. On some of the questions we discussed our views approximate. But a relatively important question is still the question of Vietnam and Indochina. I would first like to discuss some other matters before going back to the Vietnam problem.

Your President made an estimate of the Sino-U.S. summit talks as well as the U.S.-Soviet summit talks. That is in the article written by your President which I mentioned this afternoon. And I hope that when you go back to Washington you will report to your President that point on which I showed concern today.

Dr. Kissinger: You can be certain.

PM Chou: At the same time I can inform you that as for the Sino-Soviet talks, they are also up to some maneuvers. There is a question of a triangle. We don’t look at it that way, but the Japanese like to look at [Page 2] things that way. The Soviet Union makes out there have been Sino-U.S. talks and there have been U.S.-Soviet talks being dragged out. But the Sino-Soviet talks arise out of a different set of circumstances, a different set of provocations. If we say the Soviet Union first created tension over the Berlin question in the West and the Czechoslovakia question; and the Romania and Yugoslav questions, they have not succeeded in that yet, then in the East it was the question of the Chempao Island incident. That I discussed with your President in the Villa 18.

Dr. Kissinger: I remember that.

PM Chou: Three years and more have passed now, and on the 11th of September of that year (1969) the Prime Ministers of the two countries agreed on a provisional arrangement. But even now these provisional arrangements have not formally turned into an agreement. Kuznetsov negotiated with us for eight months in Peking—then he went back and another Deputy Foreign Minister came in his place. But when Kuznetsov went to India, he solved the problems with India in one week. So we can see the difference in nature between the Sino-Soviet and Soviet-Indian questions.

Since the Soviet side changed their Vice Foreign Ministers, we too changed ours. We didn’t have as many but we changed too, and we liberated Mr. Chiao. And the new head of our delegation is Mr. Yu Chang. But this change of the heads of the delegation may also have led to some miscalculations on their part. Mr. Chang in 1963 was also a member of our delegation discussing the boundary with them. And the Soviet Union has been putting out feelers several times saying the two Prime Ministers may meet once again. And the General Secretary will meet with us anytime and any place. But we say when the two sides cannot arrange an agreement or even a temporary agreement, how can there be talk between the two leaders?

We said let us first all agree on provisional agreements. That should be easy according to your experience. But for us it is exactly the opposite. We don’t know when we will be able to reach an agreement with more of these provisional arrangements. If you don’t come this year, but come next year, even then there will be no agreement. There’s a saying in China that a fair price on the market differs from morning to the night. So there is not much to their feelers.

[Page 3]

And so with respect to the U.S.-Soviet talks we had estimated long ago, and have told you estimated, you will be able to have results quickly. Negotiations would be coming quickly, and would achieve results. And on the other hand, after the reaching of various agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union wants to indicate it wants to speed up their talks with us in form, but in substance it will be slow. Because there is no question. It is only a question of the boundary, and as for the boundary question they are well aware we have no territorial ambitions. Yet they keep on saying we do and no matter what we say they say we do.

Just like the Indians. As I told you this afternoon, India too is putting out feelers for contacts with us. As for the question of contact, it is not something we cannot do. But until Pakistan is firm, and because of its problems, it would not be advantageous to Pakistan if we were to contact the Indians. Because our situation with India is not the same as yours because you have a certain position with India and there is the question of Bangla Desh. As for our recognition of the so-called Bangla Desh, it can take place only after all Indian forces have withdrawn from Bangla Desh and the Pakistani territory they occupy, and only after a peace agreement has been reached, and after Pakistan herself has recognized Bangla Desh. And even then we will see. We need to be in no hurry.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t look for it then under these conditions.

PM Chou: No, it won’t happen this year. But there is an advantage in your recognition. So in this sense the reaching of an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. They too can discuss borders. It is advantageous to have some relaxation in the situation and can make the Europeans feel more at ease. But there is still the question of the Middle East which it will be difficult until the situation is relaxed there. We can only just leave it there. Isn’t that so? I know you aren’t looking after Middle Eastern affairs,

Dr. Kissinger: Well, the Soviet Union has at one time indicated some interest to discuss the Middle East with us at the Presidential level, but then the matter has not progressed.

[Page 4]

PM Chou: Yes. And as we saw it from your joint communique and your visit to the Soviet Union this time, you are just putting it on the sidelines for the time being.

Dr. Kissinger: I think this is essentially correct. There may be some discussions later this year, and if there are we will keep you informed. Our impression is the Soviet Union would like to have the situation quieted down in the Middle East.

PM Chou: Hmmmm. But is it possible to have the situation quieted down?

Dr. Kissinger: It hasn’t proved to be possible in the last three years.

PM Chou: At least it is different from Indochina because there is a war going on in Indochina whereas there [Middle East] there are just small clashes now and again. So the question remaining is still the Vietnamese question. And on this question we have also long been of the opinion that we differ even with regard to various concepts. If we proceed from our concept, you would leave and let the Vietnamese people solve their own problem themselves and no one will interfere with any outside forces that would be, as Ho Chi Minh had said, that you would be given a sendoff on a red carpet. Otherwise, what will happen will still be war. But in these circumstances, without outside interference, they will be fighting with their doors closed. That is our thinking.

That’s like what I said to you this evening about the Chinese Civil War. How can we impose our thinking upon them? So we could only admit that we were mistaken in signing the 1954 Geneva Agreements, that we were taken in by Dulles at that time. And what is more, Vietnam being such a small country, how can we want them to copy from us? That would be imposing upon them.

You know, after the Japanese surrender, on the surface we did have a period of ceasefire with Chiang Kai-shek; after we signed the peace agreement with them there was a ceasefire on the surface for half a year. At that time Chiang Kai-shek was the representative of all China. We were only a region of China. But we had the courage to sign the ceasefire agreement and when we signed we were confident Chiang Kai-shek would break up the agreement [Page 5] and we were aware when he did tear up the agreement he had been wrong. So, as you see, in the White Paper of Acheson they too expressed disagreement with it, so it also crossed Chiang Kaishek. And then it seemed that later your Department of State published papers about our discussion with Marshall. I didn’t take the trouble to read them.

Dr. Kissinger: I haven’t read them either.

PM Chou: I don’t think you should. Since you have direct discussions with me why do you bother to read these papers? I don’t think you would write such memoirs.

Dr. Kissinger: No.

PM Chou: (To Lord) And you?

Mr. Lord: I have no intention; I am illiterate anyway.

PM Chou: So we cannot impose our thinking on a small country. If one were only proceeding from our thinking, our thinking would be like yours. That is, you go your way and as for Vietnam affairs, you cannot meddle in them anymore. As you said, one month would be too short for the fighting to break out again. It could be a bit longer. But we cannot impose this thinking on them. We cannot fight on their behalf either. Because we already have our joint communique; we have our agreements. It is not like the case in Korea when we said we could not stand by and President Truman didn’t believe in us. Because we said that—we cannot stand by. At that time India was still our friend and we issued this warning through the Indian Ambassador to China -if the forces approached the Yalu River we could not stand by.

Dr. Kissinger: May I ask you a question, as a historian? If we had not gone up to the Yalu River, if we had stopped, say at the narrow neck of the peninsula, would you have come in?

PM Chou: A little north of the 38th parallel?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

[Page 6]

PM Chou: Once you occupied Pyonyang, you could not stop the momentum of your advance. If you had stopped just a bit north of the 38th parallel, we would not have gone in, because Kim still at that time had his strength and his forces. But after you landed in Inchon and thrust into Pyonyang you couldn’t stop your momentum. You couldn’t put a stop to your forces, nor could Sygman Rhee put a stop to his. Once a war breaks out, then the development of that war is often independent of its will—it has its own development. When we told Ambassador Pannikar to inform this to President Truman, Chairman Mao had already put his forces in place, but we had not made the final decision to cross. If the American forces had just crossed the 38th parallel and fought in that region we wouldn’t have done it.

But that can only be the thinking of a philosopher. War has it’s own laws of development, and we were of the opinion that once you made your landing and took Pyonyang then you would continue your advance. It was easy to shatter their armed forces. Under these circumstances one needs foresight.

So the Vietnam question before us also has the same question. For the Vietnamese, from the point of view of their experience, they think it best to solve the political and military questions together. Because the war started out in South Vietnam, so it is their view that a tripartite government should be set up in the south. And if you were to put yourself in the Vietnamese shoes you could understand that is a matter they want to have put forward for consideration if the present regime is not changed and the Saigon regime is a pro-American regime. But if one is to say that should a tripartite government be formed in Vietnam it will surely be a government led by the communists, I don’t think one can be so quick. Because there is no question that in such a government the United States would have its share, and France would have its share, and the Soviet Union would have its share too.

Dr. Kissinger: France is great at getting shares when it costs and risks nothing. (PM Chou laughs).

PM Chou: But you shouldn’t blame too much on them. In a certain sense, let us say, in the colonial sense, Mendes-France did something favorable [Page 7] for you. In the sense of the people it wasn’t good because it dragged you into a war. Because the war you involved yourself in recently, the war in Vietnam, is the biggest with the greatest losses and expenditures. If you didn’t go into Vietnam there would have been no such costs.

So as I see it, if you can work out in a good way the setting up of a tripartite government, it couldn’t be immediately turned into a communist government. You can say you have been too subjective. When I say communist I mean a genuinely communist government cannot be set up. It would be a government of complex composition. Of course, that government wouldn’t completely listen to your behest, nor to the behest of North Vietnam. As for China, we have no interest in interfering. As for you, you will still have the possibility of investment.

Dr. Kissinger: Vietnam is costing us an enormous amount of money. I am not aware of any significant American investments in Vietnam.

PM Chou: Japan wants investments there.

Dr. Kissinger: Japan wants investments everywhere, from Siberia to Thailand.

PM Chou: Not only to Thailand. To the Indian Ocean. You know, $10 billion of reserves are all American dollars. Your economic policy cannot be a benefit to that so they must invest.

Dr. Kissinger: They will buy the East-Asia co-prosperity sphere with dollars. It’s an interesting historical period.

PM Chou: That is true. Indeed they do have these ambitions.

Dr. Kissinger: No, I agree with the Prime Minister that the purpose of these dollars is to make investments in underdeveloped areas, not back into the United States.

PM Chou: Because otherwise what do they do with that money? It would be useless to just keep it. What else do they do with it? For instance, talking about ants or termites, if you go to Canton or Hainan Island those termites holes are like a mountain. In fact, a termite hole might be as big as this room. So the ants too might be quite formidable. That is their $10 billion.

[Page 8]

So if you are to give very careful thought to this matter, to have a political solution in Vietnam, now would not necessarily be to your disadvantage, nor to the disadvantage of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. That is why we do not meddle into your negotiations with them because we are not so sure of ourselves or clear about the situation in South Vietnam. If we give specific suggestions and are wrong we will be responsible. So we can only say we approve of your solving the questions through negotiations. We can only tell them that if you continue the fighting we will support you to the end. Secondly, we support you to bring about a solution through negotiations. As to how the negotiations proceed we do not meddle in it at all. As fort you, comparatively speaking, a more advantageous way would be through negotiations.

In solving the Indochina question it is not Vietnam alone—it is still a question of Cambodia and Laos, but they are comparatively easier. Because no matter what happens we can say for certain that elements of the national bourgeoisie will take part in such a government, and we can be sure in Cambodia Prince Sihanouk will be the head of state, and in Laos the King will be the head of state. So if it can be solved through negotiations such an outcome would be a matter of certainty.

But with this determination of your President—he said it was his decision to engage in bombings and blockade—you have heard the propaganda in the outside world creating various rumors about you?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know what the Prime Minister… .

PM Chou: Saying members of your Administration are opposed to your moves. I don’t believe these rumors.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr, Prime Minister, there are members of this Administration who oppose every move we have made, including the move toward China.

PM Chou: Surely. But as I see it, if this policy of yours continues without change it is disadvantageous to you and disadvantageous to the relaxation of world tension. Because as I said, the other day, if you force the Vietnamese into a corner then they will go desperate.

[Page 9]

Dr. Kissinger: Were you finished?

PM Chou: Just up to now. You have declared you do not want to destroy them militarily and what is more you admit the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a strong factor in Indochina.

Dr. Kissinger: And a permanent factor.

PM Chou: And what is more you said that when you withdraw all your forces including advisors, Army, Navy and Air Force, the Vietnamese will be able to solve their problems themselves. And I particularly make it a point, to make it clear now we would approve this course of action. But we are China—we understand this logic of this course of action and you used this course of action to achieve victory.

At the time the Soviet Union had a treaty with Chiang Kai-shek. Their treaty was called the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, whereas in the treaty we had we added other wording, “Mutual Assistance.” Outer Mongolia was lost to them by Chiang Kai-shek, not by us. It was written in the treaty of alliance between Chiang Kai-shek and the Soviet Union. When Gromyko went to Japan, Japan recognized the People’s Republic of Mongolia and Gromyko cursed them. When I saw them I laughed. Why is Chiang Kai-shek trying to play the hero?

So we Chinese are able to understand this policy. But for the Vietnamese, they cannot rely on such a policy. Since the war in the north and south has become one, and the war in Indochina as a whole has become one, they would like to see a final solution to the question before they can find themselves at ease.

As to the composition of a tripartite government we don’t want to meddle in that. We only hope negotiations between you and North Vietnam will find a way out. We can only express our support for that. We cannot say anything more.

And as we just now mentioned in the car, each side has its fear. You have the same fear of the seven points that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam has of the eight points. So the problem is only for you to thrash [Page 10] the problem out with the Vietnamese at your secret conference table. Otherwise, the consequence will be continued fighting and the result will be highly disadvantageous. Before you had correct ideas—maybe now you have some mistaken notions.

Dr. Kissinger: When did I have correct ideas?

PM Chou: You said if the war continues, the Soviet Union will be most happy.

Dr. Kissinger: I still believe that.

PM Chou: And India, Because if the war continues it will be a constant burden on you and also on us, though we are not taking part directly in the war. But at least an obstacle will be placed between our two countries with the continuation of the war.

Dr. Kissinger: No question. This is not so from our side, and maybe not from your side completely, but that is the hope of the countries who do not want an improvement in our relations.

PM Chou: That is so, and that is a more principled way. We shouldn’t look at things in a static way. Sometimes a specific country may change its views on certain matters.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Prime Minister, I think this is a very fair and just view of the situation. I think you have explained the dilemma extremely well, and you are telling us, in effect, you can understand our point of view, you might even accept it if we were dealing with you, but you can also understand Hanoi’s difficulty. As I told you in the car, first, your views are always taken extremely seriously by us, more seriously than of almost any other leader, and as some of my contacts have pointed out, too seriously by me.

PM Chou: But these views of mine are Chairman Mao’s views.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course. I understand. So you can be certain we will examine what you have said with the greatest care.

[Page 11]

PM Chou: Because when we consider any question we always proceed from a very serious manner and in a calm way, not trying to convince the other through some maneuver or sleight of hand.

Dr. Kissinger: And you have proved this by what you just said, which was a principled way of putting the problem. We will make, as I told you in the car, a major effort this summer to solve the situation, and if we make any headway at all we will reduce the scale of our military assistance drastically. We have not yet settled the precise time of the resumption with the North Vietnamese, but it can only be a question of a week in the second half of July.

PM Chou: Indeed to wait for some time might help to consider things in a more calm way.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course, I don’t want to mislead the Prime Minister, Until the talks start, the military actions, with the restrictions I mentioned this afternoon, will continue.

PM Chou: But I can only draw your attention to the fact that if such military operations are too excessive it can only anger our people more.

Dr. Kissinger: I have your view on this very much in mind.

Now we, of course, believe that the view you too think is the best, is the way one should proceed, and it is a view we will put forward in the negotiation. But we will not reject in advance any propositions which the Democratic Republic of Vietnam will make to us, and we will examine them very carefully.

PM Chou: And you too may put forward your propositions.

Dr. Kissinger: I, of course, greatly respect the Prime Minister’s reluctance to discuss with a neighboring country on substance, but I don’t know whether the same restriction applies to advising with respect to style, and at least the minimum amount of confidence required for conducting a negotiation.

[Page 12]

PM Chou: So long as you proceed from a position of sincerity they should also reciprocate with sincerity. But you should understand that after such a long period of tempering in such wars, their attitudes and style are likely to be what they are.

Dr. Kissinger: We will proceed from a position of sincerity, or at least do our best, but it is extremely difficult if one must conduct a negotiation with Le Duc Tho and the New York Times which has been given information by Le Duc Tho. The Vice Foreign Minister conducted a negotiation with the New York Times this fall, so he knows what this is like.

So if they can deal with us seriously, and if they will use the opportunity of talking to me in a sensible way, that is to say they are dealing with someone who can make rapid decisions on a big scale, I think we have a good chance of ending the war this summer, which would be advantageous to everybody.

PM Chou: But you should realize that strictly speaking the war is taking place on Vietnamese soil.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand, and I also understand we are the larger country so we have a particular obligation.

PM Chou: As I said yesterday about Taiwan, with a population of 15 million it is a matter for the Chinese to say it. But for Japan with respect to Okinawa, they couldn’t do that even though they are a defeated island. Because even the Senkaku Islands, they are still quarreling over that with us with no population at all.

Dr. Kissinger: But when the Prime Minister read that one line from the poem about being farsighted, I believe if we are far-sighted in Southeast Asia, both the United States and the People’s Republic of China have an interest in keeping the region free from big countries. And if we are far-sighted, we can see the day when the United States will help Hanoi rather than fight Hanoi.

PM Chou: That is right.

[Page 13]

Dr. Kissinger: I do want to assure, above all, the Prime Minister that we will approach these negotiations with a sincere intention of bringing about an end to the war and with every attempt to end it this summer.

PM Chou: Speaking openly, we declared openly that we demand a cessation of your bombing and blockade of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, but here in these private talks in a friendly way, I would say that if your President would stop the bombing and blockade it would be advantageous to us. I believe Professor Fairbank has already told you about what I asked those other Americans about McGovern. That is, I asked them could McGovern, if he were elected, cut one-third of the military budget, and no one could reply.

Dr. Kissinger: I talked to Fairbank only about comparing the China he knew with China now.

PM Chou: He didn’t tell you about this?

Dr. Kissinger: No, but you had told me, Mr. Prime Minister.

PM Chou: I said it, but the correspondents didn’t report it, which shows partiality. Miss Tang can bear witness because she was interpreter at the time. I was very sharp in raising the question at the time.

Dr. Kissinger: I had seen your criticism, or what they reported as your criticism of the Vietnam policy.

PM Chou: It will indeed be the best thing if you are able to succeed in your negotiations with them. But if the war has to continue, then as I said it would be best if you can still stop your bombing of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and stop the blockade because that would help to promote negotiations.

Secondly, about the material we gave you about the US aircraft intrusions and bombings, there is specific evidence showing we were the victims of these intrusions and bombings. And also about the damage to our merchant ships on May 6, 7, and 8, on which you said you would inform us through the Paris channel.

Dr. Kissinger: You received a note through the Paris channel.

[Page 14]

PM Chou: Yes, we have already received your notification saying it was unauthorized. And with respect to these incidents, Chairman Mao instructed us not to make it public, but to tell it to you through these secret channels, and so this may also be considered one of the ways of making efforts to normalize relations between our two countries.

Dr. Kissinger: We view it that way, too.

PM Chou: But in your replies to this you always say that first, it is possible that your military units concerned do not want to admit their errors. So because of that the reply is the investigation is inconclusive, so our military units are dissatisfied. If it is merely a question of our units being dissatisfied we can deal with that. The main thing is such incidents shouldn’t occur again because if they do then it will turn into a political matter, something we can no longer keep secret.

Dr. Kissinger: We have changed the operating procedures, and it is therefore extremely unlikely that another intrusion will occur. You said nothing has happened since June 12, the day the new instructions were given, so I believe the problem is solved. We will re-investigate based on your chart, and if we can find any additional evidence that is conclusive we will punish the people involved. But based on our experience, you have never in the past complained about violations that were unjustified.

PM Chou: Chiang Kai-shek’s Air Force sometimes still makes intrusions into airspace over the mainland in planes which you give them, but we can distinguish between theirs and yours. You have given them U-2 reconnaissance planes.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. But we have moved every activity in which we are engaged farther away from your coast, as you know.

PM Chou: Air reconnaissance.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. And on the Paracel Islands, when you protested we accepted your protest and instituted a limit on March 12.

PM Chou: Any other suggestions?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, as always when I am here I feel obliged to say a word about Mr. Downey. And I can only say again we don’t contest the justice of the sentence, but we would appreciate an act of clemency, particularly in view of the age of his mother.

[Page 15]

PM Chou: We have taken note of this. Your President mentioned this, too.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but I will be asked by the family of Downey when I return, and I wanted to be able to say I had raised the issue.

PM Chou: So far as I know Downey is in good health. I just asked Mrs. Ma to check up on it.

Dr. Kissinger: When I return to Washington, there will be a question how to handle this visit vis-a-vis the press.

PM Chou: With respect to the announcement which you suggested, we approve of your idea of issuing an announcement. We will give you a specific answer in the morning. Maybe we will just delete a few words from your draft. For instance, with respect to the discussions, we have held you used three adjectives, and we suggest using only two—that is just “earnest and frank.” Because to say “constructive”—there have been not too many constructive exchanges. But we agree to what is later on, the continuation of these discussions is useful and desirable. But these ideas must first be approved by Chairman Mao before that can be finalized. He has not yet seen it. We have just sent him a draft.

Dr. Kissinger: That is fine. Then when I am asked I think it will help to have this. Would 11:00 Saturday morning American time be a good time to release it?

PM Chou: All right. No question about that.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t want to have it released before I am back so that I can handle the press. Tomorrow is Friday, and then we do it Saturday. I will be back in Washington the late afternoon of Friday, which is too late to release it to the press, so we will do it at 11:00 Saturday morning.

PM Chou: That’s all right.

Dr. Kissinger: I want to be very correct in making sure we agree what I can say to the press. Can I tell the press who participated in the discussions? I want to give Ambassador Malik something to worry about.

PM Chou: You will surely mention Mr. Chiao and Mr. Chang.

[Page 16]

Dr. Kissinger: There is no need to mention the Vice Chairman, but I will be glad to mention him. Should I mention the Vice Chairman?

PM Chou: Maybe not.

Miss Tang: We have reported that he attended the banquet.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s fine. So I will mention that the discussions were primarily with this group.

PM Chou: That’s right.

Dr. Kissinger: May I also say that some members of my group held parallel discussions with appropriate members of the Chinese Government headed by Mr. Chang?

PM Chou: Yes, you may do that.

Dr. Kissinger: If they asked me what was discussed I will say we reviewed bilateral matters and the general international situation.

PM Chou: That’s all right.

Dr. Kissinger: If they asked me whether Vietnam was discussed, I will say yes, but give no details.

PM Chou: Will you say discussed or exchanged views?

Dr. Kissinger: I will say we exchanged views—do you prefer that? And I will even make clear our views didn’t coincide.

PM Chou: You may do that.

Dr. Kissinger: At any rate, I will not leave any wrong implications.

PM Chou: With regard to those who took part in the discussion, you might add Miss Wang Haijung, who is also an Assistant Minister. Otherwise you will again be omitting a lady. Anything more?

Dr. Kissinger: On any other topic if I am asked I will say I won’t go into the details of the discussion, except to say it was a general review.

PM Chou: Good.

[Page 17]

Dr. Kissinger: I do want to thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the extraordinary hospitality that has been shown to us. And I want to assure you of what I hope has become clear by some of our actions, that the normalization of relations between our two countries is one of the key aspects of our foreign policy which we will pursue with great energy and which we hope to develop even further.

PM Chou: The normalization itself will have to wait until after the elections.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but progress toward it.

PM Chou: Under the present circumstances, before your Presidential elections I don’t believe that there will be anything urgent which would require our [Ambassador Huang] going to Washington. The New York channel is sufficient for now. If you yourself are too busy, you can send some of your colleagues—General Haig, having been promoted, may not be able to do it, but maybe Mr. Lord or Commander Howe.

Dr. Kissinger: It would have to be an emergency beyond anything we can foresee. Then let us leave it in New York; no need to come to Washington. And it has worked very well up to now. I will call on your Ambassador next week before I go to California, to give him some of this additional information.

PM Chou: Thank you.

Four more months before the election, so you will be getting very busy.

Dr. Kissinger: I can only hope that you will be patient with any aberrations that occur in that hectic period.

PM Chou: When I receive the two leaders of the House of Representatives I will meet them together. Perhaps their understanding of the international situation is not as good as leaders of the Senate.

Dr. Kissinger: No. Mr. Boggs is a very elemental type, very intelligent, a skilled maneuverer of the parliamentary situation, and a southerner. He is more effective in the morning than after dinner. Mr. Ford is on the more conservative side of the Republican Party, not extraordinarily intelligent, but very steady and a useful bridge to the people who would normally oppose our China policy. If a Democrat had done what we did, he would have accused him of treason. Since we did it, he is supporting us against his better judgment.

[Page 18]

PM Chou: Mr. Ford is from the north?

Dr. Kissinger: Michigan, but from the countryside in Michigan.

PM Chou: He is an old Congressman?

Dr. Kissinger: He has been in the Congress for a long time.

PM Chou: Both have been.

Dr. Kissinger: Both have been. Boggs is on the more conservative side of the Democratic Party, and would be, on domestic policy, more on the conservative side.

PM Chou: I suppose that will be enough for the representatives of the two parties to come here this year.

Dr. Kissinger: I think that should exhaust the visits of political figures.

PM Chou: Suppose the Presidential candidates of both parties want to visit China. What should we do?

Dr. Kissinger: The one of the Republican party has just visited China.

PM Chou: But what about his Vice Presidential candidate, because the Democratic party may put this forward as a challenge to you?

Dr. Kissinger: The President didn’t come as a candidate. He came as the President of the United States, and you didn’t invite him as a candidate.

PM Chou: Of course, it’s not a question of your President coming again. But if the Democrats were to say, suppose the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican and Democratic parties came to visit China together. Is that possible?

Dr. Kissinger: Highly unlikely. It is not impossible that they put forward the visit of the Democratic candidate.

PM Chou: Individually?

Dr. Kissinger: That is not impossible. I am giving you my judgment. I don’t know.

[Page 19]

PM Chou: Before these political leaders have requested but we didn’t reply: Fuibright, Muskie, McGovern and Kennedy. You have also suggested that one of your justices visit, Justice Douglas, through the Paris channel.

Dr. Kissinger: May I make one thing clear. When we transmit a request through the Paris channel, that doesn’t mean we endorse it. It just means a senior American has asked us to transmit his request. We leave it up to you. Our view about Douglas is he is politically opposed to the President, but he is in a non-political position, so we leave the decision entirely up to you, and we do not oppose it on our side.

PM Chou: Cyrus Eaton, that old industrialist?

Dr. Kissinger: In my personal candid opinion, I think he’s a fool (laughter). If you would like to invite him we have no objection. He is not nearly as important as he thinks he is. He is very rich and can therefore finance study groups and can hold conferences (laughter).

PM Chou: He is a doctor, PhD?

Dr. Kissinger: No, he’s an industrialist who was a ruthless financier and who in his late years has suddenly decided that he would bring about universal peace because he is more intelligent than all the statesmen of the world.

PM Chou: He has been engaged in such activities for twenty years.

Dr. Kissinger: The Soviet Union used him for a long time, but gave up on him because he is so inadequate. We have no objection to his coming here, but there is a better use of senior peoples’ time than Cyrus Eaton.

PM Chou: So there are such people in your society?

Dr. Kissinger: Oh yes. He organized these international conferences called Pugwash Conferences and financed them, and even though he paid for them he became such an embarrassment to the people who ran them that he was barred from his own conferences (laughter).

So if you can take him off our hands for a month it would be not unwelcome. I would get much fewer letters for a while.

[Page 20]

PM Chou: What party does he favor?

Dr. Kissinger: I would think maybe the Democrats, but no candidate will accept his public support. They all accept his money, but not his public support (laughter). He is not a political figure, and if you invite him we will not suspect that you are intervening in our political life.

I don’t remember that a Presidential candidate, as a candidate, has ever visited a foreign country, and that would be very unusual; and he would then bring a very large press corps and that would make China inevitably an issue in the campaign.

PM Chou: Is the China lobby still very active?

Dr. Kissinger: It is active, but it has to attach itself now with some other dissatisfied group to be effective. But they are a vocal minority now, not a majority.

PM Chou: Mcintyre doesn’t have much influence now?

Dr. Kissinger: No, but it would not be difficult. Not Mcintyre, because he’s a little unbalanced, but if somebody wanted to put together the people who were for Wallace with the right-wing of the Republican Party and appeal on the basis of general anti-Communism, not the People’s Republic but general anti-Communism, he could be a very potent factor.

PM Chou: When you say anti-Communism, you say also anti-Soviet?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, both.

PM Chou: Still the old ideas?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

PM Chou: Does Wallace belong to such a faction?

Dr. Kissinger: Many of his supporters do, and what is interesting is that before he was shot he had received more votes in Democratic primaries than McGovern. So if you put that together with the conservatives in the Republican Party, that can become a very major force.

PM Cho: He’s a southerner, Wallace?

[Page 21]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, he’s a southerner. But he had a number of handicaps. He’s a small man. He speaks effectively, but doesn’t have a snob appeal. If someone with Kennedy’s manners had expressed Wallace’s views he would have even greater impact.

PM Chou: What do you think about Robert Williams?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know him.

PM Chou: Robert Williams is undergoing trial. He had lived in China for some time in the past.

Miss Tang: He is now on trial in a certain state and is not allowed to leave the state.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you know the state?

PM Chou: We can find out. We don’t want to say much more—just to let you know we received tens of thousands of letters from Japan asking us to support Robert Williams. They may have been written by ultra-leftists, or people taken in by them.

Dr. Kissinger: I am not familiar with the case. If it were someone like Angela Davis or a well-known case in America, we would have heard about it. I will look into it. I won’t inform you about it, because I don’t think I should inform you about domestic American matters at this time, but I will inform myself.

PM Chou: That was just prior to the arrival of your President. We researched these letters.

Dr. Kissinger: To me it looks like a provocation, but I don’t want to say it because I don’t know about it.

PM Chou: He called himself the President of the new African Republic in the United States. I had some discussions with him; how is it possible for him to set himself as the President of a country in a country? So he was displeased with us and left.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, he was here?

[Page 22]

PM Chou: Yes he was here when he was elected.

Dr. Kissinger: I can’t imagine what group he represented. Maybe the Black Panthers.

[After the meeting, outside the meeting room Mr. Chang reported to Dr. Kissinger on Mr. Downey’s condition, reading from a paper: “Mr. Downey is in good health and good spirits. He has no chronic illness.”]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 97, Country Files, Far East, China, Dr. Kissinger’s Visit, June 1972 Memcons (Originals). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Brackets in the source text. The meeting was held at the Government Guest House #5.
  2. Topics discussed included the Soviet Union, the war in Vietnam, and the presidential campaign.