19. Memorandum of Conversation, Paris, September 13, 1971, 8:45-10:40 a.m.1 2



  • Huang Chen, PRC Ambassador to France
  • Tsao Kuei Sheng, First Secretary of PRC Embassy
  • Wei Tung, Secretary to the PRC Ambassador
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Vernon Walters, Defense Attache, U.S. Embassy, Paris
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff

PLACE: PRC Embassy, Paris

DATE & TIME: Monday, September 13, 1971

8:45 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.

Ambassador Huang: The traffic is terrible.

Dr. Kissinger: We took what we thought was a shortcut, and there turned out to be a traffic jam.

General Walters: There were many Americans in the quarter, and we wanted to avoid them. (Chinese laughter)

Dr. Kissinger: Since my trip to China I am very well known in America.

Ambassador Huang: In the whole world.

Dr. Kissinger: I must tell the Ambassador a story. The other day the manager of a nightclub singer asked me if I could help her client sing in the nightclubs of China. I said, “just as soon as they establish some.” (Chinese laughter)

Ambassador Huang: That was a good answer. Would you like some tea? You made a long trip yesterday. I see you are in good health.

Dr. Kissinger: I had a little vacation on the West Coast.

[Page 2]

Ambassador Huang (to General Walters): You went to the United States?

General Walters: Last time, yes.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Lord was also with me on the West Coast.

Ambassador Huang: If Dr. Kissinger agrees, I’ll transmit a message. This is in response to your questions of August 16 and September 1. In order to gain time I will have Mr. Tsao read the message. (Mr. Tsao then read an oral note as follows, full text also attached at Tab A):

“The Chinese Government agrees that Dr. Kissinger’s four day interim visit to China should take place beginning October 20.

According to its customary practice, the Chinese side would issue a press release only upon Dr. Kissinger’s arrival in China and not in advance. But if the U.S. side deems it necessary to make the visit known beforehand, the Chinese side proposes that the two sides issue on October 14 their respective press releases of the same content in the following wording:

‘The Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the United States of America have agreed that Dr. Kissinger will visit Peking in the latter part of October for talks with the Chinese Government to make concrete arrangements for President Nixon’s visit to China.’

As for the U.S. proposal regarding the time of President Nixon’s visit to China, it may be discussed and decided upon during Dr. Kissinger’s interim visit.”

Dr. Kissinger: May I raise two questions? One concerns the following. If the announcement is made on the 14th and if we arrive on the 20th, then it is necessary on the 14th to announce the date of my arrival, because there would only be a week in between and I would have to leave in four days (after the announcement). The date (in the Chinese draft) only says the latter part of October.

[Page 3]

Ambassador Huang: The 20th would be toward the end of October.

Dr. Kissinger: If we announce on the 14th … I assume when you say the 20th, that means I have to arrive there on that date.

Ambassador Huang: That’s right.

Dr. Kissinger: That means I must leave Washington the 17th or 18th, because I lose a day going West. If we make an announcement on the 14th and I disappear three days later, it will look very odd if we don’t announce it (the date of arrival in Peking).

Ambassador Huang: You’re saying that if one announces October 14, it is better to specify that you arrive on the 20th.

Dr. Kissinger: I have to check. My instinct tells me that we would prefer to make an announcement a few days earlier. It is easier for us frankly to make the announcement a few days earlier. I must get together a different group than last time and must arrange for our airplane because we used the Pakistani airplane last time. But I will give you an answer within 48 hours.

The second problem we have, Mr. Ambassador, this is minor, that is … (at this point light refreshments were served). You have an unfair advantage. I love Chinese food. After this I will agree to anything.

Ambassador Huang: Pas trop de zéle!

Dr. Kissinger: For us a movement of the President is a matter of great complication. We would like to know whether the two dates we gave you are generally acceptable or whether while I am in China another date completely different will be proposed.

Ambassador Huang: That I can’t answer. I believe that in talking directly with the Prime Minister you can settle all these questions.

Dr. Kissinger: Perhaps you can tell the Prime Minister we will hold both dates, but it will be very difficult to have another.

Ambassador Huang: I’ll certainly tell him.

[Page 4]

(There was then some light conversation while Chinese delicacies, wine and tea were being consumed. The talk revolved around food and hospitality, concerning both of which Dr. Kissinger praised China. The Ambassador said that Americans were noted for their hospitality too. He said each country had its good qualities, although not all of them necessarily had good food. Note was also made that spaghetti was brought back to Italy from China by Marco Polo. Dr. Kissinger said that when Prime Minister Chou En-lai returned the President’s visit, he hoped the Ambassador would come also. The Ambassador noted that when he was Vice Minister he accompanied the Prime Minister to fourteen countries in Asia and Africa. Dr. Kissinger also remarked that concerning Japanese food he gets embarrassed to ask what it is sometimes, because he is not sure that he could then eat it.)

Ambassador Huang: I think the problems can be easily solved with the Prime Minister when you are in Peking.

I have another thing to say.

Dr. Kissinger: I noticed you have another piece of paper.

Ambassador Huang: You raised the question last time, concerning your proposal about another channel. It seems to us for the moment that there is no need to use the Ottawa channel. If it is necessary to be further considered, then this question may be discussed under certain circumstances during Dr. Kissinger’s visit.

Dr. Kissinger: This was only for emergency. For normal business we want to use this channel. Our suggestion was only for unusual circumstances when it is difficult to use Paris. We can discuss that when I am in Peking.

There are a number of things that I would like to cover concerning my visit.

We will give you an answer on the announcement of the visit and the text within a few days.

I have always been very honest and meticulous with the Prime Minister and therefore I want to inform you of what may happen. As I told you last time, we are constantly receiving Soviet approaches now about this [Page 5] or that negotiation, and we have always informed you immediately. We do not inform them of our conversations with you. And the Prime Minister should know that they do not know from our sources that I see you and what I discuss with you. One reason is that no American sources know I am talking to you except the President. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

As I told the Prime Minister and as I told you on August 16, the Soviet Union has made several proposals to us about a possible visit to the Soviet Union. We have told them that we would not visit the Soviet Union until after we have visited the People’s Republic of China. However, we expect that Foreign Minister Gromyko, who is arriving in the United States on September 19, will bring a formal invitation. Since we have already delayed our answer for three months, it would be difficult to delay an answer again because they have met all our conditions regarding outstanding negotiations. And to be quite honest with you, the reason we had proposed September 21 or September 22 for the announcement was so that whatever we and you announced would not appear as a reaction to the visit of the Foreign Minister.

Gromyko comes to the United Nations, not to the United States, but it is customary on each visit to the United States that he visit the President. (There followed some discussion in Chinese among the Chinese.)

Ambassador Huang: That means you propose to announce the visit on the 21st?

Dr. Kissinger: You remember, on September 1, General Walters proposed that we announce my visit to China on September 21. We chose that date—we didn’t know then—because it has been normal for Gromyko to come to the United Nations at that time. He is not coming at our invitation; it is normal. It is also normal when he comes to the UN that he visits the President. Frankly, we therefore wanted to announce my visit to China before we talked to Gromyko. We didn’t wish to say this to you because we didn’t wish to embarrass or exercise pressure on you. Since then we have been told of his visit. He arrives September 19. He will probably see the President on September 29, which is the latest possible date. It is not a visit to America. It is a visit to the United Nations.

Ambassador Huang: If in your view we announce you’re going to China on the 21st, what date do you expect to go to China?

Dr. Kissinger: The one we discussed, October 20.

[Page 6]

General Walters: He was explaining only why we proposed the 21st (for the announcement).

Dr. Kissinger: The arrival date is no problem for me. Or the 22nd for the announcement.

Ambassador Huang: We will await your answer.

Dr. Kissinger: You can report to the Prime Minister that the arrival date of October 20 is acceptable. The announcement text I want to check in Washington and it is probably acceptable, but I wanted you to know of the other problem.

Ambassador Huang: On the question of the date of the announcement you will let us know through General Walters.

Dr. Kissinger: And if you have any different views, you will let us know.

Ambassador Huang: We will let you know.

Dr. Kissinger: I just wanted to make sure you knew why, and if anything important happens between Gromyko and the President which bears on the question of the President’s visit to Moscow, I’ll let you know as soon as possible. But it will be in no case before the President’s visit to China.

In fact, if we visited every country that invites us before we visit China, we will spend all our time traveling. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

May I raise some practical questions with regard to my visit to China?

Ambassador Huang: I am ready to hear and to transmit them.

Dr. Kissinger: My crew and my pilots will be the same as those accompanying the President when he goes to China. This means that there will be about eighteen to twenty members in the crew of the plane. Of those, four will be guards, four will be communicators, four will be pilots and navigators, and the rest will be stewards. We will give you a list of their names and their passport numbers within a week. There are many technical questions connected with this plane that I don’t understand.

(Ambassador Huang laughs.)

[Page 7]

General Walters: You have an aeronautical engineer here.

Dr. Kissinger: I have asked our technical people to write them down. I will give them to you and perhaps you can give them (the answers) to General Walters. It has to do with what type of fuel, etc. (Dr. Kissinger hands list at Tab B to Ambassador Huang.)

General Walters: I think you have an aeronautical engineer here.

Ambassador Huang: No.

Dr. Kissinger: We will arrive from Hawaii to Shanghai, with one stop at Wake Island, just to get fuel. We plan to arrive on the 20th in daylight hours so that we can go on to Peking in daylight hours, because the pilot would like to know the approach to the Peking airport.

Ambassador Huang: That is no problem.

Dr. Kissinger: We wanted to let you know. In my own party it will be up to ten people, and I have a list of the types of people we will take along. I would like to explain it to you.

I told the Prime Minister that China has suffered the visits of many barbarians, but never the advance party for a President. This will be a test of your historical experience. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

My party will be composed of two types of people, subject to your approval. A group of substantive people similar to ones I had on my previous visit, with only one or two secretaries in addition. Secondly, I would like to bring three or four technical people who can make preliminary preparations for the President’s visit.

Ambassador Huang: I must absent myself for a few minutes. I have something to do right now. (The Ambassador left the room for about two minutes during which there was some small talk.)

Dr. Kissinger: These technical people are comprised of the following. First there is a press man from the White House—not a journalist.

Ambassador Huang: He belongs to Mr. Ziegler.

[Page 8]

Dr. Kissinger: I have the uneasy feeling that you know more about the White House than I do. You certainly know more about General Walters than I do. (Ambassador Huang laughs.)

Second, a representative from White House Communications Agency about communications.

Third, one representative of the U.S. Secret Service who is responsible for the personal security of the President.

General Walters: He has nothing to do with secret service.

Dr. Kissinger: I have called to their urgent attention the Prime Minister’s comment that the security of the President in China is your responsibility. They have promised me that they will be less in evidence in the People’s Republic of China than they are in the United States.

(Chinese laughter)

The fourth man is a specimen who exists, to the best of my knowledge, in no other country. I will explain about him. It is a particular form of decadence. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) He is responsible for all the technical arrangements for a Presidential visit. It is a job that is done by protocol in all other countries. I have asked them to write down the problems that they want to discuss, and frankly they are not worth my time or the Prime Minister’s time. For example, how many cars should be in a motorcade, where the baggage is to be stored, etc. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) Unless this fascinates the Prime Minister I propose we let the advance man handle this.

I will bring a junior member from each of these departments. This is for two reasons. One, he can have only very preliminary discussions, so both sides know what is in the other’s mind without any possibility of deadlock or misunderstanding. Two, while this sort of problem bores me, if they are in my party I can control them entirely, but if they come completely alone it is more difficult (Ambassador Huang laughs).

To be honest, I am not sure that they know all the fine points of sovereignty. I guarantee that they will learn that when I am along. (He hands over the list at Tab C.) These are the types of points they will discuss.

[Page 9]

General Walters: That is, the advance man.

Dr. Kissinger: This will not be to make a final decision, but to have a very preliminary discussion. They won’t want a final decision there when I come. (Mr. Tsao reads the list quickly.)

Ambassador Huang: We will transmit this to Peking.

Dr. Kissinger: I repeat this is only for a very exploratory conversation. Before the President’s visit this can be worked out in greater detail, but this would help our planning to have some preliminary ideas. If you don’t want them, we can have them come separately later. My personal recommendation is that the discussions will be better controlled if I am there. Here is a list of the members of the party. (He hands over the list at Tab D.) I have already said it orally.

I think Mr. Tsao will be busy on his telegram. (Chinese laughter)

We have one additional problem about this which I will talk to you about frankly. Contrary to my previous visit, I must on this trip involve some members of the regular bureaucracy. (Chinese laughter) We have not used the opportunity to go through the process of cleaning them out. We still have many members of the old bureaucracy. In other words, we have not reduced our bureaucracy in the way the Prime Minister explained to me he had reduced his.

I would like therefore to propose to the Prime Minister the following procedure. We should have two types of meetings. One of the entire group … I am discussing procedures when I am there.

First of all, none of the technical people will attend any meetings with me. The technical people should speak to their colleagues.

Among the other group I propose two types of meetings. One, when all the members of my group, less the technicians, will be present. At those meetings the Chinese side can explain its general position along the lines that the Prime Minister explained, for example, to Mr. Reston of the New York Times. Your general philosophy, general views.

There should be another type of meeting at which on our side there would only be Mr. Lord and one secretary, at which we could work out with precision some of the understandings of our two sides and some of the details of the conversations of the President’s visit. I will leave it [Page 10] to your subtlety to arrange these meetings so that they will appear to take place naturally. (Ambassador Huang smiles.) While I have these discussions with the Prime Minister, we can let the other members of the group discuss cultural exchange and trade and technical issues.

I have every confidence that you can manage this very well.

Now as for what I would like to discuss with the Prime Minister. First, the approximate length and itinerary of the President’s visit. We are thinking of up to seven days, and, as I discussed with the Prime Minister in Peking, perhaps two other places. But you are the host and we will wait for your proposal. I don’t need the answers until I get there.

Secondly, in our official party for the President, we will bring very few people—the President, myself, the Secretary of State, one or two aides for each, and technical people. We propose that when the President is in the People’s Republic, the meetings are split up, like during my visit, on the two levels. We propose also that these be split into two parts similar to my visit. That is to say, the Secretary of State can have separate conversations with your acting Foreign Minister. But that too we can make definite when I am in Peking.

I just want to give the Prime Minister a chance to prepare himself so I am not surprising him. Also the Prime Minister and I should discuss the conduct of these meetings (during the President’s visit), the approximate schedule, and which side should raise which question.

As a former professor, I am given to pedantry.

Ambassador Huang: You have thought of everything.

Dr. Kissinger: As for the agenda, I think that the Prime Minister and I should cover some of the same topics we discussed previously in more detail. Of course, this is always subject to your counter proposals. Of those topics I believe that the issue of Taiwan, the Soviet Union, Japan, and Indochina should be discussed in detail only in the smaller group.

Also, the Prime Minister and I should discuss some of the concrete results that should emerge from this visit, from the President’s visit. We believe that these discussions can have a historical significance and therefore should not fail for lack of preparation or pressure of time while [Page 11] we are there. Therefore it is important to prepare them as carefully as possible. In addition to some results which we cannot announce but which we will nevertheless carry out, there is some, I believe, we could announce as a result of the President’s visit.

For example, the Prime Minister proposed to me that there could be periodic visits of a senior American representative to Peking. We would be prepared to agree to this, and in addition we are prepared to recommend periodic visits of senior Chinese officials.

We will be prepared to extend an invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Washington as a return visit to the President’s visit to Peking. All of this is to be announced after the President’s visit, not after mine. It is just to be discussed during mine.

Third, we are prepared to make any agreement with the People’s Republic of China that we have already made with the Soviet Union. For example the problem of war by accident, of unintended war, or the improvement of communications for emergency. We are aware of the Prime Minister’s view that the People’s Republic of China does not want to be lassoed by the existing nuclear powers, and we will make no such proposal.

We are prepared to discuss cultural and scientific exchange, for example, the exchange of medical personnel, academic exchange, weather information, surveys of earth resources. We will also be prepared to discuss the establishment of civil air links between our two countries.

This is in addition to whatever I have already discussed with the Prime Minister. And of course any topic which the Chinese side wishes to raise with us.

One more word on the technical side, and then I have two or three substantive matters. This has to do with the number of press people the President will have to bring with him. I have told our people that it should be a minimum number. Their definition of minimum is between 100 and 150 people. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) Or two divisions.

Ambassador Huang: A company.

Dr. Kissinger: I think you and he (General Walters) have a plot among Generals.

[Page 12]

General Walters: It is necessary to have Generals for peace.

Dr. Kissinger: He (General Walters) tells me you want him to study the subway of Peking.

Perhaps for my visit, Mr. Ambassador, your side could consider what would be the minimum and maximum number of press people. (This was not translated.) I will bring no journalists at all.

Ambassador Huang: It will be necessary to have an extra plane for the journalists.

Dr. Kissinger: For the President’s visit, yes. This is usually true.

Ambassador Huang: For the journalists only. Even big airplanes?

General Walters: It will be necessary to charter a plane for them.

Dr. Kissinger: I must tell you, Mr. Ambassador, their manners are bad even by American standards, and I don’t know what you will think of them by Chinese standards. (Chinese laughter) If you tell me when I come to China—I don’t need to know in advance—what you consider the minimum and maximum number, then we will be guided by your views.

Ambassador Huang: You can discuss this with the Prime Minister.

Dr. Kissinger: I only want to give in advance the type of things I will be discussing with him. All I can tell you is that Mr. Reston is one of our humblest journalists. I tell you when I read his interview with the Prime Minister I couldn’t tell who the Prime Minister was. I am not referring to the Prime Minister—Mr. Reston behaved as if he were head of a sovereign country. (Ambassador Huang laughs.) We have no complaint at all about what the Prime Minister said. I was commenting on the long speeches that Mr. Reston made to the Prime Minister which was not characteristic of a journalist. We thought the Prime Minister’s answers were very understanding and not at all surprising.

I want to let the Prime Minister know a number of relatively minor things. The Ambassador of Romania saw me at the request of his President. He expressed concern about some of the pressures that were being put on Romania. I want the Prime Minister to know what I replied.

[Page 13]

One, the U.S. has a major interest in the independence and autonomous policy of Romania.

Two, the U.S. will do nothing directly or indirectly that amounts to collusion that would enable another great power to infringe on the independence and autonomous policy of Romania.

Three, the U.S. will make clear that pressures for military action are not consistent with relaxation of tension.

Four, the President ordinarily never receives Ambassadors, but he will see the Romanian Ambassador and will repeat these statements to him personally. And we will announce the visit of the Romanian Ambassador but not the content of the conversation.

Two other pieces of information. One, with respect to Pakistan. We will announce during October certain relief for debts which Pakistan owes, to the extent of $75 million.

Ambassador Huang: What do you mean by relief?

Dr. Kissinger: Pakistan has declared a moratorium on its international debts which ends in October. We will work out a rescheduling, the practical consequence of which will be that Pakistan will benefit to the extent of $75 million. I frankly don’t understand the details myself.

Secondly, our calculations are that for relief in East Pakistan there will be needed between $250 and $300 million. And we will pay 75 percent of that, up to $250 million.

Ambassador Huang: In what form?

Dr. Kissinger: In the form of food, counterpart funds, and direct appropriations. Counterpart funds are Pakistani money which we control.

General Walters: Pakistan rupees which belong to America.

Dr. Kissinger: I wanted to reaffirm to the Prime Minister what I said to him with respect to Taiwan when I was there. Because the press is very active in its speculation at this time.

[Page 14]

Finally, the Japanese press has announced that I am visiting Japan in the very near future. It is not true. There is no such plan.

I think I’ve given enough to Mr. Tsao to keep him busy.

Ambassador Huang: He will do it with pleasure.

  1. 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. Drafted by Lord, who sent it to Kissinger under a covering memorandum. All ellipses in the source text. The meeting was held at the Chinese Embassy. Attached but not published are Tabs B-C. Tab A is published in its entirety as Document 20.
  2. After confirming his upcoming 4-day interim visit to China in October, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger predicted that Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko would formally invite President Nixon to visit the Soviet Union during his visit to the United States to address the United Nations on September 19.