- Department of State
- Amembassy WARSAW
- Stoessel-Lei Talks: Report of 135th Meeting, January 20, 1970
Department of State
DATE: January 24, 1970
The American side was met at the front door of the PRC Embassy by staff members and led to the second floor where the Chargé, Lei Yang, and his staff were waiting. Both sides introduced themselves and there were handshakes all around.
Participants on both sides were:
Ambassador Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
Paul H. Kreisberg - Advisor
Donald M. Anderson - Interpreter
Thomas W. Simons, Jr. - Scribe
People’s Republic of China
Chargé d’Affaires Lei Yang
Li Chu-ching - Advisor
Ch’ien Yung-nien - Interpreter
Yeh Wei-lan - Scribe
The group then proceeded to a large conference room. Enroute to the conference room, interpreter Ch’ien explained to Anderson that the two sides would be seated as if at a meeting, and that the press would be permitted [Page 2] to enter and make photographs. After the photo session, he explained, the group would move to a smaller room where the actual meeting would be conducted. It was agreed that, following past practice, it was the U.S. turn to speak first and that the Chinese side would propose the date for the next meeting. It was also agreed that we would continue the practice of having an informal meeting on the day following the formal meeting to discuss any technical problems which might arise during the meeting.
After moving to the smaller conference room, Lei Yang asked to say a few words before I began my opening statement.
Shall we start, Mr. Ambassador? (I nodded assent.) Mr. Ambassador, according to the agreement reached by our two sides, the 135th meeting of the Sino-US ambassadorial talks takes place today at the Chinese Embassy. In my capacity as chief of the Chinese mission, I welcome Mr. Ambassador to the Chinese Embassy. Since the Sino-US ambassadorial talks are being continued at your request, I would like to listen to your statement first at this meeting.
I wish to thank the Chargé d’Affaires for his words of welcome. Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, today marks the first opportunity for both of us to represent our respective governments in a formal meeting. In our informal conversations December 11 and January 8, however, I described to you the general spirit with which President NIXON has instructed me to approach this meeting today. I observed that the United States wished to improve relations between our two countries, that it did not seek to stand in isolation from China or to join in any condominium with the Soviet Union directed against China. Specifically, we do not support the Brezhnev doctrine.
It is my Government’s hope that today will mark a new beginning in our relationship. It is our hope that together we can take a fresh and constructive look at the whole range of possibilities for the improvement of relations between our two countries. We hope to explore what practical steps we can take to eliminate many of the barriers to those understandings from which our two countries could mutually benefit. We do not deny that there are serious differences between our two Governments. But we believe that we should make every effort possible to overcome these and that it should be possible to make progress in this effort.
The United States intends to honor its commitments but the United States has no intention of attempting, either unilaterally or in concert with others, to exclude the People’s Republic of China from developing normal, friendly relations with its Asian neighbors and pursuing its own legitimate national interests in this area. It is in this sense that I believe that whatever constructive [Page 3] contribution your Government can make toward reaching a just and equitable peace in the area and in easing the legitimate concerns of other Asian governments would contribute toward more rapid achievement of the goal of a reduction of military tension in the area and a reduced American military presence in Southeast Asia, which we recognize is near the southern borders of China.
We are prepared to discuss with you any proposals designed to improve relations and reduce tensions between our two countries. These might include agreements on trade, renunciation of the use of force, and matters related to disarmament. Other subjects for discussion might be the exchange of reporters, scholars, scientists, medical personnel and scientific information. As recently as November 25, 1968, your proposal for resumption of these meetings referred to the desirability of concluding an agreement on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. There may be other topics your Government would like to propose. Those I have mentioned are all specific areas in which we feel that early and meaningful progress can be achieved. Perhaps even more important, however, is achievement through our frank discussions at these meetings of understanding between our two governments on our objectives in Asia, their limits, and our mutual acceptance of the fact that improvement in our relations serves the interests of both our countries. It is my Government’s sincere belief that substantive political dialogue can and should be a significant contribution toward this goal.
Since coming to office in January 1969, President Nixon has taken several actions that give concrete expression to our hope that barriers to normal intercourse between our two peoples can gradually be lowered. On July 21 of last year my Government eased its regulations on travel to the People’s Republic of China and amended its long standing trade restraints. On December 19 a further and more significant amendment of our trade controls was announced. We are now prepared, should you be interested, to discuss the whole question of trade between our two countries and the settlement of outstanding debts and obligations.
Mr. Chargé d’Affaires. Without doubt the single most complex problem existing between our two sides is the question of Taiwan and the United States relationship with the Republic of China. The United States will continue to maintain its friendly relations with the Government in Taipei and honor its commitment to that Government to assist it in defending Taiwan and the Pescadores from military attack. However, the United States position in this regard is without prejudice to any future peaceful settlement between your Government and the Government in Taipei. Our only concern is that this issue not be resolved by force of arms. In this same spirit we will also not support and in fact will oppose any offensive military action from Taiwan against the mainland. The limited United States military presence on Taiwan is not a threat to the security of your Government, and it is our hope that as peace and stability in Asia [Page 4] grow, we can reduce these facilities on Taiwan that we now have.
Mr. Chargé d’Affaires. The problem of controlling weapons of mass destruction is a vital question for peoples of every country. The talks on disarmament started last year between the United States and the Soviet Union are not designed to perpetuate the nuclear monopoly of the United States and the Soviet Union or to threaten any other country. I made it abundantly clear in my statement to you of January 8, and the United States has stated as clearly as possible publicly, that it does not intend to interfere in the disputes of others or seek to gain advantage from them. We think disarmament is a matter of vital concern to the welfare of both our peoples and would welcome an expression of interest on the part of your Government in commencing bilateral discussions between our two governments on the subject.
My Government and the people of the United States welcomed the release December 7 of Bessie Hope Donald and Simeon Baldwin who inadvertently entered Chinese-claimed territorial waters while sailing from Hong Kong to Macau. There remains, however, the longstanding question of the remaining Americans being held in prison by your authorities. Anyone familiar with American people of all political views will agree that the question of United States citizens imprisoned or missing in China is one of great concern to them. Forward movement on this issue, through the release of those now held or, at minimum, through identification of those held and permission for visits by family members, would be a constructive move toward improved relations between our two countries.
Mr. Chargé d’Affaires. If as these talks progress it would seem to be useful and your Government would so desire, my Government would be prepared to consider sending a representative to Peking for direct discussions with your officials or receiving a representative from your Government in Washington for more thorough exploration of any of the subjects I have mentioned in my remarks today or other matters on which we might agree.
In any event, in closing, Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, I would like to restate once again my Government’s hope that regular contacts between us can take place at frequent intervals and that these talks will enable us to move toward a new phase in Sino-American relations based on mutual respect.
This concludes my statement.[Page 5]
Mr. Ambassador, in dealing with the question of relations between countries having different social systems, the Government of the People’s Republic of China, following the principles of diplomatic policy personally set forth by Chairman Mao Tse Tung, has consistently stood for peaceful coexistence based on the principles of mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. In pursuing these principles the Chinese Government has in the past twenty years established and developed normal friendly relations with many countries. These principles initiated by our Government have won active support and warm praise from all countries and peoples of the world who genuinely cherish peace. Only by strictly adhering to the five principles can peaceful coexistence be realized. If one country forcibly occupies the territory of another country, encroaches on its sovereignty, and interferes in the internal affairs of that country, how can one speak of peaceful coexistence? The People’s Republic of China never will commit aggression or interfere in other countries, but on no account can it tolerate interference and aggression against China by other countries, wherever the interference and aggression may come from.
In your statement read out at our meeting on the 8th, Mr. Ambassador expressed the wish of the U.S. Government to widen the dialogue and contacts between us but failed to mention a single word about Taiwan. We must point out that there have long existed serious disputes between China and the U.S. and that the crux of these lies in the question of Taiwan. This question is a political one, having direct bearing on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. It is not a question of ideology. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory; it is a province of the People’s Republic of China. Both the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration, to which the U.S. Government affixed its signature, explained that Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands should be returned to China. Even as late as January 5, 1950, the then U.S. President and Secretary of State still issued solemn statements recognizing that Taiwan is China’s territory. Shortly afterward, in June 1950, the U.S. Government, using the Korean War as a pretext, dispatched the Seventh Fleet to Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits area, and has since been occupying the area by force of arms. An armistice in the Korean War was brought about as early as 1953. But not only has the U.S. Government failed to pull out its forces from Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits area, what is more, it signed in December 1954 the so-called Treaty of Joint Defense with the Chiang Kai Shek clique, which has long been repudiated by the Chinese people, in an attempt to legalize by this treaty this occupation of Taiwan. Thereafter the U.S. Government has all along [Page 6] used Taiwan as a base for continuing to pose war threats against the Chinese people and to use it for maneuvers to carry out “two China” or “one China-one Taiwan” activities in an attempt to separate Taiwan from China. Recently the U.S. Government still talked a great deal about pledging to honor its so-called treaty commitments to the Chiang Kai Shek clique and announced it would give the Chiang clique a batch of military planes. All of this constitutes interference and aggression against China. The Chinese people will assuredly liberate Taiwan; this is a question of China’s internal affairs. The Chinese people absolutely will not allow any country to occupy Chinese territory and to interfere in its internal affairs. With regard to this question of important political principles, the position of the Chinese Government is firm and unswerving. All fond hopes that China will change its position are doomed to fail.
Mr. Ambassador, the talks between China and the U.S. have gone on for over ten years. In the course of these talks, the U.S. Government has invariably advanced an evasive attitude toward the questions of fundamental principles between the two countries and has confined itself to side issues, thus preventing the talks achieving results on fundamental issues between the two countries. Now that the U.S. Government wishes to increase the dialogue with our country and improve Sino-US relations, presumably the question of how to deal with the fundamental principles of the relations of our two countries is already under your consideration. The Chinese Government has always stood for the peaceful settlement of disputes between China and the U.S. through negotiations; it has done so in the past and is prepared to do likewise in the future. We would welcome studies and explorations on the fundamental question of how to settle relations between the two countries. We are willing to consider and discuss whatever ideas and suggestions the U.S. Government might put forward in accordance with the five principles of peaceful coexistence, therefore really helping to reduce tensions between China and the U.S. and fundamentally improve relations between China and the U.S. These talks may either continue to be conducted at the ambassadorial level or may be conducted at a higher level or through other channels acceptable to both sides. I have carefully listened to the statement the Ambassador just made. We will study it and set forth our views at the next meeting.
Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, I listened carefully and with interest to the views expressed by you in your statement. I noted in particular the position expressed by you concerning the problem of Taiwan. As I said in my statement today, the position of the U.S. on this [Page 7] subject is without prejudice to any future peaceful settlement between your Government and the Government in Taipei. Our only concern is that this issue not be resolved by force of arms, and I note from your statement that you also believe this issue should be settled peacefully. For this reason, I feel that we are in agreement that this problem should be resolved peacefully, and I believe that through such an approach we can make progress in solving our bilateral problems and improving our relations.
At this point, in my view, it would be advisable to report to our Governments what has been said today and to consider the subjects which might be taken up at our next meeting. Of course, we will be prepared to hear anything else today which the Chargé would wish to raise. If there is nothing more from your side, we would have nothing more and would be interested in suggestions from the Chargé as to when we would meet again.
Mr. Ambassador, I would only like to add a few points. With regard to Mr. Ambassador’s proposal regarding sending a representative either to Peking or to Washington, I will transmit the proposal to my Government. As I already pointed out, the position of my Government on the question of Taiwan is very clear and known to everybody. The so-called treaty concluded by the U.S. and the Chiang Kai Shek clique is not recognized by the whole Chinese people. And I must point out that Taiwan is not a state; it is part of the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Ambassador must be aware that there is only one China: this is the People’s Republic of China. If Mr. Ambassador has nothing more to say, may I make a proposal for the date of our next meeting?
I have heard with attention what you have said. I understand your views concerning Taiwan, and I hope that you have understood the point of view that I have presented in my statement. I will report to my Government everything you have said today, including what you mentioned regarding meetings at a higher level. I believe the Chargé also mentioned that the meetings might be in another channel, and I would like to inquire what might be involved. Any explanation from the Chargé would be useful.
Concerning the question of the Chinese territory of Taiwan, which Mr. Ambassador has mentioned, I have already explained in clear [Page 8] terms the position of my Government. Therefore I would not like to repeat them. Mr. Ambassador also mentioned the question of talks at a higher level or through other channels. If the U.S. Government is interested in talks at a higher level or through other channels, you may put forward your draft proposal, or a draft proposal may be worked out through consultation of the two sides at these ambassadorial talks. If Mr. Ambassador has nothing more to say, may I make a proposal for the date of the next meeting? I propose that the date of the next meeting be decided on later through consultation via the liaison personnel of our two sides. Mr. Ch’ien will be liaison officer of our side.
I accept, and I look forward to meeting again at an early date. Our liaison man will be Mr. Simons.
Well, shall we conclude our meeting today?
We always have the question of the press. (Lei and Ch’ien chuckled when they heard the statement in interpretation.) There are many press people today outside your Embassy. I would plan to say when they question me that “Chinese Chargé d’Affaires Lei Yang and I met for one hour today and discussed a number of matters of mutual interest. By mutual agreement, however, our discussions and the topics we covered are held in confidence. No specific date was set for the next meeting but it is agreed that we would be in touch at an early date to consider this question further. The meeting was conducted in a businesslike atmosphere. (Ch’ien clarified the word “business-like” to Lei during interpretation.) We are pleased that these talks have been renewed today and I believe today’s meeting was useful.” This is all I would say to the press.
Mr. Ambassador, on the question of releasing news to the press, we can act on past practice, each side releases its own news to the press.
I thank the Chargé for his hospitality.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL CHICOM-US. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Paul H. Kreisberg and Donald M. Anderson on January 20; cleared by Thomas W. Simons; and approved by Stoessel. The meeting was held at the PRC Embassy in Warsaw.↩
- The Airgram transmitted the context of the January 20, 1970, Sino-U.S. ambassadorial talks between Ambassador Walter Stoessel and Chinese Chargé de Affaires Lei Yang. Stoessel communicated President Nixon’s desire to improve relations with China. The United States also would not stand in isolation from China or join in “any condominium with the Soviet Union directed against China.” Lei Yang commented that the PRC had consistently stood for “peaceful settlement of disputes” and welcomed constructive “studies and explorations” on this issue.↩