32. Letter From the Military Attaché at the Embassy in France (Walters) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig), Paris, October 13, 19711 2
13 October 1971
Herewith the latest scenario:
On October 1 I called Wei at the Chinese Embassy and said I had some answers for them. He said that if it was urgent that I see them it could be at 2300 that evening. If it were not, they would prefer 1100 on October 13 and I agreed.
I went to the Embassy at the appointed time, was received and led into the living room with the usual rites. I gave them the plane’s number, call sign, said it would be coming from Guam and would contact Shanghai Air Traffic Control two hours before take off and would remain in contact during flight. I also mentioned the car for the communications and they said that this was already laid on.
The Ambassador then said, “You can tell Dr. Kissinger that there will be no problems on his trip. I believe all technical details have now been exchanged except that we would like to know if the list you gave us is in protocol order.” I said I would try and find out as soon as possible for him. I believed that was the last answer I might owe them. He agreed that this was the case.
The Ambassador then said that the announcement of President Nixon’s visit to Moscow had not aroused as much press comment as his visit to China and I agreed. He then said he felt that the Chinese invitation had provoked the Soviets into extending theirs and I said that this might well be. He said that this was typical of the Soviets who were very pragmatic.
He then asked me who in the U.S. Government knew that he and I were the Channels for communication between Peking and Washington. I said that as far as I knew, The President, Dr. Kissinger and a few people on Dr. Kissinger’s immediate personal staff and my secretary, Miss Ouellette. He said that this was true on the Chinese side also; only very few people knew in his Embassy and in Peking. Most people seemed to suspect that the contact was maintained through the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. He felt we had both done well to keep it a secret. He did not believe even the French knew.[Page 2]
He then said he had heard that Honolulu was a beautiful place. Perhaps after relations between our countries were normalized he could go home via Honolulu. “In one of your Concordes?” I asked, and he laughed, “perhaps”. He then expressed amazement at the U.S. decision not to build an SST. I said that in my personal belief we would have to at some time in the future. He replied that with our technological competence it should not take us long. I said that the decision would still delay us if we changed our minds. He again expressed satisfaction at our relationship and my discretion and repeated that we were both soldiers, etc.
All during this time I was being practically force fed jasmine tea, preserved apples and lichee nuts which I discover to my distress I am beginning to like. He also threatened me with a real Chinese meal soon. He then said that my previous reserves must have been used up and gave me lichee nuts, dates and two boxes of preserved apples, one of which was for Dr. Kissinger. I promised to deliver it soon.
I had given him a large bottle of Bourbon on my last visit and will give him a large box of Schrafft’s chocolates at our next meeting.
This was the most cordial meeting of all with food, slaps on the back, etc. I left according to the usual ceremonial in an aura of good will and in accordance with the usual tribal rites. Only the Ambassador wore a Mao badge.
Major General, USA
P.S. I had written out the message for the Chinese that I had to convey in French. They asked me to translate it into English as that was the language in which they would transmit it. This may be of interest in connection with the matter I mentioned to you regarding their communications.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File-China Trip, China Exchanges, July 1971-Oct 20, 1971. No classification marking.↩
- Walters recounted his October 13 meeting with Chinese Ambassador to France Huang Chen. The two officials discussed the relatively mild press reaction to the announcement of President Nixon’s trip to the Soviet Union.↩