35. Memorandum for the Record, Paris, October 16, 1971, 11:30 a.m.1 2



On the evening of Oct 15, 1971 Commander Howe called, me to give me the information concerning the operation of Dr. Kissinger’s communications while he is in Peking, which the Chinese had requested. I called Tsao and he said to come on the morning of the 16th at 11.30. This I did and was received as usual at the gate by Wei and at the entrance to the building by Tsao. The Ambassador was not present.

We started with Jasmine Tea and this time in addition to the preserved apples and dates, there were dried prunes which I would not feed to my cat. I gave them the information concerning our transmitter, its power, call sign, frequencies, primary and secondary, hours of operation, method of operation, in short all of the information which they had requested from us concerning, its operation. They received all of this and then said that they had a communication for me. They then read me the following. (In French)

The Chinese side will place at the disposal of the American side cars to insure the liaison with the radio transmitter in the aircraft.
The Chinese side does not contemplate the issuance of any public statement to the press during Dr. Kissinger’s visit to Peking for the time being.

Tsao then said that he thought that we had exchanged all of the technical infoformation that was necessary for the trip. I said that I knew of nothing else that was required for the time being,

He then apologized for the Ambassadors absence and expressed the Ambassadors high regard for me, which I reciprocated saying that Paris was such an important Embassy that I knew the Chinese had sent one of their very best men here. I then said that I would be absent on a French Army trip for three days next week, but that they could call my secretary if anything came up and she would know how to reach me in a matter of minutes. They then said that the Chinese Attaches to France were also going on the trip and cautioned me that they knew nothing about my contacts with the Ambassador and Tsao and Wei. I assured them that I would make no reference with regard to this when talking to the Attaches. [Page 2] We then talked about the United States and they asked many questions about our income tax system. I explained roughly how it worked. They asked how much I paid, what it represented as a proportion of my income. I answered them and they seemed surprised at the progressive rate of our tax. They added that in China there was no income tax I said that ours was tough but that I had quite enough to live comfortably after paying it.

They then asked me many questions about the credit card system. I showed them my American Express card and explained how it worked, what the consequences were for someone who lost his credit rating etc.

I then gave them a box of Schraffts candy, saying that they had given me much Chinese candy and soy sauce as well and I could not fail to reciprocate without losing face, as face was important in the West also. They seemed amused.

Following this I then gave Tsao a copy of the World Almanac which contained much information about the United States, salaries, tax, production etc. I added “don’t send it to Peking, they already have it.” He roared with laughter and said that in that case he would keep it for himself.

All of this washed down with about a quart of Jasmine tea, my cup being filled every time it appeared to be only 95 full. I departed with the usual tribal and protocolary rites.

  1. 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. Drafted by Walters on October 16.
  2. After Military Attaché Walters relayed more specifics about President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger’s communications operations, interpreters Tsao and Wei asked Walters about the U.S. income tax and credit card systems.