36. Memoranda of Conversation, Beijing, October 20, 1971, 4:30-4:40 p.m. and 4:40-7:10 p.m.1 2

Wednesday. October 20, 1971 - Informal Conversation Prior to Formal Meeting, The Great Hall of the People, Peking—4:30 p.m. - 4:40 p.m.

HK: We have one slight problem, Mr. Prime Minister; we haven’t eaten for an hour.

Chou: So you are in good spirits.

Kissinger: Yes we are.

Chou: They want to take pictures first.

Kissinger: This is Mr. Jenkins from the State Department.

Chou: I heard you speak very good Chinese.

Jenkins: I was able to converse formerly, but I am out of practice.

Kissinger: And, of course, you remember Mr. Lord.

Chou: Oh yes. How is your health?

Lord: Very good, thank you.

Kissinger: You remember Mr. Holdridge. And this is General Hughes, the Military Aide to the President. And this is Mr. Chapin who is the Special Assistant to the President. And this is Commander Howe who is on my staff. And these two ladies are Miss Matthews and Miss Pineau. Mr. Ready and Mr. McCleod.

Chou: In charge of documents.

Kissinger: Yes.

Chou: I believe you know all the others on our side, but you are not so familiar with our Acting Foreign Minister, Chi P’eng Fei.

[Page 2]

Kissinger: I had the pleasure of riding in with him from the airport.

Chou: And that is the Deputy Security Minister.

HK: You are placing him next to the right person (Mr. Lord).

Chou: This is Mr. Chi Ch’ao-Chu.

HK: I have a message for him from Dean ______ of Harvard.

Chou: I have a lot of schoolmates probably in Harvard. In the United States, which is first, Harvard or Yale? Maybe Yale isn’t so well-known?

Kissinger: You are absolutely right, Mr. Prime Minister.

Chou: In the … in 1910 when I was in middle school, I knew more about Yale than Harvard. At that time more people were praising Yale than Harvard. “I don’t know the reason.”

Kissinger: Because Harvard people are so retiring. Mr. Lord is from Yale.

Chou: He is younger. And also the time when I became familiar with Yale was in my younger days. In my middle years I became familiar with Harvard. There are other similar universities in the United States, one which the (?) schoolmates went to. But I believe there is one of you from the University of Emory. In what state is that?

Jenkins: Atlanta, Georgia.

Kissinger: You people are..

Chou: I heard you later on attended another university. Was that you or someone else?

Jenkins: Duke University. We spoke of [Page 3] Harvard as being the Emory of the North.

Chou: So you divide into the North and South? That was 100 years ago.

Kissinger: I would like to see the file the Prime Minister has on each of us. I am sure I would find many things I had forgotten.

Chou: But to be honest, we haven’t done much research on that. But you are a newcomer and therefore we wanted to know something about you. I believe you were also in Tientsin.

Jenkins: Yes, I was in Peking for two years and Tientsin for one.

Chou: And you still remember the date of the liberation of Tientsin?

Jenkins: January 15, 1949.

Chou: Mr. Chang Wen-chin was in Tientsin at the same time; he probably didn’t meet you. Have any of you others been in China before?

Kissinger: Mr. Holdridge.

Chou: So, if you like we can begin to work. You are an earnest worker.

Kissinger: Not like the Prime Minister who, I understand, works most of the night.

Chou: But I rest some during the day.

[Page 4]




  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai, People’s Republic of China
  • Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman, Military Affairs Commission, Chinese Communist Party, PRC
  • Chi P’eng-fei, Acting PRC Foreign Minister
  • Chang Wen-chin, Director, Western Europe and American Department, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Hsuing Hsiang-hui, Secretary to the Prime Minister
  • HAN Hsu, Acting Director of Protocol, MFA
  • Chien Ta-yung, Deputy to Chang Wen-chin
  • Ma Jan-hui, Deputy Director, Chinese National Aviation Corp.
  • Chang Jui-ai, Director, Peking Bureau, CNAC
  • Chien Ch’u, Director, Information Department, MFA
  • Wang Hai-jung, Deputy Chief of Protocol, PRC
  • Tang Wen-sheng and Chi Chao-chu, Chinese Interpreters Chinese Notetakers
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Dwight Chapin, Deputy Assistant to the President
  • John H. Holdridge, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • Jonathan Howe, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • Brigadier General James D. Hughes, Military Aide to the President
  • Alfred Jenkins, State Department
  • Winston Lord, Senior Staff Member, NSC

PLACE: Great Hall of the People, Peking

DATE & TIME: October 20, 1971, 4:40 - 7:10 p.m.

GENERAL SUBJECTS: Opening Statement, Agenda, and President’s Visit

PM Chou: I hear that you would like to meet Mr. Service.

Dr. Kissinger: Informally sometime.

PM Chou: He will be back on the 22nd. I saw him together with some other American friends. I have not yet seen him individually.

[Page 5]

Dr. Kissinger: I read the conversation you had with that group a few weeks ago.

PM Chou: You have very quick news.

Dr. Kissinger: I hope that the Prime Minister realizes that I am being held personally responsible for everything he says.

PM Chou: [laughs] Today we are meeting in an official meeting here. First of all, I would like to say on behalf of myself and the Chinese government that we welcome Dr. Kissinger, the special envoy of the President to come on this interim visit. We also welcome the other colleagues of your party. Our relations with the United States have been cut off for such a long time. The previous visit of Dr. Kissinger has made an unofficial beginning and, to say the least, it shook the world a bit. And so we should say that Dr. Kissinger has made some achievements in this field, and therefore we also are confident that this present official visit made by Dr. Kissinger to make preparations for the visit of the President will be a success.

And, according to custom, we ask you to speak first. I would also like to hear what you have to say out of your big book. I also have written a few papers; last time I had no prepared papers.

Dr. Kissinger: I felt very ashamed of myself.

PM Chou: Because that was your first visit. No call for that. You had to have something to go by.

Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister was more coherent without notes than I was with notes.

PM Chou: That’s not… I hope you don’t praise me too highly. So, shall we begin?

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Prime Minister, I will make a few general observations to start off our discussion. First, President Nixon has asked me to convey his personal greetings to Chairman Mao and yourself and the whole Chinese government.

[Page 6]

PM Chou: I thank you and him. I thank President Nixon very much.

Dr. Kissinger: He looks forward very warmly to meeting with the Chairman and the Prime Minister and he believes the visit can be a historic occasion. The purpose of this interim visit is to prepare for the occasion when the President can have personal conversations with the Prime Minister. And we have three broad categories of issues to discuss: Major substantive issues, similar to those discussed in July but perhaps in greater detail; second, some secondary but important issues which we have communicated through our established channels; and technical arrangements for the visit of the President which is the primary responsibility of my colleagues Mr. Chapin and General Hughes, and their colleagues.

With respect to the substantive questions, we have two problems: one, with the content of the positions our two countries will take, and secondly, the manner in which these issues are negotiated and in which they will be expressed.

We have prepared some suggestions of what might conceivably be said, but as I told the Prime Minister last time, we can agree to more than we can say.

Let me make a few observations to express the attitude with which we will be approaching the meetings between our leaders. The President has asked me to reaffirm in the strongest terms his personal commitment to the improvement of relations between our countries for the sake of our two peoples and for the sake of the peoples of the world. We have received much unasked-for advice from other countries, especially one other country in recent months, pointing out the physical limitations of China’s power, and therefore, the limitations of concentrating attention on China. Our policy is not based on such considerations. It is produced by profound convictions and not by an attempt to create a power combination.

We are, of course, aware that our two countries represent different philosophical views. We recognize also, as the Prime Minister so eloquently pointed out to a visiting journalist, that the People’s Republic does not trade in principles, and neither do we. Nevertheless, we believe that the People’s Republic and the United States have many congruent [Page 7] interests. It is no accident that our two countries have such a long history of friendship. We believe that peace in Asia and peace in the world requires your full participation. We will not participate in arrangements that affect your interest without involving you. We do not accept the proposition that one country can speak for all socialist countries.

PM Chou: Not to mention the fact that there are various kinds of socialism.

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct. We believe there is really but one issue that divides us which is in itself the product of history. If we can take account of each other’s concerns on this problem, if we can agree on both a general direction and a process of resolution, as I think we can, then there will remain no fundamental obstacle to our relations. This is the attitude that determines President Nixon’s actions.

Mr. Prime Minister, when we met in July, you said that the announcement of President’s Nixon’s visit to China would shake the world. The world has been shaken. Our two countries have set in motion new currents and for many nations a whole new set of considerations arises when they conduct foreign policy. We have started a revolution in world affairs, but as you, Mr. Prime Minister, know better than we, it is the essence of any revolution that for a while the old coexists with the new.

PM Chou: Sometimes the new arises from the old. They coexist but the new comes out of the embryo of the old.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

PM Chou: Have you read Mr. Heath’s speech?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

PM Chou: So you have many news contacts by now.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t come here any more without reading every speech that’s been written. You are not going to catch me a second time, Mr. Prime Minister. [Page 8] Many nations have greeted the July 15 announcement with great professions of enthusiasm. However, I will not be telling the Prime Minister anything he doesn’t already know if I say that not every country that expressed positive views really felt them.

PM Chou: But in this aspect I believe that on your side you know more about this than we do.

Dr. Kissinger: About views of other countries?

PM Chou: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: In America, the impact of the announcement of July has been profound and on the whole positive. Most of the people have greeted the prospect of better relations with China very warmly, and some even enthusiastically. At the same time, I do not wish to minimize some of the domestic problems we have had. As the Prime Minister pointed out to Mr. Reston, and as Mr. Reston sometimes had difficulty in acknowledging, President Nixon has demonstrated great courage in taking this initiative. Since the July 15 announcement, we have discovered and I may say I especially in my personal correspondence, that the radical right equals the radical left in their expression of violence, if not in the excellence of their grammar.

PM Chou: [laughs] There is a phrase that the Chairman often uses: Left in form, but right in essence.

Dr. Kissinger: They are often not easy to distinguish in that extreme form.

PM Chou: Sometimes in form it’s a little bit different.

Dr. Kissinger: These groups have mounted campaigns against the President’s acceptance of your invitation. And I am telling the Prime Minister no secrets when I point out that even within the bureaucracy some of the established forms continue. We expected these reactions.

PM Chou: Also such things like that in China.

Dr. Kissinger: I would assume that bureaucracies have certain similar characteristics in every country.

[Page 9]

PM Chou: We talked a lot about that last time. Your two colleagues will remember that. They took a lot of notes on that. And I see that Mr. Jenkins is smiling, so we think bureaucracy cannot only be found in the State Department; it can also be found in the Foreign Ministry.

Dr. Kissinger: My secret dream is to do to the State Department what the Prime Minister did to his office—reduce it to three.

PM Chou: That was my small office—there are only two. But I cannot do that to the whole Foreign Ministry, nor to the State Council. You can ask our Acting Foreign Minister about that. As you just mentioned, the philosophy and world views of our two countries are quite different obviously, but it seems on these matters we have the same language. I think your two colleagues can bear witness to that.

Dr. Kissinger: I have been threatening them with the Prime Minister’s methods ever since we have returned from China.

PM Chou: That would be imposing our will on them.

Dr. Kissinger: You have become an excellent method of discipline in my organization.

PM Chou: But the whole world admires you for being able to keep such a big secret. Some people have compared it to the secrecy that was kept toward the end of the Second World War about the explosion of the atom bomb.

Dr. Kissinger: But this was much more constructive.

At any rate, we expected these reactions, and we are determined to master them, and to continue the course which we started last July. I believe we have made a constructive beginning in recent months, and I want to take this opportunity to express to the Prime Minister the great appreciation we all feel for the meticulous manner in which the People’s Republic has carried out every understanding that was arrived at last July. I said to the Prime Minister in our last session that we should take each other as men of honor, and this has been your conduct since last July. We have tried to act in the same way.

[Page 10]

Now, looking at the future, Mr. Prime Minister, as we look toward the President’s visit, I think we must sort out those questions which can be solved immediately, those which can be agreed in principle but take time to implement, and those that must be left to longer processes. You can be sure that whatever we agreed to will be carried out scrupulously. I do not say this as a pretext for avoiding fundamental issues, but rather to guarantee the success of their resolution.

Let me now turn to what we can accomplish here in the next four days, both substantively and technically. The major issues, of course, are those we discussed last time, on which we understand and recognize that the most important for you is the issue of Taiwan. In addition, we discussed Indochina, relations with other countries such as the Soviet Union and Japan, South Asia, especially the India-Pakistan dispute which we believe is taking very ominous turns, Korea, and some issues on arms control.

We are prepared to go into each of these subjects in some detail, including putting progress that can be made on them into specific time frames. We could shape an agenda for the President’s visit, reach mutual understandings on what we might agree to say and do, and perhaps begin shaping the outlines of a communique.

In addition, there are a number of issues, each of which we recognize as subsidiary but the total of which we believe would be important to symbolize the new approach in our relationship. These include such matters as how we could maintain contact prior to the establishment of formal diplomatic relations, along the lines of some ideas that the Prime Minister mentioned to me in July. There are many in America and around the world who are hoping for nothing so much as the failure of the policy the Prime Minister and we inaugurated in July, and some progress on some of these issues, including these exchanges, would be helpful to symbolize the direction we all want to go, not as a substitute for fundamental agreements but to give impetus to them.

Now I come to my final point which concerns the technical arrangements for the President’s visit. Mr. Prime Minister, on the occasion of our last meeting I told you that China, despite its long experience in handling outsiders, has never undergone anything like the phenomenon of a visit by an American President.

[Page 11]

PM Chou: We have had the experience of meeting one of the envoys of the President of the United States.

Dr. Kissinger: But he does not move with the apparatus which accompanies the President. I told the head of the foreign department of the Shanghai municipality that if he didn’t watch our communications expert he would connect every telephone in Shanghai to the White House. There is a certain single-mindedness about the technical personnel that serve the President. This is the reason why they are so effective, but it is not always easy for foreigners who have to experience it.

When I was here last time I was ignorant about what is involved technically in Presidential visits, though I had been involved in many of them. I therefore asked our technical people to prepare a presentation. And when I saw the numbers involved, I was shocked and asked them to prepare what they would consider a minimum presentation. Even the minimum presentation still involved several battalions. I therefore asked them to prepare yet another one which is more in keeping with what we had in mind.

And since our technical people are extraordinarily suspicious of me—and as you see, they are flanking me on both sides to be sure I don’t say anything wrong—I have asked them to prepare a book that outlines our requirements and gives you a breakdown of what we have done in other capitals that we have visited, so you can compare. This was prepared before, I must say Mr. Prime Minister, I read on my way here an essay of Chairman Mao on Bureaucracy; this was prepared before I read that essay. But this will explain to you exactly what our people have in mind and why, and it will also give you a comparison between the planning for this trip and what we have done in other capitals, and you will see that it is much less.

I think the technical people should discuss with our counterparts what their precise problems are, rather than have me express them to you, unless you have an overwhelming interest to have communications problems explained to you by me.

PM Chou: No need for me.

Dr. Kissinger: … because I don’t understand them myself.

[Page 12]

PM Chou: But perhaps in this aspect I have slightly a bit more knowledge than you. I have had so many experiences in negotiations in my lifetime.

Dr. Kissinger: But let me point out the basic categories of problems which they will want to discuss. The first is the President’s itinerary, how many days he would stay and how many places you propose that he visit. And how long he would stay in each. We are thinking of about five days in the People’s Republic, but we are flexible in listening to your suggestions.

The second problem is that of Presidential communications. Since in our form of government certain decisions can be taken only by the President, there is a requirement that the President has reliable, rapid, and secure communications at all times.

PM Chou: When the President goes abroad, the Vice President is not able to do his work for him?

Dr. Kissinger: No.

PM Chou: That’s in the Constitution, is it?

Dr. Kissinger: No. The Constitution does not say anything about that. The Vice President can do the President’s work only when he is incapacitated.

PM Chou: I remember when President Nixon was Vice President to President Eisenhower. But then President Eisenhower was incapacitated, I believe.

Dr. Kissinger: That is a difficult question. It is very dangerous for the Vice President to declare the President incapacitated, in case he recovers. And actually, Vice President Nixon was extremely circumspect at the time of President Eisenhower’s heart attack and did not say he was incapacitated.

PM Chou: I have read some of the excerpts of a book that he wrote, The Six Crises, that he restrained himself.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. Our technical people propose that the easiest way to accomplish this is by an installation which would be operated by 12 people at the airport and which is connected to a satellite, but I will let them discuss it with your people. Of course, your people would have full access to any such installation, and could be in it at all times. We have included pictures and a description of it in this book, so that you can see what it is.

[Page 13]

The third problem about which I have already warned the Prime Minister when we met is that of security for the President. I have to tell the Prime Minister that the Secret Service representative of the President, who is on this trip with me but who is not in this room, is barely talking to me because he believes I am not taking his duty seriously, and because I am assuring him that the safest place the President will ever visit is Peking.

PM Chou: I should thank you very much for your confidence in us, and this is truly something a sovereign country should be able to manage. The proof of this is the recent visit of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie.

Dr. Kissinger: We have no question about this. There is, however, one peculiarity in our law which is that the Secret Service has duties which even the President does not have the right to abrogate, because the law doesn’t want to give the President the right to do away with his own protection. We have, in any event, reduced this, because our proposal for Secret Service is frankly below the minimum they consider adequate. Their function while they are here will be primarily liaison with your security people and not to carry out primary security functions themselves. And I suggest that perhaps Mr. Taylor talk to whoever your counterpart is here, and if there are any difficulties perhaps you would raise them with me.

[Chou nods]

Now, let me turn to another very difficult problem which is that of the press.

PM Chou: [laughs] Truly there are some conflicts between security, Secret Service and the press.

Dr. Kissinger: Not as many as between the press and the White House. The Prime Minister dealt with a representative of the sovereign country, the New York Times.

[Page 14]

PM Chou: Recently I read Mr. Lippman also has issued an interview with another correspondent. Although he has already retired, he seems to have a lot of interest in this thing. He was not in China, though.

Dr. Kissinger: I was afraid the Prime Minister had had to deal with Walter Lippman and James Reston in one year; and that is a degree of invasion no country should be required to tolerate.

PM Chou: I am not afraid of that.

Dr. Kissinger: I have to tell the Prime Minister, Mr. Reston granted me an interview before I left. He doubted that I could perform my duties without his advice about how to treat the Prime Minister. [laughter] At any rate, Mr. Prime Minister, I had never considered the question of the press, and when we talked in July I mentioned the figure of 10, I believe. When I asked our Press Secretary what the absolute minimum was that was necessary for such a trip, he proposed a figure of 250. [laughter]

PM Chou: You mean Mr. Ziegler?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. That’s because he has two thousand applications. After a week of acrimonious debate, he has now reduced the figure to 150, and isn’t talking to me any more.

PM Chou: That’s also a great disaster.

Dr. Kissinger: And you will find in this book in other countries, … because in Romania for example, we had 450, which is almost unbelievable. [laughter]

PM Chou: And what about during the visit to a country like Yugoslavia?

Dr. Kissinger: It’s in the book. About 350, three companies. The Marshall will understand.

PM Chou: And what about London?

Dr. Kissinger: It’s all in this book. [to Chapin] How many, about 500?

[Page 15]

Mr. Chapin: Between 400 and 500.

Dr. Kissinger: Between 400 and 500. And finally the relatively easy point.

PM Chou: I suppose your Secret Service don’t agree to have so many people of the press coming?

Dr. Kissinger: Unfortunately, yes.

PM Chou: They have to agree. Otherwise they would be cursed to death.

Dr. Kissinger: And then finally, as for the official party, you will also find a list here. We are thinking of 12 members of the official party and about 16 members of the unofficial party.

Now, let me tell you Mr. Prime Minister, we are here in order to prepare a serious visit for a historical occasion, and we will not let any of the technical issues interfere with what needs to be done. These proposals reflect the best judgment of our technical people, but we require the best judgment of your technical people, and if there is any problem about any of these topics, I would propose, Mr. Prime Minister, that you will mention it to me with the frankness with which you have always dealt with me, and we will resolve it in a satisfactory manner.

PM Chou: This [the book] is something you have officially handed over to me?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

PM Chou: Thank you.

Dr. Kissinger: And our relations in any event will not fail because of technical problems. I have more copies if you would like more than one. [laughter]

PM Chou: Two copies. I believe that General Marshall told me in Chungking before that the written plan of his landing in Normandy was up to four million or five million words. I asked him “how are you going to read it?” He said “I read only the outline.” [laughter] So I learned that secret from him. That is why the film that your President likes to see, “Patton”. [Kissinger: That was a year ago.] So I now understand the reason for that, because this General has broken through all these conventions.

[Page 16]

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly. That was a year ago.

PM Chou: He broke through all the rigid conventions. One is rigid conventions; the other is scholasticism. I am sorry to say this before you two, but this is vocational work and I respect you in that because you are responsible people and to be faithful to your duties you have to stick by your principles. We understand that.

Dr. Kissinger: And you have to be kind to them because they are the only two members of the White House staff still speaking to me.

PM Chou: General Hughes has been with the President for a long time. I believe you were with him when he was Vice President?

General Hughes: That’s correct the last four years of the Administration.

Dr. Kissinger: I hope you won’t tell these people everything you know about me. It would be too hard to take. [laughter]

PM Chou: Mr. Chapin, you seem quite young.

Mr. Chapin: I am 30.

PM Chou: So I admire you greatly. In this aspect, we Chinese have still to catch up with you Americans because you dare to use young people. You are in charge… Your counterpart here will be in our protocol department and the youngest member responsible for it is Miss Wang who is older than you. That doesn’t matter here. You know about that. But I don’t ask the age of the two ladies accompanying you.

Dr. Kissinger: And Commander Howe is a submarine commander, and he works in the basement of the White House. [laughter] He keeps an eye on the technical personnel from my point of view, and he will attend all the technical meetings.

But to be serious about it, please tell us frankly what is possible for you and what problems exist. And whatever other problems there are, we will not have them about technical issues. These are all the issues I wanted to raise with the Prime Minister, and it remains for me only to say that all of us here and in the United States know that we are participating in an event of historical significance and we are doing it with enthusiasm and dedication, and every desire to start a new relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

[Page 17]

PM Chou: I thank you Dr. Kissinger for giving me a very frank and brief outline of the questions that you would like to discuss. And there is the possibility that future meetings of this scope, sitting like this, may be continued later on if necessary.

I would like to give a reply to your suggestion on the two or three general categories that you would suggest for our discussions. The main purpose of the interim visit is to further materialize the preparations for President Nixon’s visit, and therefore, the questions are, first of all, divided into two main categories. The first is the political issues, that is how we should go about the consultations and discussions to seek the normalization of relations between our two countries and exchange of opinions on matters of common interest to us. The second category is the concrete discussion of the detailed technical preparations to be made for the visit of President Nixon. With regard to this part, I believe that the four categories Mr. Kissinger just now mentioned were mainly protocol, security, communications and the press. I would like to ask a question, that is, after we have read the book you have given to us, do you think the technical discussions should be held together or separately, that is the four different aspects.

Dr. Kissinger: I think they should be held together.

PM Chou: I believe according to the list there will be six on your side attending the technical discussions: General Hughes, Mr. Chapin, General Redman, Mr. Elbourne, Mr. Taylor and …

Dr. Kissinger: And Commander Howe, who represents my office.

PM Chou: That will be six representatives for your side?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

PM Chou: And also a stenographer?

Dr. Kissinger. Yes, Chief Cuff, someone from the airplane.

PM Chou: I would like to introduce the people on our side who will take part in the technical discussions: Mr. Yu Sang, Vice Minister of Public Security, (on tour of Great Hall), HAN Hsu, Acting Director of Protocol, [Page 18] and Liu Ch’eng-ching, General Director of the Bureau of Communications. The fifth aspect the press we have on our side, the Director of Information, Mr. Ch’en Ch’u. He is also on a tour of the Great Hall. He will be attending the banquet. And since you have now transferred your chief pilot from the hotel at the airport to our Guest House, if he is going to participate in the technical discussions we have on our side members of the CNAC (China National Airways Corporation): Ma Jen-hui and Chung Jui-ai. And the main interpreter will be Madame Chang. There are other interpreters assisting her.

And as for the second part of the discussions, that is the technical aspects; above is my reply. After they have finished reading your documents, they can begin their discussions, perhaps at a date no later than tomorrow afternoon because the two on your side are probably anxious to begin their work.

Dr. Kissinger: They are professionally anxious. Anxiety is their constant state.

PM Chou: We may also put forward our proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Please.

PM Chou: We shall go back to the first part. That’s the political discussion. There is no question that on the basis of the understanding we reached during the unofficial visit of yours we should continue to discuss the issues that are to be discussed and are to be resolved during the coming visit of President Nixon. With regard to the items and titles Your Excellency has now put forward we have the following understanding. Taiwan, that’s the crucial issue with regard to the seeking of normalization between the two countries, between China and the U.S. which was in the announcement; that is the crucial question.

The second is that the most urgent issue to be resolved to relax tension in the Far East is the question of Indochina.

The third is an issue which both our sides have a certain responsibility and this responsibility, Mr. Jenkins, must be very familiar with that; and this responsibility links us to the present day. That is Korea. It was most [Page 19] unfortunate that in the Geneva Conference of 1954 agreement was not reached. That I spoke to you about last time. Because it’s an American representative of the U.S. side and also a representative of the Chinese People’s Volunteers meeting there also. On the North Korean side the main representative is the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. On the southern side the main representative is the U.S. representative. So this issue involves our two sides and Your Excellency mentioned this just now.

The fourth issue is the issue of Japan which is an issue which has a far-reaching influence on the relaxation of tension in the Far East.

I heard that they asked you to stop over in Tokyo this time but you found it impossible to do so.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s what the Japanese press reports.

PM Chou: We also saw it from the Japanese news reports. This is also an issue that needs to be discussed and is related to the relaxation of tension in the Far East.

The fifth issue which you also mentioned is the issue of the South Asian subcontinent.

The sixth issue is the point you would like to speak upon—that is relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. Of course, if you are going to speak on that I will have to speak on China and the Soviet Union. I did not mention it last time—only one small incident—but it is something mentioned very often since you left. The uniting together of various forces to commit aggression against China from four sides. Of course, Your Excellency answered very quickly and frankly last time that that was not possible, but there are others who have not given such a direct reply, so you will probably be interested in that and especially your friend from the State Department. We will discuss this, but we think this is not a main issue. The main issue is China and the United States. We are not opposed to any other relationships.

There was another matter in which we believe there is still room for improvement, another matter we are not fully satisfied with but [Page 20] which is a part of good intentions on the part of your President. That is you have proclaimed that the meeting between the leaders of the United States and the leaders of the Soviet Union will be after the meeting of the United States and China. Of course, this is something that is done by your President along the lines of tacit agreements between our two governments originally. The thing that we think there’s still room for improvement is that we think it would be better for your President to go to the Soviet Union first. You will remember I mentioned that last time. Therefore, we don’t fear things at all in that aspect.

Of course, besides these issues there are other issues of mutual interest that can also be discussed. I don’t think there’s any need to list all the titles to be discussed here. In discussing these issues probably we can divide ourselves into another two parties. One would be a restricted discussion between a few of us. That can also be divided into two categories. One of you and myself. That will be a discussion of matters of a restricted nature. The other would be your friend from the State Department and someone from our Foreign Ministry to discuss some general items. In this way we can do things simultaneously and then we can come back to a general meeting like this. Will that be all right?

Dr. Kissinger: Let me make this suggestion, Mr. Prime Minister. I think it may be the best use of our time if we proceed in the manner that the Prime Minister has suggested. But I would like to have one assistant with me when I talk with the Prime Minister and I would like perhaps to have one man watch Mr. Jenkins when he discusses with his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry. [Chou laughs]That would be Mr. Holdridge. In the end we come back together.

PM Chou: Mr. Holdridge with Mr. Jenkins?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. If agreeable with the Prime Minister, they could discuss the list of issues I called subsidiary but important and such topics that they should agree to, and the Prime Minister and I and one assistant on other topics and then we will come together.

PM Chou: We know there is also historical tradition in your foreign policy and it is impossible to cut it off all at once. I believe Mr. Jenkins will agree fully with my words.

Mr. Jenkins: Indeed.

[Page 21]

PM Chou: But there is also the need to break with some of these conventions. On this matter President Nixon has spoken first when he met the press on the 6th of July in Kansas City.

The most interesting thing is that just before you came on this visit the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in Britain has made a speech in response to President Nixon’s speech at the conclusion of the party’s annual meeting. And it is the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party that has acknowledged the changes that have taken place in the world. On the contrary, it is he who recognized the necessity to adapt themselves to the new Europe. And the reaction at the meeting and outside the meeting was divided as was the reaction to the July 16 announcement, the July 15 announcement, according to your time. That reaction as you just now mentioned was also divided. Some of the Members of Parliament of the Conservative Party were in very low spirits attending that meeting. But when they heard the speech of Prime Minister Heath they stood up and hailed him, that there was such a man to stand up and say such words after Churchill.

Although he didn’t like to do so, Mr. Churchill ended the stage of the British Empire. That was not his subjective will. He said that to President Roosevelt. But objectively he ended the British Empire.

And twenty-six years afterwards there has appeared the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party who has actually recognized that the world has changed. Of course, he has also said some good words about the United States. He said that after the Second World War the U.S. acted with the generosity that other countries could not do which we discussed last time and I thank you for giving me the figures on lend lease.

Now the U.S. is saying that it is going to act with a new spirit and therefore Britain also has to embark on its new path. Therefore there were many in his party that hailed that speech. There are also some who booed his speech. Therefore it shows it is not easy to change a policy. Therefore I understand the reaction you just now mentioned, the reaction throughout the world and in the United States after the July 15 announcement was made public. And it’s often the Conservative Party that dares to make the changes. In the U.S. there are also evidences of this. It was President Eisenhower who ended the Korean War. And it was also the ideas of Abraham Lincoln that were victorious during the Civil War in the United States. Isn’t that so?

[Page 22]

Dr. Kissinger: That’s correct.

PM Chou: The same situation has now appeared in Britain. It’s the Conservative Party which has expressed the desire to join the Common Market, and it’s also the Conservative Party who is driving away the Soviet spies. They are willing to bear the result of the cancellation of Foreign Minister Home. The same situation will appear in Japan. Not with Sato. Not much help for him.

Dr. Kissinger: My former student, Nakasone?

PM Chou: You didn’t say so last time. A new discovery for me. This is also in accordance with Chairman Mao’s thoughts. And I think that though the positions; the stands of Chairman Mao and President Nixon vary greatly, I think it would be easier for them to understand and meet together. And it will be easier for their ideas to meet, for them to find common ground. I am afraid the interpreters cannot interpret accurately (referring to trouble Miss Tang had with the words “common ground”). Even though my English is poor, I take great interest in the interpretation.

Dr. Kissinger: I notice that.

PM Chou: You have brought stenographers with you this time, and if you have the wrong interpretation you will give the wrong interpretation to the President. We have also spoken a lot of the Soviet Union. We have been saying a lot about matters in the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Japan. But there’s something I am very satisfied with, and that is both your President and Prime Minister Heath have mentioned China as a potential power. We feel that is a little above our present standard. We are not an industralized nation. Of course, we are an element that is promoting change in the world. And this is a factor your President recognizes and Prime Minister Heath also recognizes. Of course, General DeGaulle had recognized that long before. The present Prime Minister of Japan, that is Mr. Sato, has recognized it now but it is too late. But there’s someone in his party who recognizes it. But there is another who doesn’t recognize it. It’s always that way with things in the world.

[Page 23]

Dr. Kissinger: Who is the other?

PM Chou: One of the five powers.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

PM Chou.: I would like to suggest that after having a bit more talk that we can begin having separate talks tomorrow.

Dr. Kissinger: That will be good and we will be prepared.

PM Chou: On our side the man who will hold discussions with Mr. Jenkins will be Mr. Hsuing Hsiang-hui, my assistant. And also Mr. Ch’ien who is the Department in charge of East and West European and also American affairs in the Foreign Ministry.

Dr. Kissinger: We will have Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Holdridge and one stenographer.

PM Chou: In our discussions you can take a few people and I will take a few people. Because Marshall Yeh is quite busy will ask him to take part in larger meetings only. He is also a negotiator. One of his jokes is that people don’t ask for him during war time but when they want to negotiate. He was my assistant when we negotiated with General Marshall.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand he was very difficult [laughter] - but pleasant.

PM Chou: The same. That’s mutual. So according to this arrangement how many days do you think you can stay?

Dr. Kissinger: I said to your assistant, Mr. Prime Minister, we had planned to leave on the morning of the 25th but we will leave whenever the discussions are concluded. We just wanted to leave enough time so that technical discussions and the outlines of a communique will be discussed while I am here since this will be my last opportunity to see the Prime Minister until the President arrives. But if the work is completed earlier and we all agree it’s completed then of course we are very flexible about our departure. This was simply for our planning.

[Page 24]

PM Chou: And we can take the initial date for departure as the morning of the 25th?

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.

PM Chou: We still have four days after today. So we will do our best to make the days most efficient. Of course you will want to see Peking while you are here. It would not be nice if we did not let you see it. There are also a lot of friends in your party who have not been here before. As to what you would like to see you can put forward your wishes.

Dr. Kissinger: We will leave it to you because you know Peking better than we do.

PM Chou: We do not know your appetite, so it will be better for you to tell us your wishes because we are equals on this matter. We are equals. The interpreter added an element “on this matter.”

Dr. Kissinger: May I go back, Mr. Prime Minister? First, about the day of the President’s visit. You are quite right that you did not ask us to set the Peking date before the Soviet date. Quite the opposite, in fact. But as I explained to you when we met we had to complete a certain amount of work with the Soviet Union before a summit made sense. If that work had been completed before my arrival in July, we would have arranged the visit to the Soviet Union before the visit to Peking. But when matters had developed in the direction that they had, we believed, at our own initiative and not at your request, that it would be inappropriate to set a date before rather than a date afterward. So we did this for reasons of what we considered proper and not as a favor to the People’s Republic. (Chou nods.)

Secondly, incidentally, one of the topics we have to settle while I am here is the precise date of the President’s visit. (Chou nods.) We don’t have to announce it but we should have an idea because we are holding a number of dates on the President’s calendar.

PM Chou: And according to the messages we received from you, you have two ideas.

Dr. Kissinger: We proposed two dates. One was February 21 and the other was March 16. We can find another date within those dates if those are inconvenient.

[Page 25]

PM Chou: I believe that in your consideration the most important thing is to fix the date of your President’s visit because he probably has a very crowded schedule.

Dr. Kissinger: It would be a great courtesy if we could because he has a crowded schedule and we have not filled it until your response.

PM Chou: For initial exchange of opinion I would like to say that we tend more to go for the first date toward the 21st of February.

Dr. Kissinger: That is slightly our preference.

PM Chou: You mentioned a five-day visit. We are also thinking of five-seven days. This is only an initial idea.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

PM Chou: At the end of our discussion this time we will be initially finalizing the date. Of course, you will have to go back and report to your President. And your colleagues can also begin on their operation. The date also has to do with the weather. But I think that the seasons are similar in our two countries.

Dr. Kissinger: The latest date in March would be the 21st if it were to be in March.

PM Chou: February probably would be better.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s our preferred date, but it’s only to give you the possibility.

PM Chou: The good thing is there’s heating in. Peking, so you will not feel the weather indoors.

Dr. Kissinger: I have no worry about the physical arrangements.

PM Chou: But it’s not as comfortable as yours. Industrially we are backward.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know how many meals the President can eat.

PM Chou: We can do it according to his choice.

[Page 26]

Dr. Kissinger: The second issue concerns the issue of Korea. This is the second time the Prime Minister has made a reference to 1954. And I would be very grateful if when we meet tomorrow or on some other occasion when we meet in a large group, the Prime Minister can explain exactly what he has in mind. I cannot accept in the frankness of which we are talking, his description of who the most important representative on the other side is in Panmunjon. I recognize that we are the only one represented there at this moment.

PM Chou: You are the main representative.

Dr. Kissinger: Now.

PM Chou: Of course, I am speaking in the present.

Dr. Kissinger: I was speaking in the context of peace.

PM Chou: I am speaking of the status quo. It’s not favorable to the relaxation of tensions. The State Department is familiar with that.

Dr. Kissinger: I am also.

PM Chou: It’s a very complicated matter and gives one a headache.

Dr. Kissinger: With respect to Indochina, I will speak to the Prime Minister tomorrow. I would like to say a word about Europe. I appreciate the analysis that the Prime Minister gave of the speech of Prime Minister Heath, and, of course, he will remember that the impetus for European unity came from the U.S. and the chief advocates for European unity were American and not European. I do not doubt that many of those who advocated European unity originally believed that it would be a continuation of the old arrangement, only Europe would carry a bigger share of the burden. But those who analyzed the problems more deeply always understood that the objective necessity of a united Europe would be a greater independence from the U.S. In a historical perspective this is not against the interests of the U.S. There is no historic law that says Europe must be governed from Washington.

Therefore, to the degree that Europe follows the policy that Prime Minister Heath outlined after a short transitional period I believe that the objective necessities in certain international questions are shown in policy. [Page 27] And therefore I must tell the Prime Minister that Prime Minister Heath, who is a good personal friend of the President and mine, did not make us at all unhappy with the speech. We think it’s a healthy direction.

PM Chou: I haven’t read the full text of his speech but it seems to me from the extract I saw he did not talk of a unified Europe in a short time. But what he was speaking of in the first step was an alliance of 10 powers of Western Europe, drawing into the Common Market.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s correct.

PM Chou: That will result in grouping of powers as follows: the U.S., Soviet Union, Western Europe and Japan. He mentioned China for potential strength. This is basically similar with the general direction of your President. I caught that point but didn’t pay much attention to the rest. It was difficult for him to say that in Britain.

Dr. Kissinger: Emotionally it was very difficult. Emotionally Britain is tied to us and not Europe.

PM Chou: That’s so. Even after 26 years after World War Two.

Dr. Kissinger: When the English speak of Europe they mean the continent and not themselves.

PM Chou: At that time they meant the whole world.

Dr. Kissinger: I always thought it curious that in 1938 Chamberlain said why should we fight for a country so far away, in speaking of Czechoslovakia, after 200 years of fighting thousands of miles away in India.

PM Chou: It’s because of that there was the Munich Conference.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.

PM Chou: That’s the most shameful thing that the Conservative Party in Britain has done. The appearance of Chamberlain. Among the radicals in France there was Daladier. He joined the ranks of the anti-fascist forces.

[Page 28]

Dr. Kissinger: After Munich and not before. He signed the Munich Agreement.

PM Chou: I was speaking about precisely that. He had formerly joined the people’s front. Before the agreement. At that time he supported the civil war in Spain.

Dr. Kissinger: But in fairness one has to say that the only opposition in Britain was from the Conservatives and the Liberal Party was unanimously for it.

PM Chou: That’s right.

Dr. Kissinger: For reasons of general pacifism. And sentimentality.

One final point I wanted to make about U.S.-Chinese relationships today, if the Prime Minister will permit me. As our policy evolves toward normalization of our relationship it is inevitable that some countries to which we were tied will become somewhat uncertain because some patterns are starting to disintegrate. Speaking for ourselves, I think as a general principle it is important we do not look at the normalization of our relationship as a means to drive a wedge between the People’s Republic and their old friends. And it would be shortsighted if either side tried to use this normalization to end alliances of the other side. Because if this is done there’s a danger that everyone will draw back and withdraw back into the rigidity we are all attempting to escape.

PM Chou: That’s one side of the matter that you have mentioned. It cannot be taken absolutely. Since we are entering a new era then necessarily some relationships must be changed. Otherwise there would be no change and life would be as it was before. If we recognize that we are entering a new era we should recognize an old proverb: the helmsman who knows how to guide the boat will guide it well through the waves. Otherwise he will be submerged by the waves. A far-sighted man will know how to till the helm. For instance, Hangchow. The largest waves come from the river, and those who know how to guide the boat are able to guide the boat directly against the tide, and when they hit the peak they make a turn and ride in with the tide. That’s [Page 29] a phenomenon of nature. There’s also a phenomenon of social affairs. If all the old relations remained unchanged how can we say we are welcoming in a new era?

Dr. Kissinger: I did not include Taiwan in this.

PM Chou: That’s clear. I thought you were trying to bring in subtly the question of Taiwan. I think others understand this.

Dr. Kissinger: I was talking of other relationships.

PM Chou: We understand that. Including your relations with the Soviet Union. We do not wish that because of your new policy you will become in conflict with the Soviet Union. We want relaxation of tensions.

Dr. Kissinger: The Soviet Union cannot be termed as an old friend.

PM Chou: They are not mentioned either.

Dr. Kissinger: I will not mention any particular country. Of course, when our countries are truly friendly and we have gone beyond this period of caution, changes will appear in all relationships. Until this point is reached we should not give those who are opposed to this new direction an opportunity to say it’s only a trick to destroy existing relationships so that one can renew old hostilities from a new tactical position, an offensive tactic rather than an attempt to achieve reconciliation.

PM Chou: You mean it will be a new tactic?

Dr. Kissinger: An offensive tactic rather then an attempt at reconciliation.

PM Chou: Anyway the times are advancing. That’s a very important thing. Those who can grasp the spirit of the times will be able to improve the world. Otherwise they will be submerged by the tides of the times as I just now mentioned.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1035, Files for the President-China Material, HAK visit to PRC, October 1971, Memcons-originals. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. No drafting information appears on either memorandum. A handwritten notation reads “informal memcon.” There are also numerous handwritten notes written throughout the memoranda. Ellipses in the source texts. The meeting was held in the Great Hall of the People.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai introduced each other’s entourages and spoke informally for 10 minutes before convening formally. Kissinger relayed President Nixon’s personal commitment to improving relations between China and the U.S. He and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai agreed that the two nations had divergent ideologies but convergent interests, especially in ending the war in Indochina, easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and preventing conflict between India and Pakistan. Technical arrangements for Nixon’s trip to China were also discussed.