53. Memorandum of Conversation, Beijing, October 25, 1971, 10:21-11:00 a.m.1 2

[Page 1]



  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai, People's Republic of China
  • 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
  • Wang Hai-jung, Deputy Chief of Protocol, PRC
  • Tang Wen-sheng and Chi Chao-chu, Chinese Interpreters and Chinese Notetaker
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Senior Staff Member, NSC

PLACE: Government Guest House, Peking

DATE & TIME: October 25, 1971, 10:12-11:00 a.m.


  • Communique

Dr. Kissinger: It took longer to draft than we thought (referring to revising the draft communique). We just finished an hour ago.

PM Chou: No sleep?

Dr. Kissinger: We did it in shifts. He (Mr. Lord) worked last night and I got up this morning at 6:00. How should we proceed, Mr. Prime Minister?

PM Chou: I will first listen to you.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Prime Minister, we redrafted your tentative draft that you presented to us yesterday. Let me tell you what we attempted to do before I read it. [Page 2]We recognize that it would not be worthy for either of our countries to write a communique with the usual banalities. We also think that it would be better, as the Prime Minister suggested, that each side states its position plus the things it agrees on.

At the same time, since we are at the beginning of what we hope will be a move toward friendship, it is important that the public does not get the impression that all the leaders did was to repeat standard positions and use this as a platform to say standard things to each other. So we have tried to reduce somewhat those passages that we found objectionable as I explained to you last night.

On Taiwan, we have redrafted the section which you saw in our draft and attempted to take into account some of the points the Prime Minister made to us last night or in slightly elliptical language. So let me read our proposed tentative draft. Is that agreeable?

PM Chou: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: (Reads second U.S. draft at Tab A.)

(After first paragraph.) Actually it's your first page. I would be glad to read it, but it is your first page. The same technical part. Do you want me to read it? I would be glad to.

PM Chou: No need to.

Dr. Kissinger: Who was at meetings and what was visited.

PM Chou: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly as you had it last night.

(Referring to first paragraph on page two.) We took out “great turmoil exists”, but I will not man the barricades on that phrase.

(Referring to paragraph starting on page two and ending on page three.) I am sure this can be shortened a little, this paragraph.

(Referring to third subparagraph of first full paragraph of page four.) That repeats something we have already said.

[Page 3]

(Referring to last sentence of second full paragraph on page seven.) If we agree on this it will be the first time that the State Department spokesman of the President will be disputed in the press. I am accepting it. I just want to pay tribute to the diplomatic skill of the Prime Minister.

PM Chou: We did not think about that at all because you said it would no longer be repeated.

Dr. Kissinger: I will read the American position and then I will explain it. (Referring to sentence that begins on page seven and ends on page eight.) This is a change in your draft. Before we said we “took note of it;” now we say we “no longer challenge it.”

(Referring to second full sentence on page eight.) Since we have said earlier that tensions are related to Indochina I think it is clear what we mean.

PM Chow: (Referring to third full sentence on page eight.) Abandon your concern for interest, profits? You mean a concern for a peaceful solution?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

PM Chou: Will you please repeat?

Dr. Kissinger: “This would be done without the abandonment of United States interest in a peaceful solution.” It has nothing to do with interest. If the word “interest” bothers you, we can change it. We want no ambiguity. That is a drafting problem.

(Referring to second full paragraph on page eight.) This is later than in your draft.

(Referring to last full sentence on page eight.) My secretary was so moved by this sentence she typed it twice. (Chou laughs.)

PM Chou: (Referring to the second to last paragraph. ) You changed that.

Dr. Kissinger: So it ends on a positive note. (Rereads the paragraph.) (Dr. Kissinger hands over the draft to Prime Minister Chou.) We have attempted, Mr. Prime Minister, to draft a communique that takes into account the necessities of both sides. I believe that it would be a very [Page 4]unusual communique if we could agree to it. It would be more honest and more honorable than any other communique that I have seen in the relations between two countries. It states our differences without being offensive, and it tries to state a positive direction without raising false hopes. And, therefore, it could begin a new historical period, not only in the relations of our peoples but the peoples of the world.

But I am sure that the Prime Minister will have suggestions to make further improvements.

PM Chou: I hope so. So I won't say so much at the present moment. You spent a whole night working on it. I hope that you will give us time now to translate it and make a study of it. And we will try to give a reply to you two to three hours hence.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. About the departure, so that we are not under pressure, we could leave—it is up to you—as late as 9:00 tomorrow morning and arrive in Washington at 4:00 the next day which is about what we are planning to do. It is a little hard on the crew but for once, for an important occasion. If you would like that, we would be prepared —

PM Chou: We agree. I shall see that they have a good rest tonight. First of all, they should have a good afternoon nap and a film to relax them, and then an early sleep. If it is possible, could you give us another copy? (Dr. Kissinger gives the Chinese another copy.)

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. And set the departure for 9:00 tomorrow morning.

PM Chou: And have a nap after your meal. Did you type (last night) Miss Matthews?

Miss Matthews: No, Miss Pineau did.

Dr. Kissinger: I notice that on the last day the Chinese side always disappears and returns at irregular intervals.

  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 the memorandum; presumably drafted by Lord. All brackets and ellipses are in the source text. The meeting was held at the Government Guest House. Attached at Tab A is the second Chinese draft of the communiqué; attached at Tab B is the third U.S. draft of the communiqué. See Document 56 for text of these drafts.
  2. President's Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger rejected the inclusion by the Chinese of the words “world revolution” in the joint communiqué. Chinese Premier Chou En-lai, in turn, insisted upon an official commitment to reduce U.S. troops in Taiwan and restrain Japanese rearmament.