57. Note From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the Military Attaché at the Embassy in France (Walters), Washington, October 30, 1971 and Memorandum for the Record, Paris, October 31, 1971, 6 p.m.1 2

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General Walters should make the following three points orally to the Chinese:

The U.S. side proposes that the agreed joint announcement of the date for the President’s visit be at 1600 on Tuesday, November 23, Washington time.
Mrs. Nixon is pleased to accept the invitation of the PRC for her to accompany the President.
The U.S. side accepts a seven day visit and is prepared to stay overnight at Hangchow.

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On 31 October following the receipt of a telegram from Washington at midnight (which I completed deciphering at 0330), I made arrangements to call on the Chinese at 1800 (this time was suggested by them).

I went to their Embassy Residence at Boulevard du Chateau in Neuilly and was received at the gate by Wei and at the door by Tsao who had told me that the Ambassador would also be present and he joined us in the Red Room within two minutes.

I thanked him for coming since he had so much to do just prior to his departure for Peking. He said that he was happy to meet with me since we were working in the interest of both our countries and the peace of the world.

I then read the oral message in French and Wei translated it and read it in English and Tsao copied it down.

The Ambassador then said that he would transmit it electrically at once and also take a copy with him. He said he was very pleased that Mrs. Nixon would be coming with the President and asked whether his daughters would also be coming. I said I had no information on this. He then said that he was also pleased that the President would be going to Hangchow. In China they had a saying that there were two places worth seeing, “Heaven and Hangchow”.

Ambassador Huang said he had heard from the Chinese side that Dr. Kissinger’s visit had gone well. He himself was returning to Peking for about 15 days and would be back in Paris around Nov 15. He was taking Wei with him. It was a 23-hour trip and he would be in Peking on Wednesday, Nov 3.

He said that it was both absurd and dangerous for 800 million Chinese and 200 million Americans to pretend that the others did not exist. What was being done, if it worked out, was of long-term historic importance. He knew it had not been easy for Mr. Nixon to open the dialogue, nor had it been easy for their side. President Nixon had been courageous. The Editor (presumably Reston) of the New York Times might not think he was courageous but they agreed with Prime Minister Chou En-lai that the President was courageous. I said that it was fortunate that both sides had had courageous men at this time. He agreed. I said I had seen President Nixon twice [Page 3] in times of great stress and danger (Lima and Caracas) and knew how calm he remained under such circumstances. It was reassuring for the whole world. He nodded.

Ambassador Huang also said it was fortunate that at this time President Nixon had had such a wise counselor as Dr. Kissinger. He had seen him only a few times but he had made a most favorable impression on him (Amb) for frankness, vision and directness.

He then recalled my original approach to the military Attache of the PRC in April and said that the interpreter had been very frightened at being approached by an American General. I had, however, been discreet because I had spoken to him alone in the courtyard of the Polish Embassy. The Ambassador added that the Chinese Military Attache to Paris knew nothing about our meetings.

Ambassador Huang said that if our efforts bring results all mankind will owe us a debt. There was a long tradition of friendship between our countries and we must renew it. Ambassador Huang said that he will report on this channel to the Prime Minister and tell him about me. I had helped open a door that had been closed for many years. He hoped I would visit China.

He then said that Tsao would be empowered to receive any letters or documents but any discussions of substance should await his return. I would be notified as soon as he returned.

All of the foregoing transpired over liters of jasmine tea, preserved apples and two different types of pastries filled with small unmentionable objects in an atmosphere of great cordiality.

Patted on the back and arm and called, “my friend”, I was escorted to the door by Tsao and to the gate by Wei.

The Ambassador was wearing a blue uniform and the other two were in conventional Western clothes. None of them wore any of the usual red Mao badges.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File-China Trip, China Exchanges, Oct 20, 1971-Dec 31, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Haig handwrote the addressee instructions, the date, and an additional “eyes only” classification on the note. No time of transmission or receipt appears on the note, but Walters subsequently indicated in his October 31 memorandum of record that he received the telegram at midnight and finished deciphering it at 3:30 a.m. The October 31 memorandum that Walters drafted does not bear any classification markings. The meeting was held at Chen’s residence in Neuilly.
  2. Haig transmitted three points, concerning President Nixon’s visit, for Walters to make orally to the Chinese. Military Attaché Walters and Chinese Ambassador to France Huang Chen discussed how the new and growing relationship between the U.S. and China would benefit humankind.