73. Message From the Government of the United States to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Washington, December 17, 19711 2

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Consistent with Dr. Kissinger’s understanding with Prime Minister Chou En-lai the U.S. side would like to inform the Chinese side of the following measures it took with regard to South Asia since the December 12 meeting between Ambassador Huang Hua and General Haig in New York City.

On Sunday December 12, the U.S. used the hot line to Moscow calling for an urgent end to hostilities to prevent consequences wanted by no one.

Early Monday morning, December 13, the Soviet Union sent a brief note which said it was conducting consultations with India and would inform the U.S. of the results without delay.

Early Tuesday morning, December 14, the Soviet Union sent a message which, in addition to some standard Soviet views on the South Asian situation, relayed firm assurances by the Indian leadership that India had no plans of seizing West Pakistani territory or attacking West Pakistan armed forces.

Later Tuesday morning, December 14, General Haig on instructions from the President called in Charge Vorontsov and made the following points. He said that the President and Dr. Kissinger considered the Soviet message vague and imprecise on Indian intentions [Page 2] in West Pakistan. The U.S. had to be clear that the Soviet message included Azad Kashmir and involved a return to the exact borders before the outbreak of hostilities. Mr. Vorontsov expressed his personal understanding that this was precisely the Soviet view. General Haig stressed that it was the U.S. view that the Soviet Union must move promptly to halt the fighting and that delays could have the most serious impact on U.S.-Soviet relations.

The Chinese side will be aware of press reports of the remarks Dr. Kissinger made to journalists on the airplane returning from the Azores that day with regard to the possible impact of Soviet actions on the President’s plan to visit Moscow.

Upon arrival in Washington on December 14, Dr. Kissinger called in Charge Vorontsov to reiterate and expand on the points made by General Haig. Dr. Kissinger repeated that there must be an understanding that the Indians would not attack West Pakistan, would not seek to acquire Pakistani territory and would return to the territorial limits that existed prior to the crisis. Mr. Vorontsov confirmed this was the Soviet understanding of Indian assurances. Dr. Kissinger said that the Soviet Union should be blamed for letting the situation develop because of their massive arms shipments to India and security guarantees. And now Soviet delays in the current situation were making the President question Soviet motives.

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On Wednesday morning December 15, Dr. Kissinger called in charge Vorontsov again and said that it was time to move, that no more delays were excusable and that if there were not a ceasefire in West Pakistan soon the U.S. would have to draw the appropriate conclusions.

The Chinese side is, of course, aware of developments in the subcontinent which have subsequently taken place.

The U.S. is continuing to encourage other nations to assist Pakistan along the lines previously outlined to the Chinese side. Jordan has now sent fourteen aircraft to Pakistan and is considering sending three more.

The U.S. side will continue to keep the Chinese side informed on this situation. It is the U.S. view that recent events in South Asia involve sobering conclusions. The governments of the People’s Republic of China and the United States should not again find themselves in a position where hostile global aims can be furthered through the use of proxy countries.

General Haig during his January visit to China will be prepared to discuss this problem and possible efforts designed to prevent similar events in the future.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File-China Trip, China Exchanges, Oct 20, 1971-Dec 31, 1971. No classification marking. A handwritten note reads, “Handed to Gen Walters 17 Dec 71 for delivery Dec 18.”
  2. The message summarized the exchanges between the United States and Soviet Union concerning the India-Pakistan situation.