93. Memorandum of Conversation, Beijing, February 24, 1972, 9:59 a.m.-12:42 p.m.1 2

[Page 1]



  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • John H. Holdridge, NSC Staff
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • Jonathan T. Howe, NSC Staff
  • Ch’iao Kuan-hua, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Chang Wen-chin, Director of Western Europe, North American, and Australasian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Chao Chi-hua, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Chi Chao-chu, Interpreter
  • Two Notetakers

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 24,1972 - 9:59 a.m. - 12:42 p.m.

PLACE: Guest House, Villa 2, Peking

VM Ch’iao: Let’s get down to business now.

Dr. Kissinger: I was afraid he would say that. I was certain I would get a note last evening saying you had accepted every proposal and I should go to the Great Wall.

Mr. Chang: What he will propose will make you even more happy.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s not his record. May I make a suggestion—the paragraph where we say, “The U.S. side stated . .” (on our page 3 and 4). We have reordered the sentences. Every sentence is the same, but we have reordered them, moving the last sentence beginning, “The United States desires to work with …” We have moved that sentence and the next sentence to the beginning of the paragraph, to become the second sentence. I have it written here. It’s purely stylistic. There is no new sentence in it. It reads better from an American point of view. [Page 2] And then the rest is exactly the same. There is nothing changed, and we put the subcontinent sentences in brackets only because we have agreed we will change them. That’s the old text.

PM Ch’iao: My preliminary impression of that is that it is not a problem, but we would like to study it.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, study it. Our intention is not to change anything but to make the English sound better. I also have received the answers on some of these things that we discussed yesterday. We can either give it to you or you can schedule another half-hour with the Vice Chairman. Some questions that came up yesterday, such as how many missiles and so on, and I have the answers now. It will take about half an hour. We shouldn’t do it now.

VM Ch’iao: We can discuss it directly between ourselves.

Dr. Kissinger: At the end of the meeting.

VM Ch’iao: If there is time.

Dr. Kissinger: Certainly.

VM Ch’iao: That is, we will work according to the draft submitted yesterday.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I understand.

VM Ch’iao: On the first page. First is the question of mere factual presentation, and then if there are any changes necessary for specific facts we will change it. It is not impossible to discuss that. The question of the full names of the President or Secretary of State, whether that should be done or not. The full name Milhous, or M., and the middle name of the Secretary of State.

Dr. Kissinger: Since I have my middle name there?

VM Ch’iao: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: I am beginning to understand the Chinese mind. Either all middle names or no middle names. Thank you very much.

[Page 3]

VM Ch’iao: Page 2, first paragraph, we agreed to your suggestion, and we agreed to say … to put the first sentence in front of this paragraph. ‘The two sides are gratified to have this opportunity to present candidly to one another … The leaders of the PRC and the US reviewed the international situation”, and so on. We will type this out later on.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you mind if I delete one more thing, strictly for style? Could we just say, “expounded their respective positions”? Because we already said in the previous sentence “… to present frankly to one another their views.” It’s really stylistic. I would like to drop “and views” but I don’t care. It’s just not to repeat the same word twice.

VM Ch’iao: While basically accepting the former suggestion you put forward yesterday, we have one addition. That is to say, “The leaders of China and the United States …” because it is the beginning of a new paragraph. “The leaders of China and the United States were gratified to have this opportunity…”

Dr. Kissinger: Absolutely. You are quite right.

VM Ch’iao: Why not?

Dr. Kissinger: Absolutely. It’s an improvement. And then we should begin the next sentence, ‘They reviewed …” We don’t have to repeat “the leaders.” I just told Mr. Lord that your staff gives you as much trouble as mine does. (laughter) Is it all right?

VM Ch’iao: Only question of custom and habit too. For our side “position” and “views” are …

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Let’s leave it. It’s just stylistic.

VM Ch’iao: Because if we delete it there appears a question of stylistic matter … question for us Chinese. That is, “position” is a question of matters of principle; “views” are specific things.

[Page 4]

Dr. Kissinger: All right. I don’t want to be petty. I have one other stylistic question. If in the first sentence we can take out the word “respective.” Keep it in the second sentence, but take it out of the first. Just say, “They presented their views . .” Purely stylistic. In English it isn’t good if exactly the same words are at the end of two successive sentences.

VM Ch’iao: We agree. There is no substantive matter involved here at all. It is a matter of style. We suggest that for us in Chinese we keep respective, but if you delete it …

Dr. Kissinger: Pure question of style. No one will notice it. It would be helpful… what we would like to say when this is finished is that this is an unusual communique. We talked frankly and stated our differences frankly, and therefore a little eloquence at the beginning is helpful. So this is fine.

VM Ch’iao: Go on to another paragraph. That is on the second sentence of the second paragraph, ‘The Chinese said that where there is oppression there is resistance.” Then the second sentence to that paragraph, we have another suggestion, and think you will realize why. That is to say, we would like to restore the original wording. Why do I say this? Because you know in my speech in the UN General Assembly that’s what I said, and that’s why I said you would anticipate that I would make this suggestion. I would like to make here a brief explanation of why we are making this suggestion again.

Dr. Kissinger: I have noticed that the Vice Foreign Minister didn’t waste any of the language from my previous visit. Whatever was eliminated here he put in his speech. (Laughter)

Please, go ahead.

VM Ch’iao: As you say, first of all, that is, of course, that our positions and philosophies are different on many questions. As for this specific wording, “revolution”, you on your side use it on many occasions too.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t have your reputation.

[Page 5]

VM Ch’iao: And President Nixon in one of his well-known articles mentioned this question. You are more familiar with these words than I. President Nixon once said these changes in India are a “revolution.” That was in 1967, and then in the intervening period there were many such examples when President Nixon mentioned “revolution.” And then one of the latest references of President Nixon to the word “revolution” was in an interview granted to TIME Magazine in January, 1972. The gist of this was President Nixon replied to a question that there is a new American Revolution.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we apply it to ourselves, not to other countries. We don’t object to your saying, “the Chinese revolution.”

VM Ch’iao: But in President Nixon’s article of 1967, he mentioned the revolution in Asia. Our socialist revolution has a history of only 20 years and more, whereas your country has 200 years. Both our nations are the sons of revolution, so why can’t we mention it? Dr. Kissinger: We have two problems. One, as the Foreign Minister remembers, we did not unqualifiedly approve his speech at the United Nations.

VM Ch’iao: ‘Empty cannons.”

Dr. Kissinger: Second, which is more important, as I explained to the Prime Minister last time, when you make this statement as your own it is very logical. When you make it in a document that includes the President of the United States, we have to think how it will be greeted at home. Did he come this far only for the Chinese to use him as the instrument of their propaganda? I am being very frank with you, but I understand your use of a different word.

VM Ch’iao: The fact that there does exist differences between our two countries is known through the whole world, and we have no intention of covering these differences up. But if there does arise some criticism of the nature you mentioned a moment ago—making use of this visit to make propaganda for ourselves—on the Chinese side we are faced with the same question. Just before you state your views and people can also criticize us that you are using this occasion only to state your views. And I am being very frank here and particularly think our [Page 6] American friends understand our practice. That is, it is our view to put forward our views as they really are, as an expression of honesty, whether it be to our friends or to the people.

Dr. Kissinger: Let us do this, because we have more or less agreed on this. Let us put the word in tentatively. I will have to speak to the President—and see how the rest of it looks. If the rest of the document is agreeable, when I think we can probably live with this word. I will submit it to the President.

VM Ch’iao: I agree. And then about the Chinese statement on Indochina, there is a phrase which we would like to add, merely a question of a factual matter. That is to add this phrase: “The Chinese side expressed its firm support to the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in their efforts” through “of the Republic of South Vietnam.” Then add “its elaboration of February of the two key problems in the seven-point proposal.”

Dr. Kissinger: Of February?

VM Ch’iao: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: You might as well put in February. Otherwise, no one in America will know what you are talking about. That’s fair enough; all right, that’s proper.

Mr. Chang: Of February this year?

Dr. Kissinger: Of February this year if you want it.

How many pages is the transcript of our discussions in Chinese?

VM Ch’iao: Our efficiency is not as high as yours. By 48 hours after we can answer that.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s not important.

This change is fine, but for my own edification, why do you support seven points when the North Vietnamese told us they wanted to negotiate nine points? I don’t understand the North Vietnamese and I don’t understand you. [Page 7] I was prepared to negotiate… but I don’t understand why we are being pressed to accept points which Hanoi itself didn’t want to discuss with us.

VM Ch’iao: I am not familiar with the specific proceedings of these negotiations, so I am not in a position to answer. And then I would like to ask you a question, very honest.

Dr. Kissinger: No, this is not negotiating, just to try to understand each other.

VM Ch’iao: We are only exchanging views and the question of Vietnam can only be solved by you. On the visit of Mr. President, the whole spirit of his visit is to relax tension.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s right.

VM Ch’iao: So we would like to ask what really are your intentions about this Vietnam question? The President exchanged views with the Prime Minister on this matter, but as we see it your way is not a way out of this question. Because in the Far East the really acute question is the Indochina question.

As for the Taiwan question, we have very big differences, but there is no particular tension involved because there is no fighting there now. And as you want to relax the tension in the Far East the principal question is that of Vietnam. I am, of course, quite aware of all the points made by Mr. President in his exchange of views with our Prime Minister, as well as your statements on this matter.

Dr. Kissinger: I would like to do this privately because it is a crucial issue, and we are attempting to approach it on a basis that is just to both sides. But I think to do it thoughtfully would take us an hour, and I would like to propose to the Vice Foreign Minister, if he agreed, that we schedule a separate meeting for it after we have worked on the communique on a very private basis which would remain totally secret. I don’t want to repeat just our formal position now—if you want to do it, we will. But I think it is better to get your views on the communique first, and then schedule a meeting tomorrow or tonight for the question of Vietnam.

[Page 8]

VM Ch’iao: I agree. Either tonight or some time tomorrow. We will find time for that. Or any other time. We will find the time for it. Completely informal basis.

Dr. Kissinger: Completely informal, and we will never mention it.

VM Ch’iao: So, let’s go on to our communique.

That is concerning Chinese statement on the India-Pakistan question, we plan to have this wording revised.

Dr. Kissinger: No other changes in that paragraph?

VM Ch’iao: No. The Prime Minister had already expressed some ideas along this line to the President yesterday.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

VM Ch’iao: That is to say, to put it this way, “it firmly maintains that India and Pakistan should, in accordance with the UN resolutions on the India-Pakistan question, immediately withdraw all their troops to their own side of the borders and of the ceasefire line in Kashmir and firmly supports the Pakistani government and people in their struggle to preserve their independence and sovereignty, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for the right of self-determination.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think Mrs. Gandhi will be happy with you. (laughter)

I give you this confidential information. We have no objection to whatever you wish to say on this.

VM Ch’iao: As for your working of this, you told us last time about the general thinking you have on this matter, but not specific wording.

Dr. Kissinger: I have some vague wording which we have not yet discussed with the President in detail, and therefore we can modify it, but I will informally give it to you. I think for example we can also support the withdrawal of both sides to the ceasefire line. It isn’t in here.

VM Ch’iao: We have no specific objections at this moment to this wording. It depends on you, really.

[Page 9]

Dr. Kissinger: We’ll keep it tentatively, and will you give us an English translation of yours? We have no objection to your wording. It may strengthen it to say “it favors …”

VM Ch’iao: We would like to repeat our suggestion about this withdrawal because it involves two aspects: one is withdrawal to their own side of the borders. The other is to withdraw to the ceasefire line.

Dr. Kissinger: I hadn’t heard that. Let me study your text, but otherwise we have no objection to your text.

Mr. Chang: We will give Mr. Holdridge the Chinese version.

Dr. Kissinger: He is so sympathetic with the Chinese I thought he might be in collusion with Mr. Chang.

VM Ch’iao: From the third page to the fourth page, that is your statement.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

VM Ch’iao: We have no objections to your suggested changes in the tenses.

Dr. Kissinger: Thank you. I have a suggestion. We would like … when I was here in October we didn’t have a formal proposal that would be made public and therefore, since you have referred to the seven-point proposal, I would like to refer to our eight-point proposal.

VM Ch’iao: That’s the right of having differences.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s right. I will give you the exact phrase when we meet again.“… and stated that its eight-point proposal of January 25 represents a just basis for the attainment of that objective.” Something like this.

VM Ch’iao: There is no need to repeat our views on your eight-point proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, no, we know it. You are supporting seven points. We are not commenting on each other’s positions. It’s simply an objective statement of our views.

[Page 10]

VM Ch’iao: So then we go on to page 4.

Dr. Kissinger: We may not settle the war in Vietnam, but we will confuse everyone so completely … . There are seven points, eight points, secret nine points, two explanations of the seven points. You have to be a Talmudic scholar to understand it.

VM Ch’iao: Our communique will not increase the knowledge of the peoples. As you said, if the word “revolution” was put in to make propaganda, saying support the seven-point proposal is also making propaganda. These are our differences.

Dr. Kissinger: Once Governor Harriman said our point six is why they can’t accept our proposal. But our point six is almost word-for-word their point seven. We thought we were making a big concession with it.

VM Ch’iao: What did Governor Harriman think after they were published? I am well acquainted with him.

Dr. Kissinger: He is now …

VM Ch’iao: Still very active?

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, yes. He is still the unofficial ambassador of the Soviet Union. He thinks we are very wrong to antagonize the Soviet Union so much.

VM Ch’iao: I would like to remind you of the fact that the secret clauses of the World War II agreements on China were drafted by Averell Harriman as the People’s Republic’s representative. I am unclear as to what it has to do with history.

Dr. Kissinger: On Vietnam he is closer to your position than to ours, but in his general philosophy he feels we are going too far in the direction of the People’s Republic.

VM Ch’iao: Let’s continue. So on these paragraphs we have no differences.

Dr. Kissinger: We agree on our differences.

VM Ch’iao: We agree to disagree. Now we are on page 5.

[Page 11]

Dr. Kissinger: The rest of 4 is all right.

VM Ch’iao: Except for the change of tenses.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but with the second paragraph on page 4 you have no problem.

VM Ch’iao: No.

Dr. Kissinger: All right, page 5.

VM Ch’iao: On the second paragraph of page 5. Originally, it was written “it would be against the interests of the people of the world for any major country to collude with another … or to behave in such a way as to suggest it had an exclusive sphere of interest.” In our suggestion, the first phrase remains unchanged. Then,“… or to divide up spheres of interest.”

Dr. Kissinger: One country can’t divide up spheres of interest. I’m just putting it in English.“… or to claim exclusive spheres of interest.”

VM Ch’iao: I would like to quite frankly say why we make this suggestion. We find there are shortcomings in the version you just suggested though in substance there may be no difference. We know that whether it be exclusive domination by one country or condominium, we are opposed to that.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

VM Ch’iao: But frankly speaking, to us your present wording connotes the question of enjoying equal rights, which has some implications of what happened before in China’s history.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand your problem. What you want to say, I am thinking out loud, is something like,“… or for the major countries to divide up the world into exclusive spheres of influence.” What you want to say is it is wrong for countries to divide up the world. Isn’t that right?

VM Ch’iao: What I mean is we are opposed to both tendencies. One is for a country to exercise exclusive domination over an exclusive sphere of interest. Another is for a number of countries to collude with each other.

[Page 12]

Dr. Kissinger: I understand. Give me your text again. I am not quarrelling with what you are trying to do. I understand it and agree with it. It’s only a question now of finding the word. Then that phrase would be “or to divide up spheres of interest.” It doesn’t sound right in English. How about, “or for the major countries to divide up the world into exclusive spheres of interest.” It sounds wrong in English. The way it reads now is “it is against the interests …” through “against other countries.” One country can’t divide up the world, you see what I mean?

VM Ch’iao: Would you kindly give us a written version of that? Just hearing it we find nothing to object to.

Dr. Kissinger: At any rate we agree on what we are trying to say, so it is purely a stylistic problem. I will give you a text this afternoon. This is easy, because we agree with what you want to say.

VM Ch’iao: So that will be that. And then we come to the common ground of the two sides. On page 5, “with these principles of international relations in mind …” That is all right. Then “progress toward the normalization of relations” through “is in the interest of all countries.” That is all right. And then the second point, we agreed to the original wording and not to your addition. It had already been mentioned above, and it is rather unclear here and redundant.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s not unclear, but it is redundant.

VM Ch’iao: It is not that. It is the question of whether there are disputes between China and the United States but the two types of disputes, within the country itself and international, and as to how international disputes should be solved we already mentioned that in the ppreceding paragraph. So if you are to add this phrase it is not only redundancy but ambiguity.

Dr. Kissinger: This was not the intention.

VM Ch’iao: We understand that was not your intention, but it is also a question of redundancy.

Dr. Kissinger: We are glad to add the phrase “international” here—it has a way of highlighting it.

[Page 13]

VM Ch’iao: Read the ppreceding paragraph again.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me ask you this: We will be able, on the basis of the preceding paragraph to say to the press that on international disputes we have renounced the use of force. Then on Taiwan I would say China does not consider Taiwan an international dispute.

VM Ch’iao: So there is no need to add this phrase here.

Dr. Kissinger: But is it all right if we explain the meaning of the communique in this sense afterward—can we say after we get back that one of the results of our trip was that we have renounced the use of force in our disputes with one another? Then we will say—we will not embarrass you—that you do not consider Taiwan an international dispute. We will not be tricky on this.

VM Ch’iao: Our position on the Taiwan question we have stated on many occasions.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand. We will not apply it to the Taiwan question. We know your position—you have stated it since 1955, and we will not use this communique as a way of making you change your position on this.

VM Ch’iao: We have always considered that the Taiwan question had two aspects. One is your military presence, which we should try to solve through negotiations, whereas the question with Chiang Kai-shek is a domestic matter.

Dr. Kissinger: Let us drop this then. The President may want to raise it again. One suggestion—at the top of the page, why don’t we say, “will apply these principles …” and we will drop this other sentence the way we proposed it.

On the top of page 5 should we substitute “will” for “are prepared toy?

VM Ch’iao: We would prefer to leave it “are prepared”—if it is changed to “will” it will involve the Taiwan question. It might imply that you should immediately withdraw from Taiwan. This is from our point of view. So when we say “are prepared” we take into consideration the state of affairs in which we find ourselves at present. What do you think?

[Page 14]

Dr. Kissinger: May I consider this?

VM Ch’iao: And then that means that you previously agreed to delete . .

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. I would like to discuss it with the President.

VM Ch’iao: Surely, we understand that; “neither will seek”. Dr. Kissinger: That’s fine.

VM Ch’iao: And now we come to the crucial question.

Dr. Kissinger: May I make a suggestion? Since I think that will take the longest time, shall we do all the rest first and then come back to the crucial question?

VM Ch’iao: The following is a rather important question, that is the sentence on trade and also on other bilateral relations. But that is all connected with this crucial question.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. We will have to do it one way or the other. No problem. Go ahead. We will follow your suggestion.

VM Ch’iao: On this crucial question we should at any rate advance a step forward to make a new beginning. We were joking yesterday when you said you expected I would agree very rapidly to your suggestion—but I have rapidly disagreed.

Dr. Kissinger: It shows what a bad judge I am.

VM Chi iao: Now I would like to comment on your suggestion. And I hope you will not interpret my frank exposition as anything else. According to our discussions last time I do understand your wishes and on our side, too, we hope we can approach each other closely. But frankly speaking, from this formulation you put forward yesterday there has been not only no advance, but in a certain aspect a step backward.

Dr. Kissinger: Which aspect?

[Page 15]

VM Ch’iao: For instance, in October our two sides had already agreed to the first portion of this statement. It was agreed at that time to these two sentences: “The U.S. side declared that the U.S. acknowledges” through “the United States does not challenge that position.” But here you put in a different formulation. Originally you agreed to say Taiwan is a province of China, whereas in yesterday’s formulation you said “Taiwan historically has been Chinese territory.” And we don’t approve of that formulation because the fact is really that all Chinese on either side of the Straits maintain that there is but one China.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me hear the rest of your comments. I will reply to them all together.

VM Ch’iao: As the Premier told the President yesterday, if there is still any common point of view between those of us on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, it is that Taiwan is a province of China. And so as that is something maintained by all Chinese and something which you put forward yourself last time …

Dr. Kissinger: You put it forward.

VM Ch’iao: … which you agreed to last time, but now for you to say Taiwan has historically been Chinese territory, that is a step backward.

Dr. Kissinger: Let’s hear the rest of your comments. I understand your point.

VM Ch’iao: On that portion which, we have not agreed to we cannot accept that version put forward by you. That is, the last time you said you agreed to say that “it hopes.”

Dr. Kissinger: “Abiding concern.”

VM Ch’iao: “Abiding interest.”

Dr. Kissinger: We took that out.

VM Ch’iao: But now you use the words “reaffirms its position.” We think that is too strong. And I would like to say also that this is different from [Page 16] what you had publicly stated. For instance, in the World Message put forward by your President he said these words, “The ultimate relationship between Taiwan and the Mainland is not a matter for the United States to decide. A peaceful resolution of this problem by the two parties would do much to reduce tension in the Far East… We are not, however, urging either party to follow any particular course.” But when you use the word “position” it means you have in mind that we Chinese should follow a particular course. So we said that even proceeding from your openly published stand, we cannot agree with it because it is not consistent.

Dr. Kissinger: You are not asked to agree to this. This is our position. We are pursuing an unusual course here anyway. We have no comment on what you are saying about Taiwan, but here, in effect, you are commenting on what we are saying. We are not saying that you have to agree to this. VM Ch’iao: No, this is a matter between us because Taiwan is our territory.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

VM Ch’iao: If there was no difference between us on this matter we would not be sitting here discussing it. So I think it would be better to change the word “position” to the word “hope.” Dr. Kissinger: Let me find another solution.

VM Ch’iao: That is my second objection. And then the third point.“… should be achieved …” This is something like a command. “Should” do this, “should” do that. You put us in an awkward position—embarrassing us. So these are the points of objection, and we have frankly told you.

Dr. Kissinger: I appreciate this.

VM Ch’iao: But, as I said at the beginning, I do understand that your subjective wish is by your formulation to bring the two sides closer.

Dr. Kissinger: It is. We know you are intelligent enough that we can’t do anything tricky, and even if we could we would have to live with it for a long time. So the spirit is to bring us closer together.

VM Ch’iao: I have no intention of thinking that either of our sides want to play any tricks.

[Page 17]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

VM Ch’iao: The question is that there are differences of view between our two sides. Dr. Kissinger: Actually there are fewer differences in practice than there are in expression.

VM Ch’iao: Even if it’s only a question of expression, you have your difficulties and we have our difficulties, and the Chinese people feel very strongly on this matter.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

VM Ch’iao: So after considering various aspects, we have suggested a formulation. Now this will be our suggested formulation. The first two sentences remain as in October: “The U.S. side … and that Taiwan is a province of China. The U.S. Government does not challenge that position. It hopes that the Taiwan question will be settled by the Chinese themselves through peaceful negotiations.”

Dr. Kissinger: You will hand me that?

VM Ch’iao: And then the final sentence. It states that “it will progressively reduce and finally withdraw all the U.S. troops and military installations from Taiwan.”

Dr. Kissinger: Our difficulty, Mr. Vice Minister, is that it is our belief for us to return to be attacked that we sold out a friend in the capital of another country with which we have had long difficulties will unleash a storm, and will undo much of the good that has been accomplished and will reduce our ability to do what we have said we will do. This is complicated by the fact that this is an election year, and therefore it makes the problem especially complex for us as to what we can say. I speak to the Vice Foreign Minister very frankly.

To give you an example, Mr. Vice Minister, and to explain to you why we changed that first sentence, I took the formulation brought by General Haig before I came here to Secretary Connally. I did this because he is the strong man in our cabinet, and we need him if we want to get public support for something; or, it is helpful—we don’t need him absolutely, but it is [Page 18] helpful. He doesn’t know anything about China, Taiwan—he’s just an American who has instinctive reactions.

Mr. Holdridge: Strong reactions.

Dr. Kissinger: He said to me, “You’ve sold out.” This is the Haig formulation. Because he thought that the phrase “a province of China” has a peculiar connotation in America. He said he thought this meant we were turning over Taiwan to China right then and there. I am not arguing the merit of the position; I am trying to tell you what we are up against and I know how painful this is for you.

VM Ch’iao: But why didn’t you tell him Chiang Kai-shek too says Taiwan is a province of China?

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Vice Minister, I have explained this to him. His argument is you never have a chance to explain these things after all hell has broken loose. This is almost a direct quotation. I just want to explain to you there is no complicated rationale. We want to avoid the word “province”—and we are trying to gain his support which could be useful.

On the middle part, I thought I was meeting you some part of the way by taking out the words “abiding interest.” But I have an idea of how to fix this and will skip it for the moment.

Now we come to the last part. The dilemma we face is this. You do not wish us to state it conditionally, because you took the position this is your territory and we have no right to set conditions, and I understand this. We would like to find a formulation which is at least vaguer, not because it affects what we will do, which you know, but because it enables us to return without looking as if we had surrendered on this point. And this is our dilemma with your last sentence.

We have told you exactly what we will do and we have kept all our promises. I have repeated it on each of my visits. The President has repeated it. So I have an idea of what to do with the central part; I have no precise idea yet on what to do with the last sentence. What I would like to do if this [Page 19] meets the approval of the Minister is that after we finish here, I would like to spend an hour with my assistants and talk to the President and give you another draft early this afternoon, which you can study, which takes into account your points and, of course, I will show the President your version also. But I simply wanted to give you my reaction.

VM Ch’iao: I am very grateful for your comments. But you know that in the Chinese declaration on this matter there are many points which we could have, but did not put forward. For instance, in your propaganda you have repeatedly stated you abide by your treaty commitments with Chiang Kai-shek. But we took into account your situation. We did not fire some empty cannons, for instance, that you must immediately totally and unconditionally withdraw from Taiwan.

Dr. Kissinger: Like your allies.

VM Ch’iao: You have heard that. We say direction, but the direction must be mentioned. You mentioned in one of your past declarations the ultimate objective of the withdrawal. But if such formulations are to be put forward, it would be impossible.

Dr. Kissinger: “Ultimate objective” you would not agree to.

VM Ch’iao: I just say that in your last suggestion in October you still mentioned “ultimate objective” but in this draft which you put forward you don’t even mention that—you just talk about progressive removal. So when your people see it they will say, “Isn’t that the same as in Vietnam?”, and you will leave a tail behind. Reduction, but not withdrawal.

Dr. Kissinger: “Removal” in English means “withdrawal.” “Progressive” means it will be done in stages.

VM Ch’iao: Well, we have already stated our views and in a frank and serious way, and have repeatedly studied formulations we put forward, and in our formulation we put full stops at ends of sentences. They are independent sentences. You have semicolons; we have full stops. Dr. Kissinger: The difficulty is that you are so much subtler than most Americans that that fine point will be totally lost on most Americans. But I appreciate it.

[Page 20]

VM Ch’iao: Taiwan is our territory. That’s our problem, not your problem.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand your problem, and I am not saying you are being unreasonable. We have an objective difficulty here because it does you no good if, as the result of the communique, a tremendous debate starts in the U.S. about whether we were completely taken in by you and casts into doubt everything else that we have discussed. That is the problem we face.

And, for example, there is the other problem. I recognize you are not mentioning the defense treaty on your side, but I do not think it will help you when we are asked by Congress what this means that we point out that you have not mentioned the defense treaty, because that would be embarrassing to you.

VM Ch’iao: It won’t be embarrassing because we would immediately put it off, the differences.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s what I mean, exactly.

VM Ch’iao: I just say that in these private conversations to take into consideration your problems.

Dr. Kissinger: We will not mention it to the Congress, I promise you.

VM Ch’iao: Because the fact that we are not mentioning this treaty is to take into consideration your difficulties. Our American friends should understand.

Dr. Kissinger: ‘We here understand it. Our problem is we cannot explain this to our people that the Chinese side has taken our problems into account by not mentioning the defense treaty because that would make it worse. And therefore, we will be judged only by these words, and we cannot explain your moderation, because that would not help matters.

Mr. Chang: Well, you need not say that in your explanations to your contacts. Just ask them to make a comparison between this statement and [Page 21] the Vice Minister’s statement in the UN, and they will see what moderation we have exercised.

VM Ch’iao: If this wording you put forward is to be published, then to put it in customary Chinese wording our people would explode. They will say what have you been doing in these talks? I agree to this suggestion—this is a crucial matter and suppose we continue with your suggestion.

Dr. Kissinger: We will give you another draft this afternoon.

VM Ch’iao: And so to put it very frankly, if we cannot find the wording acceptable to both sides, and reasonable on this crucial matter, then on the other matter of trade or exchanges we cannot find it possible to go on to discuss these things.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

VM Ch’iao: If you find any of my comments not clear we can have more exchanges now because we do have differences. Or shall we recess now? Our differences are to be discussed.

Dr. Kissinger: I think I understand your point of view and don’t think much is solved by continuing this discussion until we have considered it and then we can do. Because we don’t want to draft something here of this importance. But can we consider for a moment what will happen if we cannot find a mutually agreeable formulation? How shall we then proceed?

VM Ch’iao: It will be hard for us to reply to that. Maybe just no communique?

Dr. Kissinger: That’s a possibility.

Well, the next step has to be that we consider. We shouldn’t plan for something that we are here to avoid.

VM Ch’iao: That is right. We are very serious about this communique.

Dr. Kissinger: I know you are.

VM Ch’iao: Because we Chinese don’t take things very lightly.

[Page 22]

Dr. Kissinger: This has been our experience, and we will consider what you have said and make an effort to meet your concerns. And you please keep in mind our difficulties and that we are approaching it in a very serious manner also and with the intention of having a positive outcome.

I want to make one point about exchanges and trade. Precisely because we are serious people we both know that basically they don’t mean anything. The maximum amount of bilateral trade possible between us, even if we make great efforts, is infinitesimal in terms of our total economy. And the exchanges, while they are important, will not change objective realities. We both know this. Nevertheless, we believe that we should have some significant paragraphs in the communique on this because what we are doing is to make a revolution in American foreign policy, and we need to symbolize it in some concrete way that the American people can understand. When I say “revolution” there is a great deal of sentimental interest in China. But in terms of the hard decisions that we have to take, such as we did take in the crisis with the Subcontinent, such as we did take in relations with the Soviet Union and Japan, where a concrete price has to be paid, we wouldn’t have nearly the support that you would think we have watching television people. In other words, you no doubt distinguish between the sentimentality and reality of Americans in their attitudes toward China, especially those with a missionary background. Many of those, a majority of those who are genuinely in favor of better relations with China, would be absolutely horrified if they knew about the discussion we had yesterday morning.

So I want to tell you the attitude of the President and myself on exchanges and trade. We believe that a people who has suffered and fought what you have in the last 50 years, who have been on the Long March are not going to be charmed by a group of pedants from universities or bought by a businessman from Hong Kong. But the American public is more sentimental and also there will be inevitable comparisons between what will happen when we go to Moscow, and I have explained what the Soviet strategy is —to get a maximum number of agreements, no matter how irrelevant they are. I say this only so there is no misunderstanding about exchanges and trade, and why we want it.

Can I raise a few minor technical points, or should we wait? They are not connected with the communique.

VM Ch’iao: Yes, you may.

[Page 23]

Mr. Chang: I would like to say one more word on the Taiwan clause. That is on the first part, these first two sentences were already agreed upon, and what is more, the State Department in Secretary Rogers’ memo to the President, it too agrees that Taiwan is a province of China. Does Dr. Kissinger still think it is necessary to change the wording?

Dr. Kissinger: Let me talk to the President about it. We will try to deal with it in a positive spirit.

We are going to replace General Walters in Paris. He is going to be made Deputy Director of the CIA. That is always a job that goes to a military man, and we are giving it to him because we trust him. He will leave Paris. We are thinking of asking our Ambassador in Paris to carry these messages. This is not a career ambassador. He is a personal friend of the President’s and we have complete confidence in him. And he would do it privately. He would not do it on an official basis and the secrecy would be maintained. Is that agreeable to you? You don’t have to answer now.

VM Ch’iao: Thank you for your notification.

Dr. Kissinger: Is it agreeable or you will let me know?

VM Ch’iao: We will tell you later.

Dr. Kissinger: If not, we will find somebody else. We are being pressed very much by our press to tell them something. So far we have said nothing and will say nothing of substance, but is it possible to say, for example, when the President and the Prime Minister meet they speak without notes, just to give them atmosphere? It’s stupid. (Laughter)

VM Ch’iao: You are expert on this matter; I am not.

Dr. Kissinger: I am an expert on stupidity?

VM Ch’iao: On making these people stupid.

Dr. Kissinger: On making the press stupid?

VM Ch’iao: You must not make that public to them.

Dr. Kissinger: I thought I would quote you.

[Page 24]

VM Ch’iao: There is nothing substantial about that.

Dr. Kissinger: Can we say that the atmosphere is frank, friendly, or whatever, about the mood?

Let’s wait till we have the Taiwan thing settled. I think it’s better.

VM Ch’iao: Use “frank” and “serious.”

Dr. Kissinger: Let’s not use adjectives. We once drafted an all-purpose communique: “The fact that voices were raised does not prove that physical violence was used.” (Laughter)

Can we say something like that?

VM Ch’iao: I don’t know how you’ll put it.

Dr. Kissinger: We could say the table between them prevented physical violence.

VM Ch’iao: Of course, you say that.

Dr. Kissinger: It would be helpful if either the Prime Minister to the President, or you to me would say … the President suggested to the Prime Minister for me to visit after the Moscow summit. It has to be before July 7 because that is the Democratic Convention. It would help if some comment could be made because it would help in our bureaucracy to know these arrangements were made as a result of this visit.

VM Ch’iao: Certainly, we will give you a clear reply to that before you leave.

Dr. Kissinger: No hurry. One other point. The Director of the New York Museum of Art was under the impression that Ambassador Huang Hua said to him you might consider sending some of the works of art going to the Paris museum to the United States if our government welcomed this. I don’t know whether he misunderstood Chinese politeness. I give you this letter from him. You should reply to him, not to us. If you are considering it, and if our interest is of importance, we would welcome it, but we are not requesting it.

VM Ch’iao: It’s very clear. We will study this.

[Page 25]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, and the answer should go to him, not to us. You can tell us if you want to, but I want to make clear it is a non-governmental proposal.

VM Ch’iao: Yes, you made that very clear. But on the question of informing of these things, we can tell you when we make our decision.

Dr. Kissinger: We would be very pleased.

VM Ch’iao: But it is not a governmental action.

Dr. Kissinger: When shall we meet again, this afternoon?

VM Ch’iao: The President and Prime Minister are going to meet again this afternoon.

Dr. Kissinger: At 5:00.

VM Ch’iao: So long as it does not affect discussions between the President and the Premier we can meet again. You can inform us of the time. So long as it does not affect the meeting between Prime Minister and President, any other time is all right for us.

Dr. Kissinger: After a dinner of Peking duck I will agree to anything.

VM Ch’iao: I hope so. Would you kindly tell us the name of your ambassador in Paris?

Dr. Kissinger: Watson. He is not as intelligent as Walters.

Let us aim for 3:00 this afternoon, or 3:30. Let’s say 3:30. It won’t take us long because if we have a new text we will give it to you and explain it.

VM Ch’iao: Decide on 3:30.

Dr. Kissinger: And I would be prepared to meet after the Peking duck, either to get your reaction to what we discussed at 3:30 or to discuss Vietnam. Or tomorrow—it’s up to you.

VM Ch’iao: Let us put the communique in first priority. We’ll be flexible. Mr. HAN Hsu’s principle is flexibility.

Dr. Kissinger: I have noticed that.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 92, Country Files, Far East, Dr. Kissinger’s Meetings in the People’s Republic of China during the Presidential Visit, February 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. No drafting information appears on the memorandum; presumably drafted by either Lord or Howe. The meeting was held at the Guest House, Villa 2.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger and Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ch’iao Kuan-hua continued to discuss the communiqué. Kissinger informed Ch’iao that the U.S. Ambassador to France, a close friend of President Nixon’s, would replace Walters and maintain the secret Paris channel.