114. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State1

3352. For Assistant Secretary Holbrooke From Unger.

1. Monday morning May 29 as soon as President Chiang had returned from his regular week-end trip outside Taipei he received me in Presidential Palace; President’s secretary James Soong, who translated CCK’s comment also present.

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2. I presented your report on Brzezinski trip using contents reftel, also citing some of pertinent points contained two dinner toasts.2 (I left full texts those toasts with CCK.) Re military purchases, President did not raise matter and I did not mention. I said you would also be giving Ambassador Shen report some time this week.

3. When I had finished report CCK inquired whether there had been any specific developments on normalization—any forward steps? I replied I had seen no evidence of such; our intention to normalize was reaffirmed but I believed specifics had received no detailed discussion, nor was there any negotiation on specific issues.

4. President then made five points, noting they were his views which he wished to put forward after hearing my report:

A. Through Ambassador Shen the GROC had already made known to U.S. its deep concern over the Brzezinski visit but CCK asked me to convey this once more; Washington must realize seriousness of GROC views on this matter. (Comment: This comment no doubt refers to GROC basic objection to our treating once more with PRC, especially at high level, and by inference, our continuing intention to normalize);

B. Nevertheless the policy of the GROC and of President Chiang toward the US will not change, as CCK made clear in his inaugural address (ref: Taipei 3144)3 and as he wished to state to me specifically on this occasion;

C. The GROC policy vis-à-vis Chinese Communists remains and will remain unchanged; the former will continue to work hard with free Chinese everywhere to achieve the reunification of China and freedom for all Chinese people (including all on Mainland);

D. The President recognizes the US Government has repeatedly told him and his government that in the process of normalizing relations with the Chinese Communists the US will show its concern also for the welfare and security of the people of Taiwan, and this is understood; in fact this statement is contradictory in that in normalizing relations with the Chinese Communists the US does great harm to the ROC [Page 475] and it is an action detrimental to ROC interests; the contact of the US with the PRC “has and will hurt us very much”;

E. (Nevertheless) the ROC is an ally of the US, situated in the Asian and Pacific region and dedicated to contributing to peace and security in this part of the world.

5. I acknowledged the important differences in our two views and explained again briefly the importance we attach, especially in a world context, of establishing effective relations with the PRC. I mentioned as my own personal speculation that in the months ahead Washington will be studying actively its relations with the PRC and probably beginning to think more concretely about the normalization process and possibly about a timetable for such. In this connection I invited the President to raise any matter which he or a designated representative would wish to discuss with us as a purely preliminary exploration.

6. President Chiang reiterated that his government’s assessment of the PRC regime is fundamentally different from ours and we must recognize this basic divergence; he said his government’s position is firm that normalization will cause great damage to the ROC. Thus when we talk about future relations this is based on the present close and friendly relations and a continuation and an enhancement of those; beyond those, the President said he wished to state clearly, there is nothing to discuss. CCK then reiterated that he hopes the US will realize that although we have differing views, as friends and allies we have significant common interests which can be maintained and will continue to provide a basis for friendly relations, beneficial to us both. He urged that the USG take careful note.

7. I replied that at present we also wished to continue working together in the present context of our relations; moreover we wished to continue close relations between us even though there may have to be important changes in the relationship.

8. Comment: I believe that President Chiang may have intended to signal to us, once he had reiterated the formal GROC position and their total objection to normalization, that he hopes we will proceed with normalization in such a way as to leave the ROC room to continue with us something like the kind of relations we have enjoyed in recent years. What such an arrangement could be is something which I presume neither we nor, I believe, the GROC is prepared at the present time to explore, but I don’t believe anything CCK said should cause us to set aside our assessment that it will be his intention following normalization, however bitter that pill, to continue as close a relation with the USG as we will permit.

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9. Note: I have just seen State’s 135627 (Notal)4 which arrived too late for use in connection with my call on President.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780225–0434. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Beijing.
  2. Telegram 135913 to Taipei, May 27, contains Unger’s instructions for his meeting with Jiang. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780224–0116) Regarding the toast at the May 20 banquet, see footnote 11, Document 108. Brzezinski’s toast at the May 23 farewell banquet was reported in Fox Butterfield, “Brzezinski in China: The Stress was on Common Concerns,” The New York Times, May 24, 1978, p. A2.
  3. Telegram 3144 from Taipei, May 20, commented on Jiang’s inaugural address in which he “emphasized the need to enlarge scope of constitutional rule, broaden political participation, and safeguard human rights, but gave no hint of possible amnesty.” He also “reaffirmed in standard terms GROC’s basic policies: self-reliance, no negotiation or compromise with ‘Communist enemy’ (which includes USSR as well as PRC), and opposition to normalization.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780212–0552)
  4. Telegram 135627 to Taipei, May 27, described Holbrooke’s meeting with Ray Cline, former Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, who was about to depart for Korea and Taiwan. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840128–2363)