117. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary’s Meeting with PRC Foreign Minister Huang


  • U.S.
  • The Secretary
  • Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary, EA
  • Michel Oksenberg, NSC Staff
  • Harry Thayer, Director, EA/PRCM (Notetaker)
  • PRC
  • Foreign Minister Huang Hua
  • Ambassador Chen Chu, Permanent Representative to the U.N.
  • Counselor Chou Nan, PRC U.N. Mission
  • Hu Chuan-chung (Interpreter)

(The Secretary met the Chinese party at the 37th floor elevator, conducting them directly into the sitting room. The Secretary apologized for the delay in his arrival in New York.)

The Secretary: I have a message from the President. He has asked me to tell you that he has reviewed the record of Dr. Brzezinski’s conversations with your leaders.2

He has asked me to inform you that, as a result of the full discussions with your leaders on international affairs, he will be better able to take into account your views on the many issues where we have common concerns. He hopes that our actions in these areas will be mutually reinforcing in the months ahead.

The President also hopes that the commercial and cultural dimensions of our relations will expand in the months ahead, particularly since he believes that an expanded and deepened relationship in the cultural and economic sphere contributes to the normalization process.

The President also feels that the conversations on normalization were constructive and revealed that the time is opportune to explore further the practicalities of normalization on the basis of the Shanghai Communique.

[Page 480]

Accordingly, Ambassador Woodcock will be in contact with you later this month to initiate confidential discussions with you on normalization.

In sum, the President thanks you for the courtesy you showed to Dr. Brzezinski, and he feels that the discussions were positive and enhanced our relationship.

Minister Huang: What questions will Mr. Woodcock be covering?

The Secretary: He’ll be covering the whole subject of normalization.

Minister Huang: Can you say anything more specific?

The Secretary: We will be sending instructions. We will be getting them out to Ambassador Woodcock in the next week or ten days.

Minister Huang: We welcomed the opportunity to have an exchange of views on questions of common interest during Dr. Brzezinski’s visit. Apart from talks between Dr. Brzezinski and myself, Dr. Brzezinski also met Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping and Premier Hua. Through these talks, we feel the discussions were beneficial to the two sides; it was useful for the two sides to understand each other’s point of view. I took part in all the talks directly and so there is no need to repeat them here.

The Secretary: Yes, I have read full and detailed reports of all the conversations very carefully.

Minister Huang: In a dinner hosted by Vice Premier Teng in Bei Hai Park they conducted very interesting conversations. Vice Premier Teng said that in another three years he may declare his retirement, as he is getting advanced in age. With regard to the invitation extended by Dr. Brzezinski for the Vice Premier to make a visit to the United States, the Vice Premier said: In that case we must work harder, since I am getting old; now, however, you still maintain a Chiang Kai-shek Embassy in the United States.

The Secretary: We’ll be getting our conversations with the Foreign Minister underway shortly.

Minister Huang: Dr. Brzezinski raised the question of visits by U.S. delegations to China led by Dr. Schlesinger and by the President’s Science Adviser, Dr. Press. Because I left Peking only two days after the meetings with Dr. Brzezinski, I was not able to consult with the departments concerned, so I am not in a position to give a reply. In any case, we shall study it before giving a response.

The Secretary: Fine. I think that visits by Dr. Schlesinger and by Dr. Press and other distinguished scientists would be very useful and productive in the relations between our two countries.

Minister Huang: You are probably aware that we have an ambitious plan for the next 22 years: modernization of agriculture, industry, [Page 481] science and technology and national defense. We only have 22 years left. The present situation is this: we still are 15 or 20 years behind scientifically advanced countries in scientific knowledge; we still have to make very great efforts before we can bridge the gap and catch up.

We shall be guided first of all by Chairman Mao’s principle of self-reliance, by relying on the wisdom and on the diligence of the entire Chinese people to bring about the four modernizations. On the other hand, we are also ready and willing to learn from other countries all good things on the basis of mutual benefit without harming our national sovereignty.

The Secretary: That’s why I think it might be (Minister Huang indicates he wants to continue). Excuse me!

Minister Huang: Here I wish to make one point very clear. As long as the two sides abide scrupulously by the principles of the Shanghai Communique and you do not dabble in two China’s, one China and one Taiwan, I’m sure the relationship between the two countries can further expand. But in the absence of normalization of relations between the two countries there are bound to be limitations on the cooperation between our two countries. Before normalization is realized, your side is bound to put limitations, and many facts prove my point. You still consider China a hostile country. I am talking about substance, not labels. So, in this respect, there really is a difference between normalized relations and non-normalized relations.

The Secretary: Could I respond very briefly? First, let me say there should be no doubt that our conduct is based on the principles of the Shanghai Communique. I have said this is so. The President has said it. I’ll repeat it today. There should be no question about it. Secondly, I would not agree that we regard the People’s Republic as a hostile country. We believe that although there may be differences on some issues between us we have many areas where we have common views and objectives, and we have many common interests. And we hope that consultations, exchanges, discussions—all will lead to more and more common ground between our two countries.

Minister Huang: When Dr. Brzezinski was in Peking, he also reiterated the U.S. commitment to the Shanghai Communique. He also reaffirmed that you will continue to carry out the commitments of the two previous Administrations.

The Secretary: That is true.

Minister Huang: We welcome all this. On international affairs, the two sides in Peking had extensive exchanges of views. We reiterate what Chairman Mao once told Dr. Kissinger: that as far as we have broad common objectives, neither of us should try to harm each other, and we both should seek to fix that SOB (in English). We also criticized [Page 482] some of the approaches adopted by your side towards the Soviet Union. To sum up, we call it “appeasement”.

The Secretary: Yes. I read the transcript.

Minister Huang: If this appeasement policy is allowed to further develop, it cannot but harm the basis of the Shanghai Communique. Dr. Brzezinski in Peking emphasized on many occasions that President Carter has decided to bring about normalization between our two countries. If that is the case, that is very good. (Mr. Oksenberg corrected the interpreter’s omission of the word “if”.)

The Secretary: Mr. Minister, I understand you are going to Kinshasa on the way home.

Minister Huang: Yes, I am going via Paris, where I’ll change planes for Kinshasa. The visit was planned several days before the invasion (of Shaba) happened. It is a helpful coincidence (confusion in interpreting, after which Huang said in English:) I should say that it is very good I am going to make the trip now. (laughter)

The Secretary: I’m glad too.

Minister Huang: You should go also, (The Secretary: I may.) but I doubt you will—you may be apprehensive of offending the Soviet Union.

The Secretary: Let me comment on the situation. First, the Soviets and the Cubans knew about the invasion beforehand. We have stated this publicly. The President has made this clear. I have made this clear, and this is our conviction.

With respect to the actions on the ground in Zaire, we have indicated to President Mobutu that we will help both with short-term economic assistance as needed and also with security as needed in the Shaba region. In dealing with the security problem, I can inform you that on Saturday we will be sending aircraft into Morocco to pick up Moroccan troops which we will then fly into the Shaba region. This will be the first element of an African security force. The current plans are that the commander of the African forces will be Moroccans. There will be elements from other African countries which will be added to the core of Moroccan troops. We will be picking them up and delivering them to Shaba when they are prepared to move.

Minister Huang: How many?

The Secretary: We are talking of 1,000. There are now 100 on the ground. These are advance elements. What we are talking about will be a substantially larger force than is currently there.

Minister Huang: What other Africans have promised troops?

The Secretary: I understand that Togo has promised. There is a possibility that the Ivory Coast might send a small contingent, and discussions are taking place with others at this very moment.

[Page 483]

Minister Huang: What about English speaking countries?

The Secretary: None now, but I don’t rule out that the French will be moving out most of their troops, to be replaced by pan-African troops.

We are meeting in Paris on Monday. We, the French, the Belgians, the Germans and the English. The purpose of the meeting is two-fold.

First, we will do the preparatory work for the economic conference in Brussels on the 13th and 14th. The second purpose will be to discuss security problems further; what more needs to be done to assure that the technical personnel required to run the mines will have the security required to permit them to stay in the area. The meeting in Brussels will be expanded to include Zairians and others as well. That meeting will examine steps needed to get the Zaire economy running well. It is now in very bad condition. Western countries will provide financial and other assistance required to help them get their house in order. In addition, we will probably need support from some international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. The leadership on the economic side will be by Belgium, supported by all the rest. There is a good spirit of cooperation. All recognize the need to do this and to do it fast, and you will find that President Mobutu welcomes this. On the military side, we have accelerated deliveries to Mobutu of a number of items of military assistance. He needs communications equipment, trucks and the like, and we are moving immediately to meet his needs.

Minister Huang: All of this is non-offensive equipment.

The Secretary: Last summer we delivered many tons of ammunition in advance to have it on the spot should something like this invasion happen. We had intelligence several months ago that something like this might occur. We felt it best to pre-position material should it occur.

How long do you plan to be there?

Minister Huang: Four days. The duration is very short. I plan to discuss in Zaire items of Chinese assistance and cooperation between our two countries. We are also ready to listen to President Mobutu’s views on the region.

I wish to thank the Secretary of State for receiving me despite his very busy schedule.

I’m going to Kinshasa to fulfill what Dr. Brzezinski said: to make parallel efforts.

The Secretary: That’s a good point. (Huang prepares to rise.) Do you have two minutes more?

We have been reviewing carefully the situation in Pakistan. I plan to meet this afternoon with Aga Shahi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan. At that time I plan to indicate to him that we think we can reinstitute the [Page 484] flow of economic assistance and to increase it. In addition, we are prepared to review with Pakistan their military needs and give them assistance in that area as well. We held discussions last week. I told him of our concern. We agreed to meet again today to discuss it further. I know you agree on the need to strengthen that area. We will of course also reaffirm our commitments under the CENTO Treaty, to which Pakistan is a party.

Minister Huang: Following the pro-Soviet coup d’etat in Afghanistan, Pakistan is facing a new situation. They are a little worried. Pakistan is one of your old allies. You should give Pakistan more assistance. We discussed that point in Peking. You have always given greater importance to India, slighting Pakistan.

The Secretary: We have friendly relations with both.

The Secretary: What should we say to the press? That we had an exchange of views on a number of international matters?

Minister Huang: We could say something like: we met briefly and had discussions on a number of questions of common concern.

(The Secretary escorted Minister Huang down the elevator and to the sidewalk where they posed for photographs and briefly answered questions.)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 56, Policy Process: 6–9/78. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Thayer. The meeting took place in the UN Plaza Hotel.
  2. See Documents 108111.