137. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Holbrooke) to Secretary of State Vance1


  • Your Meeting with PRC Foreign Minister Huang Hua, New York, October 3, 1978

Your dinner with Foreign Minister Huang Hua comes at a time of a rapidly expanding US–PRC relationship. The main impetus for this change is the all-out effort by the Chinese leadership to promote the rapid modernization of the PRC. Education, scientific and technological work, the economy, and other important segments of Chinese society are being overhauled, and the Chinese are looking to the West and Japan for the expertise to accomplish their ambitious goals. This month alone we have had over twenty PRC delegations in the United States (compared with a rate six months ago of two or three a month) studying city administration, coal, electronics, geography, etc. and large numbers of American educators, technicians, businessmen, and tourists are going to the PRC.

Following up on Frank Press’ visit last June,2 a PRC delegation led by National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Chou Pei-yuan is arriving October 7 to discuss an exchange of students and scholars. The delegation will hold discussions in Washington October 12–16 with a US group led by National Science Foundation President Richard Atkinson and then visit a number of US universities. A State Department officer will accompany them on the trip. We expect a limited number of Chinese students to begin arriving in the United States in November with the number increasing to perhaps five hundred by the fall of 1979.

In addition, we informed the Chinese on September 16 (by letter from NASA) of our agreement to sell to the Chinese a WESTAR communications satellite and place it in orbit.3 We also expect the visits to the PRC by Secretaries Schlesinger (late October), Bergland (No[Page 538]vember), and Kreps (next March) to provide the opportunity for extensive discussions in the energy, agriculture, and trade fields. Planning for these trips is moving apace although we are not sure as yet exactly what Schlesinger has in mind.

Generally, the Chinese have been pursuing their foreign policy goals with a new dynamism and pragmatism. The anti-Soviet theme remains dominant but China’s relations with Japan and Western Europe are also growing rapidly as part of the modernization drive. Chairman Hua Kuo-feng’s trip in August to Romania, Yugoslavia, and Iran is the PRC’s most spectacular recent diplomatic effort. Huang accompanied the Chairman on that trip and also carried on the successful negotiations with Japanese Foreign Minister Sonoda earlier that month on the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

Suggested Talking Points for the dinner are attached.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 44, Meetings: 10/1–6/78. Secret. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Frank Press did not visit China in June 1978. He arrived in Beijing on the evening of July 6 for 3½ days of discussions about science and technology policy as well as opportunities for Sino-American cooperation in this area. (Telegram 2062 from Beijing, July 7, 1978; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) See also Document 129, footnote 6.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 128.
  4. The talking points for Vance are attached but not printed.