138. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Summary of Secretary Vance’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Huang Hua


  • Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
  • Leonard Woodcock, U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
  • Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Michel Oksenberg, Staff Member, NSC
  • Harry Thayer, Director, PRC Desk, Department of State
  • Foreign Minister Huang Hua
  • Ch’ai Tse-min, PRC Ambassador to the U.S. and Chief of the People’s Republic of China Liaison Office
  • Chen Chu, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations
  • Chu Chi-chen, Deputy Director, American and Oceanian Affairs, MFA
  • Kuo Chia-ting, First Secretary, PRC United Nations Mission
  • Shu Erh-wei, MFA (Interpreter)
[Page 539]

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: I am glad that, while attending the present session of the United Nations, I have the opportunity to meet Mr. Secretary of State. Some time has already elapsed since we met five months ago. Mr. Secretary, in our view, the international situation has had new developments and changes since then. Tensions have intensified. The Soviet Union has intensified its steps for pushing forward its plan for strategic offensive and for strategic disposition. Today we are glad to have an opportunity to listen to Your Excellency’s views.

Secretary Vance: Let me say that I too share the pleasure that the General Assembly brings us together again and I am delighted that it gives us an opportunity to exchange views on matters of importance in bilateral and international relations. A good deal has happened since our last meeting, and I am glad to have a chance to exchange views on events and trends in the world. I am glad to have a chance to express my views and learn your thoughts on these various problems.

Middle East

Perhaps I might start first on the Middle East where major steps have been taken which may have, I think, profound effects on the future of that area. I know that Dr. Brzezinski has had a chance to fill in Ambassador Ch’ai on the meetings at Camp David. But I am glad to comment also and to answer any questions you might have on these events and on future developments.

Both the President and I feel strongly that the meetings at Camp David have produced a set of documents which laid the groundwork for a comprehensive settlement of the issues in the Middle East. We did not try to settle all the details but rather we cast a framework for a settlement that would bring a just and lasting peace to the area.

We started out at Camp David with the objective of drafting first a general framework for peace in the region. After listening to the parties for a few days, it became obvious that the only way to make progress was for the United States to put forth a draft for a negotiated text. Accordingly at the end of the first week the United States put forward our text which was the first of 23 drafts of the negotiated agreement.

In describing the document we thought that we should set forth the general principles in the preamble which would set the framework for a negotiated peace for all those who would wish to join. The first step provided for in the agreement is for the total withdrawal of the Israeli military government from the West Bank and Gaza and the establishment of a self-governing authority during a five-year transition period. The establishment of a self-governing authority is an important step. In a few months the Palestinians will have a self-government governing the people in the West Bank and the Gaza representing the people in free and fair elections. It further provides that any individuals [Page 540] living in the West Bank and Gaza can put forward their names as candidates to participate in the self-governing authority. What this means is that whatever their affiliation—PLO or non-PLO—they can put forward their names and can be elected as representatives of the West Bank and Gaza.

The agreement further provides that the self-governing authority will have full authority for the period of transition. I think that this is a major step on the road to realization—at the end of the five-year transition period—of the full rights of the Palestinian people.

The document further provides that the Palestinian question must be resolved in all its aspects. The first aspect, of course, is the status of the West Bank and the relationship of the entity created at the end of five years to its neighbors. This is to take place in negotiations in five years and the participants in the self-governing authority will have the right to take part in the negotiations. It further provides that during the same period there will be negotiations about the West Bank between Israel and Jordan. These will be part of the negotiations concerning the final status of the West Bank.

Israel wanted to divide these two sets of negotiations and not let the Palestinians participate in the final negotiations with Jordan. We refused to accept this, saying that the Palestinians must participate in those negotiations.

Finally, it was provided that these negotiations must be completed by the end of the fifth year. Israel was opposed and wanted open-ended negotiations. We said no, that they must be completed within a five-year period and Israel finally agreed.

Thus we believe that a mechanism has been created that will resolve the questions of borders, the final status of Gaza and the West Bank, and participation of the Palestinian people in all parts of the negotiations.

In addition, it specifically stated that the negotiations must recognize the legitimate rights and just demands of the Palestinian people.

In short, Mr. Minister, we believe that a process has been established which at the end of the transition period will recognize and lead to the realization of the legitimate right of the Palestinian people.

If I could say one or two more words, on the question of Palestinian refugees, which is part of the Palestinian problem, the agreement provides for establishment of a committee to handle the return of the 1967 displaced persons back into the West Bank. It also provides in general terms for establishment of a process for a prompt, just, and final solution of the refugee problem as related to 1948 refugees.

We did not feel that the language was sufficiently precise to express the deep conviction we have on the importance of solving the [Page 541] issue of 1948 refugees and therefore the President and I have since spoken of the need to resolve this issue promptly and fully.

I will not try to go into other detailed aspects of the general framework. I just have one more point: Obviously, not all the points that we would like are included, but it does provide a framework which will lead to a solution of fundamental problems during the five-year period. Thus we believe we have made a measured step on the road to a just and comprehensive peace.

With respect to the other agreement, once having established the general framework, we set out to lay the basis for solution of the Sinai problem. This was done without great difficulty and is self-explanatory.

We will be following up the implementation of two agreements in the very near future. There will be a meeting October 12 in Washington, which we will chair. The meeting is designed to work out the details of a peace treaty on the Sinai.

On the general framework, we have already started consultations with others who might have a role in a future solution.

I perhaps have taken a great deal of time—too much, perhaps—but I thought you would like to know the background in detail.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: I have read the part of Your Excellency’s speech at the General Assembly on Camp David and the Middle East issue,2 and I listened to the comments of foreign ministers and representatives of some Arab countries. I get the impression that some Arab friends still feel that there are other things also that are not published, and they want to find out about them.

Secretary Vance: (Interrupts) Absolutely untrue. (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: They want to find out about them.

Secretary Vance: This is absolutely untrue. There are no other documents and everything has been published but the exchange of letters on the West Bank agreements. I have also heard about these rumors, but I can assure you it is not true. (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: In my speech at the General Assembly, I touched on the Middle East issue and made clear our basic views on it.3 We feel that unless the U.S. exercises effective pressure on Israel to meet the just demands of Arab countries and the Palestinian people, the problem cannot be resolved. Of course, it does not mean that there are no positive elements in the Camp David talks, but we feel [Page 542] that the Soviet Union now has more scope to maneuver and that troubles lie ahead. So we will reserve judgment in the matter.

Secretary Vance: Perhaps I could (Huang stares at Vance) . . . excuse me!

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: We think that there is one question that merits our attention. The Middle East is the flank of Europe, the region the Soviet Union is doing its best to contend for. If the Middle East issue is not properly resolved and the just demands of the Palestinian and Arab peoples are not resolved, the Soviet Union will step up its efforts and push forward to outflank and encircle Europe. If this eventuates and it comes to a crisis, the West will find itself, even if it wants to resist the Soviet Union, unable to do so.

Secretary Vance: Let me comment. The Middle East not only is the flank of Europe but also has resources for Europe, Japan, and the world and it therefore has strategic importance of great if not incalculable value.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: That is correct.

Secretary Vance: . . . and we also calculate that by 1985 the Soviet Union will feel the pinch and need to rely on outside sources for oil, and their eyes will turn more and more toward the Middle East. Therefore, our relations with countries there, particularly the Arabs, are of great strategic importance.

Obviously there is no question that the Soviet Union is very unhappy with the results of Camp David. The Soviet Union feels that Camp David is a major step forward and they have no part to play. They feel that, even if the Arabs do not agree with all aspects, it is a step forward which renders the Soviets even more sensitive to the fact that they had no part to play.

We are going to continue to work with the Arab countries of the region in direct bilateral discussions. In addition, we are preparing TV and radio programs addressed to the peoples of the region which we believe will help them realize the benefits of the agreements to the Arab peoples.

There are two other points I might mention. We are determined to continue to play an active part in implementation of the Camp David agreements, in order to make sure that the benefits for the Arab people will be realized.

Second, we recognize that the problem of the Middle East is not just the Arab-Israeli dispute but that it has broader dimensions. So we are working hard to strengthen those in the Middle East who can help bring stability. Thus we are working with Saudi Arabia to help North Yemen. This is helpful for stability in the region. We believe that it is [Page 543] clearly necessary to counter the capability which the Soviet Union has been providing to South Yemen.

In addition, we have been watching with interest and working closely with the Shah in connection with recent developments in Iran. We believe Iran is a very important factor in the Middle East and will continue to work closely with the Shah to help him meet his military needs.

In addition, as you know we are working closely with Turkey because of the role it plays and the position it holds. We have lifted our arms embargo and are helping them economically. This will strengthen our relations with Turkey and their position in the region.

Finally, with respect to Pakistan, we have indicated to Pakistan that we have cleared up the problem for providing economic and military assistance. We have cleared the obstacles to economic and military assistance, and pipelines are opened up, and we are prepared now to discuss with them providing additional economic and military assistance.

Of course you know that our relationship is very close to Saudi Arabia and we are working closely with them to strengthen their capabilities. Thus we are trying to help strengthen the whole area and are working closely with our friends to impede the incursion of others into the area.

South Asia

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Our friends in Pakistan feel that your military aid is slow and scanty.

Secretary Vance: Sometimes appetites are insatiable.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Regarding Pakistan, we said in the past that your policies of attaching importance to India and not to Pakistan is unfavorable strategically.

Secretary Vance: I think both have roles to play strategically, both can play roles in the area. The Shah puts great weight on relations with India, and this carries weight with us. We do think it wrong for India to buy aircraft that can penetrate deeply into Pakistan and have refused our permission for the Swedes to sell the Viggen aircraft. This caused much unhappiness with the Swedes, but we think it was the right decision.


Secretary Vance: I do not know whether or not you want me to talk about our recent discussions with the Soviet Union about SALT.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: I would like to listen.

Secretary Vance: We had three sessions with the Soviet Union during the past week on SALT negotiations. As a result of these discus[Page 544]sions, the remaining differences have been narrowed further. We do not have final agreement on remaining issues, but the gap has been narrowed. I think that the Treaty, which we are getting close to concluding, is sound and that it will advance the interests of the U.S. and its allies as well.

If one examines the situation in the post-Treaty period as opposed to no treaty at all, I think it will be clear that the Treaties are clearly to our advantage and to the advantage of our European allies. To summarize very briefly: As a result of the Treaty, the Soviet Union will have to destroy or dismantle 300 of their strategic systems, and the U.S. will have to destroy none; secondly, the Treaty will provide for constraints on modernization of new missile systems, and this is beneficial to the U.S. and allies because the Soviets already have several systems in the stage of predeployment and tests. Further, the Treaty will provide for restrictions on the number of warheads on existing and new missiles. This is positive, because it will not constrain us from anything we planned but will constrain the Soviet’s use of multiple warheads on SS–18 missiles. Further, the SALT agreement will not constrain us in any way in building our planned systems, including our new ICBM system which we refer to as the MX. Also, it will permit us to go forward with the development and deployment of cruise missiles, which we feel will be an important part of our strategic force in the future.

In short, we can say that the Treaty will in no way constrain us from going forward with what we have planned, but will constrain the Soviets and force them to reduce their systems.

Obviously, the SALT agreement does not affect other nuclear powers. Indeed, it enhances their security by cutting back on Soviet capability.


Regarding NATO, we agreed since I last saw you to increase NATO’s capabilities as a result of meeting in Washington. They will be given new and modernized equipment, which will be useful for the future. In addition, all NATO allies have agreed to increase their contributions by three percent per annum for the next five years. This is three percent real growth.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Do you mean growth in their military budget?

Secretary Vance: Yes. Thus there is a commitment by all NATO members to accept these goals and to provide the wherewithal to meet these goals.

U.S. Economy

On the economic side, we are having problems with the dollar in international markets. This results from a number of factors: psycho[Page 545]logical, large amounts of spending on foreign oil, and the fact that we have allowed our export promotion programs to decline. The President is attacking each deficiency: increasing gold sales, the Federal Reserve system is now acting to curb inflation, the President has taken steps to increase exports, and fourth, and perhaps most important from the psychological standpoint, is the energy program. It looks like we will get four to four and a half of our five programs by the time Congress adjourns. The one thing we will have taken care of is the crude oil equalization tax. If Congress has not acted by January, then the President is prepared to act unilaterally despite the Congress.

Turning now to other parts of the world—or perhaps you would like to comment.


Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Yes. Regarding your SALT talks with the Soviet Union, we should take the year 1963 with the partial test ban treaty as the starting point. More than ten years, 15 years have elapsed since then. Experience has shown that if the Soviet Union could not gain from an agreement, it would not go along with one. The Soviet Union has made use of this period to strengthen greatly its conventional capability and strengthen its strategic capability. Now, the conventional capability of the Soviet Union has surpassed that of Western Europe and the U.S. In the strategic arms area, there is more or less parity. (The Secretary nods.) You also agree with this. But whether you agree or not, the arms race is bound to continue.

Secretary Vance: I would answer by saying that by a new SALT agreement, we will have put a cap on strategic arms, thus limiting the race on building further strategic arms. Regarding conventional arms, we will build and equip our forces with modern arms so long as the Soviet Union continues on the course it is following.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Regarding the increase of the NATO military budgets by three percent, will it start this year or next? What is the condition of participation.

Secretary Vance: All are taking steps to include this in their current budget. I believe all but one country, one of the three Benelux countries, has done so. That is the best of my recollection.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Luxembourg?

Secretary Vance: No, I believe it is Belgium. They have a difficult situation, a divided government. They cannot put their act together right now.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: I have no other comments right now.

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Southern Africa

Secretary Vance: Perhaps we might shift to southern Africa, in which I know you have a great interest. Insofar as Namibia is concerned, we have approved the resolution in the Security Council containing the proposal of the Western five and have approved the report of the Secretary-General. So far, South Africa has responded in a negative fashion. We of the Western five are determined to see the Security Council steps carried out. We are prepared to go to South Africa to get them to reverse their position. If not, then we will have to consider what other actions, including sanctions, must be taken by the U.N. We feel this is very important in its own right, but also in its effect on others, including on the Rhodesian situation.

In Rhodesia, the situation continues to worsen in terms of fighting. We still believe the basis for solution can be found in the Anglo-American proposals. We have urged an all-parties meeting to try to find common ground to proceed to elections in six months and move toward selection by majority rule. But I must say that at this point things look bad.

The front line states have all endorsed the Anglo-American plan as a basis for settlement. Quite frankly, we are concerned by the prospects of the increasing Soviet and Cuban involvement in Rhodesia if it is not solved promptly. Indeed, in the last few days there are indications that some 400 additional Cubans had been introduced into Mozambique, and I am afraid there will be more if we do not find a solution to the problem.

As you know, as far as Zambia is concerned, President Kaunda has fought against the Soviet and Cuban advisors in the area, but if there is no solution, he will be under increasing pressure to turn to that source for help as long as Rhodesian troops attack across the border into Zambia. I would simply note that it is incumbent for all of us to help President Kaunda if we wish to avoid this alternative, which none of us wishes to see.

Moving to Zaire, I think the situation has improved substantially since you were there and we last talked, due in large measures to assistance that all of us have given to cope with not only the military problems but the economic and political problems as well.

Northern Africa

The problem in the west Sahara is unresolved, as we all know, and the situation is dangerous and difficult, as we all know. We are watching it carefully and will provide help as appropriate.

As to Chad, the situation has been turned around, due to the action of the French who turned back the Libyan forces moving from the [Page 547] north. The situation is better than six months ago. As you know, the Libyans have now withdrawn their forces or are in the process of completing the withdrawal from the northern portion of Chad.

West Africa

Moving to Ethiopia, I have little to add to what is already known. The Eritrean situation has not been solved, and the Ethiopians are running into increasing difficulty in Eritrea. The number of Cuban forces is being reduced. As to the conflict between the Ethiopians and the Eritreans, we see no early resolution of that issue.

Insofar as Somalia and the Ogaden are concerned, the fighting continues at a low point in the Ogaden area in an indecisive way.

Moving down to Kenya, the British and we are in close touch with the Kenyans, and we are giving them new assistance to strengthen their capabilities.

In Djibouti, the situation remains fluid with no firm solution in sight. We all must watch and see what happens. The French intend to keep their ground forces there and a naval presence in the area.

A final word about Ethiopia—our information is that there are strains between the Ethiopian leadership and the Soviet Union from what the Ethiopians feel is undue interference in their economic and political life and the slow deliveries of economic and military assistance. But the evaluation of our intelligence people is that there are still strong and close relations between the Soviets and the Ethiopians.

Southern Africa

On South Africa, to complete the African scene, I doubt there is very much I can add since I am sure you are completely familiar with the situation. Much depends on how they react to our proposals on Namibia. Our further relations will depend on this, and I think that is also so with European nations. Insofar as other African nations are concerned, it is quite clear that unless there is a satisfactory South African response to the Namibian situation, their reaction will be strong.


Coming back and touching on Europe for a moment, I will say a word about the economic situation. Although there is some upturn, there are still deep underlying structural problems, particularly unemployment. I think this is of concern not only to political leaders but also to economic specialists as well. It is hard to predict what six months to a year will bring in respect to the economic situation in Europe.

Finally, tariff barriers and protectionism are major problems. And the success or failure of the multilateral trade negotiations will be very important so everybody is looking with interest and some trepidation [Page 548] toward the conclusion of these negotiations which will be some time by the end of 1978.

East and Southeast Asia

I hesitate to comment on Southeast Asia, because you are so much more familiar than we are with that area. So I will be very happy to hear your comments.

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: I would like to hear your views first.

Secretary Vance: First let me say with respect to Japan that our relations are excellent. We have ever closer relations with Japan. Our exchanges of opinion between ministers are very very frequent, and I think our relations are excellent. There are some differences on specific economic issues, but we have been able to work them through and to progress. The main issue is the multilateral trade negotiations, but that is affected not only by our bilateral relations but also by what happens in the multilateral community.

Japan remains an extremely important factor in our policy in the Pacific, and of course you know of the important role it plays in world economic problems.

Regarding the Southeast Asian area, relations with our ASEAN friends are good and getting better, bilaterally and as a group. We had a good meeting in Washington with the ASEAN countries, and we feel ASEAN countries are a positive and constructive feature in the world picture and in the Southeast Asian area.

In Asia, we see a stable system of nation states. Let me say, before saying a word or two on Vietnam, how pleased we are about the conclusion of the Treaty between Japan and the People’s Republic of China. This is a major positive step. Insofar as the Korean Peninsula is concerned, we hope and expect that the situation there will remain stable. As you know, our relations are close and good with South Korea. We will continue to work closely with them on economic matters, and we stand fully behind our Mutual Security Treaty with them.

As to the Philippines, we now are entering the final stage of negotiations with the Government of the Philippines with respect to bases at Subic Bay and Clark and hope to come to a resolution of remaining issues in the months ahead.

Regarding Vietnam, we have informed your Liaison Office in Washington of the two recent meetings which Mr. Holbrooke has had with the Vietnamese.4 I am sure you are up to date on the status of our [Page 549] discussions with Vietnam. I would appreciate your views as to how you feel about the question of normalization of our relations with Vietnam, which as you know they are now suggesting without preconditions.

Latin America

The only thing I have left out is relations between our country and Latin America. Our relations with the countries in this hemisphere have improved in the last year. The conclusion of the Panama Canal Treaty had a major beneficial effect on our relations with Latin American countries.

We have had a difficult and thorny problem in Nicaragua recently, and the U.S. has taken the lead in the mediation of that problem. Both Somoza and the opposing groups now have agreed to talk starting tomorrow or the day after. This is an important but difficult issue to resolve. If it is not resolved, it will provide an opening which the Cubans might exploit to the detriment of stability in the area.

That in general is the picture how we see the world situation, Mr. Minister.

Soviet Strategy

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: Thank you very much Mr. Vance for your brief remarks on extensive topics. First of all, I would like to talk briefly on our views on the international situation.

Starting from Angola, the Soviet Union made use of Cuban military forces to interfere in African internal affairs, then used them for military control of Angola and long-term military occupation. From this period to the coup in Afghanistan and in South Yemen, there emerged some new features in Soviet strategy that I would draw to your attention.

In Europe, there are amassed a large number of troops and military equipment. The two sides are in military confrontation. Because the Soviet Union has not yet completed its strategic deployment, the Soviets have avoided a military clash in Europe.

We still hold that the focus of Soviet-U.S. contention for world hegemony is still Europe, but now the Soviet Union is stepping up efforts of contention and exploitation on the periphery and the flanks. Its effort is to control the areas of importance and to control the sea lanes to Europe. It wants to gain strategic superiority in these areas to fulfill its design to encircle and outflank Europe. So, from Angola to the two inva[Page 550]sions of Zaire and the wars in Somalia and Ethiopia and the military coup in Afghanistan and South Yemen—these are not isolated but are part of the overall plan to push for strategic superiority.

And the development of the situation in Indochina is of the same nature. The Soviet Union has drawn lessons from failure in Egypt and Somalia, and it more and more resorts to the use of mercenaries to carry out direct intervention and control, to insure safeguarding the areas of strategic importance. This on the one hand poses a threat to the independence and sovereignty of countries in this region, and it in turn further reveals the true face of Soviet social imperialism and gives rise to strong reaction.

For instance, at the fourteenth and fifteenth summits of the OAU, there were two resolutions passed, and many leaders strongly opposed the Soviet Union’s use of Cuban troops to interfere in Africa and strongly demanded that all foreign troops withdraw.

At the Belgrade meeting of the non-aligned movement last July, many countries had come to see more clearly the aggressive and expansionist design of the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the Soviet and Cuban effort to change the nature of the non-aligned movement was frustrated.

We believe it necessary to support the peoples of different countries to oppose Soviet expansion and aggression by using Cuban mercenaries. Other countries are pushing to strengthen their strategic position.

The other special feature in this period is that in order to push for expansion of its strategic position, the Soviet Union has had a more truculent attitude in carrying out the coups in South Yemen and Afghanistan. These were the result of the direct meddling of the Soviet Union.

From the expansive and aggressive activities of the Soviet Union since Angola, we can see its design—stepping up its aggression, contending for world hegemony, first aiming at the strategic flanks of Europe.

So these expansionist and aggressive activities of the Soviet Union in these regions should not be regarded as separate events; they are important steps in the overall Soviet strategic plan. Thus we still hold—as Chinese leaders have on many occasions stressed to American friends—that the capabilities of friends must be strengthened to prompt the Soviet Union to give a second thought before starting war and to enable other countries to carry out tit for tat actions and to undermine the Soviet’s push for strategic push.

Still another point is that we must oppose any appeasement of the Soviet Union because we think this will only whet the appetite of Soviet ambition for aggression and expansion.

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Japan PFT

As to the Far East, the signing of the Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship Treaty has furthered the friendly relations and cooperation between our countries and peoples to a new stage, and it has won the warm support of the peoples of the two countries, and it has been warmly supported by others also.

Southern Africa

I would like to deal with the situation in southern Africa. The Namibian problem and racism in South Africa has been the focal point of the struggles of people of southern Africa and of the whole of Africa. We hold that it is necessary to exert strong pressure on South Africa so that it will change its attitude and adopt a rational policy so that the Namibian problem will be solved, and the Namibian people will achieve independence on the basis of national integrity and unity.

In Rhodesia, majority rule must be realized. If the question is not settled in good time, then it is obvious that the possibility of armed struggle will be greatly strengthened, and the front line states will not have the patience to wait for a solution along the lines of the Anglo-American proposal. The Soviet Union is trying in every way to exploit the situation in Rhodesia and Namibia to expand and enhance its position. China’s position on the question of Namibia and Rhodesia is clear cut. In our speeches in the Security Council and General Assembly, we have made this clear. The five Western countries should not vacillate on this question, or it will give the Soviet Union opportunities to expand in this part of the world.

If the Soviet Union’s design for expansion in this region succeeds, Soviet positions in the area will be contiguous. The Soviet capacity to encircle Europe will be strengthened here, and this will be most unfavorable and dangerous to the U.S. and Europe.


In the Far East, trade and economic cooperation has further developed. The signing of the Peace and Friendship Treaty between China and Japan was welcomed by all countries in the Pacific region and won the support of most countries of the world. Only the Soviet Union and a few of its followers are not happy. The signing of this Treaty dealt them a serious blow politically and diplomatically. That is why the Soviet Union tried in every way to prevent the signing of this Treaty, but ultimately their efforts failed.

Our attitude to ASEAN has always been clear and consistent. We have supported ASEAN to strengthen its cooperation and to develop the economies in the region. We also supported its neutrality, we think this is favorable to stability in the region, and it helped stem Soviet [Page 552] expansionism. We highly appreciate ASEAN countries’ anti-Soviet vigilance.

Except for Indonesia and Singapore, with which we have no diplomatic relations, we have normal diplomatic relations with the other three countries. Our exchanges with them are increasing, and our friendship and cooperation are also developing.

With Singapore, we have always maintained good relations. Their leader has recently visited us, and our trade is developing. As to the question of restoring diplomatic relations, the Indonesians have domestic difficulties but we have started to have trade contacts.

The Indian Foreign Minister plans to visit China beginning October 30. Exchange of visits with India have already started, and our trade is expanding. China takes a positive attitude about our relations with India. As to the problems left over by history, we believe a peaceful resolution through observation of the five principles is possible over time. Even if a solution cannot be found now, this should not impede development of relations between our two countries.

In the latter half of this month, Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing will pay a visit to Japan to exchange the instruments of ratification of the Peace and Friendship Treaty and in addition he will be paying a state visit. Next month, Vice Premier Teng will visit Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.


As to Vietnam, the U.S. wants to improve relations and establish diplomatic relations between the two countries. This is a matter strictly for your two countries. But (pu-kuo) if we are interested, what we are interested in is the impact of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam on the strategic policy of the U.S. in the Far East.

China has given aid to Vietnam worth more than $20 billion, but China did not succeed in holding back Vietnam. Its objective is regional hegemony, and it has hired itself out to the Soviet Union, while the Soviet Union has exploited the ambitions of Vietnam to realize its aggression. Now Vietnam controls Laos. It is launching a war of aggression against Cambodia. It pursues policies against China.

The Soviet Union has made Vietnam dependent on the Soviet Union, and it exploits the dependency of Vietnam upon it to turn Vietnam into a military base in Southeast Asia for Soviet expansion in its contention for hegemony in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

In Vietnam, there already are naval and air bases constructed by you. The Soviet Union will go out to use these bases. Actually, the Soviet Union’s Pacific forces can push south 4000 kilometers from Vladivostok to use Cam Ranh Bay as its base. The Soviet Union obviously has gained a new favorable strategic position.

[Page 553]

So we hope that the problems between Vietnam and China and between Vietnam and Cambodia cannot merely be considered as their problems with China and Cambodia but must be viewed from the perspective of the Soviet overall strategic plan.


As to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, we have always maintained that the Korean people should solve their problems through peaceful and independent means, free from external interference. We hold that the U.N. Command should be abolished and that the U.S. should withdraw forces as early as possible. The U.S. policy of strengthening the forces of South Korea is not conducive to the peaceful reunification of Korea.


Now I would like to talk about bilateral relations.

(Foreign Minister Huang Hua begins to read from prepared text.)

With regard to the normalization of relations between China and the U.S., the two sides already held four rounds of talks in Peking. I am not prepared to deal with the details of these talks. I wish only to make a brief review and state our basic views.

In 1972, our two countries signed the historic Shanghai Communique. In recent years, particularly of late, professional exchanges between China and the U.S. have increased. This is a positive development welcomed by the Chinese and American peoples. However, the normalization of relations has long been stalemated as a result of the prolonged U.S. failure to make up its mind.

As Chinese leaders have pointed out to American friends on many occasions, there is a difference between normalized relations and the lack of normalized relations. Ultimately some issues can be resolved, and our bilateral relations can develop in an all-around way only with the early normalization of relations between our two countries.

In August of last year, the U.S. side presented a formula on the question of normalization which receded from its previous position. On that occasion, the Chinese side rejected the formula in explicit terms and stated its own views.

During his visit to China in May of this year, Dr. Brzezinski stated on behalf of President Carter that the U.S. side had accepted the three conditions—namely, severance of diplomatic relations with China, and he proposed that the two sides start negotiations in Peking.

We welcomed his statement and gave a positive response to the proposal for holding negotiations, and the two sides started negotiations. The Chinese side had expected that after study and consideration over a long period, the U.S. side would come up with a workable new [Page 554] formula which would demonstrate that it had really made up its mind to take measures to fulfill the three conditions for normalization of relations between our two countries.

But the real situation is disappointing. In the talks in Peking, the U.S. side all along was reluctant to make a clear statement on the crucial issues as to when and what concrete measures the U.S. side would take to implement the severance of diplomatic relations, the withdrawal of troops, and the abrogation of the Defense Treaty.

Although the U.S. side was very vague about its own ideas, what it has already put forward has led us to believe that by evading the crucial issues, the U.S. side intends to reproduce in a new form the formula already rejected by the Chinese side. Such an attitude of the U.S. side is certainly of no help to promoting fruitful negotiations.

What needs to be pointed out also is that, while engaged in negotiations on the question of normalization, the U.S. has sold large quantities of arms to the Chiang Clique and even seen fit to state that it will continue to provide military equipment to the Chiang Clique after normalization. Your insistence on such a policy of contravening the spirit of the Shanghai Communique and of interfering in China’s internal affairs only shows that you have not yet made up your mind to normalize Sino-U.S. relations.

The issue of Taiwan is a question crucial to the realization of the normalization of relations between China and the U.S. The position of China on this issue has been consistent and clear cut. The U.S. should clearly understand that this is a question concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that it is an important matter of principle. The Chinese side has always been firm and unshakeable on matters of principle. Chinese leaders have stated explicitly and openly on many occasions that there can be no “relaxation” or “flexibility” of the Chinese position with respect to the Taiwan issue. We are firmly opposed to any form of “two Chinas,” “one China—one Taiwan,” “one China—two governments,” and so on.

The Chinese people are determined to liberate Taiwan and fulfill the great task of reunifying the country, and no force on earth can stop them. As to when and in what way Taiwan will be liberated, it is entirely China’s internal affair which brooks no interference by other countries.

To settle the question of the normalization of relations between China and the U.S. according to the Japanese Formula is the highest concession and the greatest allowance we can make to the U.S. side. It is our hope that the U.S. side will no longer indulge in unrealistic thinking.

Last year, I conveyed a message from Premier Hua Kuo-feng to President Carter through you: To normalize relations between China [Page 555] and the U.S. is the common desire of both the Chinese and American peoples.5 And it has great significance for our common efforts to cope with the Polar Bear. The only workable way is for farsighted American statesmen to tackle the question of the relations between our two countries from a political and strategic perspective. Only thus will it be possible to realize the normalization of relations between the two countries at an early date.

(End of the prepared text)

With regard to the negotiations between our two countries in Peking, I only wish to state our basic views and position.

Secretary Vance: Thank you very much Mr. Minister for your instructive analysis of the international strategic position and the Chinese views of the world situation. I find a good deal of commonality between our views with respect to international strategic problems and to the prospects for the future.

Turning to the question of bilateral relations, I did not wish to comment in detail on the negotiations—discussions—which are going on in Peking between Ambassador Woodcock and Your Excellency.

I would, however, like to make brief reference to the important conversation between the President and Ambassador Ch’ai in the recent few days.6 The President said that it was his belief that this can be a very important year for relations between our two countries. He further said that if the talks are successful he is prepared to normalize relations without further delay. He went on to point out that these mutual efforts are not undertaken for brief or transient reasons but rather in the long-term historical interest of our two peoples.

He further stated that we, the U.S. will be willing to honor your three points. He said, he added, he stated clearly that the government of the People’s Republic of China needed to be ready to honor the need of the U.S. to demonstrate its dependability, credibility, integrity, and resolve as we change our relations with Taiwan and with the People’s Republic of China.

He then went on to review specific items relating to the three points. I will not review or restate that here because I know you have a very careful record of what was said by him in those very carefully chosen words.

I will ask, Mr. Minister, that you would review very carefully what the President had to say in the conversation with Ambassador Ch’ai.

Finally, Mr. Woodcock will be meeting with you again to continue his discussions after his return to Peking.

[Page 556]

Foreign Minister Huang Hua: We have taken note of the conversation between your President and Ambassador Ch’ai. Generally speaking, the normalization of relations between China and the U.S. must be based on equality—both of our countries are equal—and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, noninterference in the internal affairs of the other country, and mutual nonaggression. Only under these conditions can talks be fruitful.

As to other matters of primary concern in the normalization of relations, the Chinese side has repeatedly made clear its attitude, and I do not wish to go into detail here.7

(The Foreign Minister then led the Secretary to dinner.)

(Most of the dinner conversation was small talk. Following were the only substantive discussions.)


At dinner, Foreign Minister Hua abruptly raised the subject of Vietnam again, noting that he had discussed the Vietnam question in Peking with Foreign Minister Sonoda. Huang had pointed out that Vietnam had internal difficulties and the Soviet Union did not have the economic strength to give adequate assistance, so Vietnam asked for aid from all sources. Huang said that while the Soviet Union was strengthening military control over Vietnam, if others help Vietnam economically this would be a help to the Soviet Union. Huang said that he had told Minister Sonoda that China had spent $20 billion worth of assistance on Vietnam and China could not control it, so how could Japan “pull back” Vietnam with a few hundred million dollars? Huang went on to say that the Chinese think it is better to let the Soviet Union shoulder the Vietnam burden, because by this means Vietnam can learn a lesson because the differences between Vietnam and the Soviet Union would emerge earlier the less assistance Vietnam receives from others. In other words, Huang said, giving economic aid to Vietnam means supporting the Soviet Union. He concluded by saying that Vietnam had “gone quite far in hiring itself out to the Soviet Union.”

Secretary Vance asked how many troops Vietnam had in Cambodia; was it a large number or not?

[Page 557]

Foreign Minister Hua replied that Vietnam had 50,000 troops moving toward the Cambodian border. He said there are about two divisions fighting in other areas. Along the border there are 15 divisions of troops. Huang said that Vietnam is engaged in propaganda, charging that China is moving troops to the Vietnam border, with Hanoi saying that Vietnam is threatened with invasion. That is “nothing but complete lies,” Huang said. Vietnam’s purpose is to divert attention and to cover up its invasion of Cambodia when the dry season begins at the end of October or in early November.

Mr. Holbrooke noted that, as mentioned in our discussions with the PRC Liaison Office in Washington, we have said in all our discussions with Vietnam that the United States is not in a position even to consider aid to Vietnam. He said also that we had made clear our concern over any action that would contribute to instability in the region.

Regarding the Vietnamese attitude toward the Soviet Union, Mr. Holbrooke offered his personal view, on the basis of his discussions with the Vietnamese in New York and previously in Paris, that the Vietnamese leaders, in all their conversations, express a “great fear” of the Soviet Union.

Foreign Minister Hua responded that it will take time for the Vietnamese to draw the proper lessons from their relationship with the Soviet Union. He noted that the two parties are now on their honeymoon.

Mr. Holbrooke commented that if this was a honeymoon, then it didn’t presage a very good marriage. He added that the ASEAN countries have also stressed that they do not want Soviet-Vietnamese relations to impair stability in the region. (In the course of this discussion PRC Permanent Representative Ambassador Chen revealed that he was not even aware of the name of the new SRV Ambassador to the U.N., and it developed that none of his staff knew the name either.)

Horn of Africa

Foreign Minister Hua commented that there were 3,000 South Yemen troops now in Ethiopia. When the Secretary asked if the Eritreans were beginning to counter-attack the Ethiopian Government forces, Huang said that the Eritreans had lost the main cities and were now engaged in guerilla warfare in the countryside, with small units acting mainly to cut off communication lines, especially highways.


Foreign Minister Hua asked the Secretary about Iran. The Secretary said that the Shah had cracked down hard on the dissidents. He said that the religious groups had been taken over by what the Iranians now believe to be Soviet agents. The Shah was much concerned that these agents had changed the nature of the opposition but the Shah [Page 558] feels now that the situation is getting under control. There is no doubt that the Shah faces a number of problems, including protest by religious groups, but the real concern arises from the way these protesters were used. The Secretary noted that Huang visited Iran recently and asked for his reaction. Huang said that the Shah thought that he must liberalize the country, but liberalization leads to many problems.

Secretary Vance mentioned that he had met with the Iranian Foreign Minister that afternoon and had discussed internal events.


Foreign Minister Hua volunteered that the Iranians were very much concerned about Afghanistan, particularly their infiltration into Bachustan. The Secretary said that the situation in Afghanistan has become much clearer in the last few weeks, and there was no longer much doubt about the direction in which the new government is moving. Huang said that in talks with the Shah it was noted that Peter the Great had made clear the Soviet’s determination to find a path to the Indian Ocean.

The Secretary asked Huang how the Shah had seemed to the Chinese during their visit. Was his spirit good?

Foreign Minister Hua replied that Chairman Hua had asked if the Shah rested at noontime. The Shah had answered that he lay down but that he was not able to fall asleep.


When the Secretary raised this topic, Huang said that the Chinese had the impression that Romania’s and Yugoslavia’s geography placed them in an unfavorable situation, under direct threat from the Soviet Union. However, these countries had great resolve to defend their independence and sovereignty; so if other countries give appropriate support their position can be strengthened. He added that Ministerial groups had been established to organize expansion of trade between China and Yugoslavia and China and Romania. Huang said there would be a “fixed volume” but he couldn’t remember the figures. Huang noted that the Soviet Union was very unhappy about Chairman Hua’s visit to those two countries; the Soviet Union had attacked them but these attacks were refuted by the Balkan governments.

Foreign Minister Hua told the Secretary that President Tito had said that Yugoslavia was a sovereign state and that the Soviet Union, in criticizing Chairman Hua’s visit, was practicing hegemony. Huang said that Tito was in very good health at 86 but that he sometimes uses a walking stick. He mentioned that Tito uses an electric cart, for instance, apparently like a golf cart.

[Page 559]

Mr. Holbrooke told Huang that President Tito had told the United States that he was very pleased with Chairman Hua’s trip. Huang, recalling Chairman Mao’s theory on the “single line” running east, south, and west of China, pointed out that the three countries Chairman Hua had visited were all along this line.8 He said that this was the reason why the Soviet Union was so angered by the Chairman’s trip.


Neither Huang nor the Secretary attempted any formal toast, limiting themselves to a very few low-key, polite words.

Press Handling

As the dinner ended, it was agreed that we would characterize the talks as “useful” and as having covered both global and bilateral subjects of common interest.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 51, Chron: 10/1–7/78. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Alpha. The meeting took place at the PRC United Nations Mission.
  2. For Vance’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 29, see Department of State Bulletin, November 1978, pp. 45–50.
  3. In his address, Hua focused on Soviet hegemony. (“China Attacks Soviets at U.N.,” The Washington Post, September 29, 1978, p. A23)
  4. Memoranda of conversation of Holbrooke’s September 22 and September 27 meetings with Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 44, Meetings: 10/1–6/78.
  5. See footnote 7, Document 111.
  6. See Document 135.
  7. Oksenberg excerpted the normalization section of this memorandum of conversation and, in a covering memorandum to Brzezinski, wrote, “These are negative remarks, tough and not promising. But they should not deter us from pursuing the course on which we are already set—namely to make our three presentations (one still remains to be made) and to table the draft communiqué, at which point we will find out whether stiff Chinese rhetoric will begin to yield under the situation of actual negotiations over a specific text.” (Memorandum from Oksenberg to Brzezinski, October 5; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 51, Chron: 10/1–7/78)
  8. See footnote 7, Document 5.