141. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Talking Points for Your Meeting with Ambassador Leonard Woodcock on October 11 at 1:15 p.m.

Ambassador Leonard Woodcock will call on you primarily to talk about the China policy, although he may wish to discuss U.S. domestic politics as well.2 I know, for example, that he has had discussions with Don Fraser, of the United Auto Workers, about the UAW’s views of our Administration.

Concerning China policy, Woodcock, as you know, has had four sessions in Peking,3 attended Cy’s meeting with Huang Hua at the [Page 564] UNGA on October 3, and has read the memcon of your meeting with Ambassador Ch’ai Tse-min.4

He would like to discuss at least these three issues with you:

—Whether you desire a specific and explicit Chinese assurance that we can continue arms sales to Taiwan after normalization, or whether an implicit agreement to this effect will suffice.5

—Whether Leonard should table a draft communique by the end of this month or early next month, the purpose of which would be to engage the Chinese in a concrete discussion on the modalities of normalization and thereby to remove the discussions from their currently somewhat abstract realm.6

—Whether you prefer to end the Defense Treaty with Taiwan through a Presidential announcement that it automatically lapses with recognition of the PRC, or whether you prefer to terminate the Treaty through its own provisions by giving the ROC a one year notice.7

My own position on these issues is:

—That an implicit agreement on arms sales should suffice, providing the Chinese clearly understand that you will be informing the American people at the time of normalization that we will be continuing our arms sales to Taiwan, that the PRC clearly understands this, and that they are still willing to establish full diplomatic relations with us. We recognize that it will be impossible to obtain an explicit Chinese approval of these arms sales.

—You should approve a draft communique which he and the Chinese can then begin to negotiate. If he has some recommended language, you would welcome receiving it before his departure for China.

—I have no recommendation on the best way for terminating the Defense Treaty. I personally defer to Cy’s judgment on this issue, and I understand that he is currently inclined toward terminating the Treaty through its own provisions.

Talking Points

In addition to the specific items above, you might wish to make the following additional points:

—You remain committed to the idea of normalization, though you are prepared to be patient and are in no particular hurry. You still see advantage in normalizing relations with China in this term, but you [Page 565] would only do so if the terms are acceptable and the Chinese indicate a willingness to take into account our needs.

—You appreciate the excellent job which Leonard has been doing in conducting the negotiations. Does he have anything in particular which he desires to report to you about those negotiations?

—Are there any actions in the consultative or bilateral realms which he believes we should undertake in the months ahead?

—What are his views on the arms sales, the draft communique, and the Treaty termination issues?

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 44, Meetings: 10/7–31/78. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Alpha; Outside the System. Sent for action. The date is handwritten.
  2. On October 11, Carter met with Brzezinski and Woodcock from 1:15 until 1:28 p.m., at which time they were joined by Mrs. Woodcock for 7 minutes of conversation. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found, although Oksenberg references a memorandum of conversation in Document 327. In his memoirs, Brzezinski noted that the President reached “two important decisions” during the meeting: “he told Woodcock that we would not move on Vietnam, which I had prompted Woodcock to bring up with the President, and a few days later the President accepted Oksenberg’s and my suggestion that we submit a draft communiqué on normalization to the Chinese as a way of establishing the seriousness of our intent.” (Power and Principle, p. 229)
  3. For Woodcock’s first two meetings, see footnotes 2 and 3, Document 127. When Brzezinski gave Carter Woodcock’s report on his third meeting with Huang Hua on August 11, Brzezinski wrote, “Initial Chinese reaction, much as expected: tough but not foreclosing.” In reply, Carter wrote, “Tell Leonard & others to hang tough—not to be in any hurry. We must protect US interests & integrity.” In his report, Woodcock had commented that Huang “was in a somewhat truculent mood, although not really unfriendly.” Woodcock noted that despite disagreements during the meeting, “It is at least moderately encouraging that in his long list of things that the U.S. must renounce, Huang avoided any explicit reference to arms sales. While official military ties [with Taiwan] must come to an end, he may be indicating a loophole for some form of access to U.S. arms.” (Backchannel message 189 from Beijing, August 11; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 46, China: Normalization, 6–12/78) After Woodcock’s fourth meeting with Huang, he wrote, “Clearly the arms sales issue will be a difficult one to surmount, but for the moment the Chinese do not seem to be slamming the normalization door in our face over this issue, even while sketching out a position that is substantially at odds with our own.” (Backchannel message 199 from Beijing, September 15; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 44, Meetings: 9/1–16/78)
  4. For Vance’s meeting with Huang Hua, see Document 138. For Carter’s meeting with Chai, see Document 135.
  5. Carter wrote at the end of this paragraph, “implicit.”
  6. Carter wrote at the end of this paragraph, “yes.”
  7. Carter wrote at the end of this paragraph, “own provisions.”