144. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Review Committee (China S&T) (Press) to President Carter1


  • US–PRC S&T Relationships

You asked that the existing Policy Review Committee, under my chairmanship, review our prospective S&T programs with China. We have developed an action plan area-by-area. All relevant agencies have participated in the review process, as well as in interdepartmental task forces which considered specific projects. All the agencies concur in this action plan.2

Following your instructions that we move ahead in student exchanges, energy, and satellite launching programs, the following actions were taken:

Jim Schlesinger communicated his desired agenda for his Peking talks scheduled for mid-October and the Chinese have replied. He will discuss in detail programs for US assistance and training for PRC development of energy resources, including coal, oil, and gas; electric power generation (hydroelectric, geothermal, and nuclear); as well as programs for cooperation in the high energy physics area. Special attention has been given to questions of non-proliferation and export controls in the interagency clearance process for this visit (for additional details, see Tab I).3

Dick Atkinson, head of the National Science Foundation, is now receiving a counterpart Chinese Delegation for the purposes of reaching a government-to-government understanding about student exchanges. We anticipate at least 500 Chinese students here by next fall, and 100 American students in China. The cost will be borne by the sending country. The US government role is to negotiate the framework within which our academic community can develop relationships with the Chinese on their own and to maintain a coordination and information structure. (Further details are at Tab II).

Bob Frosch, head of NASA, has invited a Chinese Space Delegation to visit the United States in November to discuss the purchase and [Page 573] reimbursable launch services for a geosynchronous telecommunications satellite. We intend to minimize technology transfer and COCOM problems by offering a relatively low capacity satellite. We also will offer to provide, on a reimbursable basis, a LANDSAT ground station and LANDSAT data use training (Tab III).

We propose to take the following additional actions:

Bob Bergland during his November visit will discuss information exchange, germ plasm exchange, and cooperation in biological control of insects (Tab IV).

• In medicine and public health, programs will be developed in the fields of research in cancer, infectious and parasitic diseases, medical information, and recombinant DNA molecules. This will be carried out through exchange of delegations and data and training programs. The first initiatives will be a National Cancer Institute invitation to the Chinese Academy of Medicine to receive a group here in October for discussions on cooperation in the cancer field (Tab V).

• The Department of Interior proposes training and joint study in the natural resources area. The Department will be proposing to its Chinese counterparts initial detailed discussions to be held later this year (Tab VI).

• The Department of Commerce will submit a general proposal for further detailed discussions to the PRC. These areas include metrology, oceanology, meteorology, fishery research and management, data center management and data interchange, patents, and scientific and technical information (Tab VII).

We do not propose to move ahead quite as rapidly in several other areas of Chinese interest because (1) we wish to pace developments appropriately and because (2) some of these areas include sensitive topics in the space and aeronautical areas; for example, the design and construction of wind tunnels.

An overview of the foreign policy implications of US–PRC S&T relationships is at Tab VIII. The overview, prepared by State, DOD, OSTP, and NSC, concludes that in implementing scientific and technology relationships with the PRC we should concentrate on less sensitive topics. We should also encourage programs that have long-term implications such as student exchanges, space cooperation, and energy development. Domestic and international reactions to relationships would be monitored throughout the process. Special care would be exercised in relationships with Peking, so that Chinese expectations are not raised for resources that would not be forthcoming, for example, for export controlled items. The program we have developed for your approval is precisely in keeping with these conclusions.

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Administration of Program

Budgeting: None of the activities, as currently defined, raises significant budgetary issues, since the PRC has said it will pay all costs associated with activities which benefit them. The US government will pay for activities we initiate and which benefit us, and agencies will carry out agreed programs within current FY 1979 and FY 1980 budget and personnel ceilings. Activities which would result in additional resource requirements in FY 1981 or beyond will be cleared through OMB before any commitments are made to the PRC.

Specifically with regard to all agency programs for exchange of personnel, visiting scholars, etc., the PRC is expected to pay for all travel, food and lodging associated with their participants in the US. The PRC will also reimburse agencies for direct costs and indirect costs associated with their residence in the US when the benefits accrue primarily to the PRC, to the extent that these costs are identifiable and that foreign policy objectives allow. The US or the sponsoring US private organization would pay for the costs of American participants in reciprocal programs in the PRC.

Coordination: During the initial period, activities will be reviewed by State, DOD, OMB, and other pertinent agencies through the existing Policy Review Committee which I chair. All proposals will be fully cleared by the interagency mechanism to ensure that concerns regarding export controls, contested waters and budgetary needs are taken into account.

National Security Concerns: We will continue to review export control issues through the interagency process.

Reciprocity: Implementing agencies have been instructed to seek all reasonable benefits to the United States as they develop programs.

I would summarize our approach as careful and cautious, but forthcoming. If you approve it, I will write to my Chinese counterpart, Fang Yi, Chairman of the National Scientific and Technical Commission, reviewing our understandings of each program. This will include actions underway, what we expect from them, and what remains in the planning stages. Detailed correspondence from each agency head to his Chinese counterpart would follow.


That you approve the above approach and authorize me to write to Fang Yi. All agencies concur.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 21, PD/NSC-43. Secret. Sent through Brzezinski. A handwritten “C” at the top of the page indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.
  2. The correspondence and agency responses referred to in this memorandum are in Carter Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 42, PRM–24 [1].
  3. Tabs I–VIII are ibid. Schlesinger visited China October 24–November 4.
  4. Carter checked the Approve option and initialed “J.”