149. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Woodcock’s Round Five—A Commentary

Here is my reaction to today’s report from Peking:2

The fifth round was the most business-like to date. Chinese rhetoric was at a minimum. None of the negativism of the Vance–Huang UNGA meeting was there.3 The talks have entered a serious stage. The Chinese seek more detail on the nature of our post-normalization relations with Taiwan.

The session shows that it has taken longer than I would have guessed for the Chinese accurately to understand how serious we are. They have yet to reveal their quick and agile minds. Either this is part of their negotiating strategy or else they are less clever than we credit them as being. Increasingly I am inclined toward the latter explanation.

Three developments occurred:

—We completed our presentation and tabled our communique.4

—We asked for a specific Chinese response to the three issues we have raised.

—The Chinese raised five questions to which they seek a response:

• We have referred to an interim period which would follow the issuance of the recognition communique, during which we would be altering our relations with Taiwan. The Chinese wish to know what is meant by “interim period,” how long it would last, and when it would begin.

[Page 584]

• When we say we will maintain trade, cultural, and other relations with Taiwan, what will be the nature of these relations and what do these relations involve?

• When we say the United States intends to maintain a non-governmental representation on Taiwan, what will be its task, of whom will it be composed, and what will be its relationship to the U.S. Government and the Taiwan authorities?

• When we say legislative adjustments are necessary in order to alter our relations with Taiwan, what are the implications of these adjustments?

• When we say we intend to continue the same access for Taiwan products to the U.S., what does this mean?

Tasks for Round Six:

Teng Hsiao-p’ing and Huang Hua return from their trip to Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore in mid-November. We should send Leonard’s next instructions by COB on Friday, November 10.

We must decide on our basic approach for Round Six. My own inclination is now to lay back, and let the Chinese first respond to our broad questions before responding to their more detailed and somewhat technical questions. Woodcock should not ask for the next meeting but indicate that he is prepared to meet when the Chinese wish it.

But Woodcock’s instructions should contain answers to the five questions which the Chinese have raised. Prior to that, State must decide which of two alternatives (private corporation or federally chartered corporation) it recommends as the mode of our non-governmental representation on Taiwan. State, DOD (Brown only?), [less than 1 line not declassified] must help us decide how long an interim period is necessary before all the necessary adjustments—including an orderly removal of our remaining military personnel and installations—can be completed.

With Holbrooke out of the country, I propose to meet with Hansell on Friday and work over the weekend to prepare draft instructions for Round Six along the lines outlined above.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Presidential Advisory Board, Box 77, Sensitive X: 1–9/78. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Alpha; Outside the System. Sent for information. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. In backchannel message 205 from Beijing, November 2, Woodcock described his most recent meeting with Huang Hua: “His questions demonstrated that the Chinese side is paying increasing attention to the details of our presentations. Significantly, too, this is the first session at which Huang avoided a polemical repetition of Chinese positions.” Woodcock concluded, “Overall, the session went very well. The Chinese have heard the main elements of our approach, seem to be treating our intentions with increasing seriousness, and give every evidence of wanting to continue the dialogue.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 45, Meetings: 11/1–2/78)
  3. See Document 138.
  4. Attached to Document 142.
  5. Brzezinski checked the Approve option. Draft instructions for Woodcock’s sixth meeting, dated November 10, are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 46, China: Normalization: 6–12/78.