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


  • Leonard’s December 4th Meeting

Leonard had a fruitful meeting with Acting Foreign Minister Han Nien-lung on December 4th.2 (Foreign Minister Huang Hua has pneumonia.)

We received the Chinese response on the three issues of concern to us:

On our separate non-contradictory statements at the time of normalization: “We can refrain from raising objections to statements by U.S. government leaders expressing their hope to see a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. But in that event the Chinese side will issue a statement declaring that the way of bringing Taiwan back to the embrace of the motherland and reunifying the country is wholly a Chinese internal affair.” In short, the Chinese promise not to contradict our statement and theirs will not refer to forceful recovery.3

On maintenance of commercial and cultural ties with Taiwan through non-governmental means: The Chinese appear to realize this issue is now settled, but they have now asked that “all the so-called official agreements4 concluded with (Taiwan) must be declared null and void.” Additional negotiations are necessary to establish an understanding on how our agreements with Taiwan will be maintained in altered form.

On arms sales to Taiwan: “We have stated our emphatic objection to the U.S. expressed intention of continuing its arms sales to Taiwan after normalization. . . . Since the U.S. is going to establish diplomatic relations with China and change its former China policy, why must it continue to arm the Chiang clique?” The wording strongly implies a Chinese acknowledgement that arms sales will continue; the Chinese “object” but will not let the fact prevent normalization. We will propose a way by which Leonard can test whether this inference is accurate.5

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On the whole, these responses are encouraging. While complete agreement on the three issues has not yet been reached, agreement now exists on the basic dimensions of the normalization formula. Two other positive developments occurred:

—The Chinese tabled a joint communique.6 Hard negotiations on that document now commence. The Chinese accepted the January 1st target date for announcement of recognition.

—Teng Hsiao-ping has asked Leonard to call on him soon.

Issues for Decision:

We are in striking distance of normalization and the Chinese seem prepared to move swiftly in negotiations.

The immediate issues for us to decide concern Leonard’s meeting with Teng:

Should Leonard request that his meeting with Teng be kept private or be made public? A publicly announced meeting will signal that normalization may be at hand.7

What instructions should be given to Leonard concerning points he should make with Teng. This is an opportunity not to be lost. We are inclined to recommend talking points for your approval which would summarize the areas of agreement and tag the remaining areas to be worked out: 1) How we alter the U.S. agreements now in force with Taiwan; 2) The date upon which embassies will be established; 3) What the text of the communique will actually be; 4) What precisely each side will say upon issuance of the communique.8

—Should Leonard be prepared to table a revised, short and business like communique for Teng’s consideration, should the opportunity present itself?9

—Should Leonard raise the possibility of Teng visiting the United States at the time the joint communique is issued or soon thereafter—encouraging the Chinese to drop their rigid posture that they will not visit here until their embassy actually opens?

We will have a paper for you on these issues tomorrow morning,10 since we believe Leonard’s meeting with Teng will occur soon. Mean[Page 621]while, we must now begin to plan for the Congressional consultations, consultations with Taiwan and Japan, and the public campaign. And State must get cracking to make sure all the legal fine points are ready to go in one month’s time.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 51, Chron: 12/6–13/78. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A handwritten “C” at the top of the page indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.
  2. Carter underlined “fruitful meeting.” For Woodcock’s meeting with Han, see Document 159.
  3. Carter wrote, “ok” next to this paragraph.
  4. Carter underlined “official agreements” and wrote a question mark in the margin.
  5. Carter wrote, “ok” next to this paragraph.
  6. The Chinese draft of the joint normalization communiqué was transmitted in backchannel message 215; see footnote 2, Document 159.
  7. In the right margin, Carter wrote, “my present thoughts,” and then drew an arrow to the words “private better,” which he wrote next to this paragraph about whether the meeting with Deng should be kept private.
  8. In the right margin, Carter wrote, “ok” next to this paragraph.
  9. In the right margin, Carter wrote, “yes” next to this and the next paragraph.
  10. No such paper has been found.