166. Backchannel Message From the Chief of the Liaison Office in China (Woodcock) to Secretary of State Vance and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

224. Subject: My Meeting With Teng Hsiao-ping December 13. Ref: WH81595, Peking 223.2

1. Summary. My session with Teng December 13, during which I made the full presentation contained in my instructions, revealed the following:

A. Joint communiqué: Teng accepted our draft but proposed the inclusion of an anti-hegemony clause. Alternatively, anti-hegemony phraseology could be included in the separate statements to be made by each side when the communiqué is issued. Teng agreed the communiqué should be issued on January 1, 1979.

B. Visit by Chinese leader. Teng accepted the President’s invitation and said he would lead the Chinese delegation to Washington in January.3

C. Troop withdrawals. Teng said the U.S. proposal to remove troops and military installations within four months is acceptable. Teng clarified that this four month period was unrelated to the U.S. position on sales of defensive arms to Taiwan.

D. Mutual Defense Treaty. Teng asked that we make no reference to Article 10 in announcing our intention to terminate the Treaty.4 After clarifying that the Treaty would technically remain in effect for one [Page 631] year, he asked that the U.S. make no sales of defensive weapons to Taiwan during this period.

E. Period for adjusting relations with Taiwan. Teng clarified that this period would extend until December 31, 1979 and raised no objections to this time frame. In addition, Teng proposed we exchange the texts of our respective unilateral statements beforehand. He indicated the Chinese statement would be very brief. He proposed that I work out remaining details with Vice Ministers Han and Chang, following which he would like to meet with me again. He agreed our meeting should be given no publicity.

2. Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping received me in the Kiangsu Hall of the Great Hall of the People at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, December 13. He was accompanied by Vice Foreign Minister Han Nien-lung (still Acting Minister) and Vice Foreign Minister Chang Wen-chin. Lien Cheng-pao was the notetaker and Shih Yen-hua handled the interpreting. The meeting lasted approximately an hour and twenty-five minutes.

3. After some opening pleasantries, Teng said: On December 11 Dr. Brzezinski met with Ch’ai Tse-min, the Chief of the PRC Liaison Office, and mentioned that you would tell us the ideas of the U.S. Government (on normalization).5 So I am ready to listen.

4. I then made the full presentation contained in my instructions (reftel), including the optional language at the end of sentence 31.6 In conclusion, I noted once again that I was prepared to table a new draft of a joint normalization communiqué. I then handed Teng four copies of the draft communiqué, which Teng asked the interpreter to translate into Chinese.7 As she did so, he asked her to repeat certain phrases. Our exchanges then continued as follows:

5. Teng: In the first part of the presentation you explained U.S. views on the question of normalization of relations between our two countries. First you said that the people of the U.S. and people of Taiwan will maintain unofficial non-governmental relations. But then you said that you would maintain cultural, commercial and other non-official relations. Why should these two points be stated separately? [Page 632] Why didn’t you put them in the one sentence? (Note: Teng here was referring to sentences 10 and 11 in my instructions.)8

6. Woodcock: They follow together. I could have read them together. They are together in our paper. (Teng asked if they were in one paragraph. I answered that they were in two paragraphs but could just as well have been in one.)

7. Teng: I would suggest that you follow the pattern in the communiqué and put them in one sentence. That is, the people of The United States will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. (Discussion among the Chinese.) There is one other point I could like to ask you to clarify. You said that the U.S. was prepared to withdraw its military presence from Taiwan before Dec. 31, 1979 and suggested that our two sides exchange Ambassadors and establish Embassies by March 1, 1979. Although we do not know clearly the logistical process of the United States, when you have already severed your diplomatic relations with Taiwan as from Jan. 1, 1979 and notified Taiwan that you would terminate your Defense Treaty with it, since the Treaty is already terminated as well as your relations with Taiwan, why should it take one year to withdraw your military presence from Taiwan?

8. Woodcock: Mr. Vice Premier, we are proposing that we break diplomatic relations as of Jan. 1, 1979. We would at the same time give notice of termination of the Treaty. That notice runs for one year. But we would propose to withdraw all troops and military installations within four months. That would not run for a year. The year reference relates to the steps the U.S. side would take as internal arrangements to create the necessary mechanisms to maintain normal trade relations on a people-to-people basis; it would have nothing to do with troops or military installations.

9. Teng: Your proposal to withdraw all of your troops and military installations in less than four months is acceptable to us, but I would like to clarify another question. Does it have anything to do with the proposal of the U.S. side, as presented in the last meeting,9 to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons? What is the linkage between the two?

10. Woodcock: Those are two separate matters.

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11. Teng: Fine. It is acceptable. First about the draft communiqué. I think there is one difference between your draft and our draft. In your draft the wording refers briefly to the principles of the Shanghai Communiqué, while in our draft we have stated clearly the anti-hegemony clause. This is the one difference. Otherwise I think the U.S. draft is basically acceptable to the Chinese side. If our two sides can restate the anti-hegemony clause in our joint communiqué, I think it would add weight to the impact of the communiqué, which would have greater significance to the world. So I am proposing this for the consideration of the U.S. Government. To repeat and state it more clearly: Your draft is acceptable to the Chinese side. But if we can add this paragraph on the anti-hegemony clause and make a clear statement to this effect, it would be more beneficial, so we hope you will consider this point.10

12. Woodcock: We will certainly transmit that to Washington and to the President and make very clear the seriousness the Vice Premier attaches to this question.

13. Teng: Of course, to reflect the anti-hegemony clause in the communiqué is one way. There is also another way. In the separate statements of the two governments we can express the principle of fighting against hegemonism. In that event, the Chinese side would make a corresponding statement whose main content, as you were told last time by Acting Foreign Minister Han, would be that the way of bringing Taiwan into the embrace of the Motherland and reunifying the country is wholly a Chinese internal affair. The other point would be our opposition to hegemonism. Because if the statement of the U.S. President, and I believe that your statement would be made by your President, makes no mention of this point, this point of anti-hegemony, then world public opinion would speculate that there may be differences between our two sides on this point. So I think that if this point is reflected in our joint communiqué, then it need not be mentioned in the statements of our two sides.

14. Woodcock: I understand. I will communicate your views to the President.

15. Teng: I hope I have made my point clear. That is, this draft is acceptable to the Chinese side, but it would be best to include an anti-hegemony clause in the communiqué.11 If this cannot be done, then we can include this common point in our separate statements. So much for the joint communiqué. The communiqué and the statements will be issued at the same time I believe, but I hope that our two sides [Page 634] will exchange our separate statements beforehand.12 Our statement will be very brief. It includes two main points. Of course we will not include what has already been said in the communiqué. We may say it in other words. By that I mainly refer to our assessment of the significance of the establishment of relations between our two countries in our two statements. On this point we can consult each other and reach agreement. Because the statements and communiqué are interrelated, they are one question. Secondly, we agree to the time of the issuance of the communiqué and the statements, that is, January 1, 1979.13 I think it is a very good date. Thirdly, in our statement we will say that I personally have accepted the invitation of the U.S. Government to lead a delegation of the Chinese Government to Washington in January. I believe that in your President’s statement you will say that you have invited a high-level Chinese leader to Washington. So we will say in our statement that we have accepted the invitation of the U.S. Government to visit Washington; to be specific, I will go there.

16. Woodcock: We are delighted.

17. Teng: Dr. Breezinski invited either Premier Hua Kuo-feng or the Vice Premier, and we have decided that I will go there. Of course there will be others on the delegation, including Foreign Minister Huang Hua and others, but we have not worked out the list yet. As for your proposal that you will terminate your diplomatic relations with Taiwan and notify Taiwan that you will terminate your Defense Treaty with it as from Jan. 1, 1979, and in less than four months you will withdraw your troops and military installations from the island, we agree to that, and we can reach agreement on that point. But we suggest that you make no mention of Article 10 of that treaty.14

18. Woodcock: In what way? I don’t understand.

19. Teng: Because according to that article you have to notify the other side a year before it is terminated, so in other words, if you mention this Article 10 of the Defense Treaty it means that the Treaty will remain valid for one year more.

20. Woodcock: It would have a technical validity but no more. We intend to terminate it in accordance with its terms because of internal considerations in the United States. It is clear that the President has the right to terminate the Treaty in accordance with its terms, but if we [Page 635] went into other matters, that could involve other branches of the U.S. Government which we want to avoid.

21. Teng: I wonder whether it is possible for you not to quote Article 10 of the Defense Treaty either in your statement or in any other manner.15 You can handle this matter internally. Because otherwise it could easily lead to misunderstanding that the Treaty is abrogated in name but still exists in reality.

22. Woodcock: This of course is a legal question as far as the American side is concerned, and I am not a lawyer. But it is my understanding that in giving notice the article would have to be cited which would then, in the course of time, bring the Treaty to an end, although the action itself, as far as the American public are concerned, would be considered as having taken place.

23. Teng: I think you could study this question to see if it is possible for you not to quote this article but just go ahead. The reason is, as I have said just now, that you will cause some misunderstanding if the Treaty is abrogated only in name but exists in reality. If you make no mention of this article, we can evade this point even if it will take about one year to complete the legal processes. It doesn’t matter to us.

24. Vice Minister Chang: I think you have already fully understood what the Vice Premier is putting to you, that lawyers may be able to solve this problem.

25. Woodcock: We will ask them to take a look at it. (I then briefly reviewed some of the domestic considerations in the United States that make our handling of the Treaty a sensitive matter.)

26. Teng: We understand your point, but we hope that during this period of one year the U.S. will refrain from selling weapons to Taiwan because it would cause a lot of trouble.16 Because this is a most sensitive issue, I hope you will communicate this point to your President.

27. Woodcock: I will.

28. Teng: If such an understanding is reached we can agree to your word “terminate.” One other point concerns agreement on the text of the communiqué and exchange of our separate statements. It is necessary for us to discuss the modalities of issuing the communiqué, because there is not much time left now. When agreement is reached on the text of the communiqué, then the question arises who will sign this communiqué. If the U.S. Government authorizes you to put your signature on the communiqué in Peking, it will be quite all right. On the Chi[Page 636]nese side, our Foreign Minister will sign this document. If the U.S. has other ideas, we can discuss them.

29. Woodcock: I wish to be absolutely clear as to what the Vice Premier is saying on the question of termination and sale of arms. Could the Premier restate the Chinese position? Is it that the Chinese side will accept the word “terminate” if it were accompanied by an agreement on the U.S. side not to sell arms? This is what I’m not clear on.

30. Teng: This is exactly the point we want to put to you because it will take one year legally to terminate this Treaty, and if during this period you continue to sell arms to Taiwan, it will mean that the U.S. is continuing to carry out the Treaty provisions.

31. Woodcock: Now it is clear to me.

32. Teng: I believe that we agree with each other on all other points.

33. Woodcock: We will communicate the problems that we still have and attempt to get an answer as quickly as possible. Because time is short. January 1 is a good date, but it may be a little ambitious since there is still much to be done.

34. Teng: For specific matters, as you know, Foreign Minister Huang Hua is still hospitalized. We will let him take a good rest. We’ll ask Vice Minister Han and Vice Minister Chang to discuss with you specific matters concerning the communiqué, and if there are new questions for clarification on either side we can discuss them and work them out. We can make the decisions in Peking, but you need instruction from Washington. So when everything is settled, including the modalities of signing the communiqué, which present no difficulties from the Chinese side, I will wish to meet with you once again. (Exchange between Teng and Chang in Chinese on Article 10.)

35. Teng (continuing): I would like to make one point clear to you. That is when we say that we agree to the word “terminate” with respect to the Treaty, we mean that it is on the condition that you will not sell arms to Taiwan during this period and also that you will not quote Article 10 in the statement on the Treaty. We hope that you will avoid this point.17

36. Woodcock: I understand.

37. Teng: It would be best to include the anti-hegemony clause in the communiqué.18

38. Woodcock: We understand your position.

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39. Teng: Here I wish to express our gratitude to President Carter, Dr. Brzezinski and Secretary Cyrus Vance for their very active attitude on this matter so that the process of normalization is accelerated. And I also wish you to convey the regards of Premier Hua Kuo-feng and myself to them on this matter. I hope that our two sides will reach agreement or understanding on the remaining details. I hope that our wish will come true on the best date, that is January first. Perhaps on that date, in your country, it will still be during the night, while here in Peking it will be morning. (Discussion among the Chinese on the time difference between Washington and Peking.) That means that we’ll issue the communiqué at nine in the evening here and you will do so at eight in the morning in Washington. So you issue your statement at eight in the morning and we at nine in the evening on the same day. But the whole process has to be completed before eight in the morning Washington time. And of course we hope it can be completed by the day before, on the eve of New Year’s Day. But the details you can discuss with the Vice Foreign Ministers.

40. Woodcock: Your Excellency. One final point. Because of our internal political problems, the President has instructed me to request that there be no public reference to this meeting, because if it is known that Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping met the Chief of the Liaison Office, many people will be jumping to conclusions in Washington.

41. Teng: There will be publicity about this meeting.19 As I have said, it is easier to keep a secret in China than in the United States. But if this great problem is solved during Your Excellency’s tenure, I believe that our two peoples will be grateful to you.

42. Woodcock: I would consider it an honor in history for that to happen, for I truly believe that friendship and normalization between our two nations is necessary for the peace of this world.

43. Teng: I believe that it (normalization) will have greater importance than the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Dr. Brzezinski said to Ambassador Chai that this is a political question, and I think that he has put this point very well. When you have received instructions from Washington, contact the Vice Minister. When you have come to the end of your discussion, I will meet you again.

44. The meeting ended at 11:25 A.M.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 47, China: Normalization with PRC: Incoming Cables: 12/78. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Via Voyager Channels. Carter underlined numerous passages in this telegram and, at the top of the first page, wrote, “Zbig. J.” Brzezinski recalled that the cable arrived the morning of December 13 and he “immediately” went to the President’s office and told him the news. (Power and Principle, p. 230)
  2. Backchannel message WH81595 from the White House to Beijing, December 12, transmitted instructions for Woodcock’s meeting with Deng. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 47, China: Normalization with PRC: Outgoing Cables: 12/78) Backchannel message 223 from Beijing to the White House, December 12, conveyed Woodcock’s report that he would be meeting Deng the next day in the morning. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 51, Negotiations: 12/78)
  3. In the right margin next to this paragraph, Carter drew an arrow to it and wrote, “Late in January.”
  4. Article 10 of the U.S.–ROC Mutual Defense Treaty reads: “This Treaty shall remain in force indefinitely. Either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other party.”
  5. See Document 163.
  6. The optional language for Woodcock’s presentation reads, “Thus, as of January 1, we would cease to have an Embassy in Taipei and the U.S. would no longer recognize a Taiwan Embassy in Washington.”
  7. Backchannel message WH81579 from the White House to Beijing, December 7, contains the draft joint communiqué for Woodcock to present. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 47, China: Normalization with PRC: Outgoing Cables: 12/78)
  8. In the instructions in telegram WH81595 to Beijing, sentences 10 and 11 read: “Third, the American and Taiwan people will maintain relations without official governmental representation and without diplomatic relations. Fourth, normalization will not preclude the American people from maintaining all the commercial, cultural, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan which I described to Acting Foreign Minister Han on December 4.”
  9. See Document 159. During that meeting, the Chinese also tabled a draft communiqué.
  10. Brzezinski drew a line in the margin next to this sentence and wrote, “We could say we believe in a world of diversity.” Carter drew an arrow to this sentence and wrote, “I’m doubtful on this if it patently aggravates the Soviets.”
  11. Carter drew an arrow to this sentence and wrote, “no.”
  12. Carter underlined, “at the same time” and wrote, “a problem because of inevitable U.S. leaks.”
  13. Carter wrote, “1/1/79 ok,” and drew a line to the word “communiqué,” which he circled. He also wrote, “I prefer as early as possible,” and drew a line to “statements,” which he circled. He underlined, “that is, January 1, 1979.”
  14. Carter wrote, “In communiqué? If so, ok,” and drew an arrow to this last sentence.
  15. Carter wrote, “ok,” and drew an arrow to this sentence.
  16. Carter underlined, “that during this period of one year” and in the margin wrote, “Let’s make plans to try to accommodate this.”
  17. In the right margin next to this sentence, Carter wrote, “In our public explanations we cannot avoid this. Make this clear. We can omit exact statement from communiqué & maybe from the officially exchanged statements.”
  18. Carter drew an arrow to “anti-hegemony” and wrote, “I think not, unless Shanghai Communiqué language is followed exactly.”
  19. Carter underlined, “There will be publicity about” and wrote “‘no’?” in the right margin to indicate that this sentence should read, “There will be no publicity about.” In his diary entry for December 13, Carter recorded that when he told Senator Byrd about Deng’s acceptance of the U.S. draft communiqué, Byrd “said that anytime I brief senators it wouldn’t be a secret more than five minutes.” (White House Diary, p. 263)