168. 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
229. Ref: WH81605, WH81602.2
1. My meeting with Vice Premier Teng went extremely well. He did not challenge my presentation, and we reached agreement on the text of the joint communiqué with only minor wording changes.3 He said he had no objection to the text of our unilateral statement. He gave me the text of the Chinese unilateral statement, which is transmitted below. I plan to meet with Vice Minister Chang Wen-chin morning, December 15, to go over the Chinese and English texts of the joint communiqué and our respective statements. The Chinese are interested in our [Page 643] views on handling the formal exchange of communiqués on January 1.4 Teng was clearly elated by the outcome of our session, called this a most important matter, and asked that his personal thanks be conveyed to the President, Secretary Vance and Dr. Brzezinski.
2. I arrived a few minutes late for my 9 P.M. session with Teng since the changes in my instructions arrived at the last minute. I made the full presentation contained in my talking points, pausing at the appropriate points to read the texts of our revised draft joint communiqué and of our proposed unilateral statement (both modified as instructed by WH81605). I provided copies of both documents to the Chinese side (which included Acting Foreign Minister Han Nien-lung and Vice Minister Chang Wen-chin, with Lien Cheng-pao the notetaker and Shih Yen-hua the interpreter).
3. Following my presentation, Teng said that he could agree to the text of our proposed joint communiqué with the change of one word. He suggested that in the fourth tick of paragraph three, which contains our acknowledgement of the Chinese view on Taiwan, the word “view” be changed to “position.” Vice Minister Chang explained that this was more in accord with the language used in other communiqués; he mentioned the British and Spanish in this regard. I agreed to this change.5
4. Vice Minister Chang then proposed that in the first sentence of paragraph three of the communiqué we substitute the phrase “agreed on by the two sides” for the word “expressed.” The sentence would then read: “The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China reaffirm the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai Communiqué and emphasize once again that: . . .” He explained that the purpose of this change was to emphasize that these were principles agreed on by the two sides as distinct from the portions of the Shanghai Communiqué that contained separate statements of the views of each side. After considering this change, and checking the language of the Shanghai Communiqué. I accepted this revised wording.6
5. Lastly, the Chinese suggested that in the final paragraph of the communiqué the words “the United States” be expanded to read “the United States of America.” I accepted this change as well.7[Page 644]
6. For clarity, I shall transmit the full text of the joint communiqué as agreed on in my meeting with Teng by an immediately following cable.8
7. Teng then agreed to the wording of our proposed unilateral statement without change and read me the text of the proposed Chinese unilateral statement, which conformed to our earlier understanding. I said that their statement was satisfactory.9
8. The full text of the Chinese statement follows:
Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China
The People’s Republic of China and the United States of America have agreed to recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations as from today, thereby ending the prolonged abnormal relationship between them. This is a historic event in Sino-U.S. relations.
As is known to all, the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China and Taiwan is a part of China. The question of Taiwan used to be the crucial issue obstructing the normalization of relations between China and the United States. It has now been resolved between the two countries in the spirit of the Shanghai Communiqué and through their joint efforts, thus enabling the normalization of relations so ardently desired by the people of the two countries. As for the way of bringing Taiwan back to the embrace of the Motherland and reunifying the country, it is entirely China’s internal affair.
At the invitation of the U.S. Government, Teng Hsiao-ping, Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, will pay an official visit to the United States in January 1979, for the purpose of further promoting friendly relations and cooperation between our two countries.
9. Teng raised one additional point relating to arms sales, which was based on an apparent misinterpretation of my presentation. Referring to my statement, he said I had indicated that in response to questions the President would state that during 1979 the United States would not sell any weapons or military equipment to Taiwan. He said he had no objection to the following statement that this shall not affect the delivery of those previously committed or in the process of delivery, but he asked that the reference to 1979 in our response be [Page 645] dropped since its inclusion carried an implication concerning what would happen in the years following 1979.10
10. I clarified this point in detail, noting that in my statement I was addressing two separate questions that he had raised on December 13. The first concerned Article 10 of the Treaty. In my statement I had noted that we would avoid specific reference to Article 10 but would respond to questions by noting that “in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty” meant one year’s notice. My statement that during 1979 we would not sell arms to Taiwan was not intended for use in response to questions but represented our response to his request on December 13 that the United States refrain from arms sales to Taiwan for the one year period during which the Treaty was being terminated.11 This point was made clearly, and both Han and Chang nodded their heads indicating that they understood the distinction I was making. Teng then said that he accepted my explanation. There is no doubt in my mind that we have clearly put on the record our position with respect to arms sales.12
11. We then briefly discussed how the exchange of documents should be handled. I indicated that I had no instructions on this point. Teng said that from the Chinese standpoint, it did not matter whether the communiqué was signed or unsigned. Vice Minister Chang felt that since the communiqué would be a historic document, it would be desirable for it to be signed. Teng indicated that possibly Foreign Minister Huang and I could simply exchange English and Chinese texts of the communiqué on January 1. We left it that we would consider this question later.13
12. Teng indicated in conclusion that we seemed to have reached full agreement. He called this a most important matter and asked me to convey his thanks to the President, Secretary Vance and Dr. Brzezinski. I agreed to meet on Friday morning with Vice Minister Chang to go over the documents once again.
13. I will assume in the absence of instructions to the contrary that the texts as reported above are satisfactory.
- 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; Immediate; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Via Voyager Channels. At the top of the page, Carter wrote, “Very good. J.”↩
- Backchannel message WH81605 from the White House to Beijing, December 14, modified Woodcock’s negotiating instructions. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 45, Meetings: 12/13/78) Backchannel message WH81602, December 14, provided those instructions. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 45, Meetings: 12/14–17/78)↩
- Carter underlined the latter part of this sentence beginning with “we reached.”↩
- Carter underlined “on handling the formal exchange of communiqués.”↩
- Carter underlined “I agreed to this change” and, in the margin, made a checkmark and wrote, “ok.”↩
- Carter underlined “I accepted this revised” and, in the margin, made a checkmark and wrote, “ok.”↩
- Carter made a checkmark next to this paragraph.↩
- Backchannel message 230 from Beijing to the White House, December 14, transmitted the agreed text of the joint communiqué. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 45, Meetings: 12/14–17/78)↩
- Carter underlined both “without change” and “I said that their statement was satisfactory.”↩
- Carter underlined “years following 1979.”↩
- Carter drew a line in the margin next to this sentence. For the December 13 meeting, see Document 166.↩
- Carter made a checkmark in the margin next to this sentence.↩
- Carter drew a line and made a checkmark in the margin next to this sentence.↩