181. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher)1


  • Mission to Taiwan

The President requests you to initiate discussions with President Chiang Ching-kuo and his Government on the new arrangements which the United States Government is prepared to create to maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. You are to discuss the general direction and thrust of the thinking of the United States Government in accordance with the instructions below, leaving to later working level discussion the specific details. There should be no exchange of written documents or issuance of a communique without checking with Washington.

A. The President instructs you to seek the agreement of President Chiang Ching-kuo and his Government to the following points:

1. All treaties and agreements in force between the two sides shall remain in effect after January 1, 1979. Each side, however, will retain such rights of abrogation or termination as are provided within the treaties and agreements themselves or inherently in international law and practice.

2. On January 1, 1979, the Embassy of the United States and such associated instrumentalities as the Military Assistance Advisory Group, the American Embassy Language School in Taichung and the USICA Cultural Centers; and the Embassy of the Republic of China in the United States, its Consulates and Consulates General, and such as[Page 675]sociated instrumentalities as trade, cultural and information centers, will lose their diplomatic character and status. The staffs of the two Embassies and their associated instrumentalities, Consulates and Consulates General, may continue to function after January 1, 1979, and until February 28, 1979, in order to provide normal, accustomed services including consular services, to nations of either side.

3. Each side will establish and put into operation by not later than February 28, 1979, a new instrumentality created in connection with its domestic laws. These instrumentalities shall neither have the character of nor be considered as official governmental organizations. Each side will seek the approval of the other with respect to the name of the new instrumentality, the size and number of offices to be maintained on the territory of the other, and the senior staff (heads of office, deputy heads of office, and heads of departments within the offices) to be assigned.

4. The two sides should meet at a time to be mutually agreed to work out detailed arrangements.

B. In addition to seeking the agreement of President Chiang and his Government to the above points, the President requests that you inform President Chiang of the following:

1. As he knows, the Secretary of State on instructions of the President of the United States has given notice as of January 1, 1979, of the termination of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Republic of China in accordance with Article X of that Treaty. Certain other agreements, such as the Agreement relating to the Status of United States Armed Forces in China, which depend upon or are linked to the Mutual Defense Treaty will also end or lose effect upon the date of final termination of the Mutual Defense Treaty. The United States will provide a list of agreements which it believes fall into this category.

2. The United States is moving expeditiously to complete processing formalities with respect to those items of military equipment already approved by the President. Those items already committed will, of course, be delivered on schedule, including spare parts and other follow-on, such as ammunition. We will not make any new commitments until the end of 1979, but we will consider at a later time requests for sales in 1980 and subsequent years.

3. The United States Government draws attention to the recent statements by Premier Y.S. Sun with regard to plans to develop long-range missiles. In this connection, the United States wishes to remind President Chiang of his government’s obligations with respect to the non-development of nuclear weapons under the US–ROC Secret [Page 676] Agreement of 19772 and refers to the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978. The United States also refers to the assurances, public and private, given previously by President Chiang Ching-kuo on this matter.

4. It is the intention of the Executive Branch of the United States Government to submit to the Congress appropriate legislation confirming the continuing eligibility of the people of Taiwan for such programs and benefits as are accorded generally by Domestic United States law to foreign countries and nationals. The United States Government hopes that President Chiang’s government will take similar action to the extent required by its domestic legislation.

5. The military forces of the United States on Taiwan, including the United States Taiwan Defense Command, will be withdrawn completely by April 30, 1979. Some of the War Reserve Materiel stored on Taiwan which is related to the defense of Taiwan may be transferred in 1980 to the authorities on Taiwan either through donation or sale, in accordance with American law. War Reserve Materiel related to other requirements in the Pacific region will be transferred from Taiwan to other locations in an orderly manner, with December 31, 1979, as a target date for completion. Other military equipment on Taiwan owned by United States forces will in general also be withdrawn in an orderly manner. December 31, 1979, shall also be the target date for the ending of periodic depot maintenance work performed under contract with the United States Air Force at the Air Asia facility in Tainan.

6. The United States will wish to discuss continued lease of the area and buildings known as the Military Assistance Advisory Group Compound as the site of the new offices which will be maintained in Taipei.

7. Title to real property held by the Republic of China in the United States may well become a subject of litigation in the courts of the United States. Should that be the case, the Government of the United States will certify to the courts that it recognizes the PRC as the government of China. Additional information will be cabled as soon as available.

8. In discussing the specifics of these arrangements, the United States will also be prepared to discuss the reciprocal granting on an administrative basis of certain privileges and immunities, including cryptographic communication and pouch services, to the new offices to be established on each other’s territory by March 1, 1979. Personnel in these offices will not have diplomatic status.

C. As necessary in the course of your discussions, the President authorizes you to make the following additional points:

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1. We are unwilling at present to commit ourselves to the size of our unofficial organization, which will probably be less than our current official representation.

2. We would be willing to approve no more than four or five branches of their unofficial representation office outside Washington.

3. The United States will not conduct any more joint military exercises as of January 1, 1979.

4. During 1979, with the withdrawal of TDC prior to May 1, CINCPAC will be authorized to establish a small, U.S. manned planning group in Honolulu for Taiwan defense matters. Liaison with the ROC military will be maintained through non-governmental personnel of our unofficial organization in Taiwan.

5. If asked, you may say that in acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China, the government of the United States has not gone beyond the position it asserted in the Shanghai Communique.

6. At an informal opportunity and not as part of your formal discussions, you may inform your interlocutors that as a matter of personal courtesy, the United States Government will continue to provide security protection to Madame Chiang Kai-shek during the period of her residence in the United States.

Zbigniew Brzezinski 3
  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Geographic File, Box 9, China (People’s Republic of): Alpha Channel: Trip: 12/78–1/80. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Documents 22 and 23.
  3. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.