216. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron) and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Holbrooke) to the Deputy Chief of the Liaison Office in China (Roy)1

WH90286. The following is the text of the oral statement you are to immediately deliver to Vice Premier Deng.

Begin text:

Oral Memorandum

In reply to the message of Vice Premier Deng to the President of February 16,2 the President wishes to reply urgently to the Vice Premier.

[Page 802]

With respect to the situation in Vietnam, the President feels that he must in all candor, express again to the Vice Premier our view that it would be a mistake to take any action at this time which would draw attention away from the Vietnamese and Soviet actions in Kampuchea. Nothing should be done that would undermine the mounting international pressure for Vietnam to withdraw its forces from Kampuchea. Also, the action contemplated could well lead to an increase in the influence and presence of the USSR in Southeast Asia. It could unleash an uncertain and dangerous sequence of events in the region and beyond.

In our public statements on the matter, we will have no choice but to oppose such actions. The United States would be critical of any use of force outside one’s own territory, and we would call for the immediate withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Kampuchea and Chinese troops from Vietnam.

The United States, like China, seeks a stable and peaceful structure of independent states in Southeast Asia. Our principled stand in favor of an independent Kampuchea and Vietnamese troop withdrawal from Kampuchea during the UN Security Council debate speaks for itself. We have been in continual contact with both the Vietnamese and the Soviet Union, urging upon them restraint and warning them of serious international and political consequences if they took steps that intensified the conflict. We believe that it would be highly desirable to continue to pursue these channels on an even more urgent basis, rather than take the steps referred to in the Vice Premier’s message.

The visit of the Chinese delegation to the United States began a new era in Sino-American relations. At this delicate moment, the President urgently asks you not to take any steps which would not only cause serious problems in Asia, but which would also create a new set of difficulties here, and which would only benefit other countries that seek to sow disarray or open dissension between China and the United States.

End text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 8, Backchannel Messages: Peking: 1–7/79. Secret; Sensitive; Flash; Via Voyager Channels.
  2. See Document 212.