218. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Sino-Vietnamese Conflict


  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Dep Sec Warren Christopher
  • Under Sec David Newsom
  • Asst Sec for EA & Pacific Affairs Richard Holbrooke
  • Asst Sec Harold Saunders
  • Asst Sec Hodding Carter
  • Department of Defense
  • Deputy Secretary Charles Duncan
  • Dep Asst Sec Michael Armacost
  • Commander Kelley
  • JCS
  • General David Jones
  • General William Y. Smith
  • White House
  • Vice President Mondale
  • Asst to the Pres for NSC Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Press Secretary Jody Powell
  • Dep Asst to the Pres for NSC David Aaron
  • NSC
  • Colonel William Odom, Military Asst
  • Michel Oksenberg, Stf Mbr
  • Gary Sick, Staff Mbr
  • CIA
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner
  • Deputy Robert Bowie
[Page 807]


The meeting began with a situation report on military activities in the Sino-Vietnamese theatre and on political reactions to the conflict in Moscow, the U.N., ASEAN, and Congress.

Our fragmentary intelligence indicates that the Chinese have penetrated approximately ten kilometers into Vietnam across a wide front. Both the international and domestic reaction thus far basically has been calm and restrained.

The meeting reached the following decisions:

—A formal statement, to be delivered to Ambassador Ch’ai Tse-min tomorrow, will be drafted for consideration at an SCC meeting on the Sino-Vietnamese conflict tomorrow.

—[1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

—The NSC Staff will prepare for the same meeting an analysis of possible Soviet actions, particularly military actions, over the coming weeks, with alternative U.S. reactions for each Soviet action.

—The same SCC meeting will assess the effect of the Sino-Vietnamese conflict upon the Sino-American bilateral relationship in the weeks ahead.

—It was decided we need not make any additional public statements concerning our stance toward the conflict, but we should use the same briefing points which Vance used with Gwertzman for a briefing of the wire services and the networks. Holbrooke will take care of this. He is also to brief Senator Glenn and Senator Moynihan before their appearances on the network interview shows.

Brzezinski instructed David Aaron’s SCC Ad Hoc Group on China to meet with the appropriate Congressional liaison people to assess the situation on the Hill, particularly the implications of our likely failure to secure authorization to fund the American Institute on Taiwan for its operations beginning March 2.2

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Meetings File, Box 14, Folder 19, SCC Meeting #140 Held 2/18/79, 2/79. Secret. Initialed by Brzezinski at the end of the text. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes of this meeting are ibid.
  2. See Document 213.