223. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Blumenthal Conversation with Hua Guofeng

If there is any doubt that Hua Guofeng is a figurehead, that doubt should be removed in a reading of Hua’s interview with Blumenthal (at Tab A).2

He ties himself closely to Deng and endorses all of Deng’s statements. He breaks no new ground beyond that. In that sense the tone of [Page 817] Hua’s conversation with you last May, when he went beyond Deng’s formulations on normalization, is remarkably different.3

Of course, Hua’s motive could be cleverly to put Deng out front, and Hua could claim non-involvement in case Deng’s policies fail.

Blumenthal handled the Vietnam section of the conversation far better than he did with Deng.4 That is to say, he stuck with his talking points and raised no further questions.

One learns no more from this conversation about Chinese capabilities and intentions in Vietnam, and it is not worth drawing to the attention of the President, other than mentioning to the President that the meeting occurred.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 25, Blumenthal 2/79 Trip to China: 3/79. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. Tab A was not found, but an account of this conversation is contained in backchannel message 251 from Beijing to the White House, March 1. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 1–3/79) Blumenthal is quoted as saying, “we operate on the principle that disputes between nations should be settled by peaceful means and not by incursions or invasions. We are concerned about the risk of negative reaction in public opinion and by various countries against China’s move into Vietnam. It could hinder China’s modernization effort and could disturb the speed with which we hope to advance bilateral economic relations. We are also concerned about the possible reaction of the Soviet Union and the opportunity this situation might provide for the Soviet Union to expand its influence in the area. For these and related reasons we are urging the speedy withdrawal of Vietnamese and Chinese troops from Kampuchea and Vietnam.”
  3. See Document 111.
  4. Telegram 1117 from Beijing, February 28, transmitted a transcript of Blumenthal’s February 27 conversation with Deng, during which Blumenthal asked Deng about the economic costs of the conflict, its duration, and the likelihood of Soviet intervention. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 24, Blumenthal 2/79 Trip to China: 12/78–2/79)