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


  • Chinese Trade Agreement

An invitation to Minister of Foreign Trade Li Chiang to visit the U.S. toward the end of June or end of July to sign the Trade Agreement is necessary for the following reasons:

—The Trade Agreement must be before the Congress for sixty days and requires passage by both houses. Given the Congressional calendar, if passage is to be secured before Congress adjourns, it probably must be submitted by July 15.

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—The textile negotiations will have to be resumed shortly if an agreement is to be reached before the Chinese run up against our unilateral-imposed ceilings. Further, Chinese flexibility on the textile issue will be enhanced if the Trade Agreement has already been signed.

—We have already assured the Chinese that we were prepared to move on the Trade Agreement with them as soon as a solution to the textile problem had been found. Our credibility is at stake. And Ambassador Strauss argues that a solution to the textile problem has been found.

Secretary Vance at this point will not sign a cable to Beijing which invites Minister Li for a fixed date in July. He does not believe that it is the President’s policy to proceed immediately on the Chinese trade front. He believes that to schedule a signing of the Trade Agreement with China before the Summit risks reaching an agreement with the Soviets on MFN. He ignores the fact that an invitation to the Chinese can be confidential through the Summit.2

There are two ways to resolve this problem. One is for you to call Cy. He was to call you today but evidently did not do so. A second possibility is to refer the matter to the President and then tell Cy the results of the conversation.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 6–7/79. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Presumably the Tokyo Economic Summit scheduled for June 28–29.
  3. At the bottom of the page, someone wrote, “Mr. President—Please indicate what you wish done. We should move on both the Soviets and the Chinese, but not let one hold up the other,” followed by two options, “Invite” and “Delay.” In response, Carter wrote at the top of the page, “I want to move this year. No reason to delay. Let Woodcock extend invitation privately. J.C.” Brzezinski followed up with a June 7 memorandum to Vance with Carter’s instruction. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 6–7/79)