25. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonard Woodcock Appointment; Secretary’s Visit to Peking; SALT; CTB; Indian Ocean, Africa; Middle East; Belgrade Conference


  • People’s Republic of China
  • Ambassador Huang Chen
  • Ambassador Han Hsu
  • Counselor Tsien Ta-yung
  • Third Secretary Hsu Shang-wei
  • United States
  • The Secretary
  • William Gleysteen, EA
  • Harry Thayer, EA/PRCM (Notetaker)

Chip Carter’s Visit

The Secretary opened by expressing appreciation for Ambassador Huang’s help in facilitating the visit of Chip Carter with the Congressional delegation.2 Ambassador Huang said the President’s son is welcome to visit China.

Appointment of Leonard Woodcock

The Secretary said he would like to mention two points before discussing his Moscow visit. He wanted to let Huang know that we would be forwarding the name of Leonard Woodcock as the man to be appointed our representative in Peking. The Secretary said he was sure Huang knew of him: he had headed the Presidential Commission to Vietnam; he is one of our most distinguished citizens; he is a superb representative of our country, and the Secretary was sure the Chinese would find him to be so. Huang said he would report this to his Government. The Secretary thanked Huang, adding that Mr. Woodcock has the total and complete confidence of President Carter and of himself. When the Chinese side gets to know him, the Chinese would agree that he is a superb man.

[Page 73]

Secretary’s Visit to Peking

The Secretary said he would like to mention one other thing. He had been considering the possibility of making a visit to the People’s Republic of China in the latter part of the summer if this would be convenient to the PRC. The Secretary thought it important that he have the chance to meet and visit with the leaders there. He would appreciate the opportunity very much if a visit and the timing would be convenient. Huang asked what was meant by late summer. He was told “August.” He said he would report this but he was certain that the Secretary would be welcome. He added that August is a hot month, and all agreed that late August is not so hot as early August.

Moscow Visit

The Secretary told Huang he wanted to fill him in on the Moscow trip. Huang, he said, had undoubtedly been seeing a good bit about this in the newspaper and now the Secretary wanted to tell him what happened. Huang recalled that the Secretary had said March 23 the press would report much about the trip and that the Secretary then had promised to tell him the real facts.3


The Secretary said we had put before the Soviet Union two proposals, both of which we felt were eminently fair and reasonable. One of them was a proposal for a large reduction in the use of weapons and a freeze of deployment of new weapons systems in the ICBM field. This proposal and its alternate were rejected. The alternate proposal was to ratify the Vladivostok numbers and set aside the Backfire bomber and cruise missile, leaving those to be encompassed in SALT III. The Russians gave us only the simplest of reasons for their decision to reject our proposals. As to the comprehensive package, they said it was one-sided and unfair. Therefore they rejected it. We disagreed with their interpretation, saying our proposal was eminently fair and reasonable.

In regard to the other proposal, the Secretary continued, the Russians said it did not comply with the Vladivostok agreements. The Secretary told Huang that our records of the Vladivostok meeting and his consultations with Dr. Kissinger are in complete agreement. Therefore, we and the Russians had a major difference of view as to what had been agreed upon at Vladivostok. The two sides agreed to hold further discussions of SALT in May, when Foreign Minister Gromyko and the Secretary would meet in Geneva. In the meantime, there are some indications that the Russians would like to have some conversations before then to see if a basis for agreement could be reached. We intend to be [Page 74] patient and persevering because we believe that what we proposed is fair and reasonable. But no one could say now what would happen in the future. We shall have to wait and see.


The Secretary said that, among the other subjects discussed, perhaps of most interest to Huang would be the comprehensive test ban and the Indian Ocean. Regarding the CTB, the Soviets indicated that they want to discuss at a working group level a possible treaty on the comprehensive test ban. They indicated that they are willing to consider entering into such a treaty just with the Soviet Union and the US for a short period of one-and-a-half to two years. They went on to say that if others didn’t join them, either of the two parties could renounce the treaty and resume testing.

We had sharp differences as to when there should be an exemption for peaceful nuclear explosions in any such treaty. We took a strong position that there should be no such exemptions because our study indicated that it is impossible to tell if any such explosions were being used for weapons development purposes. They responded that there might be on-site inspections, so why should we be concerned? The Secretary had asked them if they would be prepared under such circumstances to let us examine their explosive devices. They would not give an affirmative answer, saying only that that would be something to be discussed in the future. We set up a working group to discuss the matter further.

Indian Ocean

The Secretary said he had found that they had done very little thinking about what demilitarization of the Indian Ocean meant. It appeared that all they had thought about was that they wanted us to give up Diego Garcia. The Secretary asked the Russians about Berbera. They said that Berbera is not a military place, but is just a place for them to get food and water. The Secretary responded that that did not meet with his information, and that he would send photographs so that they could see for themselves. The Secretary told Huang he intends to do that. The Secretary said he asked the Soviets how they would define the Indian Ocean; they said they were not prepared to define it. He asked if they were talking about limiting the number of ship days, and they said no, that they believe in the right of free passage.

In short, the Secretary concluded, it was fairly clear that they had been talking propaganda and had not been talking seriously. We and they agreed, however, to continue to explore the matter in a working group in the near future.


The Secretary told Huang we also discussed questions about Africa. He expressed to the Russians his concern about what was hap [Page 75] pening in various parts of Africa, including intervention by non-African nations. There was discussion of Southern Africa, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa. The discussion from the Secretary’s standpoint was not satisfactory. We received no assurance that the Russians would change the course of action that they were following.

The Secretary said he would digress for a moment to tell Huang what we expect to do concerning Zaire. We have decided that we are going to continue to give limited economic and military assistance to Zaire and to support diplomatic efforts now underway to reach a political solution to the problem. We informed Zaire of this within the last 48 hours. We have been in consultation with a number of African nations and with the French, Belgians and also the Egyptians about the situation in Zaire. That situation is very cloudy. The principal difficulty is that Zaire soldiers are fighting very badly. Their very best troops are being kept in Kinshasha rather than being sent to the battlefield.

Middle East

Resuming his briefing on the Moscow meetings, the Secretary said he also discussed there the situation in the Middle East, reviewing unresolved substantive and procedural issues. He had found the Soviet position to be virtually unchanged.

Belgrade Conference

The Soviets expressed concern that at Belgrade there would be confrontation with Western countries over the human rights issue. We indicated that we did not intend to seek a confrontation, but we insisted on a full review of the Helsinki principles, to find whether there was adherence or non-adherence to them. The Soviets proposed to discuss new material rather than implementation of earlier agreements. We disagreed, and insisted that the focus should be on implementation, although some new matters might be discussed.

Huang’s Response

Huang thanked the Secretary for the briefing. As he had said to former Secretary Kissinger time and again: the Russians always bully the weak and are afraid of the tough. The practice of appeasing always leads to such consequences. The Chinese have a saying that “to feed the tiger is to engender danger.”

Regarding Zaire, Huang said the Chinese had noticed that the latest issue of Newsweek magazine published an interview with President Mobutu. Mobutu told Newsweek he was disappointed about the US attitude toward the USSR-engineered invasion. The Secretary said the US is dissatisfied with the way Mobutu’s troops fight. Huang replied that it may not be so easy for a country like Zaire to cope with a mercenary invasion engineered by the Soviet Union and Cuba. He [Page 76] asked what the Secretary thought about Morocco sending troops to Zaire. The Secretary said we hope their troops are good and are able to fight; Zaire needs good troops to protect Kolwezi.

Huang said the Chinese see the Zaire situation as one where the Soviet Union engineered a mercenary invasion. It is part of the Soviet global strategy for contending with the US for hegemony. If the US lets things go adrift without doing anything, it will only boost USSR expansionism and in the final analysis only the US will get hurt. As the press has said, Huang added, the Soviet Union last year engineered a mercenary invasion of Angola and took over Angola and occupied it. This year the Soviet Union engineered a mercenary invasion of Zaire, and next year they will engineer an invasion of other countries, using Cuban troops and Soviet weapons. It is hard for other African countries to protect themselves. The Secretary told Huang that we share these concerns. Huang said it will not be too difficult for the Soviet Union to control the seaways and to control resources on the African continent.

Huang concluded his response by promising that he would report on the nomination of Mr. Woodcock and on the Secretary’s visit to China, and would provide a reply.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat Files: Lot 84 D 241, Box 10, Vance NODIS Memcons, 1977. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Thayer.
  2. The Congressional delegation, headed by Representative John Brademas (D–Indiana) and Senator Richard Schweiker (R–Pennsylvania), visited Japan and China. The delegation included a number of Senators and Representatives as well as James Earl Carter III (“Chip”), the President’s son. Oksenberg and Roy accompanied the group.
  3. See Document 21.