252. Memorandum From Nicholas Platt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • My Peking Stop

Foreign Minister Huang Hua received Dick Holbrooke and me July 6 for talks and dinner lasting a total of five and one-half hours. He passed up a dinner with Imelda Marcos to meet with us. The atmosphere was very cordial. We briefed Huang on the President’s visit to Japan and Korea, your talks with the Japanese Defense Minister on security, and Cy Vance’s meetings with the ASEAN and ANZUS Foreign Ministers. The telegrams from Peking containing the verbatim records of the talks are attached (at Tab A).2 The main points of Huang Hua’s reaction to our presentation were as follows:

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—Aside from negative Pyongyang press comment, Huang Hua received no reaction from the DPRK Government on the joint US–ROK trilateral initiative.

—As expected, Huang adhered faithfully to the North Korean line. He described the U.S. troop presence as responsible for tension in Korea. The U.S. should withdraw them all, and engage in direct talks with the North Koreans on the Armistice. Reunification is not an appropriate topic for trilateral discussions. Our reassessment exaggerates North Korean troop strength. The Soviets have supplied no additional sophisticated weaponry to the North Koreans for years. China has none to supply. By contrast, the U.S. is adding to the ROK arsenal of sophisticated weaponry and increasing the strength of a dictatorial regime.


—Huang was pleased that the Japanese are paying more attention to security but concerned that the Japanese could not last more than a few days against Soviet attack with defenses in their current state. He asked how long we thought Japan would last. Huang also wanted to know our attitude of Japanese defense spending and whether we would continue to patrol Japan’s sea lines of communication with the Middle East. We said the U.S. would meet its commitment to Japan should it be attacked, and that Japanese defense expenditures were expanding satisfactorily on Japan’s initiative without pressure from the U.S. We would continue to patrol Japan’s SLOC to the Middle East.


—The refugee problem stems from Soviet domination which is now a “semi-colony and a Russian military base”. Huang described the leadership in Hanoi as split and Vietnamese society as very tense.

—China has resettled as many refugees as anyone else—over 200,000. Thirty thousand more who want to go to third countries are waiting in camps. New refugees are arriving at a rate of 10,000 a month. Huang did not say whether China was coming to the Geneva conference on refugees.3 (We think they will come. The opportunity to pound [Page 898] on the Vietnamese is too good to miss.) He was very angry at SYG Waldheim for not inviting a Pol Pot representative. “This was wrong politically, legally, morally, and we cannot forgive him.”


—He stressed the threat to Thailand, where seven Vietnamese divisions are poised on the border. If Thailand goes, “the rest of ASEAN will fall like dominoes.”


—The only realistic strategy is resolute struggle. No action should be taken to weaken the resistance. The time is not right either for an international conference or a political settlement. Formation of a united front to carry on the struggle is the most realistic course. “We will bog Vietnam down in the mire.” Pol Pot may be getting weaker, but if he falls others will continue to struggle.

Huang Hua did not know Sihanouk’s views on the Cambodian situation. Sihanouk is now in Pyongyang. Huang understood that Sihanouk will travel to the U.S. and Europe at the end of the year. The Chinese will help with this.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Platt Chron File, Box 67, 7/1–12/79. Secret. Sent for information.
  2. Not found attached. Holbrooke’s lengthy account of the talks with Huang is in telegrams 4351, 4353, 4362, and 4363 from Beijing, all July 9. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 47, Meetings: 7/79) In a June 25 memorandum to Brzezinski, Oksenberg strongly criticized the idea of sending Holbrooke to China for this meeting, suggesting that Brzezinski or Woodcock would be much better able to solicit Chinese cooperation regarding refugees from Indochina. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 6–7/79)
  3. A meeting on Refugees and Displaced Persons in Southeast Asia was convened by the UN Secretary General at Geneva July 20–21. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1979, pp. 918–919.