290. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Meeting between Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and Vice Premier Geng Biao, People’s Republic of China


  • Chinese Side:
  • Vice Premier Geng Biao
  • Wu Xiuchuan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff
  • Zhang Wenjin, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Zhang Zhenhuan, Vice Chairman of Defense Science Commission
  • Zhou Jiahua, Deputy Director, Department of Defense Industries
  • Chai Chengwen, Director, Foreign Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Defense
  • Han Xu, Director of Department of American and Oceanic Affairs
  • Ji Chauzhu, Deputy Director of Department of American and Oceanic Affairs
  • Ling Ching, Director of Department of International Affairs, Foreign Ministry
  • Huang Zhengji, Deputy Chief of Intelligence, Department of the General Staff
  • U.S. Side:
  • Secretary Brown
  • Ambassador Woodcock
  • Mr. Komer
  • Mr. Seignious
  • Mr. McGiffert
  • Dr. Dinneen
  • Mr. Holbrooke
  • Mr. Ross
  • VADM Hanson
  • Mr. Armacost
  • Mr. Platt
  • BGen Smith
  • Mr. Oksenberg
  • Mr. Neuhauser
  • Mr. Jayne
  • Mr. Stempler
  • Col Gilliland

The meeting began with introductory comments in the presence of members of the press. Vice Premier Geng Biao noted that it had been one year and one week since the establishment of diplomatic relations be[Page 1037]tween the US and the PRC, congratulated Secretary Brown on the rapid progress during the past fifty-three weeks, and on behalf of all his comrades welcomed Secretary Brown to China.

Secretary Brown responded that both sides should be congratulated for the accomplishments of the past year and noted that these talks should deepen and broaden the relationship. He further noted that during the next fifty-three weeks we will make even greater progress.

Geng noted that Secretary Brown’s visit added a new element to the relationship with the exchange of military personnel in addition to political, scientific, cultural, and economic exchanges. He again welcomed Secretary Brown to China.

Secretary Brown thanked Geng and stated that he and his delegation had been treated very well and hoped that we could reciprocate that welcome very soon.

Geng thanked Secretary Brown and indicated that he was sure that the Secretary’s visit would be a very successful one. He then introduced the members of his delegation and noted, that according to practice, the Chinese always like to have their friends speak first.

Secretary Brown:

—Mr. Vice Premier, although we have exchanged military attaches and have had other contacts between our defense establishments, my visit initiates high level, formal contacts between our defense officials. As in the economic, scientific, and cultural realms, a sense of self interest brings us together. We approach you with respect and a determination to build an equal relationship for mutual benefit. We don’t regard you as our pupils, nor do we regard ourselves as pupils, although we both have much to learn from each other.

—This morning, if you agree, I suggest we cover three subjects: first, a brief review of the global context in which our talks are taking place; second, a discussion of the Afghan situation and its implications for both of us; and third, a discussion of wider bilateral contacts between our defense establishments, and ways by which we can encourage broader contacts.

Global Strategic Setting

—I would hope we can have a wide-ranging discussion of the global military balance and of our respective security planning this afternoon. There are a great many subjects, and we may not be able to get to them all.

—Turning to the security context in which we meet, we share an interest in limiting the ability of the Soviet Union to translate its growing military strength into political advantage, and we share also an interest in finding ways of resisting direct Soviet military pressure—[Page 1038]as in Afghanistan—or indirect pressure, as in Ethiopia and Kampuchea where to a larger extent they use surrogates—equipped, trained and advised by the Soviets.

—The combined strength—not only economic, political and agricultural, but also military—of the United States, our NATO allies, Japan and China is sufficient to counter Soviet expansionism, providing—and this is an important provision—each of us fulfills our distinctive responsibilities to the maintenance of a global balance-of-power.

—The Soviets have the advantage that they are somewhat monolithic—they can dictate to their East European allies and to a lesser extent Vietnam and Cuba. On the other hand, the US, NATO, Japan and China are very diverse—there is no central power. Diversity may be seen as a disadvantage; but it also leads us to do what we do best and we must do that if we are to be successful.

—The question before us is one of strategy.

—In general, we have enormous advantages in the economic and political competition with the Soviet Union; they too have advantages, particularly in unstable areas of the Third World where political processes are often dominated by military elements, where the scope for subversion is great, and where Soviet propaganda can exploit ignorance or religious fanaticism to fan hatred of America. And there are obviously a number of regions in the world like that—many heated up right now.

—The Soviets, I am convinced, hope to achieve their objectives without fighting a major war with NATO or with the United States. I believe this not because I have an optimistic view of Soviet motives, nor do I consider that Soviet behavior is defensive or aimed at preserving the status quo. Rather, because the Russians recognize the strength of the US and NATO, they hope to reach their objectives without a major war.

—As a result, I believe that the Russians would much prefer to use an indirect approach: by making gains in areas where there is little or no opposition; by avoiding, when they can, the appearance of direct challenges and relying instead on covert action, or failing that, on third country “proxies,” always using their own military forces only as a last resort when there is no other way; and by challenging us in circumstances where they can hope to limit our response by the manipulation of Western or Third World public opinion.

—In this way they hope to build a position of strength through which they can intimidate our major allies and friends—and, perhaps, the Soviets think, ultimately even the United States itself.

—If that happens, we and all our friends would suffer a defeat as surely as if we were to be defeated in a bloody war. Thus, I do not be[Page 1039]lieve that a Soviet interest in avoiding a major war makes our problems any easier. Instead, it means that we must find ways to combat Soviet encroachments in areas where there may be little military strength to oppose them, and where political circumstances may make the use of our own military strength difficult or even counterproductive. At the same time, we must take care also to maintain the military capabilities necessary to keep the Soviets from thinking that a military attack on any of its major adversaries would benefit them, or that they can intimidate us in smaller crises.


—If I may, I will now turn to Afghanistan. We and China face an immediate test in Afghanistan where the Soviet invasion represents an ominous departure in Russia’s willingness to intervene militarily outside its own borders; and positions Moscow better to exert political pressure on Iran and Pakistan—these are the key to Soviet aspirations to obtain access to the Persian Gulf and the oil of the Middle East.

—Our concern is twofold. Soviet intervention in Afghanistan severely disturbs the regional balance in Southwest Asia; and this act threatens to disrupt the global network of strategic relationships and understandings constructed over the past generation.

—The threat to peace is tangible and immediate. It presents a challenge to the United States that we will not shirk. Even more, it represents a challenge to all the neighbors of the Soviet Union and to the world community, a challenge which must not go unanswered.

—We assume the Soviet Union’s immediate aims in Afghanistan will be (1) control of Kabul and all major production centers; (2) control of major roads; (3) control of the major passes between Afghanistan and Pakistan; and (4) restriction on the ability of the outside world to obtain solid information on the insurgency. These aims appear achievable in the short term.

—A total “pacification” suppression of insurgency of Afghanistan on the other hand will be a much longer term and expensive undertaking, but one that the Soviets will undoubtedly attempt. The Soviets have major problems on their hands: a weak political structure in Afghanistan; the loyalty of the Afghan army is questionable, and it appears that the Soviets are disbanding it; terrain favors insurgents; the Soviet-Babrak “pacification” theme is unlikely to find acceptance among the highly nationalistic and religious people of the countryside.

—However, the insurgents face many problems as well. Despite their numbers, they are ill-equipped and poorly led. Moreover, there appear to be many groups. (Several hundred groups with no central command.) They are no match for Soviet troops. Pakistani support depends on a shaky regime in Pakistan—one that does not have firm con[Page 1040]trol but does have good friends—notably China and to a similar extent the US—but which feels isolated and exposed to Soviet threats, and somewhat to a threat from India.

—Soviet prospects in Afghanistan are therefore uncertain; we should not underestimate their determination to prevail. And they may succeed unless we make them pay a very high price for this action.

—Accordingly, the United States has already begun to take actions designed to raise the costs so high that Moscow will be forced to reconsider the wisdom of its decision in this case and to reject similar temptations in the future.

—In addition, we are working in concert with others to place the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on the Security Council’s agenda, consulting with other countries to deny the USSR further credits, and urging our allies to take other appropriate actions to isolate the Soviets diplomatically and raise the economic costs of its aggression.

—I believe that in addition to such measures, we must take action to provide political and material support to the insurgent forces in Afghanistan. And in this regard, I have a couple of questions for you: What support is China currently providing to the Afghan insurgents? Do you have plans to expand that support?

Vice Premier Geng Biao: First, I would like to add a few points to what you have said. The Afghan people are fiercely religious people. The several republics of the USSR bordering Afghanistan used to be inhabited by Moslems but the USSR tried to abolish the religious people there. The Afghan people are very aware of this. It is very difficult for the Soviets entirely to subjugate the Afghan people.

—The current problem, the one thing that is lacking, is that Afghan people opposing the Soviets do not have a united organization. But, I do not think that is a big difficulty to overcome. In the process of resisting the Soviets, a leader will emerge. So far we have not found any discord among the Afghan rebel groups. There is no infighting among them. They all are fighting against the Afghan government troops and the Soviet aggressors.

—We are very pleased to hear the US Government has made the decision to provide assistance to the anti-government forces in Afghanistan and to Pakistan. You know that we have been giving aid to the Pakistanis and they are satisfied with what we have done. As to Afghanistan, we plan to give assistance to various organizations, groups, and peoples in Afghanistan in resistance to the Soviet invasion. We plan to give them assistance via Pakistan. However, our assistance has to be in limited quantity: small arms, medicine, and material such as quilts and clothing. We are making efforts in this direction. This is what I wanted to tell you. Thank you for your information on your assistance to the insurgents.

[Page 1041]

Secretary Brown: Thank you for this information. It is certainly true that what happened to the Muslims in the USSR will not be attractive to the Afghans. However, it is true that over the last ten years, the Soviets were able to suppress the religious sentiment among the Uzbeks, the Tadzucs, and so on. That is because they obtained little help from the outside. I, myself, visited the area for a few days five years ago—such places as Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bokhara. It was clear to me that the Soviets have been successful in “pacification” and Russification of these Muslim nationalities in the USSR.


Let me follow up on Pakistan. We must also work with others to provide additional support for Pakistan. One of President Carter’s first moves was to call Zia and reassure him of our support. We offered to send Warren Christopher to Islamabad, but the Pakistanis preferred to postpone this.

—The Pakistanis’ main concern is what might happen to them if the Soviets do gain control in Afghanistan—especially if the Soviets believe that they have grounds for “punishing” the Pakistanis for helping the insurgents. We will do what we can to stiffen the Pakistanis’ resolve to support Afghanistan. What arguments do you think would be most useful for us to use? What do you think you can say to reinforce our representations?

—We are in the process of working out the dimensions of our own assistance to Pakistan. We have decided to seek an amendment in our Foreign Assistance Bill to exempt Pakistan from current restrictions in our law which currently prevent us from extending FMS credits and Economic Support Fund assistance to Pakistan. We have already approached Congressional leaders on the subject. While plans are as always subject to Congressional concurrence, what we have heard from Congress is encouraging. We are thinking in terms of providing very substantial amounts of FMS and ESF over the next five years to the Pak’s. We are also seeking additional support for [from?] Western and Moslem countries.

—While we are planning to resume economic and military assistance to Pakistan despite the nuclear problem, it would obviously be easier for us to secure Congressional support for a large program if the Paks reassessed their nuclear activities. We don’t want to let this stand in the way. But what we can do will be influenced by Pakistan’s nuclear program.


—India remains a critical element. A strategy that preserves Pakistan but propels India into greater dependence on the USSR is unwise. The key is to get India to recognize that the new situation in Afghani[Page 1042]stan poses a security problem for the entire subcontinent. It is unfortunate that there has been no effectively functioning Indian government during recent weeks.

—It is important that the most favorable context be created for an Indian policy reassessment. In particular, the Indians must be brought to realize that there is no longer a concern about a threat from China. We think it is important that you renew a dialogue with the new Indian government and seek a compromise understanding on the border issue that would permit India to turn its attention elsewhere. We believe this deserves your serious consideration.


—The events in Afghanistan are a major historical turning point which increases the likelihood of a major US military presence in an entirely new region of the world. Nobody at this point can predict with certitude what the outcome of these events will be, although the Soviet reaction to various protests and denunciations, including those of both the US and China, is completely predictable. These prospects were taken into consideration by the Soviets before they made their move in Afghanistan. It is therefore incumbent on both of us to exceed the Soviet expectation as to what our response would be. The Soviets must be made to understand that this decision (to invade Afghanistan) will be much more expensive, much more costly, much more damaging to them than they had reckoned, and that it should not set a precedent for similar further actions on their part.

—At the same time, we will be increasing our own ability to project military power into the Gulf region. Our Indian Ocean naval capabilities are being augmented; we are expanding our facilities at Diego Garcia; we are undertaking discussions with Oman, Somalia and Kenya on base access rights to various bases there, and we are broadening our discussions on security matters with Gulf states—particularly with Saudi Arabia and Oman.

—By this action, we intend to demonstrate that this region is of vital importance to us, and that the US Government is pursuing these interests with a sense of purpose and commitment.

—That is all that I wanted to say about Afghanistan. I would be interested in hearing what your side has to say on this issue.

Global Strategic Setting

Geng Biao then made the following points:

—There are several subjects I would like to cover. First a few words with respect to the Soviet’s strategic position in the world.

—The world situation has become more turbulent and intense. The Vietnamese, in order to realize hegemony in Indochina, have mounted [Page 1043] a large offensive. But it is not going smoothly and has created more refugees. It poses a threat not only in the region.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan poses a major threat not only to the region but to the peace and stability of the world as a whole. The reason I say is that the Soviets are directly involved with their own troops.

What’s more, Iran has held US Embassy staff members hostage, and this has caused tension between the US and Iran in every aspect.

Another question is that negotiations between Egypt and Israel are at a stalemate and this carries seeds of a new crisis. Meanwhile we are aware that there was a coup d’etat in South Korea; with Park’s assassination, a fierce power struggle among the military people is now going on in that country. Moreover, the Soviet Union has its troops in Cuba, right under the nose of the United States. It refuses to withdraw its troops and has expanded its influence in Central America and the Caribbean. There have been various factors at work making turbulence in the world, but the main one is the expansion of the Soviet Union and its striving for hegemony. In some instances, Soviet actions have directly created the turbulence. In other cases, they are exploiting local turbulence. Besides, the energy crunch is a major cause of turbulence in the world. The Soviet Union has been making conscious efforts to stir up trouble in the Middle East and Persian Gulf areas, and its objective is to cause trouble in the availability of energy resources. For a considerably long period to come the situation in that region is to be turbulent, before alternate energy resources can be found. You are bent upon putting pressure on OPEC members; the Soviet Union is bound to take counter measures. This will give the Soviets an opportunity to exploit the situation, and this is bound to result in a dangerous situation. The Soviet Union has been reaching out in every direction to expand its influence and to win victories without war.

I think factors making for war are growing rather than diminishing, but it is our view that a war involving the major powers is not likely to come in the near term, because the Soviets have not completed their preparation for war yet and have many shortcomings and weak points.

Now we have entered the 80’s and it seems that the 80’s will be even more turbulent and tense than the 1970’s. Will the world reach its most dangerous point in the mid-80’s? Will there be a major war then? We still have to see how the international situation evolves. We have noted that many Western experts have written books on the possibility of war in the 80’s (laughs). As for China, we do not want to see a major war. Our objective is to develop our country, and to achieve this objective, we need a peaceful international environment of long-standing. We know that peace cannot be begged for. Nor can it be one state alone. [Page 1044] There is a need to protect the independence and security of middle sized and small countries and firmly to oppose Soviet hegemonism.

—Our general maxim is to oppose hegemony and pressure world peace. How to oppose hegemony:

—First, enhance our vigilance, get prepared in every way, and beef up our defense capabilities.

—Second, China, the United States, Japan, and Western Europe should coordinate their policies.

—Third, we must support the Third World countries in their resistance to Soviet aggression and the threat posed by the Soviet Union. We should coordinate our efforts. In this regard, we hope the US will settle contradictions with the Third World in a proper way, and hope you will be patient and not offer the Soviet Union opportunities to exploit. All of us should act in our overall interests in resisting the Soviet Union. Each should adopt its own measures in accordance with its own circumstances and work together in order to resist the Soviet Union and upset its strategy.

—Recently President Carter and other members of the US government made speeches emphasizing US determination to build up defense capabilities and take a strong stand versus the Soviet Union. In this regard, we endorse the statements and decisions that have been taken.

—During Chairman Hua’s trip it was evident that the people in Europe have come to see more clearly the threat of Soviet expansionism. In order to counter this threat, Western Europe has agreed to deploy new missiles and, after Prime Minister Thatcher’s visit, relations between the US and Europe appear to have improved. We approve of these steps.


As for Afghanistan, the Soviet’s massive invasion warrants attention and concern on our part. In this respect, the Soviet Union’s own troops are directly involved in undisguised invasion, like the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Now the Soviet Union has extended its so-called theory of limited sovereignty from socialist countries to a non-aligned, Muslim country of the Third World. If the Soviet Union can do this in Afghanistan today, the likelihood is that they can do it to Pakistan, or some other country, tomorrow—the first targets would be Iran and Pakistan. While Afghanistan is the first country, the Soviet Union mainly has its eyes on Asia, and the action poses a threat to South Asia and the Gulf area as well. It occurred at a time the US experienced a tense situation vis-a-vis Iran.

—The Soviet Union may gain something temporarily, but in the longer term they will gain the opposite of what they set out to do. Now [Page 1045] a new situation has been created. All the Muslim countries and peace-loving countries have risen up in opposition to Soviet hegemonism. Even Iran has registered its protest to the Soviet Union over its invasion. And these factors may help to bring an early resolution to the crisis between the US and Iran. It seems to me to a large extent we should talk to other countries about the matter and do a good job of it.


The domestic situation in Pakistan is rather difficult. Zia faces a number of difficulties. If the Soviet’s barbarous aggression goes unchecked, the next target is Pakistan. Now Pakistan also thinks along this line. Now Pakistan’s leaders are very worried about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

If the new Indian Government should keep on opposing Pakistan, even in a more fierce way, Pakistan will be sandwiched between Afghanistan and India with even more problems on its hands. After studying this question, we have concluded we must boost Pak determination to resist the Soviet Union. Now, after the event in Afghanistan, the US has made a decision to extend military aid to Pakistan. We think that you have made the right decision. We hope your aid will arrive in a timely fashion and that there will be plenty of assistance and that we will not see the restrictions to aid you have placed in the past.

Yesterday, Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the possibility of the US flying assistance to Pakistan over China.2 I said that we would give this positive consideration. Now I would like to add a few points. Overflights are not a big question and can be solved easily. But the question is the size of aid. A few flights—two or three flights—for symbolic purposes will not serve Pakistan’s practical difficulties—because of the size. If the scale is too small, or if you ship ordinary weapons they will not be able to solve their problems. To be frank with you—after all, although I’m a civilian, I was in the military a long time and you are the head of the military establishment—we think in the past the US did not treat its Pakistan allies very well, e.g., by comparison with India, to whom you devoted more attention. The question is the size of your assistance and plans you have made. In the past, the Paks didn’t have enough confidence in you, nor do they now.

—Mr. Secretary, you asked what aid China will provide to Pakistan. I would like to throw the question at you. The reason why I ask is that after we acquire this knowledge, we can talk to Pakistan. Our words can carry some weight. Moreover, if the size of the US aid is big enough to help Pakistan, and it comes quickly enough, the problem of overflying China with two or three or more planes can be solved easily.

[Page 1046]

Sino-Soviet Relations

—Now I would like to say a few words about Sino-Soviet relations. The Soviet Union is entirely responsible for the deterioration of relations. It is not China that is responsible for the low state of relations. Since Brezhnev took office, he has gone further down the road of the anti-China line of Khrushchev and Brezhnev is more cunning in doing that. The first round of the Sino-Soviet talks ended with no results. The second round is supposed to take place in China. The specific timing has not been decided.

The Soviet Union has refused to resolve outstanding bilateral questions or to clear away obstacles to normalization. What it wants is only an empty document to govern Sino-Soviet relations—an empty document with no consequences.

—What we have insisted on is that the Soviet Union should lower the threat to China on the Sino-Soviet border, lowering the forces on the border to 1964 levels, withdraw troops from Outer Mongolia, stop supporting the Vietnamese against the PRC, and enter border talks in an earnest manner so as to solve the border problems in line with the status-quo. I have just now given you the bottom line of our Soviet policy. So long as the Soviet Union doesn’t change its hegemonistic policy towards China, there can be no change in Sino-Soviet relations. It is impossible for the Soviets to carry out what we have demanded.

—China has all along supported the struggle for general disarmament and is prepared to participate in the CD in Geneva. This will be the first time, and we would like to get to know more about this topic. At first, don’t expect for us to offer any proposals. Only genuine disarmament will enhance the security of various countries. The Soviet Union has been most vociferous in support of disarmament and most active in expanding its armaments. According to assessments of the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the total Soviet force is 4.4 million. However, this does not count the 450,000 frontier troops along the borders.


—Regarding the question of Indochina and others, I believe Foreign Minister Huang Hua will discuss this with you at luncheon.3


—Yesterday you talked about making a statement to journalists that we have consulted concerning Afghanistan. Perhaps your people [Page 1047] will get with our people from the Foreign Ministry and draft a proposal. It is a fact we consulted, and there is no need to hide it.

Hot Line

—With regard to the establishment of the Hot Line, we have not studied this proposal seriously yet and we would like to give it further thought. In the meanwhile our Ambassador and Defense Attache in Washington and yours in Beijing provide a means of communications. Until we reach agreement on this subject we have a very convenient method of communication.


—Yesterday you talked about Afghanistan and other sensitive questions, especially Iran and Indochina. These are sensitive questions; we agree. Quite frankly, we think that there is another sensitive issue. That is Taiwan. Quite often, your people talk about resuming arms sales to Taiwan and for us that is a very sensitive question. We hope that you will help us by cooperating with China on this problem, in order to bring about an early return of Taiwan to the embrace of the motherland. If the US continuously sells arms to Taiwan, it may lead to an outcome that China must fight a war to ensure that Taiwan returns to the motherland. This would be a departure from the right strategy in the global contest that we have just talked about. Please forgive me for being frank but I am a soldier.

H[arold] B[rown:]4


—I welcome frank and friendly talks and will reciprocate in kind. In order to leave some time to discuss bilateral issues, I will be brief and to the point.

—We see the world somewhat similarly but not identically. There is some divergence. I see the situation in Korea with some uneasiness. I met with your US Ambassador to Korea in Tokyo and that reinforced my view of the situation in Korea.


I am perhaps more optimistic about the United Kingdom situation in southern Africa than perhaps you are.

[Page 1048]

Global Strategic Context

But as regard to Soviet motives and actions, deterring war, and constraining Soviet actions our views are very similar. In some respects, it seems to me, our respective staffs must have written our talking papers together, thus keeping us from getting our money’s worth.

—Certainly as regards to building up our defenses and US, China, Japan, and Western Europe cooperation in assisting the Third World in resisting Soviet expansion, we see things much alike.

—President Carter is very much in favor of the US and China coordinating their efforts in support of third countries. Therefore, I suggest that this evening we announce that we will have follow-on discussions of the Soviet actions in Afghanistan. We need not say where these discussions will take place or at what level, but such an announcement will have a salutary effect in reminding the Soviets that the US and China can cooperate. If you agree, we can draft the statement along the lines you mentioned and add these points to them.

(Geng looks to Zhang Wanjin, who nods.)

Geng Biao: I think this is feasible.5

Iran, Pakistan

Secretary Brown:

—Let me now turn to two middle size countries, Iran and Pakistan. We can discuss Iran more at lunch, but I would like to make some points now.

But I do want to point out that although many middle size countries are under Soviet pressure, not all middle size countries behave in equally sensible ways to the pressure from the Soviet Union. Moreover, not all mischief making countries are large countries, and we must not give third world countries the idea that they can take advantage of unrest or instability. Just as the Soviet Union must pay a price for disrupting stability, middle and small countries must learn their responsibilities as well. We are patient, but patience is not unlimited. Our patience depends in part on what develops. If we see that others point out to the middle size countries that if they fail to live up to their responsibilities there will be penalties for them also, then we can display more patience. Diplomatic and economic penalties can have the necessary effect. This is preferable to going to other forms of action.

[Page 1049]

—It goes without saying if we are to foster an international process of peace, diplomatic procedures must not be violated. The seizure of diplomatic hostages must not be allowed to spread. We all have a stake in this.

Geng Biao:

If every country should hold hostages, the world would be chaotic.

Secretary Brown:

We are aware that Pakistan needs arms, and we will move forward on this. We have not yet decided how much but are thinking of a five-year program, which we will start this year. Over the next five-year period we are considering hundreds of millions of foreign military sales credits and similar amounts of economic assistance, augmented by contributions from other countries to include Saudi Arabia. We are aware of Pakistan’s limited capability to absorb such assistance and do not wish to exceed their capability. In any event, we intend a level of effort that far exceeds a few symbolic flights over the PRC.

Hot Line

With respect to the hot line, attaches and foreign ministries are useful, but we are thinking about very rapid communications measured in hours or maybe tens of minutes. We think it would be very useful and hope that you provide it very careful consideration. Technical details can be worked out, but if we could announce it on this trip, it would signal a new, close relationship between our two countries.


One more point reference Taiwan. At the time of normalization we agreed to disagree in a quiet way. We have said what we plan to do and have done what we said. We have made modest and selective sales of military arms to Taiwan to further stability in the region and not to foster instability.

—I would now like to raise a procedure question. I have more to say about bilateral issues. However, we can delay until this afternoon or we can discuss them now. I leave the choice to you.

After a short discussion it was decided to resume discussions at 4 p.m.

Nicholas Platt
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–82–0217, China (Reds) 25 May 1980. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Great Hall of the People. Prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Alfred K. Richeson (OSD/ISA) from Nicholas Platt’s notes. On January 6, from 5 until 6:30 p.m., Dinneen and Seignious met with Liu Huaqing, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, to discuss export controls, arms control, and technical means of improving Sino-American communications. (Department of State, Files of Nicholas Platt, DOD 1980–1981)
  2. No record of this meeting was found.
  3. Brown met with Foreign Minister Huang Hua in Guest House No. 18. Their discussion focused on events in Indochina and Pakistan. (Memorandum of conversation, January 7, 12:30–3 p.m.; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 26, Brown (Harold) 1/80 Trip Memcons: 1/80)
  4. The initials “HB” were added by hand.
  5. The New York Times reported that both sides issued a statement on January 7 “saying the two delegations had talked about Afghanistan at length and had ‘decided to have follow-on discussions on the effects in the region of the Soviet actions and to consult further on appropriate responses.’” (January 8, 1980, p. A3)