303. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in China1

74629. Subject: Zhang’s Talks With US Officials.

1. S—entire text.

2. Following is the text of a summary of Zhang’s talks with US officials on March 19 which was forwarded to the White House.

3. Begin text: Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Wenjin concluded his talks in Washington this morning, March 20. Secretary Vance met with Zhang yesterday afternoon to talk about Southeast Asia.2 Both sides [Page 1099] agreed on the need to reduce Soviet influence in the region and to work for a Kampuchea free of Vietnamese domination. We expressed concern about the Soviet military presence in Vietnam but Zhang seemed confident that regional opposition to the Soviets would increase. Both sides voiced strong support for Thailand.

4. Zhang also met with the Vice President.3 Both agreed that we must move our national bureaucracies to resolve remaining issues (e.g. civair, maritime, textiles, EXIM).

5. Later in the day, Zhang told us for the first time that China will accept the principle of “more than one” US carrier in the civair talks; this is a real breakthrough which we will follow up on when formal talks begin on April 15 in Beijing.

6. On the Olympics, Zhang responded favorably to the idea of US athletes visiting China after any alternate games, but could not make a definite commitment before consulting with his government. On the hostage crisis, Zhang expressed sympathy with our frustration and said he “can’t believe they’ll keep this up. They must see the Soviet threat.”

7. In other conversations, Zhang said that North Korea wanted only peaceful reunification with the South and that the Chinese had “told” the North Koreans about their own conciliatory approach to Taiwan. Both sides agreed that the direct North-South talks deserved our support. We told Zhang that stability in Korea contributed to the flexibility of our force posture in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

8. The talks were very candid and we hope to continue such consultations regularly, perhaps three times a year at different levels.4 End text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 3/80. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Repeated Priority to Tokyo and to Seoul, Hong Kong, and CINCPAC in Honolulu for POLAD. Printed from a copy that was sent to the White House on March 25.
  2. Zhang met with Vance at 3:30 p.m. on March 19. In addition to Southeast Asia, they discussed the Middle East and the Olympics. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat Files: Lot 84 D 241, Box 9, Jan/Feb/Mar, 1980, Memcons) Zhang also met with Holbrooke on March 19. Telegram 77998 to Beijing reported: “During bilateral talks on March 19 between Vice Minister Zhang and Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, the question of U.S. ties with Taiwan came up in the context of U.S.–PRC negotiations on a maritime agreement. This was the only time in four days of talks in Washington that the Chinese adopted a stiff, formal tone.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Sullivan Subject File, Box 72, Zhang Wenjin Visit: 3/20/80–4/80)
  3. A memorandum of conversation of Mondale’s meeting with Zhang, which took place March 19 at 11 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, is in Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 34, Memcons: Mondale: 7/79–5/80.
  4. Among his many meetings in Washington, Zhang called on Brzezinski in his office on March 18 from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Their discussion considered how different regions of the globe factored into the geopolitical struggle against the Soviet Union. Roger Sullivan, who sat in on the meeting and prepared the memorandum of conversation, noted, “Zhang had nothing to say beyond the positions the Chinese took during the Brown trip.” The memorandum of conversation is in Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Sullivan Subject File, Box 72, Zhang Wenjin Visit: 3/20/80–4/80. See also Document 304.