322. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • U.S.–China Relations

The public has not been told enough about your major accomplishment in transforming the character of the U.S.–Chinese relationship. That transformation is a genuinely historical accomplishment, and Reagan’s comments suggest that his victory could place this relationship in some jeopardy. As you make the announcement of the U.S.–China Grain Agreement,2 you may want, therefore, to put that agreement in the context of the transformation of our relationship in all fields over the last two years with the largest country in the world.

Within a month of the establishment of diplomatic relations in January 1979, you met with Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping in Washington to begin the process of building a long-term structure for the U.S.–China relationship. As a result of the initiatives begun at that time and the more than 25 agreements which have been signed since, there has been a phenomenal growth in the whole range of official and private contacts.

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—Trade more than doubled from $1.1 billion in 1978 to $2.3 billion in 1979. This year we estimate it will almost double again to $4 billion.

—In 1978 we had no exchange of students. Now there are about 4,000 Chinese studying in the United States and 100 Americans studying or teaching in China.

—About 100 Chinese delegations per month visit the United States.

—We expect upwards of 70,000 Americans to visit China in 1980.

—About 25 cultural and sports delegations from China have visited our country in the last six months, and we are reciprocating with visits both by orchestras and other cultural groups as well as our Olympic athletes.

—We have 13 separate working agreements in science and technology which not only give us current and political commercial benefit but make it possible for our scientists and technicians to share in China’s research in medicine, earthquake prediction, and agriculture.

The establishment of diplomatic relations with China made it possible for us to move ahead to build this new relationship into one which truly enriches us in knowledge, trade and culture. Parallel with these efforts to expand our commercial and cultural relations, we have begun carefully and deliberately to build a consultative relationship which will enable us to work together to identify and cooperate on issues of common interest. We now have regular consultations both to discuss issues of mutual concern such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and to explore new areas of possible cooperation. This long-term strategic relationship, replacing 30 years of isolation and mutual hostility, is already contributing significantly to the preservation of peace and stability in East Asia and will increasingly contribute to the preservation of world peace.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 10, China (PRC): 10/80–1/81. Confidential.
  2. Carter drew an arrow pointing to this paragraph and wrote, “Zbig—Incorporate (briefly) in announcement. J.” The October 22 White House statement announcing the signing of the agreement is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1980, pp. 2423–2424.