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


  • NSC Weekly Report #23

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Taiwan Lobby.]

3. Alerts

The Taiwan Lobby and Its Significance

As we move toward normalization of relations with the PRC, we should be aware of the activities of the Taiwan Lobby. After a long period on the defensive, the Lobby is actively campaigning to derail recognition. Here is a short report:

Until the mid-1960s, the Taiwan Lobby was thought to have great political clout. Then, in the late sixties and even more after Nixon’s 1972 visit, the Lobby fell into disarray. More recently and particularly in the [Page 122] past year, Taipei has concluded that it can help derail normalization. A more active program has therefore been launched. The essence of Taiwan’s public posture is as follows:

Taiwan cannot survive without the Defense Treaty. (In reality, Chiang Ching-kuo believes Taiwan can survive.)

Taiwan is responsive to the President’s human rights stand, while the PRC is a gross violator of human rights as we understand it. (In my opinion, there is a good deal of truth in this claim.)

It would be immoral for the U.S. to “dump” Taiwan for reasons of real politic. The strong have an obligation toward the weak, particularly to old and loyal allies. In this sense, Taiwan is the Israel of the East. (This is a clever Taiwanese gambit, for it seeks to link pro-Taiwanese sentiment with the Israeli lobby.)

Taipei’s lobbying activities are national in scope. Recently, for example, the ROC has made a special effort to cultivate support among Georgians, especially in Plains. Taiwan’s second largest city has adopted Plains as a sister city. Last week, Mayor Blanton was induced to invite the PRC MIG defector to visit Plains and to become an honorary citizen of the town—which then received front page headlines in the Taiwan press.

The ROC is good at using mirrors to make us think they have a constituency. Some staunch supporters exist on the Hill (Goldwater, Tower, Dole, Zablocki, possibly Stone). Americans do feel uneasy about allowing the Treaty to lapse—a sentiment the ROC adroitly exploits. But we can easily exaggerate the Lobby’s effectiveness and thereby intensify in our minds an essentially manageable problem. The Taiwan Lobby does not constitute a major obstacle to normalization. The real issue concerns our willingness to grasp this thorny issue at a time that is strategically and politically advantageous to us.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 41, Weekly Reports (to the President), 16–30: (6/77–9/77). Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten “C” at the top of the page indicates Carter saw the memorandum.