50. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • International Issues; Normalization


  • U.S.
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Woodcock
  • Under Secretary Habib
  • Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, EA
  • William H. Gleysteen, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary, EA
  • Michel Oksenberg, NSC
  • Alan D. Romberg, S/P
  • (seated behind:
  • Cornelia Mossellem, notetaker)
  • P.R.C.
  • Teng Hsiao-ping, Vice Premier
  • Huang Hua, Foreign Minister
  • Huang Chen, Chief, PRC Liaison Office in the U.S.
  • Wang Hai-jung, Vice Foreign Minister
  • Lin Ping, Director, American and Oceanian Affairs Department, MFA
  • Chien Chi-chen, Director, Infor-mation Department, MFA
  • Tang Wen-sheng, Deputy Director, American and Oceanian Department, MFA (and interpreter)
  • Liu Hua, Acting Director, Protocol Department, MFA
  • Ting Yuan-hung, Chief, American Division, American and Oceanian Department, MFA
  • Shih Yen-hua, Interpreter
  • (seated behind:
  • Lien Cheng-pao, Deputy Chief, American Division, American and Oceanian Department, MFA;
  • two other notetakers)

Vice Premier Teng: Welcome, Mr. Secretary, I greet you all and salute the health of all of you. I hear you are going to stay in Japan.

The Secretary: Yes, for a day and a half before we go home. I will have a chance to talk to Prime Minister Fukuda and the Foreign Minister as well and cover a number of items that we have agreed to talk about.2

[Page 192]

Teng: Did you stay overnight on the way over?

The Secretary: I did stop on the way for one night to get adjusted and help break the journey. It helped a great deal.

Teng: That has been my experience too.

The Secretary: I bring to you best wishes and greetings from President Carter.

Teng: Thank you and please thank him for me and upon your return please convey to him my own greetings. We haven’t met yet.

The Secretary: I shall do that. He has read and heard about you a great deal.

Teng: I am internationally a well-known man. I have survived thrice and gone down thrice. It is not because I have any capability; it is because I have been three times up and three times down, that is why I am well-known. For instance, you here are all diplomats and I am just a country bumpkin!

The Secretary: I am a part-time diplomat.

Teng: Yes but Mr. Habib is the specialist and has made a career out of diplomacy.

The Secretary: That he has, Mr. Habib and one or two of the others have.

Teng: But if you don’t like the name diplomat then call yourselves politicians or statesmen. I am a man who knows very little about politics but who has fought in several decades of war—for more than 20 years. Well, so how shall we proceed?

The Secretary: I believe, Mr. Vice Premier, you probably have been filled in fully on the views that I have expressed with respect to international issues and our foreign policy, as well as our views on some of the bilateral matters between our two nations. It would be of great help to me if you would be willing to express your views on some of these issues so I might be able to transmit them to President Carter on my return.

Teng: I have heard just now that Foreign Minister Huang and yourself have had several sessions.

The Secretary: We have indeed had very useful talks.

Teng: Yes, and in the past we have held discussions with several leaders of the United States. I myself did not personally participate in the talks with President Nixon but later on I met with Dr. Kissinger when he came; later on with President Ford. And, in all discussions with the U.S. side, both sides made clear their respective views on various international issues.

We have always said that between our two countries there exists the important issue of Taiwan. We have also always said that between [Page 193] our two countries there is also the question which is of at least equal importance, the political aspect, and that means the questions of international strategy. During these conversations with first, Dr. Kissinger, and President Ford, Chairman Mao said on several occasions there are quite a few points in common between us and these common points are manifest concentratedly in our common dealings with the Polar Bear.

I have heard about some of your views on international issues and it seems that you have full confidence in the United States. If that should be true we will be very happy. But it seems that the views and opinions and thinking within the United States might not be the same. There are those who are more optimistic. There are also those who have greater farsightedness and perceive things more deeply and who feel that the United States also has some deficiencies and who are even a bit worried. It seems that the views of Mr. Secretary on some issues are even different from those of Dr. Kissinger; different also from those of President Ford and those of President Nixon.

The Secretary: Yes, that is true Mr. Vice Premier. We have many, many views that are common and we have some differences of views. I do have confidence in the United States and in the fact that the vast majority of the people of the United States do support the President in his views and in his conduct of foreign policy. However, I indicated earlier the situation has changed from the time when Mr. Kissinger was here last and during the 1970’s when there was a great deal of division in the United States. That is past. At the present time, there is much more cohesion in the United States and much more support for the President and his objectives. It is true there are some differences in the United States as there will be in every nation. Anyone will make a great mistake if they believe the vast majority of the people were not behind the President and his policies. The polls reflect a very, very high degree of confidence in the President after his first six months in office.

Teng: You just now mentioned changes. As we see it there have indeed been some changes. In the Middle East and in Africa during the recent period you have gained a bit. But when we speak about changes, changes are not something that stop after they reach a certain point and become static; they will continue to change.

Because the Polar Bear you are confronting is one with wild ambitions—wild ambitions to conquer the world and to establish its hegemony over the world. We have always felt that your two countries will continue your contention, your rivalry and your competition as well as your arms competition, and your strategic stance throughout the world will continue to undergo changes. Sometimes changes are more favorable to the Soviet Union and they would gain. Sometimes changes are a bit more favorable to you. But, in the final analysis, as I [Page 194] said to Dr. Kissinger before, perhaps you will continue your competition for even a thousand years.

The Secretary: I think it is possible this competition will continue for the foreseeable future Mr. Vice Premier, but if you look at the competition on a region-by-region basis, the changes which are taking place are in general favorable to the United States.


Take for example the case of Africa. There we have a policy which differs from the policies of the past where we are working closely with the African nations to help them to bring about African solutions to African problems. One can take a look at Rhodesia and Namibia where we are working with the peoples of the area to bring about a change to majority rule in the near future and obviously by peaceful means and this we are doing in conjunction with local leaders—with front line leaders and also, with their help and advice, with Namibia as well. I think this is all to the good. As I look across the face of Africa I think we are making progress.

The same, I believe, is true in the Middle East and Europe as well. Since the advent of this Administration, as I indicated to the Foreign Minister, steps are being taken to strengthen the NATO alliance and, therefore, to increase the overall strength of the European Community to resist aggression and at the same time strengthen its economy, which is necessary to the well-being of its people.

Could I ask a couple of questions Mr. Vice Premier? How do you believe that China can contribute to our common objective in Africa, and in the Middle East?

Teng: With regard to the African issue as I see it, or as we see it, perhaps if you are able to hold Smith at bay and hold South Africa at bay you might be able to maintain your superiority over the Soviet Union for the time being. If not, there will be further changes.

Middle East

As to the Middle East, if you are able to hold Israel at bay, then you might be able to hold your superiority for a bit longer. If not there will again be changes.

Of course you know that we concern ourselves with the strategic global situation which includes Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Eastern side of the globe. You perhaps also know that when the Soviet Union began to reach its hands out to Egypt, Chairman Mao said to Dr. Kissinger: “Why doesn’t the United States use both hands?” You of course are using one hand to assist Israel; why cannot you use the other hand to assist Sadat?

The Secretary: We are using both hands.

[Page 195]

Teng: That was done well and that proves also that our suggestions aren’t so bad. Therefore, I would like to put forward another proposal. Beware of further changes, there will be further changes.

The Secretary: Yes, I am sure there will always be further changes, but I think one should try to shape them in one’s direction if possible. To sit back and do nothing makes one a prisoner of changes over which one has no control.

Teng: I hope that can be done.

The Secretary: We believe very strongly if we take a passive position and do not attempt to take a constructive way to shape events we will be making a mistake and therefore in the Middle East and elsewhere we will be formulating our policy with that in mind.

Teng: I hope you succeed.

The Secretary: Thank you.

PRM 10

Teng: We are more concerned about Europe. I would like to ask a question too. I hear that you have a #10 PRM. What is that all about?

The Secretary: PRM–10 is a study paper which has been done over a period of a number of weeks within the government.3 It is one of many study papers which have been done about many, many areas. There is a great deal of misinformation which appears in the papers about PRM–10 and other similar studies. So if one reads only what is conveyed in the newspapers one may often get a misleading, inaccurate and distorted view about what it is all really about. Let me say also that these are merely preliminary position papers which do not reflect final decisions by the President and his senior advisers.

Teng: Perhaps you will know in the past the Chairman posed a question to a visiting foreigner inquiring whether or not the United States would turn to isolationism. I note that in your talks Mr. Secretary of State has said there is no longer any talk about isolationism in the United States. That is very good.

The Secretary: Yes, there has been a real change in this direction.

Teng: You also have a doctrine in the Sonnenfeldt Doctrine.

The Secretary: That is not our doctrine—he was in the last Administration.

Teng: I do not mean your doctrine personally but it has appeared in your country.

[Page 196]

The Secretary: That was the past Administration not the doctrine of our Administration.

Teng: It seemed to me that that #10 PRM was the concrete manifestation of that doctrine.

The Secretary: It has been reported in an inaccurate fashion. I do not know what you saw or what report you got. In any case, as I said, PRM–10 does not necessarily reflect the final views of the President. Even as late as this morning we were talking about this with the Foreign Minister and I indicated to him that our view is very clear on this. We do not believe that Eastern Europe is an area for a sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. We believe we should adopt policies with respect to each of the Eastern European countries which accord with our own interests. We have different views toward the policies respecting different countries. We are in the middle of discussing this. Our relationships with the following countries are best—with Poland, with Hungary and Romania.

Teng: We are in favor of you doing more work in Eastern Europe. We have divided the world into three worlds according to the teachings of Chairman Mao and when we speak about the second world that includes Eastern Europe. I beg your pardon, but in figuring this pattern we have put you in the same category with the Soviet Union. You are in the first category. But with regard to the second world it includes not only Western but Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is not a monolithic bloc.

You just now asked me what I saw about PRM–10. What I saw was a concrete decision or plan that if the Soviet Union were to invade Germany you would be prepared to give up one-third of Germany.

The Secretary: That was the first story. Subsequently, a second story correcting that was that there had been omitted the point that any part given up in the battle would be recovered.

Teng: That is very dangerous. I have fought in war. Because if that is the state of your mentality, the results will be dangerous. You would then give up the second third, and the third third will follow. You will end up with a Dunkirk.

The Secretary: This is but a study and what it was saying was, if in the early stages of the battle some land had to be given up, that would be recovered before the battle was concluded.

Teng: You perhaps know better than we do that the PRM–10 gave rise to very strong reaction in Europe. There was reason for their uneasiness. You said that there is no longer any isolationist trend in the United States. We are willing to believe that explanation but there seems to exist at least a kind of appeasement.

The Secretary: In what form?

[Page 197]

Teng: That PRM was the manifestation.

The Secretary: I think you have placed much too much emphasis on this paper which was inaccurately reported. This is what happens when people get hold of a fragment of information and report it inaccurately.

Let me tell you what the President’s view is. That is what is important. Even before this Administration came into office, a number of us met with the President during October, November and December in preparation for the new Administration taking office. One of the very first subjects we looked at was the question of Europe and the clear decision made by the President was that we needed to strengthen our NATO forces and that he would give the necessary directions to see that that was done and take the leadership within NATO to see that others joined with us. After he came to power he went to the NATO Council and gave a speech outlining the concrete steps to be taken to bring this about. This was well received and is being followed and carried out by our NATO Allies. In addition, he has put a very substantial sum into the budget this year which will be followed in subsequent years to strengthen NATO. I have followed this very closely because I was formerly the Secretary of the Army and the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Teng’s interjects during interpreting: So we come from the same category.) and these matters are matters in which I have a great interest.

Teng: Anyway we don’t have much else to say. What we wish to say are still the same old words, that is to say you should not negate or to take lightly the Polar Bear. The second point is also old words. That is we always wish to see the establishment of a truly equal partnership between the United States and its European Allies. If that can be accomplished that would be better. You of course know the “gang of four” overthrew me and it has been a year and eight months since I have come in contact with some Europeans. But in 1974 and 1975 I came into contact with very many Europeans. Those Europeans were not satisfied with everything the United States did. They were not without their worries—not without their anxieties.

Southern Europe

President Tito will be coming before long and we will discuss with him international issues too. President Tito is a very staunch man and while he is there, there will not be great problems. We have learned that during his visit to Moscow he refused some unreasonable demands raised by the Soviet Union (Secretary Vance: Yes) The Balkans are said to be “powder kegs” which I believe derived from the First World War. Mr. Habib has sat in on many of our previous discussions and will know that we have also attached importance to this and call your atten[Page 198]tion to this attitude. I heard that Mr. Secretary said that you also attach great importance to that but your concrete plans are still in your pocket. (Laughter)

The Secretary: That is true.

Teng: Anyway, if the Soviet Union gains the upper hand in the Balkans, that would greatly affect the Mediterranean, the Middle East and even Africa. Therefore this is an area that should not be under-estimated. A politician from Austria discussed this with me once and was mortally afraid that something might happen. He told me very explicitly that if there should occur a situation after the passing away of Tito in which the nationality issues in Yugoslavia, which are themselves very complicated, should become a problem, and the Soviet Union should make use of that to control Yugoslavia, then Yugoslavia would become a Soviet corridor; and he was very worried about that. The Soviet Union would gain control over Yugoslavia and then Austria would become its corridor and he was worried about that. When I talked with Secretary Kissinger, with Germans, French and British, we have always asked them to pay attention to Yugoslavia and to pay close and serious attention, and to give them earnest help. It is the United States which is in a better position to help them.

The Secretary: I might say a word. We have been keeping in close touch with Yugoslavia during the first six months of the Carter Administration, and they have clearly suggested that they would like to talk to us about military assistance. We have indicated to them that we are happy to do so and we will be having talks with them in the near future.

Teng: Very good.

The Secretary: Mr. Kardelj is coming to see me in the fall, and perhaps in the early part of 1978 Mr. Tito will come to see President Carter.

Teng: Good. I would like to add a few more words that you must pay attention to this issue because, although there might only be a few people in your country whose opinion is manifest in PRM–10, if in case of real war one-third of Germany is given away then the Balkans will fall into the hands of the Soviet Union and the whole of southern Europe will be in great threat. Not only the Balkans but Austria and Italy and Spain and Portugal and portions of the Mediterranean, and the Soviet Union will be able to activate the whole of Eastern Europe. You might not be in complete agreement with the views I have expressed.

The Secretary: I am generally in agreement with those views. We sincerely attach the highest importance to the security of Yugoslavia and also recognize the loss of Yugoslavia would be a very, very serious matter not only for the Mediterranean but for the central part of Europe and countries stretching through the West as well.

[Page 199]

Teng: And even the Middle East and Africa.

The Secretary: I also mentioned to the Foreign Minister that we are concerned about the situation on the southern flank of NATO—in Greece and Turkey—and the need to try and help the relationship between those two countries because we feel the erosion which has taken place there is very dangerous.

Teng: That is true. These issues are more or less complicated.

The Secretary: As I indicated to the Foreign Minister, we are also pleased that progress has been made in Portugal and Spain where the recent elections and actions taken by those two governments have been positive from the standpoint of strengthening Western Europe.

Teng: Good. So now let’s change the subject. The issues that we discussed just now belong in the category of global strategy. And when we say that we have quite a few points in common they fall mainly in this category. As for other issues—those in the East, we don’t have to go into them. The Foreign Minister has discussed them with you already and I recall them from when you were here year before last.4

East and South Asia: Indian Ocean

The Secretary: Yes, we discussed Korea, Japan, the Philippines, India and Pakistan and Diego Garcia that fall.

Teng: Yes, we did.

The Secretary: At that time you said it was important we maintain bases in the Philippines, that we continue to develop our facility at Diego Garcia, that we should pay attention to the situation in India which has improved since we last met, and Pakistan which is approaching a more stable situation than it has during the last half a year or so.

Teng: Yes, and just before your current visit there were some people who have been saying that we quarreled the last time. I don’t recall we did this.

The Secretary: Not so. That is the newspapers again.

Nuclear Proliferation

Teng: Yes, we did disagree a bit on nuclear proliferation.

The Secretary: Yes, that was the one issue.

Teng: Our views remain different. During that discussion I remember that I said to you the boat rises with water which was also what I said to Dr. Kissinger. To be candid with you, the boat rises with the water.

[Page 200]

The Secretary: I had hoped you perhaps would have a different view this time.

Teng: No, that is an objective situation. It is a matter of fact and therefore not a question of my changing my views but one that the facts have not changed.

The Secretary: But you did say, as I recall, your policy was one against proliferation.

Teng: I said then that there was no need to fear proliferation.

The Secretary: Yes I remember, but I thought you said you would not take steps to assist others in proliferating.

Teng: I said when speaking about ourselves that we were not the ones who engaged in nuclear proliferation but I also said nuclear powers had no right to deny others the right to possess nuclear weapons. We can each maintain our respective views and let the facts draw the conclusion. Do you agree with that?

The Secretary: Yes.


Teng: Thank you. Let’s turn to bilateral relations. I read your statement, Mr. Secretary in which you put forward your formula. Do you have anything more to add to it?

The Secretary: I would like to say a few more words. What I said to Minister Huang on normalization is a very serious proposal which the President and I have talked about many, many times. That proposal is worth serious study. I believe it may hold the key to progress and I further believe our views are consistent with the position which you have taken. As I said to the Minister this morning, it is our task to find a way to solve the problem that is consistent with firm principles and also takes into account practical considerations. I would hope it would receive very careful study and that in the future we might discuss the matter further. I take note of the fact that the Foreign Minister will probably be at the United Nations for the General Assembly and perhaps at that time we might discuss the matter further and receive the views or suggestions which you might have.

Teng: I agree that it is necessary to discuss it further on the basis of the Shanghai Communique. I noticed that at the end of your statement you expressed the desire for us not to give an immediate answer and that you would understand it if we gave a reply after further study. We have stated our position on this on many occasions, and therefore I believe myself to be in a position to comment on your proposal this afternoon.

I noted that you expressed that this formula you put forward you held to be possibly a starting point—a point of procedure for discus[Page 201]sion. I do not believe that to be very accurate. The point of procedure is the Shanghai Communique. The Shanghai Communique was issued in February 1972 and five and a half years have elapsed in between. We have met and discussed this issue on many occasions since, which not only included meetings with our Foreign Minister and your Secretary of State at the site of the United Nations, but also with Presidents Nixon and Ford and many visits by Dr. Kissinger, and we have repeatedly discussed this issue. And therefore this should be considered the continuation of that process and not a new start. I say this because during President Ford’s visit in 1975 he went a bit further on this issue.5

Please allow me to make a comment on your current formula. In my opinion, this formula is not a step forward from the original process of normalization. It is, on the contrary, a retreat from it.

What is the prerequisite for the settlement of this issue, the settlement of the issue of normalization of relations between China and the United States according to the principles of the Shanghai Communique? That prerequisite is that it is the United States which will have to make up its mind. It is not China that is called upon to do that.

Sino-U.S. relations have travelled over an historic process. It has undergone an historic course. You have mentioned during your visit here you do not believe we should excessively entangle ourselves in history. We also believe that. But as we have said many times before on this issue, it is not China which owes a debt to the United States but the United States owes a debt to China.

Dr. Kissinger had accepted and made that point on many occasions, and naturally it is very clear then whose responsibility it is to solve this issue and it is clear who should make up its mind. Please allow me to use a part from the minutes of my discussion with Dr. Kissinger on November 28, 1975 (Note: actually 1974).6

(Nancy Tang reads) The Vice Premier said “The day before yesterday during these talks I said it is you who owed us a debt.” Dr. Kissinger nodded. “It is U.S. troops who are occupying Taiwan. As the Dr. said just now, it is the U.S. which will adopt unilateral measures. Will we be called upon to take any measures?” Dr. Kissinger said: “We do not ask you to take any reciprocal measures.” “There is a Chinese saying that it is he who tied the knot who should untie it. If you believe that the time has not yet come to solve the issue, then we can wait. We can wait until you have thought it out clearly then solve it in one stroke. [Page 202] We can wait a few years. We can refrain from rushing this, but if it is to be solved it must be done in conformity with the three principles.” Kissinger said: “I understand this issue and I believe it can be solved in conformity with these three principles. I appreciate the Chinese side which gives me the opportunity to reconsider this question. I realize for the Chinese side to adopt this position is an expression of great wisdom, generosity and self-restraint. I also recognize due to the nature of this issue and our previous discussions we indeed owe you a debt.” (Nancy Tang stops reading the record.)

This is the prerequisite from which we must proceed in solving this issue. From what I have read about Mr. Secretary’s statement regarding normalization, we can see that in fact you have negated the historical sources of this issue which Dr. Kissinger had admitted. The true state of affairs is that it is the United States which owes China a debt and not China which owes the United States a debt, and once this is realized the question can be solved easily.

I would like to add further that when I said just now that in the process of discussing this issue we had made some progress before, I meant the discussion I had with President Ford on December 4, 1975 in which he said he wanted to state that, after the elections the next year, he would be in a better position to move forward concretely toward normalization and he would be able to follow along with the Japanese arrangement.7 So, there are the two points that I meant when I just now mentioned that we had made progress during our discussion on issues of normalization. 1) Who owes who a debt—that is a prerequisite and 2) the position that President Ford had taken that he would act along the Japanese arrangement in solving the issue of normalization between China and the United States if he continued in office after the elections.

As for the present Administration, we noted that after President Carter came into office, he specifically noted at the beginning of the Administration where he in effect indicated that the new Government did not undertake the commitments of the previous government.

Of course we do not request that the present government must undertake all the commitments of the previous President and Secretary of State. But I would like only to point out that your present formula is a retreat from the previous state of affairs. Anyway, we must clarify one fact. That is, it is the United States which is occupying Taiwan and it will not do if you try to put equal blame on both sides. And during your [Page 203] discussions, Mr. Secretary of State said that neither side should impose its will on the other side. That is correct. But with regard to the issues we are confronting now it is the United States which wishes to control Taiwan and obstruct China from reunifying their own motherland. What threat does China pose to the United States? If we are talking about a threat, we can only say it is the United States which poses a threat to China. How can it be said that both sides should take equal blame? It is only the United States which owes a debt to China. China owes nothing to the United States.

The Secretary of State has just now said he hoped we would reconsider this proposal. Such a question does not arise. We have considered this for so many years and even recently five and a half years have passed.

There does not arise either the issue of both sides making reciprocal efforts. It is for the United States to make up its mind. We have repeatedly stated three conditions for the normalization of relations: severance of so-called diplomatic relations with the Chiang clique on Taiwan, withdrawal of U.S. forces in Taiwan and in the Taiwan Straits area, and (abrogation of the treaty). That is in short words the Japanese formula and, to be honest, to agree to use the Japanese formula was a concession of the Chinese to the United States side.

We have also stated on many occasions that the Chinese are a patient people. We have also said that if the United States feels that it still needs Taiwan, then we can wait. And in discussing the time limit for the liberation of Taiwan, Chairman Mao, in discussing this with Dr. Kissinger, said we might do it in five years, in ten years, in twenty years or one hundred years. Mr. Habib should know that.

So the question now is for the United States to make up its mind. I believe when you came the year before last we also touched upon this issue. I don’t remember my exact words but I recall I said something like: if you want to do something do it briskly—why messily?

It all boils down to those three conditions—the Japanese formula. As for non-governmental contacts, we can agree to some; as for the liberation of Taiwan, that is an internal affair of China. Among Chinese here I am 73 and I probably will not have many more days left before I go to meet Marx.8 But Chairman Hua is 57 and he may live to see the liberation of Taiwan and reunification with the motherland without the participation of the United States. As for the mode by which we will liberate Taiwan, that is an internal affair of China. During his discussion [Page 204] with Dr. Kissinger, Chairman Mao even asked this question: “With such a bunch of renegades and counter-revolutionaries on Taiwan, do you think it would be able to be peacefully liberated?” Those may not have been his exact words but that is the essence of the question.

We are prepared to seek peaceful means of settling this issue without the participation of the United States—without your intervention after China and the United States have established relations. But we do not exclude the forceful liberation of Taiwan under military means.

Your Excellency spoke about the prospects of the peaceful liberation of Taiwan and the peaceful settlement of Taiwan. I can accept half of that but not the other half. My words are the same old words: as to when and how the Chinese people liberate Taiwan, that is an internal affair of China which brooks no interference from any foreign quarter.

Speaking about the liberation of Taiwan you have said the United States is very concerned about the security of Taiwan. I should say that it must be that the Chinese people themselves are more concerned about the issue pertaining to their own country than the United States. We Chinese and the Chinese Government will naturally take into consideration the actual situation in Taiwan and adopt appropriate policies in approaching the issue of the reunification of Taiwan with the motherland. But this is entirely a Chinese internal affair.

As for another point the Secretary mentioned, you said, in effect, if you did not concern yourself about Taiwan then it would give rise to a series of repercussions which would have an effect on other countries. But I think that might not necessarily be so, because as I see it if there are to be such reactions they would be good, not bad. At least within the United States it would have a better effect rather than a bad one.

I recall when we met last time we also discussed the issue of Korea, and I said at that time: Do you think the Korean issue is different from other issues? It belongs in the same category with the question of the so-called two Chinas, two Germanys, the two Vietnams, and the two Koreas. I have on numerous occasions tried to advise our American friends that they should think earnestly when dealing on issues like this in which whole countries are split into two. Germany, no matter Western or Eastern Germany, has nationalist sentiment to strive for reunification, for that is a tide which is irresistible. Same with regard to Taiwan and China and the two Koreas—as to two Vietnams haven’t they recently been reunified? I recall saying with regard to two Germanys if this issue is not solved within one hundred years, it will be solved within one thousand.

Therefore I would suggest that the United States Government should seriously consider this aspect of the issue. That is, when dealing with Taiwan you should not only see so many assets and investments [Page 205] and old friends, you should also perceive the national sentiment of the Chinese people.

I should also advise you not to only see one aspect of the Taiwan issue, not only believe it is favorable or beneficial to you to keep Taiwan in your hands. You should see it may become a heavy burden to you. If it is not able to be solved in ten years you will have to carry the burden for ten years—if a hundred years, you will have to carry the burden for a hundred years.

That is the same in Vietnam. You supported South Vietnam which became a greater burden. You were later involved through war and that relieved you from that burden and made it possible for you to take the initiative in dealing with Southeast Asia. It enabled you to be in a more positive position. What adverse effect did that have? After the solution of Vietnam and Cambodia, reaction about your position in Southeast Asia was strengthened rather than weakened. It did not cause any split within your country nor any great debate within your country. From the point of view of global strategy, as you make up your mind to solve the issue between you and us on Taiwan, then it will be beneficial to your overall strategic stance and will better your strategic stance in dealing with the “Polar Bear”.

All these words are like firing empty cannons, but I would suggest that you think them over. I fully believe that you put forward this formula after ample consideration. But as I just now commented, this whole formula when reviewed in comparison with the course we followed in the past five years is a retreat and not a step forward. If you make up your minds to solve the issue, then do it briskly—severing of relations, removal of troops, abrogating the treaty. And we have even taken into account the actual state of affairs and agreed for you to go along with the Japanese formula. This means allowance of non-governmental contacts.

As for the method by which we reunify Taiwan with the motherland, let us Chinese worry about that. We Chinese do have the ability to solve our own issues. There is no need whatever for American friends to worry themselves over such issues.

Two Points

As for the formula that you put forward, Foreign Minister Huang Hua’s words represent our view. It actually boils down to two points, one, that you want us to undertake the commitment not to use force in liberating Taiwan. This constitutes interference in the internal affairs of China. The second point is that you want an Embassy that does not have a sign on its door. No matter what you call it by name or whether you can fly your flag on it—in the final analysis it is the reversal of the existing Liaison Office, switching the Liaison Office to Taiwan.

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I believe you must have read the political report which Chairman Hua Kuo-feng made to the 11th Party Congress, especially policies on international issues and the issue of Taiwan. Those words are the consistent stand of our Party and our Government and that is an unwavering stand—a position that cannot be changed. And, therefore, to be candid, we cannot agree to your formula. But we still look forward to further discussions.

And to borrow your words, we do not request an immediate reply from you and would be willing for you to take this back and report to your President and have your Government reconsider this carefully and tackle the issue from the viewpoint of strategy—from the viewpoint of the overall situation, the political situation.


I would finally like also to say something on the question of patience. We have stated on many occasions we are patient. This is to mean that in improving relations between our two countries we can afford to do it in a more leisurely manner and more appropriate manner so that it will benefit the many points we have in common around the globe.

But we hope that you do not misunderstand this and take it as meaning that the Chinese will tolerate unlimited procrastination with regard to this issue. I hope our friends will take note of the fact that in every statement we make every year and in every report, every resolution, we always hold this sentence—“We are determined to liberate Taiwan.” (This is nine words in Chinese. I don’t know how many in English—Chinese side laughs.) This is the will of the Chinese people. It is put forward as a task to be undertaken by the Chinese Government. If I at my age will not be able to realize the liberation of Taiwan then one can only say that I am not a person of ability. But Chairman Hua will be able to see it. His age will allow him to be able to see that the task is fulfilled. But even if he couldn’t, the next generation will see it. And, I hope the world understands that these are not empty words. (In Chinese: empty cannons) That is all I have to say. I have been very candid because your formula has been very candid too, which we appreciate.

The Secretary: Thank you very much. This has been a very useful and helpful discussion. We agree that the Shanghai Communiqué is the starting point. We have so indicated in what we have said to you including the fact that we acknowledge there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. In our concrete suggestions or proposal, we have indicated we would be prepared to terminate or sever diplomatic relations. We have indicated we would be prepared to take out our troops and remove our installations from Taiwan. And we have indicated that we would be prepared to let the treaty lapse. As a result of [Page 207] this discussion I understand more clearly what the differences of view are that remain between us. We will reflect on what you have had to say and I shall discuss it with the President. And I agree that we should continue to discuss this matter after both you and we have had a chance to reflect on the useful discussions we have had today and the useful discussions we have had with the Foreign Minister.

Teng: Good.

The Secretary: Let me express my personal appreciation, and I know I express that of President Carter, for the candor with which you have spoken, because it is only through that straight-forward candor that problems can be resolved.

Teng: Yes, you were Secretary of the Army and I am Chief of the General Staff so we are both military men. It is better to deal with matters straight-forward.

The Secretary: I also appreciate very much the time you have given us today. I know how busy your schedule is and I appreciate it very sincerely.

Teng: Thank you.

The Secretary: But these are matters of such importance that they deserve to be discussed in serious discussions at very senior levels.

Teng: Good. Let’s end the discussion. We will meet at the dinner table later on.9

The Secretary: Thank you very much.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 56, Policy Process: 8/22–31/77. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Great Hall of the People. Vance’s account of this meeting is in telegram Secto 9029, August 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840076–0832)
  2. Vance visited Japan August 26 and 27 after leaving Beijing.
  3. PRM 10, February 18, 1977, requested a “Comprehensive Net Assessment and Military Force Posture Review.” Documentation on the PRM and responses to it is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IV, National Security Policy.
  4. Vance met with Deng during his October 1975 visit to Beijing.
  5. Deng is referring to his meeting with Ford on December 4, 1975, in Beijing. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Document 137.
  6. The passage quoted here is presumably the Chinese record of the November 28, 1974, meeting between Deng and Kissinger; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Document 98. Earlier, on November 26, Deng told Kissinger, “you owe us a debt.” See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Document 92.
  7. During the December 4, 1975, meeting, Ford said, “And, we do understand and we are grateful for the patience that your government has had. On the other hand, we want to say after the election we will be in a position to move much more specifically toward the normalization of relations, along the model perhaps of the Japanese arrangement, but it will take some time, bearing in mind our domestic political situation.” (See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Document 137)
  8. In contrast to Deng’s statement about meeting Marx, Mao had told Kissinger and Ford about his “invitation from God.” See, for example, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Document 124. See also Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal, pp. 881–882, 891, 894.
  9. No record of the dinner meeting has been found.