61. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • A Response to Thornton Polemic (Log #6340)

I prefer not to engage in polemics.

I prefer to congratulate Tom on the excellent list of interlocutors he has arranged for the President through the rigid application of his principle. The validity of the principle Tom defends is revealed by the results it has produced.

It is clear Tom has chosen to draw conclusions before becoming fully informed about the effort to secure a Huang–Carter meeting. In particular, Tom seems to be laboring under the impression that we asked the Chinese for the meeting. That is inaccurate. I carefully monitored all messages between State and the PRC U.N. Mission. Both sides expressed an interest in a meeting, and the question was whether a time could be arranged.

By the time we were able to specify a day and hour, the Chinese had already made plans for the Canadians to send an aircraft to New York for a 10:00 a.m. pickup. Huang is scheduled to see Trudeau imme[Page 241]diately upon his arrival, the Chinese have told us. All sources suggest the Chinese were genuinely sorry a meeting could not take place.

Not only is Tom’s characterization of our behavior as undignified simply incorrect, but I am concerned about his lack of discretion in disseminating inaccurate information to other staff members before discussing the matter with me. This is how inaccurate items find their way to the press.

I have mentioned this to Tom orally. There is no reason to involve you in issues before your staff first tries to clarify the issues and to prevent misunderstandings.

On the broader subject—how we should deal with the Chinese in the absence of normal diplomatic relations—I would welcome a staff discussion. It is clear Tom feels cowed by Sinologists. I am not surprised. Indianists, reflecting India, are generally cowed; it’s one of the root problems of Hindu culture.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 8, China (People’s Republic of): 7–9/77. Secret. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Thornton. At the top of the page, Brzezinski wrote, “DA. Things are getting lively! ZB.” The memorandum was a response to Thornton’s September 27 memorandum, see Document 60.