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


  • Summary of April 11, 1978 Meeting on Korea and China

I met with Cy and Harold to survey our China and Korea policies.2 We are particularly interested in ascertaining your reaction to our discussion on technology transfer summarized below:

On Korea. We face considerable problems on the Hill in securing the arms transfers which we have pledged to the Koreans would accompany the withdrawal. JCS support of the withdrawal is contingent upon Congress approving equipment transfer to the ROK. However, Koreagate has made many Congressmen reluctant to vote for any aid to Seoul this year. Cy, Harold, and I sought to identify the alternatives if we conclude the compensatory package will not be obtained: (1) to persist in withdrawing the entire brigade in December, as now planned; (2) to begin the first withdrawals in December but prolong the process; or (3) to be willing to delay the withdrawals at the behest of Congress if the leadership thinks the climate for the transfer legislation would be greatly improved by early next year. We will hold a meeting with the JCS and Stan Turner before presenting an options paper to you.

On China. We decided to present you with an options paper outlining the advantages and disadvantages of seeking normalization (a) before the November elections; (b) soon after the elections; or (c) not until 1981. Courses (a) and (b) propose that Leonard Woodcock should engage in quiet, serious diplomacy soon after my trip.

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On Arms Sales to Taiwan. We face a choice of whether to sell F–4s or F–5Es to replace aging F–100s and F–104s. State and DOD are currently split on this issue. DOD favors the F–4s on grounds of the long-term protection they will offer to ROC security and the domestic political benefit such a sale would have on the Taiwan Lobby when we may be moving on normalization. State favors the F–5E because anything beyond that may provoke Peking. We will have a meeting with JCS and Stan Turner before submitting the issue to you.3

On Technology Transfer to the PRC. We have now reached agreement and recommend to you that in the licensing of sales of dual-purpose items to communist countries we should take into account the capacity of the country involved to divert the item from civilian to military use. In short, we recommend that licensing a sale of items to one communist country should not set a precedent for sale to another, though naturally we would take into account the likelihood of transfer of the item from one communist country to another.

We have already established differentials for Poland and Romania. Our recommendation is that we introduce greater flexibility in our ability to transfer technology to China, particularly for the development of agriculture, energy, medical services, and mining. At present, licenses for exports to China are frequently denied solely because of fear a precedent is being set for sale to the USSR.

Yet, we would not wish to establish a decisive “pro-China tilt” in our export policy. Rather, within an overall policy of evenhandedness, and taking into account our genuine national security concerns vis-a-vis the PRC, we recommend an export policy toward the PRC and USSR which takes into account that our security concerns toward the two are not precisely the same.

If you concur with this recommendation, I will proceed to draft the precise guidelines for the bureaucracy.


That you approve the results of the meeting, including our recommendation on the policy of transfer of dual-purpose items to the PRC.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 56, Policy Process: 1–4/78. Secret. Sent for action. The date is handwritten. At the top of the first page, Carter expressed his approval for the proposed studies (on Korea, China normalization, and arms sales to Taiwan) by writing, “First 3 studies ok—needed. J.” In the margin next to the paragraphs summarizing each of these topics, Carter wrote, “OK.”
  2. See Document 94.
  3. No record of a meeting has been found.
  4. Carter neither approved nor disapproved the recommendation. Instead, at the bottom of the page, he wrote, “I’m concerned about transferring advanced electronics & other technology to PRC if it can later be used for military purposes. Also a policy of favoring PRC over S. Union. Give me examples to illustrate. J.”