151. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • SALT, CTB, Indian Ocean, Africa, Middle East, Belgrade Conference, Vietnam, Fukuda Visit, Claims/Assets, Exchange Program


  • People’s Republic of China
  • Ambassador Huang Chen
  • Counselor Tsien Ta-yung
  • Third Secretary Hsu Shang-wei
  • United States
  • The Secretary
  • Richard Holbrooke, EA
  • Harry E.T. Thayer, EA/PRCM (Notetaker)
  • Michel Oksenberg, NSC

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]


The Secretary said that another subject for discussion would be the issue of a comprehensive test ban. We would discuss the possibility of negotiating for a ban on all tests of nuclear weapons for a limited period. As the President had indicated to Huang,2 this is an issue between the Soviets and ourselves; but we would hope that some time in the future other nations would join such an agreement.

The Secretary said he expected that a number of issues would be raised in this connection, such as peaceful nuclear explosions being permitted under this test ban. Second, what kind of verification would be required under such an agreement? Third, whether or not the Soviets are prepared to enter such an agreement if it is only a bilateral one. The Secretary said that, at this point, we have no idea as to how the dis[Page 352]cussions will come out or if the Soviets have a serious interest in such a discussion.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

Ambassador Huang

Ambassador Huang, after thanking the Secretary, said that some of the issues already had been touched on in his meeting with the President. Nevertheless, he would repeat some points made then. With respect to the US-Soviet talks and relations, China’s basic view was still the same. The U.S. had vested interests to protect around the world and the Soviet aim is expansion. This is unalterable.


As he had said to President Carter, the PRC had never been interested in the so-called disarmament agreements reached by the Soviet Union and the U.S. He had already explained the reason to President Carter. President Carter had mentioned the comprehensive test ban, including asking others like France and China to join following Soviet and U.S. agreement. China’s consistent policy, Huang told the Secretary, is to oppose nuclear blackmail proposed by the Soviet Union and the U.S., and China will not take part in any of these activities. The PRC felt that the Soviet Union and the United States now had conducted enough tests and don’t want to allow others to do so. There is no reason for this under Heaven.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 10, NODIS Memcons, 1977. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Thayer; and approved in S on April 5. The memorandum is printed in full Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XIII, China, Document 21.
  2. On February 8, Carter told Huang Chen “We have offered the Soviet Union a comprehensive test ban treaty. This would be a bilateral agreement with the Soviets. If it can be worked out, then perhaps others such as China or France can consider joining in some form, but at the present time this is just an effort with the USSR. At the same time we will maintain our equivalent strength and will keep the Chinese Government informed.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Box 55, Oksenberg Policy Process, 10/76–4/77) The conversation is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XIII, China, Document 5.