Washington D.C. 11 December 2003 -
Newly declassified documents posted
today on the web by the National Security Archive
show that President Nixon assured the People's Republic
of China during his historic 1972 trip to Beijing that the
U.S. would not support, but could not suppress, the Taiwan
These assurances, made in secret and not repeated in public
for 25 years, are the basis for President Bush's current
statements opposing independence for Taiwan - a constant
in U.S. policy ever since Nixon. The documents posted today
complete the delayed declassification of the Nixon trip
materials, and include discussions revealing China's anxiety
over the possibility of Taiwanese independence - contrary
to Henry Kissinger's memoir account that they "spent
very little of our time" on Taiwan.
During Nixon's trip, Kissinger also gave the Chinese a
top secret intelligence briefing on Soviet forces arrayed
against China. In their detailed memoir accounts of the
trip, neither Nixon or Kissinger mentioned this briefing,
now declassified in full and included in the posting today.
The documents include:
- Premier Zhou Enlai's claim that Washington had let pro-independence
politician Peng Meng-min escape from Taiwan, to which
Nixon and Kissinger denied that Washington had given any
help and assured Zhou that they opposed Taiwanese independence.
- Nixon's repeated assurances to Zhou that Washington
would discourage any Japanese "military intervention"
in South Korea or a Japanese role in Taiwan.
- Kissinger's detailed run-down of Soviet forces along
China's borders, including ground forces, tactical aircraft
and missiles, strategic air defenses, and strategic missiles,
with special attention to nuclear weapons.
on Taiwanese independence:
"I told the Prime Minister that no American personnel
... will give any encouragement or support in any way to
the Taiwan Independence Movement.
What we cannot
do is use our forces to suppress the movement on Taiwan
if it develops without our support."
--Kissinger to Nixon and Zhou En-Lai, 24 February 1972
on intelligence briefing:
"none of our colleagues know that we have given
you this information and nobody in our government except
for the President and these people here know that we have
given you this information. The intelligence people do not
know that we have given you this information."
--Kissinger to Chinese, 23 February 1972
here to go to the documents