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See also:
The Beijing-Washington Backchannel and Henry Kissinger's Secret Trip to China
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Still photographs of the early stages of Sino-American rapprochement from the Nixon Presidential Materials Project
New Evidence on the Sino-American Opening and the Cold War
The George Washington University Cold War (GWCW) group is sponsored by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies of the Elliott School of International Affairs.  A generous three-year grant to GWCW from the Henry Luce Foundation is being used to host workshops on new evidence/policy legacies concerning critical events from the Cold War in Asia, to support document translation of new sources from non-American archives, to fund student and faculty research and travel, and to help support the annual GWCW graduate student conference. 

The first GWCW Luce Workshop was held in February 2002 at the Elliott School on “New Evidence on the Sino-American Opening and the Cold War” to help mark the 30th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to the People’s Republic of China. Participants at the GWCW workshop included many of the world’s leading scholars as well as GWU graduate students working with American, Chinese, and other foreign language documents.  In addition to the sessions for workshop participants and other invited guests, a standing-room only crowd from the larger GW and area community, heard three former members of the Nixon-Kissinger National Security Council staff – Winston Lord, William R. Smyser, and Helmut Sonnenfeldt – offer their perspectives on many of the crucial moments from 1969-72 that led to the rapprochement between the United States and China.

NEGOTIATING U.S.-CHINESE RAPPROCHEMENT
New American and Chinese Documention Leading Up to Nixon's 1972 Trip

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 70

William Burr, editor,
with Sharon Chamberlain (George Washington University),
Gao Bei, and Zhao Han (University of Virginia)
May 22, 2002

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    As part of a joint project on the opening phase of the Sino-American rapprochement, the National Security Archive and the George Washington University's Cold War Group (GWCW) publish additional newly declassified U.S. documents on the Sino-American rapprochement.  This material fills out the story first detailed at the GWCW conference on the thirtieth anniversary of Nixon's trip to China.  Many of the new documents, held in the files of the Nixon Presidential Materials Project at the National Archives, were declassified in April 2001.  Others were declassified in 1998 when the State Department released the Policy Planning Council files of Kissinger adviser Winston Lord (later U.S. ambassador to China).  The new releases make it possible to publish for the first time the record of conversations between national security assistant Henry Kissinger and premier Zhou Enlai during Kissinger's second visit to China in October 1971.  Also published for the first time is the record of deputy national security assistant Alexander Haig's rather difficult talks with Zhou Enlai in January 1972, during Haig's visit. 

    Also included are transcripts of Nixon tapes and translations of Chinese materials prepared especially for the GWCW conference.  This included several transcripts from the Nixon White House Tapes Project, prepared by Sharon Chamberlain, a Ph.D. student in history at George Washington University.  The transcripts are of recordings of Nixon's conversations with Kissinger, UN Ambassador George H. W. Bush, and Secretary of State William Rogers, on the problems raised by the coincidence of Kissinger's October visit to Beijing with the United Nations debate over the admission of the Peoples Republic of China to the UN.  The briefing book also includes several translations, by Gao Bei and Zhao Han--Ph.D. students in history at the University of Virginia--of chapters from a Chinese Foreign Ministry history of Sino-American relations, which provided the first ever publication of internal Chinese analysis of the opening.

    The collection opens up with State Department documents illustrating one of the adverse consequences of Kissinger's secret visit in July 1971.  In their quest for rapprochement with Beijing, Nixon and Kissinger had taken Japan by surprise--there had been no attempt at advance notice, despite previous understandings that Washington and Tokyo would coordinate any decisions on innovations in China policy.  With the U.S. devaluation of the dollar and import surcharges of August 1971, the U.S. China initiative was one of the "Nixon Shokku" that soured U.S-Japan relations for years to come.  Other documents from the weeks that follow show the establishment of a new secret Sino-American channel of communications in Paris, largely supplanting the vitally important Pakistan channel of 1969-1971.  Through the talks held in Paris, Kissinger and his Chinese interlocutors discussed details of the presidential visit, Kissinger's forthcoming (October) trip, as well as the developing India-Pakistan crisis over East Pakistan (Bangladesh).  In addition, Kissinger kept Chinese diplomats informed of a variety of other issues, thinking that the Chinese had an appetite for tidbits of information that would "give them an additional stake in nurturing our new relationship." In the meantime, the Soviets were nurturing their own suspicions of the new Sino-American relationship; a record of Kissinger's talk with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobryin on 17 August shows the latter's suspicions that Washington was providing the Chinese with intelligence information on Soviet forces.  Kissinger would later provide such briefings to the Chinese, but tried to dispel Dobrynin's suspicions with the assurance that he would never do anything so "amateurish."

    Before Kissinger made his second visit, in October 1971, Nixon had to deal with a delicate problem.  Kissinger's visit would coincide with the United Nations General Assembly's annual debate over the Peoples Republic of China's membership in the UN.   Ambassador George H. W. Bush, who led the U.S. delegation to the UN, diligently lobbied to preserve Taiwan's seat, but believed that Kissinger's travel schedule would undermine that purpose.  As Sharon Chamberlain's transcripts of the tapes disclose, Bush requested Nixon to change Kissinger's schedule, arguing "I think this thing [Kissinger's trip]--to be candid as I've told Henry--will not be helpful at all" (see document 6), a striking contrast to Kissinger's later recollection that neither he or Bush thought that "the UN vote would be decisively affected."(1)  Nixon was well aware that Taiwan enjoyed important support in the United States---"there's a lot of people that don't want to see us  ... let Taiwan go down the drain"--but he could only advise Bush to "fight hard."   For Nixon, however, rapprochement with Beijing had priority over Taiwan's UN status and Kissinger's schedule was left unchanged.  With the PRC's widespread support among Third World delegations, Bush's efforts to save Taiwan's seats were to no avail.  On 25 October 1971, while Kissinger was returning from China, the General Assembly, by the vote of a substantial majority, admitted the People's Republic of China to the UN and expelled the Republic of China.(2)

    The largely complete record of Kissinger's October 1971 trip covers his twenty-five hours of meetings with Zhou Enlai.(3)  They discussed a number of issues, including Japanese defense policy, the future of Taiwan, the ongoing South Asian conflict over Bangladesh, the Vietnam War, and details of Nixon's trip.  With respect to the latter, they pinned down the date of Nixon's visit and the size of the presidential party.  These memcons (and the others in this collection) are uniquely representative of the Chinese position because they are based on the Chinese, not the United States, interpretation of the discussion; fearing leaks outside the White House, Kissinger refused to use State Department translators. 

    A key issue in Kissinger and Zhou's deliberations, one that took nearly ten hours of conversation over seven drafts, was the preparation of what became known as the "Shanghai Communiqué," issued at the end of Nixon's February visit.  Initially, the two sides had widely divergent views, with Kissinger more interested in a statement that emphasized areas of agreement and "glided over" disagreements, while Zhou sought one that was honest on policy differences and avoided "banality" and "untruthful appearance" characteristic of Soviet-style communiqués.  Zhou's attitude impressed an already admiring Kissinger, who would treat it as an exemplar of Beijing's "principled" leadership that was "free of the pettiness and elbowing we have experienced with the Russians."(4)

    One element of Kissinger's talks with Zhou was an effort to build up the perceived Soviet threat to China in order to reinforce Beijing's interest in rapprochement with Washington.  For example, on 22 October Kissinger observed that Moscow was pushing for detente with the West because of its "great desire to free itself in Europe so it can concentrate on other areas," namely China.  Alexander Haig, during his January 1972 visit, continued to press this theme when meeting with Zhou.  Pointing to Soviet policy during the recent South Asian war, Haig argued that Moscow was trying to "encircle the PRC with unfriendly states."  Restating the old policy, dating back to Secretary of State John Hay, of U.S. support for China's territorial integrity, Haig argued that Soviet policy was a danger because "the future viability of the PRC was of the greatest interest to us and a matter of our own national interest."  Once Moscow had "neutralized" Beijing, he declared, it would "then turn on us."  To strengthen Beijing's position, Haig offered to provide the Chinese with strategic and tactical intelligence on Soviet forces arrayed against China.  Zhou must have taken up the offer because Kissinger probably briefed the Chinese on Soviet forces during the February 1972 visit, but the premier did not care for Haig's phraseology and subjected him to what Kissinger later called a "withering blast": China would never depend on "external forces" to maintain independence and viability because that would make it a "protectorate or colony" (see documents 24 and 25).(5)

    Documents on Kissinger's secret talks with the Chinese during the South Asian crisis over Bangladesh illuminate Kissinger's and Haig's perceptions of Soviet policy.   Convinced that Moscow was behind New Delhi and that Indian policy aimed at destroying Pakistan, Kissinger covertly tilted U.S. policy against India and toward Pakistan, a state that was close to China and had been helpful in arranging communications with Beijing.  Doggedly viewing the South Asian conflict through the lenses of superpower conflict, Kissinger believed it was imperative to side with Pakistan, for example, by secretly providing military aid and by sending naval forces to the Indian Ocean.  Such actions, he further believed, would bolter rapprochement with China by demonstrating U.S. resolve to contain Soviet influence in the region.   Over the objections of CIA and State Department officials, Kissinger carried out the "tilt" policy in secret but it soon leaked to the press, to the dismay of Congress and public opinion, which leaned toward India and Bangladesh.(6)

    This collection closes with a Kissinger briefing paper to help Nixon prepare for his  "encounter with the Chinese" by acquainting him with the "flavor of their style."  While acknowledging that the PRC leadership was "fanatic" and "totally disagree[s] with us where the world is going," Kissinger's overall appraisal was positive. Mao and Zhou were "pragmatic", "firm on principle" but "flexible on details."  Unlike the Soviets, they "won't constantly press you for petty gains," haggle over details, or implement an agreement grudgingly.  In brief portraits of Zhou and Mao, Kissinger observed that Zhou was truly impressive, a man with whom "one can have a dialogue," who shows that he has "done his homework", and who can be "extremely --and suddenly--tough."   Kissinger had yet to meet Mao but Zhou had "made clear that Mao was the boss," and from all accounts could "be even more impressive" than Zhou.  "They will make a truly imposing and formidable pair."(7)

    The U.S. documentation represents only a partial record of a complex relationship.  While Chinese archival sources are largely unavailable, a growing body of scholarship in China and the United States draws upon Chinese language sources to show that Beijing was just as energetic as Washington in trying to signal interest in a new relationship.(8)  Some of that material is gradually being translated into English and the Archive is happy to present two recently translated excerpts from a history prepared in the early 1990s by the Diplomatic History Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xin zhongguo wenjiao fengyun [New China's Diplomatic Experience] (Beijing, Shijie zhishi, 1991).  Translated by Gao Bei and Zhao Han, the excerpts elucidate Beijing's perspective on Kissinger's second visit and Haig's visit in January 1972.  Although not footnoted, these internal histories plainly draw on Kissinger's memoirs, contemporaneous Chinese documents, and possibly the recollections of some participants/observers.  Where they shed the most light is on the internal decisionmaking process in Beijing, for example, Mao's review of the draft communiqué and his role in preparing the response to Haig's message.  One can only hope that Beijing will soon release its own archives and empower its own scholars.  Otherwise China will remain in the anomalous position of a "protectorate" whose diplomatic history must be told largely through foreign documents.


Contents


I. Reactions to Kissinger's Trip/Planning Nixon's Visit
II. Kissinger's October Trip
III. The South Asian War and U.S.-PRC Relations
IV. Haig's Visit and Final Preparations for Nixon's Visit
 


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I. Reactions to Kissinger's Trip/Planning Nixon's Visit

Document 1
Letter from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs U.A. Johnson to Kissinger, 20 July 1971, with memo for record of talk with Ambassador Ushiba, Secret/Limdis
Source: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files 1970-73, Pol Japan-US

 
Document 2
Kissinger to Nixon, "My August 16 Meeting with the Chinese Ambassador in Paris," 16 August 1971
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, box 330. China Exchanges July-October 20, 1971

 
Document 3
Memcon by Kissinger of Meeting with Dobrynin, 17 August 1971, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, box 340, September 1971

 
Document 4
Memo from Lord to Kissinger, 19 August 1971, enclosing memcon of Kissinger-Huang Zhen Meeting, 16 August 1971, PRC Embassy Paris, 9:05 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, Box 330, China Exchanges July-October 20, 1971

 
Document 5
Kissinger to Nixon, "September 13 Meeting with the Chinese Ambassador in Paris," 13 September 1971, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, Box 330, China Exchanges July-October 20, 1971

 
Document 6
Conversation between President Nixon and National Security Adviser Kissinger, followed by Conversation Among Nixon, Kissinger, and U.N. Ambassador George Bush, 30 September 1971
Source: National Archives, Nixon White House Tapes, Conversations 581-1 and 582-2]
Transcript prepared by Sharon Chamberlain, Ph.D. student, History, George Washington University

 
Document 7
Conversation Among President Nixon, Secretary of State William Rogers, and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, 30 September 1971
Source: National Archives, Nixon White House Tapes, Conversation 581-6
Transcript prepared by Sharon Chamberlain, Ph.D. student, History, George Washington University

 
Document 8
Conversation Between President Nixon and National Security Adviser Kissinger, 30 September 1971
Source: National Archives, Nixon White House Tapes, Conversation 582-3
Transcript prepared by Sharon Chamberlain, Ph.D. student, History, George Washington University

 
Document 9
Conversation Between President Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and Between President Nixon and Secretary of State William Rogers, respectively, 17 October 1971
Source: National Archives, Nixon White House Tapes, Conversations 11-102 and 11-105
Transcript prepared by Sharon Chamberlain, Ph.D. student, History, George Washington University

 
II. Kissinger's October Trip
Document 10
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "Opening Statements, Agenda, and President's Visit," 20 October 1971, 4:40: 7:10 p.m. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 11
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "President's Visit, Taiwan and Japan," 21 October 1971, 10:30 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.  Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 12
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "UN and Indochina," 4:42 - 7:17 p.m. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 13
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou,  "Korea, Japan, South Asia, Soviet Union, Arms Control," 22 October 1971, 4:15 -8:28 p.m.  Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 14
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "The President's Visit," 23 October 1971, 9:05 - 10:05 p.m. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 15
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "General Philosophy and Principles, Communique," 24 October 1971, 10:28 - 1:55 p.m.  Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 16
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "Communique, Announcements of Trips," 24 October 1971, 9:23 p.m. - 11:20 p.m. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 17
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "Communique," 25 October 1971, 10:12 - 11:00 a.m., Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only 
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 18
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "Communique," 25 October 1971, 9:50 - 11: 40 p.m., Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 19
Memcon, Kissinger and Zhou, "Communique, Prisoners, Announcements of Trips, Technical Matters," 26 October 1971, 5:30 - 8:10 p.m. Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1034, Polo II - HAK China Trip October 1971 Transcript of Meetings

 
Document 20
Kissinger to Nixon, "My October China Visit: Discussions of the Issues," 11 November [1971] Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: RG 59, State Department Top Secret Subject-Numeric Files, 1970-1973, POL 7 Kissinger

 
Document 21
“Kissinger’s Second Visit to China in October 1971,”  Diplomatic History Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xin zhongguo wenjiao fengyun [New China's Diplomatic Experience] (Beijing, Shijie zhishi, 1991), Volume 3, pp. 59-70 (translated by Gao Bei, History Department, University of Virginia)

 
III. The South Asian War and U.S.-PRC Relations
Document 22
Lord to Kissinger, "Your November 23 Night Meeting," 29 November 1971, enclosing memcon of Kissinger-Huang Hua Meeting, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, box 330, China Exchanges October 20-December 21, 1971

 
Document 23
Lord to Kissinger, 15 December 1971, enclosing memcon of Kissinger-Huang Hua Meeting, 10 December 1971, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, box 330, China Exchanges October 20-December 21, 1971

 
IV. Haig's Visit and Final Preparations for Nixon's Visit
Document 24
Memcon, Haig and Zhou, 3 January 1972, Midnight, Great Hall of the People, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1037, China  - A.M. Haig January Visit Jan. 1972

 
Document 25
Memcon, Haig and Zhou, 7 January 1972, 11:45 p.m., Great Hall of the People, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Security Council Files, box 1037, China  - A.M. Haig January Visit Jan. 1972

 
Document 26
“Haig’s Preparatory Mission for Nixon’s Visit to China in January 1972,” Diplomatic History Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xin zhongguo wenjiao fengyun [New China's Diplomatic Experience] (Beijing, Shijie zhishi, 1991), Vol. 3, pp. 71-82 (translated by Zhao Han, History Department, University of Virginia)

 
Document 27
Kissinger to Nixon, "Your Encounter with the Chinese," 5 February 1972, Top Secret/Sensitive/Exclusively Eyes Only
Source: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, HAK Office Files, box 13, China

Notes

1.  Henry Kissinger, White House Years (Boston: Little Brown, 1979), p. 776. 

2.  Years later, Bush expressed his bitterness over the outcome, although he discreetly withheld details of his meetings with Nixon.  See George Bush with Victor Gould, Looking Forward (New York, Doubleday, 1987),  pp. 114-116.

3.  For Kissinger's account, see White House Years, pp. 775-84.

4.  See Evelyn Goh, "From 'Red Menace' to 'Tacit' Ally: Constructing the US Rapprochement with China, 1961-1974," Ph.D. dissertation, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, 2001, pp. 127-128.

5.  See Goh,  "From 'Red Menace' to 'Tacit' Ally," pp. 156-157.  Haig's account of his visit to China glides over the substance of the talks with Zhou.  See Haig, Inner Circles: How America Changed the World (New York: Warner Books, 1992): 258-65.

6.  For useful accounts of the crisis, see Raymond L. Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1994), pp.295-324, and Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), pp. 371-379.

7.  For the record of Nixon's meetings with the Chinese in February 1972, see http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/publications/DOC_readers/kissinger/nixzhou

8.  See Chen Jian, Mao's China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2001) and Qiang Zhai's study, China & the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000).  For an early exploration of the rapprochement drawing on Chinese sources and interviews with U.S. officials, see Robert S. Ross, Negotiating Confrontation: The United States and China, 1969-1989 (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995).
 

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