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No Support for Taiwan Independence, Nixon Assured China in 1972;
New Documents Reveal Origins of Current U.S. Policy;
Nixon Trip to China Now Fully Declassified


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 independence movement.

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.

Kissinger 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

Kissinger 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

Click here to go to the documents

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