|Press Release - 27 February 2002
Contact: William Burr - 202 / 994-7032
September 1970-July 1971
to the documents
Washington, D.C. -- Today the National Security Archive publishes
for the first time the verbatim transcripts of Henry Kissinger's secret
trip to China in July 1971, as part of a world
wide web briefing book of 41 recently declassified U.S. documents
on Sino-American communications that led to Richard Nixon's historic visit
to China in February 1972, 30 years ago. The transcripts of meetings
between Kissinger and premier Zhou Enlai contradict Kissinger's memoirs
and show Kissinger readily acknowledging Beijing's position that Taiwan
was part of China. Kissinger declared that "we are not advocating
a `two Chinas' solution' or a `one China, one Taiwan' solution."
Only after Kissinger had taken this position would Zhou declare that he
was "hopeful" about prospects for U.S.-China diplomatic relations.
In other words, without conceding to Beijing's position on Taiwan's status,
it would have been most difficult for substantive discussions to continue
and a presidential visit would have been most unlikely. Kissinger
made other commitments on Taiwan, e.g., to withdraw two-thirds of U.S.
forces from the island once the Vietnam War had ended, but nowhere in his
memoirs does he discuss these dramatic concessions. Instead, Kissinger
wrote on p. 749 of White House Years (1979) that "Taiwan was mentioned
only briefly during the first session."
Besides the transcripts of the Kissinger-Zhou meetings (which covered
a range of issues, including Vietnam, South Asia, and Japan), the briefing
book includes the first publication of U.S. records of the secret channel
that the Pakistani government to provided to expedite Sino-American communications
during 1970-1971. The briefing book also documents some of Kissinger's
efforts to find other channels of communication with Beijing, such as the
Romanian government and French contacts with the Chinese embassy in Paris.
A record of a conversation between Nixon and Kissinger on 1 July 1971,
before the secret trip, shows the president urging Kissinger to press the
Chinese to keep U.S. "political visitors"--Democratic senators--away from
China until Nixon had made his trip (giving an ironic twist to the notion
that "only Nixon could go to China"). Nixon is also shown urging
Kissinger to manipulate Chinese fears of a "resurgent Japan" and the "Soviet
threat on their flank."
The documents in this briefing book were compiled by William Burr, editor,
Kissinger Transcripts: The Top Secret Talks with Beijing and Moscow
(New Press, 1999), for a conference on the Sino-American rapprochement
that was sponsored by the George Washington University Cold War Group of
the Elliott School of International Affairs, on 8-9 February 2002.
Among the participants in the conference were three veterans of the Nixon
National Security Council Staff, Winston Lord, William R. Smyser, and Helmut
Sonnenfeldt. Both Lord and Smyser accompanied Kissinger during the
July 1971 secret trip. Today's posting includes an audio recording of their
public discussion of their experience.