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Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai, "Memorandum of Conversation," February 22, 1972 2-6 pm

The leaders spoke in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
February 22, 1972

Richard Nixon spoke at length about his policies regarding Taiwan. He affirmed that Taiwan was a part of China, that the U.S. would not support any independence movement there, and that any peaceful resolution worked out by people on the two sides of the strait would be acceptable to the U.S. He also pledged to reduce the American presence on Taiwan as the situation in Southeast Asia permitted.

Nixon argued that the U.S. could not withdraw from its responsibilities around the world and that China, in the case of East Asia, was a beneficiary of the American presence. Without the U.S., the Japanese and others would feel compelled to move in to fill the vacuum. Nixon suggested that the Soviets were the greatest threat to China and to world peace generally.

Zhou called on Nixon to do as Eisenhower had done in Korea, to just end the war. Nixon said that he was willing to do so, but that he would not impose a political solution on South Vietnam, something the North Vietnamese were insisting on as a price for peace. Zhou further argued that the U.S. and Soviet arms race was costly and destabilizing.

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