This year's Joseph Levenson Book Prize goes to the 2021 work making "the greatest contribution to increasing understanding of the history, culture, society, politics, or economy of China."
Zbigniew Brzezinski meeting with Hua Guofeng, May 22, 1978
This is a transcript of the meeting between U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Hua Guofeng, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and head of state. Brzezinski met the day before with Deng Xiaoping.
- Summary of Dr. Brzezinski’s Meeting with Chairman Hua Kuo-feng
- Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Leonard Woodcock, United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
- Michel Oksenberg, Staff Member, National Security Council
- Hua Kuo-feng, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China
- Huang Hua, Vice Minister
- Ch’ai Tse-min, People’s Republic of China Ambassador to the United States
- Wang Hai-jung, Vice Minister, Head of the American and Oceana Department
- Lin Ping, Head of the American Oceana Affairs Bureau
- Ting Yuan-hung, Head of the American Desk
- Shih [omission in the original], Interpreter
- Lien Hung-pao, notetaker
Dr. Brzezinski: If you would permit me, I would like to present you with a brief note from President Carter and a gift on behalf of the American people.
Hua Kuo-feng: Thank you.
Dr. Brzezinski: This is a brief note which is from the President to you. It says: “To Chairman Hua, a piece of the moon for you and the people of China, symbolic of our joint quest for a better future. Jimmy Carter.” I have with me for you a piece of the moon brought back by American astronauts from the moon.
Hua Kuo-feng: Thank you very much.
Dr. Brzezinski: Here in this glass is an actual piece of the moon. And this is a flag of the People’s Republic of China which was taken by the American astronauts to the moon. It was on the moon and it was brought back from the moon with this piece of rock.
Hua Kuo-feng: Thank you very much. I wish to express once again our welcome to Dr. Brzezinski on your visit to China. This is your first visit to China?
Dr. Brzezinski: This is my first visit, but I very much hope not my last.
Hua Kuo-feng: The first means the beginning, not the end. It seems that the first visit here will bring the second, third, and fourth visits.
Dr. Brzezinski: I very much hope so.
Hua Kuo-feng: So today you visited the Great Wall?
Dr. Brzezinski: Yes. In my very brief visit to China I have had the opportunity to appreciate not only your magnificent past but also the monumental scale of your undertakings to shape the future, and both are enormously impressive.
Hua Kuo-feng: There is a poem by Chairman Mao entitled “Mount Liupan,” in which there are two lines about the Great Wall: “Those who fail to reach the Great Wall are no men of valor.”
Dr. Brzezinski: “Mount Liupan.” Is this poem “The sky is high, the clouds are pale . . . ?”
Hua Kuo-feng: Yes. I have heard that Dr. Brzezinski got to the peak of that section of the Great Wall.
Dr. Brzezinski: Yes. It was a challenge which we overcame quickly.
Hua Kuo-feng: Are you used to the Chinese food here?
Dr. Brzezinski: Your cuisine here, quite seriously, is one of the best, perhaps the best, in the world. If I stay in China longer and ate that well I would have to volunteer for the May 7 School.2
Hua Kuo-feng: Some Chinese comrades going to the May 7 School have even put on more weight after much exercise.
Dr. Brzezinski: That was muscles.
Hua Kuo-feng: In your present visit Dr. Brzezinski has already talked to Foreign Minister Huang Hua and Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing. I have already learned about your conversations. In his conversation with you, Vice Premier Teng said if you come to discuss questions with us we welcome you. If you come not for the purpose of discussion, then you will also be welcome. It is good to have an exchange of views between us. Does Your Excellency think that you have more to say? I would like to listen to you first.
Dr. Brzezinski: Let me begin by saying that what impressed me very much about our conversations was the extent to which the fundamental interests of our two countries are similar. We often use different words to describe either the dangers or the opportunities that we confront. But the more I talked to your colleagues, the more impressed I was that the essence of these words was fundamentally similar.
Hua Kuo-feng: Well, we share much common ground. That is why we must work together to cope with Soviet social imperialism. Therefore, there are a lot of common points between us on a number of issues concerned. On your present visit to China you can see that in our conversations we share important common ground and our minds meet on a number of issues. With regard to Chinese different views on PRM 10, Dr. Brzezinski has made some explanations.3 But I think you will understand our criticism is good intentioned. It is intended to help some people in the U.S. as well as in Western Europe to see more clearly the true features of Soviet social imperialism. You have already had discussions with Foreign Minister Huang Hua and Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing on the present international situation. We had discussions on the same questions in the past during the visits of Dr. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon, and President Ford. We are following closely the developments of the situation in the world and on the whole there has been no drastic change, so our views remain the same. If there is any development in the world situation to be spoken of we have seen that it has become even more manifest that there is a growing expansion and meddling of the Soviet Union in the affairs of the world. For instance, shortly after the conclusion of the Helsinki Conference there was the incident in Angola, and then in Zaire, then there was the conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia, and the problems in the Middle East. A recent case in point was the coup in Afghanistan. And of course Soviet expansion has revealed even more clearly in the face of the world’s people the true features of social imperialism.
We have also taken note of the fact that our friends in Europe have somewhat changed their views to a certain extent. Not long ago the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Great Britain, Sir Cameron, visited China. And he openly stated that both China and Britain face an enemy at their door whose capital is Moscow. And this caused opposition of certain people within Britain, but the majority of people were in favor of his statement. And quite a number of people have said that Sir Cameron has stated what they themselves have been thinking about in their minds but they are not to speak out. We also have some contacts with our French friends and, of course, their public statements are not like that of Sir Cameron. But they know that their [Page 451]main danger comes from the Soviet Union. They are prepared to strengthen their defense capabilities. They have also stated that they will continue their efforts to promote partnership relations with the U.S. There are also quite a number of people in West Germany who are similarly minded about the assessment of the world situation. In our contacts with our friends from Nordic countries we have observed that they feel even more acutely the danger of the Soviet Union. And not long ago President Siad Barre of Somalia visited China. And he had his personal experience of the expansionist and aggressive designs of the Soviet Union. And we have also told a lot of our friends that the main danger of war comes from the Soviet Union. Then how should we deal with it? The first thing is one should make preparations. We have discussed this idea of ours with our friends. If one is prepared and once a war breaks out, one will not find himself in a disadvantageous position. The second thing is that it is imperative to try to upset the strategic deployment of Soviet aggression. Because in order to obtain hegemony in the world the Soviet Union has first to obtain air and naval bases throughout the world, so it has to make strategic deployment. And we must try to upset its plans for global deployment.
The third point is that we should call the attention of the world’s people to the danger of the Soviet Union launching a war of aggression so that the people will not cherish any illusion about it. So that the people of all countries will wage a tit-for-tat struggle against it in the light of their concrete conditions. And only in this way will it be possible to postpone the outbreak of the war. In our opinion, it is impossible to avoid the war entirely. We have found in our conversations with a lot of friends that they hold different views in this respect. I remember that during the second visit to China, President Nixon asked a question of Chairman Mao. He asked whether it was possible to avoid the war for 1000 years. Chairman Mao shook his head. Then he said What about 50 years? And Chairman Mao said that perhaps it was impossible. Then President Nixon said What about 20 years? The Chairman said perhaps it is possible. I was present at the conversation and, of course, what I have told you is not in direct quotes. We think the purpose of the Soviet Union engaging in such frantic arms expansion and war operations at high speed is to expand and invade other countries. Some American friends have told us that on the question of energy alone at a certain point the oil production of the Soviet Union will decline. But there will be greater demand for oil in the Soviet Union. Therefore, it is necessary for the Soviet Union to find some oil resources abroad. So recently the Soviet Union is carrying out frantic activities in the Middle East and in the Horn of Africa. In the Middle East when President Sadat of Egypt abrogated the Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union and expelled Soviet experts, the Soviet Union immediately turned to Libya. In Somalia, when the Somalians abrogated the Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union and expelled Soviet experts, abolished the base (a military base under a guise), then the Soviet Union turned to support Ethiopia. So the Soviet Union is making a continual effort to seek bases for itself and expand its spheres of influence. Chairman Mao said on the same occasion that the U.S. has interests to protect in the world and the Soviet Union wants to expand. This contradiction is insoluble. Some people assert that China is pessimistic. We do not think so. We are revolutionary optimists. We are only bringing to light the essence of the problems so that the people may come to grips with it and raise their vigilance. China does not want to see a major [omission in the original] break out. We need a peaceful international environment in which to build up our country. But we are certainly aware of the fact that the Soviet Union is bent on subjugating China. Therefore, we must raise our vigilance.
After the passing of Chairman Mao, the Soviet Union has made a lot of petty moves. I THINK Dr. Brzezinski is aware of it. On the basis of our analysis of the essence of the problems in the world we think that the Soviet policy of social imperialism will not change and therefore our policy toward the Soviet Union will not change either. As they knew that Dr. Brzezinski was coming to China, they hurriedly sent back Ilichev to Peking for a few days.4 Then do they have any intentions to settle any issues with us? No. And not long ago they sent a helicopter and 18 gun boats and patrol boats to invade Chinese territory. We lodged a protest. They expressed regret. But then they resorted to sophistry. They said that the incident took place in night and the Soviet troops did not know it was Chinese territory that they entered by mistake. It was not true at all. In Moscow, yes, it was in the middle of the night, but along the Ussuri River it was 7:00 in the morning. Then how could it be that the Soviet troops failed to see which was Chinese territory? They said it was during the night. It was Moscow time. On the whole, we think that as the developments of the international situation show, it is good. The situation in China is also good. If the situation in China was not good, if the Chinese people were not vigilant and made no preparation, then the Soviet Union would attack China.
You have already discussed the international situation, so I do not intend to dwell on it any longer. Now a few words about our bilateral relations. I know that Dr. Brzezinski was not instructed to negotiate this question in this present visit. Nevertheless, the two sides exchanged views on this question. And Dr. Brzezinski has also conveyed the message from President Carter stating that he has made up his mind on this question.5 And we welcome this. And on the question of normalization of relations between China and the U.S., Vice Premier Teng also reviewed the past conversations. And I believe that our position and views on this question are well known to you. Vice Premier Teng also stated that if the American President really has made up his mind it is not difficult to solve this problem. And of course the U.S. side has stated that it has to solve certain internal problems. As you have made up your mind, I think it is easier for you to do such a work on this question. And I remember that the previous U.S. Administrations once had a theory of the so-called dominoes. And later on this theory disappeared. And later on there were arguments by certain people that is to maintain old friends. In our opinion, one must make an analysis of one’s old friends. I think we can tackle this question from two points. Chiang Ching-kuo, of Taiwan, may be counted as an old friend of the U.S., but I think it is worth thinking of the fact that how many people can he represent? The overwhelming majority of the people in Taiwan, including a considerable number of military and political officers in the Chiang Ching-kuo government, desire reunification. And even the children of certain officers in the armed services of the government of Chiang Ching-kuo who are now studying in the U.S. are actively promoting the unity of China. So one cannot say that Chiang Ching-kuo represents the 16–17 million people in Taiwan. The previous U.S. Administration (I am not referring to the present Administration) once helped Chiang Kai-shek against the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people, and it was engaged in a prolonged trial of strength and struggle against the Chinese people. Chiang Kai-shek was the common enemy of the entire Chinese people. Although he got a huge amount of U.S. dollars and military equipment from the U.S., he was defeated in the end. And the U.S. Government thus created a very bad image among the Chinese people. This was what had happened in China with respect to the question of the so-called old friends. In Vietnam, it was Diem and in Korea Syngman Rhee that were opposed by their people and finally defeated.
That is the first point I would like to make. Now my second point is the U.S. side invariably wants China to commit itself to solve the issue of Taiwan through peaceful means. At least the U.S. side thinks that it may issue a statement expressing its hope and expectation that China will solve this question by peaceful means and it would hope that China will not contradict it. Then it also means that the U.S. side is asking China to undertake a commitment not to use force to liberate Taiwan. If we undertake the commitment that China will not liberate Taiwan by arms, then on the other hand the U.S. side is helping and arming Taiwan with its military equipment. What will be the result of these actions? I think it is still the creation of one China, one Taiwan, or two Chinas. Taiwan is part of China’s territory and the people in Taiwan are our compatriots. Does China insist on liberating Taiwan through arms? We think if Chiang Ching-kuo of Taiwan did not get U.S. equipment and weapons there might have been a quicker and better settlement of this issue. As for how we shall carry out work in Taiwan after the liberation of Taiwan and how we shall make the people in Taiwan live a better life, we have our own ideas. The Chinese Government is responsible not only for the Chinese people on the Mainland but also on Taiwan.
After Secretary Vance’s visit to China, I sent an oral message to President Carter. I believe that Dr. Brzezinski knows the message. The solving of the Taiwan issue is not merely a question of diplomacy. It is a political question. If one looks at this issue in broad strategic perspective, one will make up his mind and this issue can be solved at an early date. The normalization of relations between China and the U.S. is most beneficial to our efforts to deal with the Polar Bear. We have always stated that for Japan the first priority is to maintain a good relationship with the U.S. and then with China. I think we share the same views on this question. I have learned about a statement by Your Excellency to the effect that the U.S. side will not place any obstacle to the conclusion of the Friendship Treaty between China and Japan. Instead, the U.S. side supports the conclusion of the Treaty. We appreciate your attitude. Actually, there are no great difficulties in concluding the Treaty of Friendship between China and Japan.The only question is the inclusion of the anti-hegemony clause. China insists on the inclusion of the clause, and Japan says no. And we say that in the Shanghai Communique between China and the U.S. the opposition to hegemony is included. And the joint statement of China and Japan issued in 1972 during the visit of Prime Minister Tanaka to China has also included the opposition to hegemony. Then why should Japan not dare to include this clause in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between China and Japan? We are also of the opinion that the inclusion of the anti-hegemony clause in the Treaty is also a restraint on China itself. It is not difficult for Japan to say that it will not seek hegemony. The only question is that the Soviet Union is firmly against it. In our view the Treaty is going to be concluded between the two countries opposing hegemony and in the Treaty we will not single out the Soviet Union. Whoever seeks hegemony will be opposed by us. If the Soviet Union did not seek hegemony, it should not be so afraid of it. But as the Soviet Union is seeking hegemony, it is in mortal fear of this Treaty. Indeed, there are a lot of advantages in including this anti-hegemony clause. And on this issue the Fukuda Government has not made up its mind. Then we say that we will wait for a decision by the Fukuda Government. Then we will go ahead with it. But on the whole our relations with Japan have developed smoothly in various fields. And not long ago we signed a long-term trade agreement with Japan. It is beneficial to both the Chinese and Japanese peoples. I have learned from your conversations that you also discussed the question of Cambodia. Foreign Minister Huang explained our views to you. It is true that Vietnam intends to establish a great Indochinese Federation there. And the Vietnamese are also backed by the Soviet Union in their activities. We approve of the visit by U.S. Vice President Mondale to ASEAN countries. It is good for the prevention of the Soviet infiltration in the region. But his statement on Cambodia is quite different from the views of the Chinese side, and we feel that his statement was helping the Soviet Union. I have mentioned this question again to Dr. Brzezinski in order to help you understand our views and attitude.
In the Middle East President Sadat took the bold action of visiting Israel. We support him. We have good relations with Egypt. But he failed to consult and inform the other Arab countries before his visit to Israel. As a result of the meddling in the affairs of the Middle East by the Soviet Union, there was the rejection front which was quickly formed. This gave the Soviet Union an opportunity to reach its hand into the Middle East. In your conversations with Foreign Minister Huang Hua, Your Excellency mentioned that there were moderate countries in the Middle East—such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel—which may form a bloc to oppose the Soviet Union.
We feel that our American friends should pay attention to one thing. If you fail to restrain Israel, President Sadat will be in a very difficult position. He does not only face the rejection front of the Arab countries, but also difficulties at home. If one can apply some restraint on Israel and force it to withdraw from the Arab territory it has occupied and recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people, then it will be possible for a lot of Arab countries in the Middle East to get united. I recall that Chairman Mao once said to Dr. Henry Kissinger the U.S. has already given one hand to Israel. It should give the other to the Arab countries. On a later occasion Dr. Henry Kissinger told us that the U.S. side had done this. And this brought about a drastic change in the attitude of Egypt. If there is disunity among the Arab countries, the Soviet Union will seize the chance to get in. This will give rise to the emergence of two antagonistic groups in the Middle East. And if Israel is not restrained, then Egypt will be in greater difficulty. We have noted that President Numeri of the Sudan has made some visits to certain countries. The Sudan is most unhappy with the Soviet Union. It has good relations with Egypt. His activities in those countries were intended to help these countries to unite so that the Soviet Union will not have a chance to get in.
As for Korea, I think that Dr. Brzezinski knows well that not long ago I made a visit there. The North Koreans knew that you were coming to China. They asked me to convey to you the message that Korea would not attack the South. In other words, they will not launch a war against South Korea. And they felt it difficult to understand the massive military exercises carried out jointly by the U.S. and Pak Chong Hui of South Korea. Their worry is that if the rule of Pak Chong Hui becomes unstable, it may launch an attack against the North. And the North Korean side also expresses its readiness to enter into negotiations with the U.S. side. They have conveyed this idea to President Carter through Presidents Tito and Ceausescu. They hope that they can obtain independent and peaceful reunification of the country free from outside interference. In other words, North Korea does not demand to change the social system of South Korea at once. Neither should South Korea. After a certain period of time and through democratic election, there should be a unified leadership of the country. Will this make it easier for Soviet revisionists to interfere in the affairs of Korea? We do not think so. We think it will make it difficult for Soviet revisionists. North Korea is firmly opposed to a consolidated status of division11 of North and South Korea. Of course, the above are the views of North Korea, and the Chinese Government thinks that their ideas are right.
We know that the U.S. Government holds different views in this regard. So that is what I would like to emphasize since I have learned from your conversations what you have already discussed. Now that you are here we think it is a good opportunity to explain our views to you in a candid and sincere way. Finally, I would like to request Dr. Brzezinski to convey my greetings to President Carter upon your return. Well, I am talking too much. I would like to listen to what you have to say.
Dr. Brzezinski: First of all, let me say that I am profoundly grateful to the Premier for his very complete and frank analysis of problems that are clearly not only important but of mutual concern. The Shanghai Communique calls for consultations between our two governments at a high level, and I believe that these consultations of the last two days, like those preceding them with Secretary Vance and earlier with Mr. Kissinger, have not only been extremely useful but should be held on a regular basis. By having them on a regular basis, we can deepen not only our respective understanding of each other’s positions but on that basis also more effectively seek those objectives that we share in common. I know that the Prime Minister’s time is very precious and therefore I will try to make my response as brief as I can, but I would like to touch on several points.
Perhaps you will permit me to comment relatively briefly on the observations you made regarding Japan, Korea, Cambodia, and the Middle East, and then a little more fully regarding the strategic nature of our relationship with China and the bilateral character of that relationship.
With respect to Japan, I found myself very much in agreement with what the Premier said and the position of the U.S. is that close friendship between Japan and China is complementary and reinforcing to the close friendship between the U.S. and Japan. The Premier mentioned Soviet fears of Japan signing the anti-hegemony clause. I completely agree with you that if the Soviet Union had no hegemonic aspirations, it should have no reason to object to an anti-hegemony clause.
Hua Kuo-feng: Yes. You are right.
Dr. Brzezinski: I do not wish to make any excuses for the Soviet position because I do not share it and the U.S. does not agree with it. But purely as a matter of intellectual interest it might be useful for the Premier to read a book which was written in Russia at the beginning of this century. It was written, I believe, in the year 1902 by a Russian philosopher-historian Vladimir Soloviev. It was a forecast of political development by the end of this century, and this forecast was that someday the industrially advanced people of Japan and the extraordinarily industrious, able, creative, and courageous people of China will join together and at that moment Russia will face a great danger. I cite that only as a historical footnote, but I think that the Russians, having taken territory from every one of their neighbors, live in great fear of their neighbors uniting.
Hua Kuo-feng: While I have not read the book, I have read the last testament of Peter the Great.
Dr. Brzezinski: Yes. It is very much the same. In any case, we favor friendship between China and Japan. We will encourage the Japanese to move in that direction, and if I may have your permission tomorrow when I speak to Prime Minister Fukuda I would like to repeat to him our conversation and specifically what you said, but I will do so if I have your permission.
Hua Kuo-feng: It is my hope that Prime Minister Fukuda will make the decision earlier. He has stated on several occasions that he has made up his mind.
Dr. Brzezinski: We will encourage him. On Korea, I was very pleased to hear the assurance conveyed to you by the North Koreans that they will not repeat their attack on South Korea. Peace in the Korean Peninsula is essential to the stability of Japan and through it for the peaceful presence of the United States in the Far East. We will not engage in any conversations with North Korea behind the backs of our allies, the South Koreans. If the South Koreans are willing and if the North Koreans are willing, we would be prepared to participate in tripartite talks in order to promote peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
With regard to Cambodia, it is not our intention to interfere in the problems of Cambodia and certainly it is not our intention to facilitate Vietnamese ambitions against Cambodia. At one point you mentioned that we had a domino theory about Indochina which was proven wrong. Your description of Vietnamese efforts backed by the Russians makes me think that maybe that theory was right. But in any case our concern for the situation in Cambodia inside has only the following aspect to it. We think that if the Cambodian Government treated its people better, its ability to protect its independence would be enhanced. In any case, this is not a major issue of disagreement between us, and on the important international issues our views are similar to yours. We do not favor hegemonic designs regarding the Indochinese peninsula. With regard to the Middle East, I believe that our positions are fundamentally similar. We wish to promote a peaceful settlement in the area and to either reduce or exclude Soviet influence from the area. The recent decisions approved by the American Senate to sell planes to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia reflects our fundamental determination to base our policy in the Middle East on a cooperative relationship with several Arab countries. It is not our intention to treat Arabs who are occasionally enemies of Israel therefore also as enemies of the U.S. We have influence in some Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and we are trying to help Sadat as much as we can. Also Jordan. You have influence in some Arab countries as well, and perhaps we could work more closely together to reduce Soviet-Cuban influence in such places as Iraq, South Yemen, maybe Algeria, and so forth.
Hua Kuo-feng: And Syria too.
Dr. Brzezinski: Yes, of course. Naturally.
Hua Kuo-feng: We must try to bring all the Arab countries together.
Dr. Brzezinski: And you probably have more influence in Syria than we do.
Hua Kuo-feng: So long as Israel is curbed and forced to withdraw from occupied Arab territory and recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people, then it will be possible to unite many people.
Dr. Brzezinski: We are working very hard on this and as you know this is a very complicated task in part because of domestic American politics. This brings me to the two most important points bearing on our relationship. You said it was important to do a number of things to postpone the war. I happen to agree with you. My government agrees with you that it is necessary to do these things to postpone war to be strong, to be determined to deter aggression, to repel it where it takes place. We happen to think that this might not only postpone war, it might also help to avoid war.
I might also suggest to you that there is perhaps a philosophical difference in the approach to China on the part of President Carter, myself, and others, and of the approach on the part of President Nixon, Mr. Kissinger, and others. The accomplishment of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger in opening the dialogue with China was an historical accomplishment of very great importance which we value very highly. It was initiated during the Vietnamese War. Later during the Watergate crisis there was an element of historical pessimism involved in it. There was a fear that the United States was going down and the Soviet Union was going up on the scale of history and that this had to be balanced by a relationship with China against the Soviet Union.
We do not underestimate the Soviet threat but we feel that the Soviet Union also suffers from many historical weaknesses. We are fundamentally optimistic about the long-term prospects of our competition with the Soviet Union. We think our friendship with you is useful in that competition but more importantly we think our friendship with you is a central part of our foreign policy as we try to shape a world which is truly cooperative, a world organized for the first time in its total history on the basis of independent states and therefore a world in which new political and social relationships have to emerge.
We therefore feel that our relationship with China is of historic significance. It is an enduring relationship. It has long-term strategic importance. It is not only a tactical anti-Soviet expedient. If the Soviet Union remains a threat, if it persists in its hegemonistic designs, we want to cooperate with you in resisting them; but if we succeed in accomodation to some extent, if SALT reduces Soviet strategic danger, we nevertheless feel that for global reasons, for historical reasons, we wish to have a relationship of ever closer friendship and cooperation with China because you are a major, vital force in world affairs, whether the Soviet Union is peaceful or aggressive, friendly or hostile to the United States. My personal guess is that the Soviet Union will remain hostile and aggressive for some time to come.
Hua Kuo-feng: May I interrupt for a moment?
Dr. Brzezinski: Please.
Hua Kuo-feng: China also looks at our relations with the United States in a long-term strategic perspective. During President Nixon’s visit to China in his conversation with Chairman Mao, he told Chairman Mao that he had come to China in the national interest of the United States. And Chairman Mao fully endorsed his statement. Because what President Nixon said was true. China and the United States share common interests. As you have said, it is perhaps not an expedient. In our argument with Dr. Henry Kissinger, we said to him you should not, the United States, should not go to Moscow on the shoulder of China. In other words, the United States should not use China as a pawn in order to improve its relations with the Soviet Union. You should have a long-term strategic viewpoint to look at this relationship.
Dr. Brzezinski: I agree with that. This brings me to the question of bilateral relations. It involves two aspects. To the extent that it is mutually beneficial, we ought to try to widen it in a variety of ways. Widening that relationship is not a favor by us to you or by you to us but should only be undertaken when there are mutual benefits. Exchange of trade delegations, exchange of military delegations, visits by Cabinet members from the United States to China, at this stage are all things which I have mentioned to your Foreign Minister and which Ambassador Woodcock is prepared to pursue.
On the question of normalization, you have used the phrase “If President Carter has made up his mind,” things can be so easy. I think it would be probably more appropriate to say “Since President Carter has made up his mind,” it should prove possible for things to be easy. The word “if” is inappropriate in view of the fact that in the course of the past two or three days I have already said three or four times that President Carter has made up his mind.
Hua Kuo-feng: We will observe the actual action.
Dr. Brzezinski: One can make up one’s mind to marry a girl but implementation sometimes requires overcoming some obstacles. We understand your three basic points, and we accept them as the framework for the solution. We operate on the principle of the Shanghai Communique to the effect that there is only one China and that provides the fundamental basis for the resolution of the issue. However, even after normalization there will be an historically transitional period of time in which the nature of the contacts, commercial and other, between the United States and the people on Taiwan need to be mutually understood. I have read the protocols of your conversations very carefully and I have noted in them your willingness to exercise patience and your understanding that normalization will not instantly alter the relationship between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China.
There will thus be a historically transitional era in the course of which certain relationships between the United States and the people on Taiwan in some form will continue. For us this is not only a problem of relations with you but it is also a difficult domestic political issue. Therefore, the expression of some hope regarding the nature of future resolution of the problem by the United States has considerable domestic importance, but we do not view it as an intrusion in your own domestic affairs for ultimately the resolution of the problem in keeping with the Shanghai Communique is indeed your domestic affair. This is not a matter of one side, namely us, asking for conditions from you but more a matter of overcoming obstacles in a reasonable and flexible way so that normalization can become a reality and you can historically resolve your own internal affairs in due course.
We do not want to take any steps back on this issue. We want to go forward on it and Ambassador Woodcock is authorized to begin serious negotiations on this subject as of next month, if your side finds this convenient. In any case, there is going to be a period of historical transition during which presumably the United States will maintain a full range of economic relations with Taiwan and in the course of which many of the historical legacies of the past can then gradually be diluted, overcome or resolved. Bearing in mind our common strategic interests, bearing in mind the good will that is in our mutual interests, bearing in mind the flexibility which you have already shown in regard to some other countries on this matter, bearing in mind the need for us to weigh difficult internal political struggles over this issue, I feel quite confident that we can jointly find a solution in keeping with your three points, satisfy the requirements of the Shanghai Communique, and make possible reasonably rapid resolution of this issue. We are prepared to discuss this through the medium of Ambassador Woodcock here, with Ambassador Ch’ai Tse-min in Washington, or through any other direct form of negotiations that may be mutually convenient. Last and final sentence, given the fact that this issue in the United States tends to provoke emotions and controversy, it would be important at this stage particularly to maintain confidentiality about the negotiating process. I am grateful to you for listening to me with such patience, but we have covered a number of very important points.
Hua Kuo-feng: As for the question of keeping the negotiations confidential, it is quite all right with China. We have had a lot of discussion on the question of Sino-U.S. relations and during your present visit Vice Premier Teng also explained to you in great detail our views. We endorse an early negotiation and we also agree with you that Ambassador Woodcock, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, can conduct the negotiations. As for negotiations with the Soviet Union on the limitation of nuclear weapons, I think Foreign Minister Huang already expressed our attitude on this question. It is getting very late. I believe that at half past seven you will be giving a banquet. There is only ten minutes to go. Perhaps we should stop here.
Dr. Brzezinski: Thank you very much.
Hua Kuo-feng: I hope you will come again.
Original source: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1977-80v13/d111
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