recent release of the conversations between Henry Kissinger
and Chou Enlai
in July 1971 provides important documents which underline
the basic positions of both sides.
is careful with his language.
Never does he say directly that the United States recognizes
the People's Republic of China's sovereignty over Taiwan.
Nonetheless, Kissinger's statements, as well as those
of President Nixon in his February 1972 visit, clearly give
the impression that they agree with the basic Chinese position
regarding Taiwan as part of "China" and believe
that the "political evolution" will move in the
direction of Taiwan being unified with the PRC.
are one thing. Explicit
language is another.
For example, Chou mentions that a State Department
spokesperson had noted, just before Kissinger's visit, that
the status of Taiwan was undetermined.
Kissinger replies, "He hasn't repeated it!"
During his visit, Nixon states, ""There will
be no more statements made - if I can control our bureaurcracy
- to the effect that the status of Taiwan is undetermined."
neither Kissinger nor Nixon explicitly say they consider the
status of Taiwan to be determined and the PRC to have sovereignty
over Taiwan. They
knew they couldn't sell this to the US Congress so they finessed
the issue with the use of the word "acknowledges"
the Chinese position regarding Taiwan in the Shanghai Communique.
should be noted that in Jim Mann's book, About Face, Nixon's
notes for his meeting with Chou Enlai are more specific.
I reiterate what our policy is: 1. Status is determined -
one China, Taiwan is part of China - 2. Won't support Taiwan independence. 3. Try to restrain
Japan - 4. Support peaceful resolution. 5. Will seek normalization."
is no record of a conversation with Mao or Chou in which Nixon
actually stated the policy regarding Taiwan's status this
To this day, US policy is, as President Bush recently
stated in the PRC, for a "peaceful resolution."
Only something not yet determined needs to be resolved. In the six assurances given to Taiwan in 1982, the US says
The United States would not alter its position about the sovereignty
of Taiwan which was, that the question was one to be decided
peacefully by the Chinese themselves, and would not pressure
Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China. And
6. The United States would not formally recognize Chinese
sovereignty over Taiwan.
Richard Bush's recent speech in Taipei makes this US
position absolutely clear.
See our FAPA website for the full text of Richard Bush's
are some other excerpts from the Kissinger documents that
give you a taste of the discussions, a taste that you will
probably find more sour than sweet.
the conversations, Kissinger says, "As for the political
future of Taiwan, we are not advocating a "two China's"
solution or a "one China, one Taiwan" solution.
As a student of history, one's prediction would have
to be that the political evolution is likely to be in the
direction which Prime Minister Chou En-lai indicated to me. But if we want to put the relations between our two countries
on a genuine basis of understanding, we must recognize each
We should not be forced into formal declarations in a brief
period of time which by themselves have no practical effect.
However, we will not stand in the way of basic evolution,
once you and we have come to a basic understanding.
…there's no possibility in the next one and a half
years for us to recognize the PRC as the sole government of
China in a formal way.
It is possible to prevent new claims from being established
and that we will do.
For example, the Taiwan Independence Movement, forces
that disrupt the evolution which the PM and I have talked
about and which could be confirmed between Chairman Mao Tse-tung
and President Nixon."