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    By Mike Fonte, FAPA Senior Policy Analyst 
 

The 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.   

Kissinger 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.

Impressions 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."

Notice: 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.

It should be noted that in Jim Mann's book, About Face, Nixon's notes for his meeting with Chou Enlai are more specific.   "Taiwan: 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."  

There is no record of a conversation with Mao or Chou in which Nixon actually stated the policy regarding Taiwan's status this clearly, however.    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 5. 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 statement: www.fapa.org

Here 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.

During 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 other's necessities."

Chou: What necessities?

Kissinger: 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."


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