Former national security adviser Henry Kissinger has rejected suggestions that he changed US- Taiwan policy toward one that favored China in 1971 as part of a deal to get Beijing to help bring an end to the Vietnam War.
Kissinger said the position he agreed to at the time, during secret talks with then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) that paved the way for former US president Richard Nixon's historic meeting with then Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) the following year, had been the same as US policy for decades.
The suggestion that Taiwan and Indochina were linked during the Kissinger-Zhou talks was "a travesty of the conversation" between the two men, Kissinger said in an address to the National Press Club commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Shanghai Communique on Feb. 28, 1972. Kissinger devoted part of that address to dismissing allegations made after verbatim transcripts of the meetings and related documents were released last week in Washington.
"I did not change China policy in order to get help in Vietnam," he said. "It was an established American policy that there would be `one China.' It was an established American policy for the simple reason that both the government in Taiwan and the government in Beijing claimed to represent all of China. There was no other agenda on the table."
But a reading of the documents show that Kissinger actually agreed with Zhou that Taiwan and Vietnam were linked. Early on in the first of three sessions that stretched over 17 hours in three days, Kissinger and Zhou discussed whether in their talks to discuss Taiwan and Indochina as one topic or two.
They decided to discuss them separately.
"You could speak first on the Taiwan question or Indochina, or together, because you may think they are linked," Zhou said.
"I believe they are linked to some extent," Kissinger replied.
Later, in a memo to Nixon on the talks, Kissinger wrote, "Zhou asked whether I was linking the Taiwan issue to Indochina. When I affirmed it, he did not demur but turned to a discussion of Indochina."
Kissinger told the Press Club audience that the US statement on its "one China" policy that appeared in the Shanghai Communique was not his, but actually a formulation that went back to the early post-war period.
"I got that phrase from a document that Undersecretary of State Alex Johnson wrote for Secretary of State John Foster Dulles for the contingency that he would have a meeting with Zhou Enlai," Kissinger said. Dulles was former US president Eisenhower's pro-Taiwan secretary of state who, before his 1952 appointment, was a department adviser and heavily involved in negotiating the 1951 peace treaty with Japan that left Taiwan's status up in the air.
The Dulles-Zhou meeting never happened. The Shanghai communique stated that Washington "acknowledges that all Chinese" on both sides of the Strait maintain that Taiwan is a part of China, and that the US "does not challenge" this view.
On Monday night, Kissinger said he disagreed with those in Washington who have recently urged the two sides to negotiate a fourth US-China communique, in addition to the Shanghai Communique, the 1979 communique establishing diplomatic relations, and the 1982 communique signed by former US president Ronald Reagan.
"I think a new communique would lead to endless discussions. I think both sides understand their basic positions, and I think a fourth communique could create more disputes than it would solve," he told the Taipei Times.