Soon after, Unger wrote back to Vance confirming that he had met with Chiang at 2:20am.
Chiang, who had been raised from bed, had scurried to have then-vice minister for foreign affairs Fredrick Chien (錢復) and his private secretary, James Soong (宋楚瑜), also present.
Unger read Carter’s message.
“President Chiang took my presentation very badly and predicted the gravest consequences,” Unger reported back to Vance.
Chiang said it was “totally impossible” that the US “solution” would lead to internal stability and continuing development in Taiwan.
In effect, Chiang said, the US was turning Taiwan over to the PRC and that the US decision was “dishonest” and that the US would lose the confidence of the people of the Republic of China and of other countries around the world.
Chiang complained that he was being given only seven hours notice and no opportunity for discussion.
Unger ended his message to Vance by saying there was probably no way to deter Chiang “from a sharply negative reaction.”
“He did not have the opportunity I have always strongly advocated to adjust his own thinking, line up his leadership to take the shock constructively and confirm that he can still manage the US relationship,” Unger said.
A few days later, after the formal recognition of China had been made, the Carter administration sent US National Security Council staff member Michel Oksenberg to see former US president Richard Nixon at his office in San Clemente, California.
“Taiwan will survive,” Nixon said. “There is no problem there. Terminating the Defense Treaty had to occur. Taiwan can defend itself.”
However, Nixon stressed it was an emotional issue.
“A lot of people feel very close to Taiwan and have had extensive relations with them,” Nixon said.
He said the biggest concern was how the US would retain its credibility after terminating the treaty.
“To terminate a defense treaty could sow seeds of doubt about us, particularly in Asia,” Nixon said.
“Nixon is very impressive,” Oksenberg said. “He is not the cold, aloof man portrayed in the papers. He is impressively knowledgeable, nuanced — an old pro.”
After the meeting with Oksenberg, Nixon wrote a long letter to Carter in which he said that he had three major concerns.
First, the adequacy of the guarantees against the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue.
Second, the credibility of US commitments to other allies and friends in view of the termination of the Taiwan Treaty.
And third, the effect on Carter’s ability as president to enlist public support for other foreign policy initiatives in the future.
“No political realist can ignore the fact that the 17 million people on Taiwan, who have prospered greatly under a non-communist government, have an almost fanatical core of support in the nation and in Congress,” Nixon said.
“I believe that it is essential that you and your representatives give additional reassurances firmly and unequivocally,” the former president said.
He said that any use of force against Taiwan would “irreparably jeopardize” US relations with China.
“There are those who contend that the pro-Taiwan forces are stupid, short-sighted and reckless,” Nixon said.