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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks, 1955-1970

Although China and the United States were without formal diplomatic relations until 1979, the two countries agreed to maintain communications through a special mechanism, the Sino-American “Ambassadorial Talks” in Warsaw, Poland, which lasted from August 1955 through February 1970. This collection presents documents from the Chinese Foreign Ministry Archives on the first fourteen meetings of the Ambassadorial Talks.

  • May 19, 1954

    Minutes of the Talk between Huan Xiang and Humphrey Trevelyan on the Return of Chinese and US Nationals to Their Respective Countries (Excerpt)

    Trevelyan offered to mediate the issue of Chinese and American expatriates as a private person. Huan Xiang replied by affirming that US nationals were free to leave China while many Chinese were not allowed to leave the US. He declared to have no authority on the mediation request and would consult with related people.

  • May 27, 1954

    Minutes of the Talk between Huan Xiang and Trevelyan on the Return of Chinese and US Nationals to their Respective Countries (Excerpt)

    Huan Xiang reaffirmed that Beijing did not deny exit permits for Americans while the US prevented many Chinese nationals from leaving the US. He agreed to talk to the US either directly or through Trevelyan's introduction. Trevelyan said that he did not know the US attitude on this issue and would contact Huan Xian in a few days.

  • June 03, 1954

    Telegram From Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, on the Issue of the US Asking China to Release Convicted US Nationals in China

    Zhou Enlai gave a brief overview of the situation, in which he pointed out that there seemed to be disagreements between the US delegation in Geneva and the State Department over whether to talk directly with the PRC delegation. Zhou outlined what the PRC should do if either case materialized.

  • June 06, 1954

    Cable from the CCP Central Committee, reply to Zhou Enlai’s cable of 3 June 1954

    The CCP Central Committee informed Zhou Enlai that they received and agreed with his proposal.

  • April 04, 1955

    Cable from Feng Xuan to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Please Instruct Us regarding Policy toward Talks with the United States'

    Feng Xuan reported to the Foreign Ministry on the release of 76 Chinese students from the US and the American invitation to a meeting on the expatriate question.

  • April 05, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Feng Xuan, 'Sino-American Contact regarding Students and Nationals'

    The Foreign Ministry instructs Feng Xuan to only answer questions regarding the convicted Americans in China categorically and avoided a tit-for-tat exchange of nationals.

  • May 26, 1955

    Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and British Charge d'Affaires Humphrey Trevelyan

    Zhou briefed Trevelyan about China’s position in Taiwan issue that was produced in a document produced by PRC National People’s Congress Standing Committee in response to Britain’s request.

  • July 13, 1955

    Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and British Charge d'Affaires Con O'Neill

    O’Neill passed on US position on the Sino-US talks in Geneva to Zhou. Zhou and O’Neil exchanged the positions of both countries regarding the talks and the dispute regarding the repatriation of the Chinese and American nationals to their country of origins.

  • July 14, 1955

    The Response of the People’s Republic of China’s Government to the United States Government, Transmitted through the British Government

    The Chinese government indicates that it wishes for "higher-level" talks with the United States.

  • July 15, 1955

    Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and British Charge d’Affaires Con O’Neill

    Zhou asked O’Neill to convey China’s opinions on the date and time of the first Geneva talk and a draft of Sino-US joint communiqué to the US government.

  • July 17, 1955

    Joint Communiqué (Draft), Proposed by Premier Zhou to British Charge d’Affaires Con O’Neill

    China's draft communique proposes that the US and China elevate their talks in Geneva to the ambassadorial level.

  • July 17, 1955

    Cable from Pu Shouchang to Qiao Quanhua, 'The Premier's Specific Instructions'

    Zhou Enlai's instructions regarding the Sino-US talks

  • July 18, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Sending the Plan for the Sino-American Talks'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry sends instructions for the Sino-American ambassadorial talks.

  • July 18, 1955

    Memo, Pu Shouchang to Qiao Guanhua

  • July 18, 1955

    Plan for the Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks in Geneva

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry outlines objectives and strategies for negotiating with the United States.

  • July 18, 1955

    Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and British Charge d’Affaires Con O’Neill

    O’Neill passed on a draft joint news release from the US regarding the date of the first Sino-US Ambassadorial Talk. Zhou first disputed with O’Neil that the US calling the PRC capital "Peiping" instead of "Beijing/Peking" in the draft was disrespectful to China. Then, Zhou said that the Chinese government needed some time to consider the time suggested by the US as well as the wording of the draft. He did not accept the explanation from O’Neill regarding the draft per se and the name the US used in the draft.

  • July 26, 1955

    Additional Instructions Regarding the Sino-American Ambassadorial Talks at Geneva

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry offers some additional instructions for how to approach the talks with the United States.

  • July 30, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Please Postpone the Ambassadorial-level Talks to the Afternoon on the 1st of August'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry asked their negotiators to try to postpone the first meeting of the Sino-American talks so that the Ministry could send them instructions and the text of speech

  • July 30, 1955

    Cable from Dong Yueqian to Zhang Wentian

    Dong Yueqian instructs Zhang Wentian to form a "special supervisory group" for the Sino-American ambassadorial talks.

  • July 30, 1955

    Instructions on the Sino-American Ambassadorial Level Talks at Geneva (Excerpt)

    Instructions from the PRC Foreign Ministry to its negotiators at the Sino-American talks. These instructions concerned the PRC's basic policy, their attitude toward the question of expatriates, the US embargo against China, possible higher level Sino-American talks. Possible issues that could be raised by the US were also mentioned: The matter of US assets in China, the issue of shooting down commercial airliners, and the issue of cease-fire across the Taiwan Strait. Besides, the Foreign Ministry gave instructions on the attitude to adopt at the meetings as well as the need to constantly ask for instructions.