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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. For other Digital Archive collections on US-China relations, see Sino-American Confrontation, 1949-1971, and Sino-American Cooperation, 1972-1989.

  • July 31, 1955

    Cable from Ma Lie to Zhang Wentian

    Ma Lie asks Zhang Wentian to form a “special supervisory group” for the Sino-American ambassadorial talks.

  • July 31, 1955

    Cable from the Foreign Ministry to Comrade Wang Bingnan, 'On the Text of Speech, Instructions, and Points of Attention at the Sino-American Talks'

    Several instructions from the PRC Foreign Ministry on how to handle the negotiations as well as two attachments regarding the text of speech for the first meeting of the Sino-American talks and the issue of news release during the talks

  • August 03, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Instructions for the Third Meeting of the Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry suspected that China’s release of 11 American spies had put pressure on the US side, making the US open to the idea of having a higher level meeting. The Foreign Ministry instructed the Chinese representatives to urge the US to promise to release Chinese students in the US in the next meeting, and also urge the US to accept the suggestion of bringing in third country (India) to help the release process, including financial support.

  • August 07, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'An Analysis of the Third Meeting'

  • August 07, 1955

    Instructions from the PRC Foreign Ministry On the Issue of Chinese Students in the US at the Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry instructed Wang Bingnan how to counter-argue when Americans objected China’s suggestions regarding release of Chinese students in the US.

  • August 07, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Talking Points for the Fourth Meeting'

    Instructions from the PRC Foreign Ministry on how to handle the three Chinese proposals that had not been satisfied in the 3rd meeting: The request for a name list of all Chinese nationals in the US, the demand that the US revoke its restriction on the exit of Chinese nationals and students, the proposal that both sides entrust a third country to look after its nationals in the other country.

  • August 10, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Talking Points for the Fifth Meeting'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry instructed Chinese Representative Wang Bingnan to have the following major agreements in writing on the fifth meeting: (1) Any nationals who were willing to return to their countries should be granted permission; (2) China designated India and the US designated the UK to facilitate the repatriation of each other’s nationals.

  • August 13, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Possible Attitudes of the Other Party at the Sixth Meeting'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry instructed the Chinese delegation how to respond to different attitudes the US delegation might have in the next meeting.

  • August 15, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Instructions and Text of Speeches at the Seventh Meeting'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry estimated the issues that the US would raise in the next meeting, including the wording in the agreement and whether to issue a joint statement or separated ones, and instructed Chinese Representative Wang Bingnan the proper responses.

  • August 18, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Instructions a for the Eighth Meeting'

    The Foreign Ministry instructed that Wang to emphasize two points to be included in the agreement in the next meeting: (1) The Americans who had litigations in China should not be repatriated unconditionally; (2) Both governments were able to represent their own citizens to delegate the third party to arrange their repatriation and to investigate difficult cases, if any.

  • August 18, 1955

    Premier Zhou Enlai’s Report to the Central Committee on the Possibility of Reaching an Accord on an Agreed Announcement regarding the Issue of Chinese and American Nationals

    Zhou stated that the amendment to the Sino-US agreement proposed by the US on the eighth meeting showed that Washington was prepared to compromise. Zhou said that the PRC could benefit from the amendment and suggested that the PRC should accept the principles proposed by the US, make only minor changes, and seek to reach agreement as soon as possible.

  • August 19, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Instructions for the Ninth Meeting'

    The Foreign Ministry agreed with Wang’s observation that the US thought that China was very eager to reach an agreement and thus took advantage of it. The US’s purpose was to have China promise unambiguously that all American citizens would be released soon. The Foreign Ministry instructed Wang to stand firm in the next meeting and not to yield as China had already make necessary concession.

  • August 20, 1955

    Cable from Wang Bingnan, 'Request for Instructions on the American Invitation to Ambassador Wang to Have a Meal on Monday'

    US Representative Johnson invited Wang to a private dinner at Johnson’s residence, stating that both would bring only interpreters and should not leak the information to reporters. Wang asked for instruction from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

  • August 20, 1955

    Cable from Wang Bingnan, 'Potential Topics at the Private Dinner with Johnson'

    Wang drafted certain issues that might be touched upon during the private dinner with Johnson and asked for permission from the Foreign Ministry. The US might: (1) Explain the current situation and wish to improve Sino-US relations; (2) Continue searching China’s bottom-line with soft methods; (3) Want to test China’s attitude on improving Sino-US relations; (4) Test China’s opinion on the second agenda.

  • August 21, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Wang Bingnan, 'Agree for Wang to Accept the Invite from Johnson'

    The Foreign Ministry agreed Wang to accept the invite from Johnson and asked for more details about the dinner arrangement.

  • August 21, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'America's Probing of Us and Our Talking Points'

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry claims that the US wants to test China’s bottom-line regarding the release of US citizens in China.

  • August 24, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Analysis of the Private Dinner and the 10th Meeting and Instructions for the 11th Meeting of the Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks'

    The Foreign Ministry instructed Wang that China would not have a determined time to release all the American citizens, as the US requested. However, China could agree to deal with the issue “as soon as possible” in the amendment.

  • August 25, 1955

    Record of Conversation from Premier Zhou's Reception of Ambassador Raghavan

    Zhou Enlai talked to Raghavan about two issues in the Sino-American talks: The release of American expatriates in China and the issue of Chinese expatriates in the US. Regarding the former, Zhou reaffirmed Chinese willingness to cooperate. According to him, there was no restriction and all American expatriates who apply would be able to return to the US. In the cases of Americans who violated Chinese law, however, it was necessary to proceed case by case and it was impossible to release them all at the same time as Washington demanded. On the second issue, the US admitted that they had placed limitations on the return of Chinese expatriates in the past. These restrictions had been lifted then but due to the number of Chinese expatriates and the pressure from Taipei, the problem could not be solved at once. Both countries agreed to let India act as a proxy for China and the UK act as a proxy for the US in this issue. Zhou and Raghavan went on to discuss some wording problems as well as the attitudes of both parties and the UK.

  • August 26, 1955

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Agree to the Postponement of the 12th Meeting of the Sino-US Talks to the 31st of August'

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed the postponement of the twelfth meeting. The Ministry instructed Wang to invite Johnson to a private dinner immediately on receipt of this telegram.

  • August 26, 1955

    Cable from Wang Bingnan, 'Opinions on the American Proposal to Postpone the 12th Meeting of the Talks'

    The US proposed to postpone the twelfth meeting from 27th to 31st. Wang conjured that the US needed to change their strategy since they had not got their way of having China promise a time for the release of US citizens. Wang suggested some possible changes of US strategy and requested further instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.