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September 1, 1979

Cable from the Foreign Ministry, 'Notice on Vice President Mondale's Visit to China'

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Fujian Province Telegram Received

From:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Precedence:  Priority 

Device No. 307

Serial No. 1

Principal agency responsible: Foreign Affairs Bureau

Already transmitted to Standing Committee, government departments, commissions and offices, Fuzhou Military District, Provincial Military District

Notice on Vice President Mondale's Visit to China

To all provincial, municipal, autonomous region people's congress foreign affairs offices with copy to regional military regions and provincial military regions:

U.S. Vice President Mondale visited China from August 25 to September 1. As a result of this visit, some progress was made on China – US relations and both sides were relatively satisfied with the results of the talks.

Mondale's visit to China came at a time when the Carter government faced quite serious domestic and external difficulties and so Carter had decided that he could not visit China this year. The main purpose of the visit was to use progress in China-US relations as propaganda capital to improve the situation of the Carter government and to make use of this occasion to balance the situation in U.S. - Soviet relations following the Vienna Talks.  Therefore Mondale wanted to use this visit to raise the level of importance of China – U.S. relations.

Mondale during his visit to Beijing met twice with Premier Hua Guofeng and Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, had a working lunch with Vice Premier Fang Yi and some ministers.  He took part in a conference at Peking University where the two sides signed a “Protocol on Cooperation on Hydroelectric Power and Related Water Resources” and the “Protocol on Implementation of the Cultural Affairs Cooperation for 1980 – 1981”.  Mondale presented to Premier Hua and invitation to visit the United States.  Premier Hua accepted the invitation with the dates to be worked out later.

The principal topics of conversation between Mondale and the leaders of our country:

1. Bilateral relations

Mondale stated that now that the PRC and the U.S. have normalized diplomatic relations, we need to broaden and deepen China-US relations so that relations will be normalized in the fullest sense. The U.S. has decided to treat China as a “friendly country” so that on issues like trade agreements and economic relations China will not be treated the same as the Soviet Union.  (However, in statements made to the outside world, the USA formulation that it “treats China and the Soviet Union” the same way has not changed.)  As an expression of that change, the USA has adopted new positions on a number of issues. Recently the US delayed sending the agreement to Congress, making the Chinese side uncomfortable. The U.S. side asked the Chinese side for understanding that this had nothing to do with U.S. - Soviet relations but instead had to do with the parliamentary procedures of Congress and promised that Congress would approve the agreement within a year and give China most favored nation treatment.

Mondale stated that the US would relax its regulations on exports to China and most recently approved the exports of two types of advanced equipment to China. If the Chinese side needs other types of equipment, Carter and Mondale would make further enquiries and will urge the agencies concerned to adopt a more flexible policy.  However it will not be possible to eliminate all export controls. The U.S. government is willing to provide China with a US$2 billion loan but still requests that the PRC repay the US$37 million owed on a loan made to the Nationalist Party during the war of liberation. The U.S. is willing to provide other loans and expert assistance in areas such as hydroelectric power and long distance electric power transmission.

On the issue of the China-US Civil Air Agreement, the US declared that it would abrogate the 1946  U.S. - Chiang Kai-shek Civil Air Agreement which would make flights between the USA and Taiwan take on a non-official character.

Premier Hua and Vice Premier Deng affirmed the positive aspects of Mondale's statements while also pointing out areas that are still unsatisfactory. Hua said that Carter in his letter stated that whoever seeks to weaken or isolate China is acting against the interests of the United States and noted that is stated very well and expresses a high, far-seeing strategic perspective. We are interested in US statements that take China as a friend and that China and the Soviet Union should be treated differently. The Chinese side also welcomes Mondale's statement that the U.S. is willing to provide loans to China. Loans to China however, should not be linked with debts owed by the former Nationalist government or China would have great difficulty accepting such a condition.

Vice Premier Deng affirmed the wise action of the US in treating China as a friendly country and welcomed the US willingness to make loans to China.  It is the principled position of China, however, that China is not responsible for paying back debts on loans made to Chiang Kai-shek.  As for U.S. - Taiwan relations, Deng stated: The US has gone too far in some ways. This will have a bad political effect and said that he hoped the US in the future would be more careful about what it does. Chiang Ching-kuo has been cocky lately because the US gave him weapons and strengthened his military.  Deng also mentioned the visits of the Dalai Lama to the US and that the US has only permitted China to establish two consulate generals in the US, refuses to export to China computer equipment faster than 2 megaflops, the illegal transfer to the US of public property by the Chiang gang among other issues so as to clearly state China's position. Mondale said that he would report to Carter and at the same time reaffirmed that the US in its future handling of US  - Taiwan relations would strictly adhere to the agreement reached with China.

II. International affairs:

Most of the discussion of international affairs by the two sides was taken up by the Indochina issue. Mondale said that the US does not recognize the Heng Samrin regime but does not agree that Pol Pot should be seen as being at the center of the opposition forces. The US advocates a political settlement with Vietnam withdrawing its forces from Cambodia on the condition that a genuinely non-aligned Cambodian government is established. Mondale was unclear on what role Norodom Sihanouk would play but that he should be encouraged to promote a political solution and said that Cambodia needs a broadly-based united political force. The US at present has no plans to provide economic assistance to Vietnam and does not plan to restart talks on diplomatic recognition. The US has also urged Australia, Sweden, Japan and other countries to stop providing economic assistance to Vietnam. Mondale said that when he passes through Tokyo on his way back to the US, he would once again press Premier Ohira on his point. The US would send relief supplies to Cambodia and Heng Sarim has already accepted them and this should make Pol Pot willing to accept them as well.

Deng stressed these points:

(1) Taking a long-term perspective, we should find a way to promote internal change in Vietnam. However there can be no rapid change in the Vietnamese leadership and they will not give up their plan for an Indochina federation. We should all put political and economic pressure on Vietnam so that it will be in greater difficulties.  That will put an ever greater burden on the Soviet Union. If that goes on for three to five years, the situation may change. Don't give Vietnam economic assistance and don't give Heng Sarim relief supplies since that amounts to the same thing as giving assistance to Vietnam. If Japan provides assistance to Vietnam the political fallout from that would be very bad and so you should work on Japan. At the same time, you should support the resistance in Laos and Cambodia so that they will be able to hold out.

(2) The recent Chinese action with respect to Vietnam was very necessary. If Vietnam persists in causing trouble on the border, China reserves the right to punish it again. I have already declared that if Vietnam should invade Thailand or the ASEAN nations, China will strongly support them.

(3) China also supports a political solution to the Cambodian issue. The precondition to that, however, is that Cambodia be truly independent and that Vietnam withdraws its forces from Cambodia. Vietnam, however, is far from being in such dire straits that it would accept that condition so that time is not yet ripe. A political solution not preconditioned on this would only help the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Sihanouk does not have any political strength within Cambodia and the Cambodia exiles that support him overseas are very divided amongst themselves. The political solution that he seeks is unrealistic.  At present, Pol Pot is just about the only force within Cambodia that opposes Vietnam. Sihanouk hopes that the U.S. and Japan will support him in his effort to create a Cambodian government-in-exile that does not include Pol Pot. That would only hurt the opposition forces within Cambodia.  We support a united front that does not exclude Pol Pot. Deng reminded the U.S. side that when it makes an action that affects the interests of our two countries that it should first mention it to the Chinese side.

At the invitation of Mondale, Premier Hua briefly discussed his views on the situation in Afghanistan and China-Soviet talks.  Vice Premier Deng also discussed Korea and Pakistan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

September 1, 1979

A summary of Walter Mondale's meetings with Chinese officials, including Deng Xiaoping and Hua Guofeng. Topics of conversation included bilateral relations and the situation in Indochina.

Document Information


Fujian Provincial Archives, 222-12-287, 67-73. Translated by David Cowhig.


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