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September 17, 1969

Report to CCP Central Committee, Further Thoughts by Marshal Chen Yi on Sino-American Relations

This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation

This report [the report by the four marshals] mainly deals with Kosygin’s trip to China and the possibility for the Soviet revisionists to launch a large-scale attack on China, and it thus fails to provide a detailed analysis of whether or not the Sino-American ambassadorial talks in Warsaw should be resumed. I have considered for a long time on how to achieve a breakthrough in Sino-American relations. The talks in Warsaw have been conducted for more than ten years without producing anything. Even if the talks are resumed now, they will not bring about breakthrough in Sino-American relations. I have read relevant reference materials. On 27 October 1955, we suggested that China and the United States hold  talks at the foreign minister’s level to relax and eliminate tension in the Taiwan region. On 18 and 24 January 1956, our Foreign Ministry spokesman issued two statements, pointing out that the Taiwan problem had proven too serious to be solved by the Sino-American ambassadorial talks, and that only talks at the foreign minister’s level could relax and eliminate tension in the Taiwan region. This suggestion, though with great significance, was rejected by the United States. The situation has changed today. Because of the strategic need for dealing with the Soviet revisionists, Nixon hopes to win over China. It is necessary for us to utilize the contradiction between the United States and the Soviet Union in a strategic sense, and pursue a breakthrough in the Sino-American relations. Thus, we must adopt due measures, about which I have some “wild” ideas. First, when the meetings in Warsaw are resumed, we may take the initiative in proposing to hold Sino-American talks at the ministerial or even higher levels, so that basic and related problems in Sino-American relations can be solved. We should only make suggestion about at which level and on which topics talks should be held. In my judgment, the Americans may accept the suggestion. It is possible that if we do not take the initiative, the Americans may make such a suggestion. If that is the case, we should accept it. Second, a Sino-American meeting at higher levels holds strategic significance. We should not raise any prerequisite, which does not mean that we have departed from our previous stand on the Taiwan question. The Taiwan question can be gradually solved by talks at higher levels. Furthermore, we may discuss with the Americans other questions of strategic significance. These tasks cannot be fulfilled with talks at the ambassadorial level. Third, when the talks in Warsaw are resumed, we do not need to use the meeting place provided by the Polish government. To keep the meetings secret, the talks should be held at the Chinese embassy.


Following the report by Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Nie Rongzhen, and Xu Xiangqian, Chen Yi makes additional recommendations for high-level negotiations to improve Sino-American relations.


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Zhonggong dangshi ziliao, no. 42, pp. 86-87. Translated for CWIHP by Chen Jian.


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