It’s a great privilege to talk to the Nixon Foundation on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the summit in Beijing that occurred in the Nixon administration and through its efforts. Let me talk to you about the basic strategic thinking of the Nixon administration. We came into office with a war in Vietnam that had been going on before, with American participation, for five years, with the Soviet Union and test having occupied the country of Czechoslovakia, in Europe, and with a permanent crisis with China, with which there had been no communications for 25 years. The essence of the Nixon policy was not to deal with any one problem on a tactical level, but we’ll see whether they could be linked together in such a way that its illusions reinforced each other and that the challenges could be met with superior force. And this is why the comments that I sometimes made about the Nixon administration, that they were too tough. And others that they were too conciliatory, polls, partially true, because the effort was to combine both strains and conciliation in the same policy in order to get a world order in which the American people could feel secure. The people of the Earth would be convinced that the United States was a solution to crisis and not the cause of crisis, and in which a New World Order could be created. So, from the beginning, we pursued this dual policy.
I will now make a few remarks about the China segment of it. When Nixon came into office, there had been no significant communications between China and the United States for 25 years.
China was going through what was called the Cultural Revolution, which altered the leadership structure and we had domestic issues over Vietnam. Nevertheless, Nixon ordered a major effort to contact the Chinese. That was not very easy, because they had no diplomats abroad to do the Cultural Revolution, except in Egypt. Nixon and I approached people at various levels of various countries. But the breakthrough came when Nixon on a visit to Pakistan told the Pakistani President that he wanted contact with the Chinese and received a letter several weeks later, directly from Chou En-Lai that the Chinese appreciated, being approached by a head, though a head of government. These communications, given sensitivity of the subject, were delivered by hand on both sides through a messenger from-supplied by the Pakistan government. After nearly a year, though this complicated method, a division was arranged by me, to Beijing. President Nixon and I discussed at length what our message should be. And we agreed on an approach and when I was traveling to China, which was, which of course nobody knew. Nixon gave his speech in Kansas City that explained his approach to the international system and mentioned a significant role for China in it. So the Chinese had read that speech when I arrived, by the time I arrived, and so the discussions that I had with Chou En-Lai did not have to spend any time on this topic. We took this topic for granted in discussing the nature of a world in which China and the United States might work in parallel, or even cooperatively. And this led to an invitation to Nixon to come to China to continue and elaborate these discussions. We had a principle that Nixon would not meet the actual state unless he knew roughly what the outcome of the conversation would be. And it was based on the conviction that if leaders at that level, made and do not achieve an outcome or differ about the outcome, that it is very difficult after that to appeal to any other group, because that is already the highest level. So Nixon agreed that there should be an adjusted, that there should be a preliminary meeting again between Chou En-lai and me in which we would outline the nature of the communique they would appear. And the result was a very unusual communique which stated that the disagreements between the two sides in very explicit language but that created a backdrop to a number of agreements, which were then all the more significant, about the nature of the order, in which the Chinese and we renounce attempts for domination and about Taiwan a complicated format the outcome was that he said we were not challenging the One China concept. On the other side, the Chinese had stated in the conversations with the President that they could wait a long time for the final resolution, which by stated, needed to be peaceful. So it is in this matter that the current discussions and tensions over Taiwan should proceed. And that is a matter should not be transgressed without evoking sharp counter reactions. So, for out of this Shanghai communique grew decades of cooperation with China, in the region, in the tourism administration’s tensions have developed. They’re partly due to the fact that the Chinese economy developed at the level and it created capacities in the military field that nobody could anticipate, or did anticipate 20 years ago, 30 years ago.
So it is therefore necessary to take a look at this relationship and the present circumstances. The Nixon principles in my view, remain valid. First, it’s important to remember that at the end of Nixon’s first term, the various problems I mentioned at the beginning of each conversation, the problems with Russia, the Vietnam War, and the challenge of China all came to a head simultaneously due to a policy of linkage, that Nixon established in the first week in office. There were summits in Beijing and in Moscow. There was a peace agreement with Vietnam and there was a relationship with China that achieved a major purpose in the Cold War and the purpose was to prevent Russia from concentrating all its forces against Europe as in many respects it is doing today in different circumstances, but in those days, our instructions to the State Department and to the White House staff were: when you make a decision that involves posts in China and in Russia, play yourself so that you are closer to both than they are to each other. And that policy has been maintained by several administrations for many decades. It’s a policy that has integrity today but at this moment it is not my intention to make any policy comment. My intention is to show that a President could come into office, recognize the issues, assign a strategy to them, and come up with concurrent conclusions, simultaneously and the picture of a world that was both secure and at peace. That in my view is the Nixon legacy and it is one that should be a basic consideration for any American leader dealing with the nature of the world which we are facing. So thank you very much for inviting me and giving me this opportunity.