Monday, November 26, 2012

Blast from the Past: President Ford, Teng Hsiao-ping on Taiwan

Beijing, Dec 4, 1975:

Vice Premier Teng: So we now enter our third session and I think the final session for this visit. I believe in the talks we had yesterday, we have covered almost all the ground, and I think especially the deep going conversation you had with Chairman Mao shows we have touched upon all aspects.

And the Taiwan issue that both sides are concerned about actually was also discussed during your wide-ranging conversation with Chairman Mao. And we have understood Mr. President's point; that is, that during the time of the election it will not be possible to make any new moves.

As for our side, we have told the Doctor many times that we are very patient. And in our relations we have always put the international aspect first and the Taiwan issue second.

The President: 

The President: Mr. Vice Premier, you are absolutely correct. We have covered the globe in detail, ourselves as well as the discussions with the Chairman, and we did touch on the question of Taiwan. We are very grateful that you are understanding of the domestic political situation in the United States.

But I think it is important for us—and for me, I should say—to speak quite frankly about the political commitment that I feel the United States has concerning Taiwan. Although we understand and have discussed the situation, I think it is beneficial that I reaffirm for the record of these meetings what in the first instance President Nixon said in 1972. There were five points that were made:

—Number one, that we support the principle of the unity of China.

—Number Two, we will not support any independence effort by the Taiwan Government.

—And that we would actively discourage any third force from seeking to take some expansionist activities concerning Taiwan.

—Of course, you do know that we have significantly reduced, as President Nixon said, the military forces that we have on Taiwan. As I recall the figure in 1972, there were roughly 10,000 American military personnel on the island. That has been reduced, so that at the present time we have roughly 2,800. And it is my intention within the next year that we will reduce that by 50%, down to a figure roughly of 1,400. I want you to know that we have no offensive weapon capabilities on Taiwan.

—So, with the total reduced figure from 10,000 to 1,400, and the fact that we have no offensive military capability, there is a clear indication that the commitments made by President Nixon are being carried out by myself.

And, we do understand and we are grateful for the patience that your government has had. On the other hand, we want to say after the election we will be in a position to move much more specifically toward the normalization of relations, along the model perhaps of the Japanese arrangement, but it will take some time, bearing in mind our domestic political situation.

Teng: We have taken note of Mr. President's well-intentioned words, that is, that under suitable conditions you will be prepared to solve the Taiwan issue according to the Japanese formula. And of course, when the normalization of relations is realized, we are sure that will be in accordance with the three principles we have stated many times: It will go along with the abolishing of the so-called U.S.–Chiang Kai-shek defense treaty, and the withdrawal of United States troops from Taiwan, and the severing of diplomatic relations with the Chiang Kai-shek government. Of course, we can also realize the Japanese formula which also includes the remaining of some people-to-people, nongovernmental trade relations with Taiwan, as Japan maintains at the present time.

Other issues pertaining to Taiwan will be settled in accordance with the principle that it is the internal problem of China.

And under these conditions we are not worried about any third country, particularly Russia, being able to do anything of consequence on Taiwan.

[Teng bends over next to his seat and spits into a spittoon under the table.]

The President: We would certainly anticipate that any solution would be by peaceful means as far as your government and Taiwan are concerned. We certainly have to look at it from the point of view that we can't just cast aside old friends. It would have to be a peaceful solution, which I understand is the understanding President Nixon made at that time. I would agree that we would perhaps retain trade relations, etc. which would continue.

But I might add that I would hope that in our own relations, Mr. Vice Premier, we could move in a broadening sense, as friends, in the direction of trade relations, and educational and cultural exchanges. They are very meaningful, as the Ambassador [Huang Chen] knows, in the support that comes from the American people for the forward movement of our overall relations.

Teng: Of course, I believe the Doctor will well remember the talks he had with Chairman Mao during his recent October visit in which the Chairman has very explicitly discussed our position. And with regard to the thing you mentioned just now, to put it frankly, we do not believe in peaceful transition. Because there is a huge bunch of counterrevolutionaries over there, and the question of what method we will take to solve our internal problem is something that we believe belongs to the internal affairs of China, to be decided by China herself. And in his conversation with the Doctor, Chairman Mao mentioned five years, ten years, 20 years, 100 years. While the Doctor continued stressing the point that “you had mentioned 100 years.” [Laughter] So, I think that is about all for that question.
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MJ Klein said...

"we do not believe in peaceful transition."

he actually said that. nothing has changed since, has it?

Michael Turton said...

You put your finger right on the main issue. Nothing has changed, it's just that China has become cleverer about its bluster.


Readin said...

I don't remember much about the Ford presidency. I was young at the time, his presidency was short, and he doesn't get talked about much. My general impression was that he was a nice decent guy.

This excerpt certainly doesn't help my opinion of him any. "We would certainly anticipate that any solution would be by peaceful means as far as your government and Taiwan are concerned." Pretty weak words.