Kissinger Offered Secrets
About Soviets To China In 1970s
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Advising Chinese leaders that the Soviets were determined to amass enough nuclear weapons to destroy their country, Henry Kissinger secretly offered China U.S. satellite information and a hot line long before the communist government gained American diplomatic recognition, according to transcripts of conversations about to be released.
"We would be prepared, at your request, through whatever sources you wish, to give you whatever information we have about the disposition of Soviet forces," Kissinger told Huang Hua, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, in 1971.
He was referring to Soviet forces deployed during the war that year between India and Pakistan. But Kissinger offered to share a web of intelligence in meetings with Chinese leaders, including Chairman Mao Tse-tung and Premier Chou En-lai in November 1973. "There is nothing we are doing with the Soviet Union that you do not know," Kissinger told Mao.
According to transcripts of top-secret talks Kissinger held as U.S. national security adviser and as secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford administrations in the 1970s, he played China against Russia with inventive triangular diplomacy.
A quarter-century later, the Clinton administration has been under fire for letting U.S. civilian companies transfer satellite launch technology to China. Two weeks ago, a select House committee issued a largely secret, 700-page report that the chairman, Rep. Christopher Cox, R-California, said "found that national security harm did occur" from not only the Clinton transfers but other Chinese acquisitions over the past two decades.
Kissinger in Israel on Saturday
The transcripts of secret conversations that may have changed history are being published by the National Security Archive of George Washington University, for release Sunday. They were obtained through freedom-of-information requests and other means, the private group said. Kissinger's office said he was traveling and not available for comment.
Interspersed in the documents are flashes of Kissinger's celebrated wit.
Chou told him, for instance, that China was giving only limited support to revolutions in Latin America. "We are still learning."
Kissinger quipped, "I hope you don't learn too fast."
Tough remarks also are attributed to him.
He told British Prime Minister James Callaghan in 1974, "As everyone knows, the Soviet leaders belong to the most unpleasant group one can deal with. Their capacity to lie on matters of common knowledge is stupendous."
A document from 1976 quotes Kissinger as saying to President Ford about the Chinese leadership, "They are cold, pragmatic bastards."
During the 1970s, President Nixon was pursuing a policy of detente with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. His aim was to lessen tensions in various areas of the world, while competing actively in others.
At the same time, Nixon was preparing for U.S. diplomatic recognition of China, which eventually happened under President Carter in 1979. A secret Kissinger trip to Beijing in 1971, then Nixon's highly publicized visit in 1972 set the course for the historic change.
Briefing Chou on the Soviets on November 10, 1973, in the Great Hall of the People, Kissinger said it was in the interests of the United States to prevent a Soviet nuclear attack on China.
"They want us to accept the desirability of destroying China's nuclear capability," Kissinger said, according to a transcript of the conversation.
Instead, he offered China secret military cooperation with the United States, including "ideas on how to lessen the vulnerability of your forces and how to increase the warning time" before a Soviet attack.
Three days later, Kissinger told the premier, according to a transcript:
"Any help we would give you in our mutual interest should be in a form that is not easily recognizable. With respect to missile launches, we have a very good system of satellites, which give us early warning.
"The problem is to get that to you rapidly. We would be prepared to establish a hot line between our satellites and Beijing by which we could transmit information to you in a matter of minutes." Chou asked, "Through the satellites?"
Kissinger explained the information would go to Washington and then to Beijing in ways that "would not attract attention."
While Chou was interested in the proposal and met with Kissinger several times to discuss a hot line to provide China with strategic U.S. intelligence information, the Chinese did not respond to the offer, William Burr wrote in a commentary on the transcripts.
It was not until 1998 that China signed a hot line agreement with the United States.