Jimmy Carter photo

Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and the People's Republic of China Remarks at a White House Briefing Following the Address to the Nation.

December 15, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wanted to come by and let you know that I believe this to be an extremely important moment in the history of our Nation. It's something that I and my two predecessors have sought avidly. We have maintained our own United States position firmly, and only since the last few weeks has there been an increasing demonstration to us that Premier Hua and Vice Premier Teng have been ready to normalize relations. I think the interests of Taiwan have been adequately protected. One of the briefers will explain the details to you.

Our Ambassador there, Leonard Woodcock, has done a superb job in presenting our own views strongly and clearly to the officials of the People's Republic of China. I will be preparing myself adequately for the visit of Vice Premier Teng. We invited him on one day, he accepted the next, without delay, and I think he's looking forward to this trip with a great deal of anticipation and pleasure.

I have talked personally this evening to Prime Minister Ohira [of Japan]. Early this morning we notified the officials in Taiwan, and we have also notified many of the leaders around the world of this long-awaited development in international diplomacy.

I think that one of the greatest benefits that will be derived from this is the continuation of strong trade, cultural relationships with Taiwan, the people of Taiwan, and a new vista for prosperous trade relationships with almost a billion people in the People's Republic of China. This is also, of course, enhanced by the new opportunities for us to understand the people of China, and to work avidly for peace in that region and for world peace.

This afternoon the Soviet Union officials were notified through their Ambassador there, Mr. Dobrynin. And I think the Soviets were familiar with the fact that we were anticipating normalization whenever the Chinese were willing to meet our reasonable terms, and they were not surprised. As you well know, the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China have diplomatic relations between themselves.

My own assessment is that this will be well received in almost every nation of the world, perhaps all of them, because it will add to stability. And the Soviets and others know full well, because of our own private explanations to them, not just recently but in months gone by, that we have no desire whatsoever to use our new relationships with China to the disadvantage of the Soviets or anyone else. We believe this will enhance stability and not cause instability in Asia and the rest of the world.

I'm very pleased with it. And I obviously have to give a major part of the credit to President Nixon and to President Ford, who laid the groundwork for this successful negotiation. And most of the premises that were spelled out in the Shanghai Communiqué 6 years ago or more have been implemented now.

You can tell that I'm pleased, and I know that the world is waiting for your accurate explanation of the results.

Q. How did the congressional leaders take it?

THE PRESIDENT. With mixed response. Some of the congressional leaders who were there have long been very strong personal friends of the officials in Taiwan. They are not as thoroughly familiar with the officials in the People's Republic of China.

One of the most long debated issues was whether or not we would peremptorily terminate our defense treaty with Taiwan, or whether we would terminate that treaty in accordance with its own provisions. And the People's Republic officials agreed with our position that we would give Taiwan a 1-year notice and that the defense treaty would prevail throughout 1979. I think that alleviated some of the concerns among the Senators.

And another concern expressed by them was whether or not we could continue cultural relationships, trade relationships with the people of Taiwan. I assured them that we could, that the Chinese knew this. And we will ask the Congress for special legislation quite early in the session to permit this kind of exchange with the people of Taiwan. This would include authorization for the Eximbank and OPEC to guarantee and to help with specific trade negotiations.

I think that many of their concerns have been alleviated, although there certainly will be some Members of the Congress who feel that we should have maintained the status quo.

I'll take just one question.

Q. Mr. President, you said the response to your speech would be "massive applause throughout the Nation." What do you think the response to your speech will be in Taiwan?

THE PRESIDENT. I doubt if there will be massive applause in Taiwan, but we are going to do everything we can to assure the Taiwanese that we put at top-as one of the top priorities in our own relationships with the People's Republic and them—that the well-being of the people of Taiwan will not be damaged.

To answer the other question, I don't think this will have any adverse effect at all on the SALT negotiations as an independent matter. And I think that the Soviets, as I said earlier, have been expecting this development. They were not surprised, and we have kept them informed recently. Their reaction has not been adverse, and we will proceed aggressively as we have in recent months, in fact throughout my own administration, to conclude a successful SALT agreement.

Good night.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 9:30 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House. Following his remarks, administration officials held the background briefing on the announcement.

Jimmy Carter, Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and the People's Republic of China Remarks at a White House Briefing Following the Address to the Nation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244243

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives