Sunday, April 24, 2022

Kissinger’s Meeting With Zhou Enlai

In July 1971, Henry Kissinger was on a routine tour of Asia. While he was in Pakistan, he suffered from a heatstroke. He was taken to a resort, located somewhere in North Pakistan for rest and treatment. A secret mission was now in progress. A lookalike of Kissinger took his place in the resort, while the real Kissinger boarded a plane for Beijing where he met the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Kissinger assured Zhou that America would not collude with the Soviet Union against China. Zhou insisted that a rapprochement was not possible until America accepted China’s ownership of Taiwan. Kissinger acknowledged that Taiwan would probably be under Beijing’s control if the Korean War had not happened. Kissinger promised Zhou that President Nixon was ready to allow China to have a seat at the UN, and in a moment of indiscretion, he said that Nixon intended to cut America’s losses in Vietnam and withdraw. 

Zhou listened to Kissinger impassively but he was definitely pleased by all that Kissinger was offering. He had cordial relations with Ho Chi Minh’s Vietcong, and it is likely that he passed to the Vietcong the information that America wanted to withdraw from Vietnam. This information must have emboldened the Vietcong to push harder for expediting America’s flight from Vietnam. 

Soon after the meeting between Kissinger and Zhou, the two sides released the joint statement that Zhou had invited Nixon to visit China, and Nixon had accepted.

In October 1971, when Albania presented in the General Assembly the resolution for allowing the People's Republic of China to join the UN as the sole legal representative of China, for the first time America and its allies did not oppose. The delegates from Taiwan, who had hitherto been the legal representative of China in the UN, realized that the direction of the political wind had changed in Washington. They departed from the General Assembly, paving the way for China to become a member.

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