After his assumption of office in early 1977, the US President Jimmy Carter sent his Secretary of State Vance and his White House National Security Assistant Zbigniew Brzezinski to visit China in August 1977 and May 1978 respectively to hold talks on the normalization of Sino-US relations.
In this Feb 2, 1979 file photo, then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping waves a cowboy hat to salute audiences at a rodeo in Simonton, Texas during his official visit to the United States on February 2, 1979. [Baidu.com]
At the time when Vance visited China, the US Government was not yet finally determined to accept the three principles China raised for establishing diplomatic relations between China and the United States.
By the time when Brzezinski visited China, the Carter Administration has made up its mind to establish diplomatic relations with China first and then to negotiate with the Soviet Union from a position of superiority with an attempt to check the momentum of Soviet expansion and to fortify the global strategic status of the United States.
During his visit, Brzezinski expressed that President Carter was determined to normalize Sino-US relations before his first term ended, and that the United States was ready to accept the three principles set forth by China for the establishment of diplomatic relations (namely, the US must sever its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, abrogation of the mutual defence treaty between the US and Taiwan and the withdrawal of all US forces from Taiwan).
He also expressed the hope (not as a condition) that when the US side said it expected a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question which was purely an internal affair of China, it would not meet with an obvious refutation from China. He announced that the US had authorized Leonard Woodcock, Chief of the US Liaison Office in China, to conduct detailed negotiations with the Chinese side on the normalization of Sino-US relations.
China responded positively to the message brought by Brzezinski in early July, the two sides started negotiations in Beijing on the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Taiwan question was the key issue in the negotiations.
After nearly half a year's negotiations, the two sides finally reached the following agreement:
a. The United States acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but on China and Taiwan is part of China. It recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. Within the context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.
b. On the occasion of the normalization of Sino-US relations, the US Government will announce the immediate severance of its "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan, it will completely withdraw from Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait US forces and military installations before 1 April, 1979 and will inform the Taiwan authorities of the termination of the mutual Defense Treaty.
c. China and the United States will recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations as of 1 January, 1979, and exchange ambassadors and establish Embassy from 1 March. On the basis of this agreement, the two sides issued the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America on the evening of 16 December 1978.
However, some issues failed to be resolved during the negotiations. The United States hoped that China would only use peaceful means to solve the Taiwan question, while China stressed that the means of solving this question was China's internal affair which brooked no outside interference.
In the end, each side issued a statement of its own on this question. The outstanding issues in the process of negotiations demonstrated that despite the establishment of diplomatic relations as agreed upon by both sides, the United States did not totally abandon its intention of interfering in China's internal affairs.
For the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding between the two countries and promoting the development of their relations, Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping paid an official good-will visit to the United States at the invitation of President Carter from 29 January to 4 February 1979.
This was the first visit by a Chinese leader to the United States after the founding of the People's Republic of China and was warmly welcome by the US Government and people.
During his visit, Vice Premier Deng exchanged views with President Carter on the international situation. When touching on the question of Taiwan, Vice Premier Deng said that China was willing to solve the Taiwan question in a peaceful way but will not undertake not to use force because that will be a disservice to a peaceful settlement of the question.
The Joint Press Communiqué issued by both sides said that both sides are of the view that differences in social systems of the two countries should not impede the enhancement of mutual friendly relations and mutual cooperation.
During the visit, the two sides signed an agreement on cooperation in science and technology and a cultural agreement. They also signed agreements on cooperation in education, commerce and space, and on the mutual establishment of consular relations and the opening of Consulates-General in each other's country.