Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert L. Nichols
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: USIS - EMBASSY
This was a time on Taiwan when, again, things like language in our press releases became important. The same thing I'd had with the Voice. I remember going to the embassy once to get approval for some language for the press from the deputy chief of mission. I said, “This is what we want to use.”
He said, “You can't say that.”
I said, “That's a direct quote from Kissinger's press briefing.”
And he said, “Kissinger doesn't make U.S. foreign policy.” [Well, at that time, of course, Kissinger headed the National Security Council; he wasn't Secretary then.]
I looked at him. I didn't say anything, but I looked at him and thought, “Boy, there's a lack of realism here in the embassy, as well.” There really was. There was a tremendous amount of resistance. They couldn't believe what was happening.
Another thing that happened, just before I left Taiwan to go to Singapore—well, a lot of things happened while we were in Taiwan, actually. I should mention this was a time when we withdrew the Seventh Fleet from the Taiwan Straits. It was announced by Vice President Agnew when he was out there on one of the two trips he made while I was there. Agnew brought the news to Chiang Kai-shek that we were taking the Seventh Fleet out of the Taiwan Straits.
Q: Chiang, the old Chinese Nationalist leader, was still in power then?
NICHOLS: Oh, yes, he didn't die until 1975. He was there and his presence was known. A lot of the work of the administration had been taken over by his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, but Chiang Kai-shek was still in power. He dealt with Vice President Agnew.
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS JUST AS NICHOLS IS LEAVING FOR NEW POST - SINGAPORE
Q: Maybe we can jump ahead a little bit. We're talking about relations between U.S.A. and China. Where were you when the renewal of relationship was announced and became public knowledge?