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Zhang Ham Zhi, Interpreter, Chinese Foreign Ministry, on:
welcoming General Haig to Hangzhou
We then go to Hangzhou, and usually when we arrived, there should be leaders at the airport -- that's always the Chinese hospitality, that the leaders would appear to welcome the guests. And this also was arranged in Hangzhou, but the thing which was very, very different was that when we came out of the plane, we saw the Hangzhou leader, like five or six people lined up, and nobody had any smile on their faces. Everybody looked so serious, solemn, like a funeral. So we came down and they shook hands with no expression at all. They said, welcome General Haig, that was all. And then instead of taking us to the hotel to give us some lunch, they immediately took us to the West Lake and put us on a boat. We got on a boat and there was really nothing to eat on the table -- there was only tea, nothing else, no fruit, no snacks. It was pretty late, something like two-o-clock in the afternoon and everybody was hungry. And Hangzhou was so cold, of course there was no heating in the boat, and the Hangzhou leader didn't say anything. They just went on the boat and sailed the boat in the West Lake. So nobody spoke. |
So in the end I thought this was really too much; it just couldn't go on like that because that was the last stop of General Haig. After Hangzhou, he and his group would just stop over in Shanghai briefly for half-an-hour and change into their own plane and go back home. And I thought, if the whole Chinese - U.S. group went like that, what will be his impression? And what will be his remarks on this visit? And what was his conclusion that he would bring to the attention of President Nixon, you know? So I went to one of the Hangzhou protocol people and I said, you know, how can you do things like that? Its so cold and we had not had any lunch yet and its already past three-o-clock. You don't have any food on the table; no snacks, no fruit, nothing, and your people look so serious and solemn. And then this young person of the protocol department of Hangzhou foreign affairs said, "You know what, its not our decision." He said: "A few hours ago we had everything on the table. Last night we laid the table; we prepared the boat and you should have come last night. Late at night we got a call from Shanghai and the leaders told us that General Haig had been very insulting to the Shanghai leaders, and they were very provocative. The U.S. side was very provocative. And they said we must lower the temperature, that is a Chinese term for sort of cooling down the level of welcome you know." So the whole thing was really getting to a point that it was like a crisis. Whether this trip of General Haig would be a successful one or not, that really was a question.
There were also disagreements among the Chinese group that accompanied General Haig from Beijing. The more senior members felt that they had to be very careful with the Shanghai leaders because they knew that they had the power, they had the influence. So the more senior people were more careful about their political risk, if they raised criticism against the Shanghai leaders. I can understand that because they were all very senior, and they did not want to do anything that would probably bring them a political risk. But the younger ones, like me at that time, didn't really have so much to consider about themselves. We insisted that we had to report to Premier Chou about the situation. And we said if we let General Haig and his group leave China like that, that would really spoil the whole idea of Chairman Mao and Premier Chou of trying to break the ice between the U.S. and China. And so in the end the younger ones really decided to call Beijing, and we did.
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