On 21 February 1972, President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his assistant for national security affairs, met in China with Chairman Mao Tse-tung and Prime Minister Chou En-lai. The following are excerpts from a memorandum of that conversation.
Chairman Mao: (looking at Dr. Kissinger) He is a doctor of philosophy?
President Nixon: He is a doctor of brains.
Chairman Mao: What about asking him to be the main speaker?
President Nixon: He is an expert in philosophy.
Dr. Kissinger: I used to assign the chairman's collective [sic] writings to my classes at Harvard.…
Chairman Mao: [Nixon and Mao] must not monopolize the whole show. It won't do if we don't let Dr. Kissinger have a say. You have been famous about your trips to China.
Dr. Kissinger: It was the president who set the direction and worked out the plan.
President Nixon: He is a very wise assistant to say it that way. (Mao and Chou laugh.)
President Nixon: When the chairman says he voted for me, he voted for the lesser of two evils.
Chairman Mao: I like rightists. People say you are rightists, that the Republican Party is to the right.… I am comparatively happy when these people on the right come into power.
President Nixon: I think the important thing to note is that in America, at least at this time, those on the right can do what those on the left talk about.
Dr. Kissinger: There is another point, Mr. President. Those on the left are pro-Soviet and would not encourage a move toward the People's Republic, and in fact criticize you on those grounds.