In 2008 the U.S. state department released documents detailing a conversation between Mao Zedong and the U.S. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger dating back to 1973.
That document shed light both on the relationship of two countries and the attitude Chairman Mao had towards many Chinese women. The conversation was held in February at a villa in Beijing.
As the BBC reports: “The Chinese leader smoked cigars and the two men talked and joked into the early hours of the morning.” The conversation covered a range of topics, such as the Soviet advancement and the threat it posed to Taiwan.
The most intriguing part of the conversation began when Mao offered that China deliver 10 million women to the U.S. Mao talked about the dismal state of trade between the two countries and introduced the topic with the remark that what China has in excess is women. He proposed to let thousands of women migrate to the U.S. as a way of kick-starting bilateral trade.
Soon the tone and proposals of the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party started sounding very bizarre. When he first proposed to practically export 10 million Chinese women, the people sitting in the room, including the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, reacted with laughter. The proposal was so outrageous that nobody took it to heart.
Kissinger, however, jokingly answered that the U.S. does not have any “quotas” on Chinese women. The goal Kissinger had in mind was to channel the conversation in a different, more serious direction. He focused on discussing the threat the Soviet Union posed to both countries and tried to set up the basis for diplomatic agreements that would unite the two countries against their common enemy.
However, Mao’s determination to continue talking about his unusual export plan did not cease. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said “Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens.” This is when he repeated the outrageous idea that at first had seemed like a joke: “Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you ten million.”
Kissinger again tried to politely ignore this part of the conversation by joking about Mao gradually improving his offer. But clearly Mao was deadly serious, so serious that he did not want to abandon the topic at any cost.
He said, “By doing so we can let them flood your country with disaster and therefore impair your interests. In our country we have too many women, and they have a way of doing things. They give birth to children and our children are too many.”
Kissinger diplomatically concluded the conversation with a remark that he would think about Mao’s offer and continued discussing global affairs, focusing on Russia once again. After some time talking politics, the Chinese chairman turned the topic of Russia around to a new opportunity to lament about women. His problem was that, if it came down to war with the Soviet Union, he saw the number of women in China as a handicap. “We have so many women in our country that don’t know how to fight” he said.
This is when the assistant Chinese foreign minister, Wang Haijung, realized there was no end in sight. He warned Mao that if he continued on this track and the conversation was ever to become public, China would have a big problem.
Mao finally stopped, but when Kissinger joked about outing the conversation they had at the next press conference Mao coldly replied “I am not afraid of anything. Anyway God sent me an invitation,” as reported by SMH. He did indeed die only three years after the conversation in 1976, and the relations between U.S. and China were restored in 1979.