Interview with Richard Nixon: Paying The Price

RICHARD NIXON believes he will always be known as the "Watergate man," the President who resigned the office, and expects little charity from history

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A. It would be a very natural thing to happen. You look at what China has and what Japan has. China has resources; it has a potentially highly qualified, intelligent people. And here's Japan, with less arable land than the state of California and no oil reserve. So it's a natural. It's a marriage made in heaven, economically. And that could happen.

Let's look at it from China's standpoint. Let's assume the U.S. isolates them because of our concern about human rights. Where do the Chinese look?

They're not going to look to the Soviet Union because it's a failure, and even these latest announcements all indicate that the Chinese are all for economic reforms. And they're going to try to goose them up. Even ((Premier)) Li Peng ((favors that)), because I've talked to him. All the Chinese leaders, from the extreme reactionaries to the more progressive ones, are for economic reforms. Japan is an economic miracle, an economic success story. So they turn to Japan.

The U.S. needs to be in north Asia as a major player along with the Chinese, the Japanese and the Soviet Union.

Q. And one should not expect a flowering of democracy anytime soon?

A. Not soon, no. I don't mean the Chinese people do not have a potential interest in and, frankly, respect for and probably desire to have so-called democracy. But if you look at the country today and how far it is in its educational standards, it's a long way off before that seeps down. I think, without question, our strategic interests require that we re-establish a constructive relationship with China. Human rights requires it too, because Li Peng is not totally in control. There are others who will be contesting with him for power. The U.S. will always come down on the side of the progressives and the reformers, rather than the reactionaries.

Q. Have you set any specific goals for yourself?

A. No, not at this point. I see some of my contemporaries on television these days. I don't intend to reach that point. I haven't quite reached it yet. It's ; very important for somebody not to try to stay too long in the public life, particularly in the television age. Some people are surprised at me that I'm ambulatory.

Q. You've made so much of the importance to you of the struggle itself. Not just victory but, more important, the struggle. Do you feel that now the struggle's over for you?

A. No. I must find new challenges. Because the moment that you think the struggle is over, when you have nothing to live for other than yourself, you're finished.

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