Wednesday May 27, 2020



The Honorable John H. Holdridge

John Herbert Holdridge (1924-2001) was an American foreign service officer and diplomat, who was best known for having taken part in, and later recounted, Henry A. Kissinger’s secret 1971 initiative to restore U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Singapore (1975-1978) and Indonesia (1982-1986).

Ambassador Holdridge’s first State Department posting was as U.S. Vice Consul in Bangkok, Thailand, from 1950 to 1953. He was promoted to Consul and assigned to first Hong Kong (1953-56), then Singapore (1956-58). He returned to Hong Kong in 1962 as Chief of the Political Section, a post he held for four years. In 1966, he became Director of Research and Analysis, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, for the State Department in Washington, D.C.

With the election of Richard Nixon as President of the United States in 1968, Holdridge became a  Senior Staff Member for the Far East of the National Security Council (NSC), probably upon the recommendation of Henry Kissinger, the incoming National Security Advisor.

While servicing on the NSC, Holdridge was selected by Kissinger to help lay the groundwork for diplomatic rapprochement between the U.S. and China. He accompanied Kissinger on his secret 1971 trip to mainland China, and helped draft the protocol agreement between Zhou Enlai and Henry Kissinger that marked the beginning of normalized relations. For his services, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission in Beijing, China for 1973-75.

Holdridge was then selected by Gerald R. Ford to serve as the fourth Untied States ambassador to the Republic of Singapore, from 1975 to 1978. In 1981, Holdridge became Assistant Secretary of State of East Asian & Pacific Affairs; he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia from 1983-86.

Ambassador Holdridge had three children with his wife Martha. After retiring from active service, he wrote a memoir of on the restoration of U.S.-China diplomatic relations. He also made occasional appearances as a commentator on Asian political affairs for American television.

Ambassador Holdridge died in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2001.