Washington, May 17, 1962, 5:36 p.m.
1. The President opened the discussion by inquiring about news reports from Taipei of GRC support for the Phoumi Government. Mr. Cline reported that the news accounts were indicative of general moral and political support and did not reflect any material support of any consequence since the GRC fully understood U.S. wishes with respect to Laos and did not want to encourage Phoumi to resist U.S. policy. In fact, the GRC said they were advising Phoumi to accommodate to U.S. policy, whether it was right or wrong. They wished US to understand, however, that they felt a coalition in Laos would lead to a communist takeover even as it had in China years ago.
2. With respect to the China Mainland situation, Mr. Cline said, the GRC felt that the ChiCom system of public security controls was beginning to crumble, as evidenced recently in the astonishing throng of hungry refugees arriving by the thousands on the Hong Kong border. This tended to confirm the Gimo in his belief that the time was ripe or soon would be for establishing a beach-head in South China and encouraging popular resistance against the ChiComs and winning back sizable parts of the Mainland through defections from the armed forces, whose morale is certainly being lowered by the food situation and popular disillusionment with the ChiCom regime. The Gimo asked that President Kennedy be advised of his views on this situation, which is of great strategic importance to the U.S. as well as to the GRC. The President said that he recognized that if the ChiCom regime could be destroyed, it would tremendously alter the situation in Asia to the advantage of the Free World and that he did not want to dismiss this possibility altogether even though it seemed unlikely at this time.
3. Mr. Cline explained that the Gimo's main concepts, which he wished to be conveyed to the President, were as follows:
a. A strategic agreement between President Kennedy and President Chiang on policy and courses of action in Asia was essential to the welfare and interest of both the U.S. and the GRC.
b. The GRC feels it is essential for it to plan and prepare for both clandestine and military actions to support anti-Communist resistance forces on the Mainland, but it recognizes that any action of this kind should be purely a GRC responsibility with no direct U.S. participation or sponsorship.
c. Any sizable operations against the Mainland, whether clandestine or open military in character, must be jointly decided upon by the U.S. Government and the GRC in the light of the circumstances and conditions obtaining at the time of proposed execution of the operation; all preparations in the meantime are purely contingent in character.
d. In the light of the situation on the Mainland, the GRC is obliged to take certain prudent military preparedness measures to be ready to intervene in case the situation deteriorates to the point where the U.S. agrees that action is in Free World interest.
e. The psychological pressure in the top ranks of the GRC, particularly among the military, to do something positive to take advantage of the lowering of morale on the Mainland is intense, and the Gimo will increasingly encounter dissatisfaction and even internal opposition that will be hard to contain if he continues to postpone taking action against the Mainland; he has promised to take no action until 1 October, but it will be very difficult to postpone beyond this date even though the U.S. insists.
f. In the event further delays are necessary, it would help a great deal to explain this to his own military leaders if the Gimo could point to increased military strength being supplied by the U.S. even though its use was contingent on U.S. agreement; thus enough C-123's to carry the 200-man team we have agreed to prepare for clandestine launch (5 aircraft—i.e. ECM configured C-123's—rather than the 2 set aside for this purpose) ought to be given to the GRC, as well as about 16 B-57's, which would be needed to neutralize IL-28 bombers if hostilities broke out, and a considerable number of LST's (75-100,000 tons, which would be 20-25 vessels) for amphibious forces. The provision of any of these items would convince people actual preparations were being made and would permit further delays to be weathered more gracefully.
g. The Gimo considers good U.S.-GRC relations are vital, and he regrets the recrimination over recent budget and tax provisions the GRC has made to cover the military expenditures the GRC has felt it essential to make ($62 million for FY 62 and FY 63) to be prepared for the contingency of an open invasion of South China by GRC armed forces in the next 18 months. These fiscal measures will be coordinated with the U.S. Embassy and U.S. military aid officials, but the Gimo feels that the discussion should be in terms recognizing the right of the GRC to make prudent preparations in its own national security interest.
h. The Gimo said he was reluctant to get into detailed coordination of these matters because he felt many U.S. officials were totally unsympathetic with what the GRC considered its national interest in assisting the Chinese people throw off the yoke of the ChiCom regime if they were able and willing to do so. He said he was willing to discuss and explain anything and to accept U.S. advice if it was sympathetically given, preferably privately and off the record. He said that he particularly hoped President Kennedy would understand that threats of reprisals and pressures in the form of restricting U.S. aid to the GRC would be counter-productive and would in fact only destroy the prestige of the Gimo's Government and might cause instability and anti-Americanism in Taiwan. He wished the President to know that he thought it was a mistake for the U.S. to use open threats delivered through diplomatic channels against any Asian leaders, as it caused them to lose face and either resist U.S. advice or to become discredited with their own people. He thought the U.S. State Department was increasingly inclined to threaten economic pressures against any friendly government which disagreed with the U.S. It might be necessary to use this kind of diplomatic and economic pressure on some small and ineffective nations, although he doubted its wisdom, but in any case the Gimo wished earnestly and with the friendliest of purposes to advise the President that such pressures on the GRC would only serve to weaken Sino-American cooperation and injure our common interests. If this heavy-handed pressure could be avoided, the Gimo felt sure that a reasonable accommodation could be worked out on any issues in dispute.
Ray S. Cline1Printed from a copy that bears this
Deputy Director (Intelligence)