To determine what action the US should take in view of the current
chronic food shortage on mainland China.
1. It is not in the US interest to bail Peiping's present leaders out of
their current difficulties. Making large quantities of grain available
to them on longer-term easy credit terms would tend to do so.
2. It is, however, against our interests to establish an historical
record of having stood between hungry people and foodstuffs which we
have in abundant surplus: This is not our traditional attitude and might
well be held against us in future relations with China.
3. There are bound to be among Chinese Communist leaders some who are
basically more, and others who are less, antagonistic towards the US, or
some who may believe in a tough policy towards the US and others who may
see advantages to China in a more conciliatory policy. By inaction we
would strengthen the hand of those advocating a line of maximum
antagonism; by suitable action we might encourage those who are at the
less hostile end of the spectrum—however narrow the spectrum.
4. It is not possible to identify individual leaders among the Chinese
Communists as being dissident elements to whom a separate channel of
communication should be sought.
5. The Chinese Communist regime would find it repugnant to accept gift
shipments of Free World grain. Repugnance would be greatest if the gift
were from the US Government.
6. Preliminary information from the Department of Agriculture suggests
Communist China probably will within the months immediately ahead
exhaust all substantial non-US sources of Free World grain. The
principal Free World grain suppliers are states which would welcome a
less rigid US policy towards China. While they might have mixed feelings
about our supplying grain to Communist China, regret at such development
would be tempered if their own stocks were low.
7. GRC objections might give us
difficulties, but the GRC should not be
permitted to veto action on our part taken in our own interest.
*Source: Department of State, Central Files,
893.03/5-1362. Secret. No drafting information is indicated on the
source text. Filed with a May 31 memorandum from Brubeck to Harriman, which refers to it as
“the third draft, May 28, which was used by the Secretary as a basis
for his discussion with the President on this subject.” According to
Brubeck's memorandum, the
first two drafts, May 24 and 25, were discussed at a May 24 meeting
and a May 25 Standing Group meeting. Neither the drafts nor any
record of the Standing Group meeting has been found. Handwritten
notes of the May 24 meeting, chaired by McGhee, are ibid., S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D
265, NSC Standing Group, May 25,
1962. Rusk met with Kennedy on May 29 to discuss grain
for China. (Kennedy Library,
President's Appointment Book; Johnson Library,
Rusk Appointment Book) No
record of the meeting has been found.
May the number of mainland Chinese apprehended crossing the land
frontier into Hong Kong had suddenly increased from the usual
100-200 per month to more than 2,000 in one 24-hour period.
Telegraphic reports from Hong Kong on this subject are in Department
of State, Central File 793.00. Telegram 1294 from Hong Kong, May 21,
attributed the sudden influx of refugees to hunger and
dissatisfaction, combined with the failure of demoralized local
officials to enforce the usual rigid discipline. (Ibid.,
2Telegram 1655 to Warsaw,
May 30, reported that Cabot
would probably be instructed to raise a new item of business at his
next meeting with Wang. It
stated that the item should be raised as soon as it was possible to
do so in a normal and low-key manner and asked whether a U.S.
request for a meeting about the middle of June rather than on July
12 as scheduled would seem unusual. (Ibid., 611.93/5-3062) The
Embassy replied that since the meeting had been scheduled after July
1 at U.S. request, changing the date would indicate something
unusual. (Telegrams 1947 and 1962 from Warsaw, May 31 and June 2;
ibid., 611.93/5-3162 and 611.93/6-262, respectively) Telegram 1680
to Warsaw, June 4, agreed that the date should not be changed.