First, no one can possibly quarrel with the objective of attempting to
end the civil war. It represents a very real danger to peace in the area
and could well involve us in hostilities not of our own choosing and
making. Therefore, I see no reason that we should not continue to strive
towards the objective, but I am very doubtful that we should attempt to
bring severe pressure on the GRC in this
regard unless and until we have some reason to believe that Peiping
would be responsive. To do so would only produce severe strains on our
relationship with the GRC without any
practical result, for it takes two to end a war.
As I mentioned the other day, one of the objectives of my talks with the
Chinese Communists which began in Geneva in 1955 was de facto to
accomplish the result of ending the war by obtaining from the Chinese
Communists a reciprocal renunciation of force in the area. The Chinese
Communists were undoubtedly aware that they would at that time have been
able considerably to embarrass us by accepting such a proposition, for
it was by no means certain that the GRC
would agree. However, the Chinese
Communists resolutely refused and are still continuing to refuse such a
proposition. It is my own feeling that the imperatives of the Chinese
revolution and their internal situation render it virtually impossible
for them to do so.
As I also mentioned the other day, I probed as deeply as I know how on
their attitude toward the off-shore islands. Neither at that time, nor I
understand subsequently, have they either publicly or privately shown
the slightest interest in GRC evacuation
of the off-shores but have consistently linked those islands with their
whole attitude toward Taiwan. Therefore, however logical and practical
it might seem that an evacuation of the off-shores would tend to reduce
tensions in the area, Chinese Communist attitudes do not give the
slightest indication that this would in fact result. However, the
military weakness of the exposed position of the GRC in the off-shores is obvious and I believe we should
continue to urge their evacuation on that ground.
I agree with the FE memorandum that the
very raison d'etre of the present group in the GRC is their claim to return to the mainland and,
unrealistic though this may be, I do not think we can any more expect
them to renounce the principle than we could for West Germany to
renounce the principle of German reunification. I fear that this is one
of those issues which only time can solve, and more time is needed. In
the meanwhile, we continue to do all we can to prevent its exploding
into hostilities which involve us. In this connection, the Congressional
Resolution on the off-shore islands3Reference
is to the Joint Resolution approved on January 29, 1955, or P.L.
84-4; 69 Stat. 7). For text, see Foreign Relations, 1955-1957, vol.
II, pp. 162-163. gives the President discretionary
authority and is not a commitment on our part.
The aspect of our China policy that has most bothered me is that the
necessity of defending the position of the GRC in the United Nations and other international
organizations all too often becomes the controlling factor in our
decisions and greatly limits our freedom of choice. I would hope that,
as our policy on China evolves, we could work out a formula that could
much more effectively cope with this aspect.
*Source: Department of State, Central Files,
611.93/5-1061. Top Secret.
1The memorandum of May 10 from Deputy
Counselor and Vice Chairman of the Policy Planning Council George A.
Morgan to Bowles states that
it was prepared in response to a May 4 request from Bowles for discussion of “the pros
and cons of terminating the Chinese civil war.” It declared that
while there would be many advantages in adopting such a policy,
“tantamount to a two-China policy,” it would be foolhardy to embark
on it without plans for coping with adverse GRC reactions, bringing about an evacuation of the
offshore islands, and ensuring Congressional and public support. It
recommended (1) further study of the question on an urgent basis and
(2) in the meantime, keeping GRC
operational activities against the mainland to a minimum.
2The May 10 memorandum from Assistant
Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Walter P. McConaughy to Bowles stated that although FE agreed with the recommendations of
the Morgan memorandum, FE was unable to associate with it in
its entirety because: developments in Laos and Vietnam made it a bad
time to embark upon such a policy, efforts to persuade the GRC to accept it would fail and have
unfortunate consequences, the PRC
would not drop its claim to Taiwan, and since PRC hostility to the United States was
“an inescapable fact of life” pressures should be increased in order
to exploit current PRC economic
difficulties. It concluded that rather than seeking the unrealistic
goal of persuading both sides to abandon their aspirations, “we
should concentrate our efforts on seeking to insure that neither
side resorts to large-scale use of force to realize their
4Bowles initialed the
Morgan memorandum on June
9, indicating his approval of the recommendation for further study.
A notation on the memorandum indicates that no decision was taken on
the second recommendationote.