026 China/7–2149

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Johnson)

Dear Mr. Secretary: I have received your letter of July 21 regarding the China White Paper. I should like to reply to the various specific points which you raise.

In the first place, the Paper would be published as an official document of the Government of the United States prepared under the authority of the President. It would bear the imprint of the Department of State as the agency of the Government charged by the President with its production.

With regard to the problem of security, we have readily concurred with your recommendation based on the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that this matter should be considered by the United States Communications Intelligence Board in order to avoid entirely or reduce to an absolute minimum the risks involved. I greatly appreciate the cooperation which you are giving in expediting the work of the Board.

As to whether it serves the national interest to publish the Paper at this time, I wish to point out that over an extended period of time the President and Secretary Marshall were torn between the pressing necessity for informing the Congress and the American people concerning the facts bearing upon our relations with China and their reluctance to take any steps which would add to the difficulties of the Chinese Government. When it became my responsibility to participate in a decision concerning the choice between these two alternatives, I gave the matter the most careful consideration. As a result, I have reached the conclusion and I have recommended to the President that the time has now come when a complete survey of our entire policy in the Far East must be made and that it cannot be made and put into effect unless the Congress and the American people know the facts which unfortunately have in the general interest had to be withheld for so long a time. I recognize fully that the situation is a most difficult one, and I have weighed carefully the considerations which you and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have presented. As I am stating in my Letter of Transmittal to the President: “The inherent strength of our [Page 1387]system is the responsiveness of the Government to an informed and critical public opinion. It is precisely this informed and critical public opinion which totalitarian governments, whether Rightist or Communist, cannot endure and do not tolerate.” I am also stating in this Letter that I have not felt that publication at this time could be withheld because a truthful record involves the revelation of a distressing situation in a country for which the people and the Government of the United States have long had a most friendly and sympathetic feeling.

I recognize, as you state in your letter, that the responsibility for publication is mine, but I shall not fail to make your views known to the President.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson