894A.01/1–1549: Telegram

The Consul General at Taipei (Krentz) to the Secretary of State

14. Re Deptel 2, January 715 and Embassy telegram 89, January 12.16 There was never any intention despite unintended implication [Page 268] last paragraph take action proposed my 617 at “this juncture”. Action proposed if the suggestion in Embtel 418 that Generalissimo would make Taiwan last stand and use it as a base materialized. In this case I consider danger most likely.

Realize Embassy and Department have sources of military information not available to me but feel I must in view seriousness express my strong personal opinion as to certain factors.

Chinese forces are of course sufficient cope with natives but whether forces would or could protect Americans against violent native reaction against US highly doubtful. Also consider that even if we still support Generalissimo here we are not going to be popular with at least Chinese military and have too often seen xenophobia aided and abetted these gentry to take this lightly. These factors are developing right this moment. Chinese army officers getting tough with local labor unloading munitions from US Naval vessels has added fuel to the flames of discussion of that operation.
As I constantly stress, we are dealing with a people with long history of unreasoned violence who rightly or wrongly will blame us for what happens here. Chen Cheng’s19 treatment of the people in Wuhan20 cities after VJ Day should warn us of his probable course here.
Studying record I conclude that Chen is one of the few generals who could be depended on to stick with Generalissimo to last ditch, hence I cannot believe Formosa would be handed over to a Chinese Government excluding Generalissimo. Army personnel closely associated with Chen are arriving here constantly, the latest General Hsueh Yo, former CinC21 ninth war area.
I am sure Wei and Sun Li-jen were skeptical reliability Chinese Navy and CAF22 and Australian general officer of high reputation familiar with latter has same opinion. This general officer also believes that although it should not be possible that in present circumstances it is feasible for Communists successfully acquire shipping and attack island. These considerations inspired mytel 93, December 823 regarding naval surveillance Taiwan waters. Embtel 251724 stating this seemed inadvisable apparently misunderstanding my intention which was not that navy become involved or enter territorial waters but merely that we should know what goes on in Formosa channel. Regarding [Page 269] munitions brought here, the men who will use them are the same inept group as in China with presumably the same top direction. This connection draw attention previous reports weakness Fukien and incompetence of CinC General Li there.
Informed government officer here says Chen Cheng will shortly be named CinC southeast bandits [sic] suppress Communists and indicating active action against Communists. My initial talk Chen and other reports support this.
Would seem me large wealth here and being poured in would certainly tempt Communists try to get before Generalissimo can get dug in. Communists must also be aware legal status island until Jap treaty. Seems me overwhelming advantage de facto possession island at time of treaty. Would also seem to hit Soviet aims.
To sum up, island seems safe for time being and time being only and that time may run out quickly. Except in extreme [garbled group] will of course consult before action.

Solely to help evaluation, wish say that I have consciously reported only very informed sources and anything else is plainly labeled as rumor.

Repeated Nanking as 11.

  1. Post, p. 1214.
  2. Post, p. 1215.
  3. January 6, 3 p. m., p. 1212.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Governor of Taiwan in succession to Wei Tao-ming.
  6. Wuchang, Hankow, Hanyang.
  7. Commander in chief.
  8. Chinese Air Force.
  9. Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. viii, p. 227.
  10. December 15, 1948, ibid., p. 230.