Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John Foster Dulles, Consultant to the Secretary of State

Participants H. E. Dr. Tingfu F. Tsiang, China
Mr. John Foster Dulles, U.S.A.
Mr. John M. Allison, U.S.A.

Subject: Formosa

Dr. Tsiang called, pursuant to appointment, to discuss with us the question of Formosa. He said that he was concerned lest our policy of asking the U.N. to send a Commission to Formosa on the theory that it was still a matter of international concern would weaken the Nationalist Government in two important respects: First, it would tend to increase the impression that the Nationalist Government was a “government-in-exile” and this might lead certain wavering nations to withdraw recognition; second, it would curtail the possibility of the Nationalist Government actively conducting and promoting resistance to the Communists on the mainland.

Mr. Dulles pointed out that he believed that the policy of non-recognition of the Communist regime depended more upon disqualification of that regime to speak for the Chinese people than upon the ability of the Nationalist Government now to do so, and that the disqualifications of the Communist regime as a regime which really carried out the wishes of the Kremlin rather than of the Chinese people would not, in any way, be altered by treating Formosa as still subject to treaty or U.N. action. Dr. Tsiang said he recognized the logic of this position, but that as a practical matter he felt that certain countries that were looking for an excuse to recognize the Chinese Communists might seize upon the Assembly action as giving them a pretext for doing so.

As regards the second point, Dr. Tsiang said that the Nationalist Government was not satisfied with a future whereby it might, perhaps, languish on Formosa. The future of any Chinese Government was essentially on the mainland, and he believed that there was a rising tide of opposition to the Communists there, and that it was by no means impossible that there would be large scale revolts and eventually that the Communist regime would lose control. The Nationalist Government would not want to be prevented from promoting this result. It would then be condemned to slow death.

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Mr. Dulles said that lie thought it must toe recognized that any international concern for Formosa would probably make it impractical for the National Government to carry on actual warfare against the mainland or to launch expenditions against the mainland. It would not, he thought, necessarily prevent propaganda and covert activities, and the giving of certain guiding directions, but that active military operations might be out of the question.

Dr. Tsiang said that he wishes very much that the United States would keep an open mind as to the possibility of helping the Chinese Nationalists regain control of the mainland. He did not think this would be as difficult an operation as it seemed, because really the Chinese Communist armies were not a very effective fighting force. They had defeated the Nationalist armies, but that was largely a question of morale and the bad effect of inflation.

Mr. Dulles said that he considered this possibility presently out of the question as he understood that it was the clear judgment of our military authorities that the United States should not engage itself on mainland operations. We had done so exceptionally in the matter of Korea and had taken some serious risks, but Korea as a narrow peninsula could largely be dominated by sea and air power, and that permitted the amphibious operations which had won success. We were not, however, willing to engage in what would virtually be a war against those controlling the Chinese mainland.

Dr. Tsiang indicated that he thought that if Russian help to the Communists could be prevented, then the Communists could be overthrown without the United States becoming engaged, and he wondered whether the United Nations could do anything in this respect. Mr. Dulles stated that he felt that any attempt in this direction would react against the Nationalists as the United States would, of course, have to cut off all military aid to the Nationalists whereas it would be impossible to expect, or to verify, Soviet Union compliance with any such U.N. request.

Dr. Tsiang said that he felt he had to agree with this conclusion. Also he accepted the fact that the United States would not now adopt a course which would commit it to participation in fighting against the Communists on the Chinese mainland.

Mr. Dulles said in recapitulation that Dr. Tsiang had put his finger on the two disadvantages to his Government of the respective U.S. position, namely: (1) Possibly weakening its title to recognition; and (2) diminishing its power of operations against the mainland. On the other hand, Mr. Dulles said, the Chinese Nationalist Government must see the disadvantage of the United States adopting the position that Formosa was part of China which would mean that neither the [Page 544] United States nor the United Nations could do anything in what would be a purely civil war. For the United States to take that position would be widely looked upon as virtually an invitation to the Chinese Communists with Russian help to conquer Formosa.

Dr. Tsiang indicated he was inclined to feel that the advantages of our course outweighed the disadvantages. But he urged that our Government should undertake to hold the disadvantages to a minimum. Mr. Dulles said that he personally also shared this hope, but that he was not in a position to give any future commitments of any kind. He would promptly report the conversation to the State Department and would doubtless have a further indication of the Department’s views by the first of next week.

Mr. Dulles in conclusion said that he recognized that the U.N. representative of the Nationalist Government would no doubt, for the purposes of the record, have to continue to maintain that Formosa had become again a part of China. But he hoped that in taking this position he would not involve his Delegation in any vigorous opposition to the U.S. policy.

Mr. Allison, speaking for the Northeast Asian Affairs Division of the State Department, indicated his personal concurrence on the points of view that Mr. Dulles had expressed.

J[ohn] F[oster] D[ulles]