CA Files: Lot 56 D 625

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (Johnson)


Subject: General Situation in the Far East.

Participants: Mr. M. O. A. Baig, Minister of Pakistan
Mr. D. Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State
Mr. U. A. Johnson, Department of State

Mr. Baig stated that he desired to obtain, on a purely personal and informal basis, our views and opinions concerning the general situation in the Far East with particular reference to Formosa and Korea. During the course of the conversation of about one hour, Mr. Baig made the following principal points. The passage by the General Assembly of the resolution on Chinese aggression1 represented a “Pyrrhic victory” for the United States. It was difficult for the people of Asia to understand why we considered the problem of Korea to be a United Nations matter while we had taken unilateral action with regard to Formosa. The people of Asia consider that by taking unilateral action to prevent Formosa falling to the hands of the Chinese Communists the United States took the first overt act against the Chinese and, therefore, the Chinese intervention in Korea is not entirely unjustified. In the long run the Chinese Communists may be expected to act in accordance with Chinese national interests which are opposed to those of Russia, in particular, in Manchuria. As the U.S. has no direct interest in China as such, it would be to the U.S. interest to permit the Asiatics to make peace between China and the U.S., and thus to inhibit the strengthening of bonds between Peking and Moscow. There was a general feeling in Asia that the apparent determination of the U.S. to continue hostilities in Korea was dictated by considerations of national prestige, we never having had the experience of losing a war and being unaccustomed, as are older civilizations, to making strategic retreats from positions we have once taken. The Chinese situation is, in some ways, comparable to the American Revolution and the U.S. should consider its intervention in Formosa in the light of the attitude it would have taken if a European power would have declared a cordon [Page 1549] sanitaire around a portion of the United States to have prevented consolidation of the gains of the American Revolution. Pakistan is entirely able to understand why the Chinese Communists were unwilling to accept the December cease-fire proposal as Pakistan, itself, had had bitter experience with the cease-fire in Kashmir2 where it had accepted such an arrangement against its better judgment. The zeal which the U.S. has demonstrated in the U.N. with regard to Korea contrasts very unfavorably with the apparent indifference which it has shown toward the Kashmir dispute. That dispute is coming up for the third, and probably last, time in the next General Assembly, and the Pakistan Government is going to fall over the issue of Kashmir. With the fall of that Government, the U.S. is going to lose a great and a good friend, particularly, in the present Foreign Minister of Pakistan.3 India has taken advantage of the cease-fire to build up its strength in Kashmir and because of the situation there, Pakistan has been “neutralized” in the present conflict in Korea. The Minister was also very critical of the U.S. position with regard to the border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan.4

Mr. Rusk stated that it was the formal position of the U.S. that Formosa was in the hands of China. He explained at considerable length that the considerations which had led the U.S. to neutralize the Island at the time of the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, it being at that time impossible to determine whether the Communists move into Korea was immediately to be followed by aggressive Communist moves elsewhere, and the necessity for assuring that in such an event the resources of Formosa would not fall into the hands of the enemy. He explained the different situation of Formosa and our desire not to embarass any of our friends, who, though sympathetic to the necessity for preventing Formosa falling into the hands of Communist aggressors, would find it difficult to take a public position in the UN on the matter. Mr. Rusk also discussed the nucleus of Chinese administrators and technicians on Formosa, who though not necessarily pro-Chiang, were clearly anti-Communist and would be subject to severe Communist reprisals. He explained that subsequent Intelligence has entirely justified our original view that the North Korean attack was clearly instigated and supported by Communist China and Russia and, therefore, must be considered in the pattern of overall Communist aggression rather than a local Korean or Asian problem. He stated that Intelligence had confirmed, that long prior to June 25, [Page 1550] the Chinese Communists had released two divisions of troops from their armies to the North Korean Army to enable it to carry out the attack, and that the USSR had supplied the greater part of the munitions. Therefore, the Chinese intervention in Korea could not be considered as having been provoked by the U.S. policy toward Formosa, but rather as a part of the pattern of Communist aggression and, therefore, indivisible from any aggression anywhere. The United States could not accept the thesis that the Korean problem was solely an Asiatic problem. Aggression anywhere was a world problem and the U.S. was particularly concerned with Korea as a Pacific area problem having a direct relation to the security of Japan. It was impossible to believe that withdrawal of UN and Chinese Communists forces from Korea, as apparently envisaged by the Asians, leaving the country at the mercy of the North Korean aggressors could result in anything but continued turmoil and the falling of Korea to Communism. Mr. Rusk also stated that the difference in the view expressed by the Minister and those of ourselves arose primarily from the apparent difference between the interpretations of what China was up to in this affair. It was our view that the Chinese actions in Korea could not be separated from the overall pattern of Communist aggression, and that whatever policy China’s national interest may dictate, the experience with Communist satellites in Europe has shown that once a country came under Communist domination, it was thereafter difficult for it to act except at the dictate of Moscow.

The entire conversation was very friendly in tone, but it was obvious that the Minister was not very strongly persuaded to our view.

  1. For text of Resolution 498 (V), passed by the U.N. General Assembly on February 1, see p. 150.
  2. For documentation concerning the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, see vol. vi, Part 2, pp. 1699 ff.
  3. Mohammad Zafrullah Khan.
  4. For documentation relating to this dispute, see vol. vi, Part 2, pp. 1929 ff.