No. 110
The Chargé in the Republic of China (Jones) to the Department of State

No. 657


  • Admiral Radford’s Conversations with President Chiang Kai-shek

During his recent visit to Formosa (June 2–6, 1953) Admiral Arthur W. Radford, who with Mrs. Radford was the personal house guest of President and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, had three important conferences with the President on subjects of special interest to the Department. Those matters which were in the field of political policy were taken up with the President by Admiral Radford at my urging and with the knowledge and concurrence of the Foreign Minister. The friendship between Admiral Radford and the President is a close personal one and it is well known here that the President not only takes very seriously the views of Admiral Radford but will discuss frankly with him topics which he would resent being raised by others. Detailed notes on these conversations, made by Foreign Minister Yeh, who also acted as interpreter, and corrected by Admiral Radford, are attached as Enclosure 1. Admiral Radford’s own draft memorandum on the first two conversations is attached as Enclosure 2.1

A summary follows.

I. Political

A. United States Policy in the Far East

[Page 206]

President Chiang expressed the opinion that the strategic and political importance of China in the Free World struggle against Communism was still being overlooked in the United States by many. This tendency which he described as one of placing relatively undue importance on Japan and the U.S.S.R. to the neglect of China was largely the result of excessive British influence over United States foreign policy. The key to most problems in the Far East, as Sun Yat-sen had so often maintained, was to deny the land and resources of China to Russia. He expressed hope that the United States would recognize this principle in developing a positive policy toward the Far East.

With regard to the immediate situation of an impending armistice in Korea, the President said there was great psychological need for a restatement by President Eisenhower of the determination of the United States not to abandon Asia to Communism. In military terms this would require either continued stationing of U.S. forces in South Korea or establishment of a Pacific defense union. Admiral Radford referred to previous statements of President Eisenhower denying any intention of retreating before Communism in Asia. He also suggested to President Chiang’s satisfaction that political difficulties in the way of a Pacific defense coalition made it seem preferable to seek a series of bilateral and multilateral pacts.

President Chiang objected to the inexplicable facet of United States policy behind the continuing support being granted Chinese “Third Force” elements through training, subsidies and other encouragement. This was contrary to evidence that the United States wished further to strengthen the Government of the Republic of China. Admiral Radford agreed to do what he could to put a stop to these activities through consultation at home and predicted success in the undertaking.

B. Excessive Security Controls

Admiral Radford emphasized that the difficulty of entry into Formosa and the tight security controls here were militating against the efforts of Chiang’s government to win over the overseas Chinese and were widening the impression in the United States that a police state existed here. The President maintained that entry regulations and security controls had been gradually relaxed since January 1952, and would undergo further liberalization. However, he insisted that the subtleties of Communist infiltration made it necessary to retain considerable control.

C. Political Training in the Chinese Armed Forces

This subject was also introduced by Admiral Radford as a development which tended to work against the current trend in official American thinking which favors closer cooperation with Free [Page 207] China. He said he was chiefly concerned about the stultifying effects on the younger officers of excessive political indoctrination and control. Political outlook seemed to rate higher than military skill. Widespread insecurity and an accumulation of cliques resulted, and weakened the chain of command.

President Chiang refused to yield to the Admiral’s opinions on this question. He said that there was no objection to political training among the younger officers, that political conviction counted for only 10 percent of their grading and that this program was designed to bring about greater unity of purpose within the forces. The President admitted that there might be some feeling of insecurity among the higher ranking officers and that cliques exist in the Chinese Navy. He indicated that a special political training program of six months duration would soon be inaugurated, following which political training efforts might be relaxed.

Admiral Radford also discussed this problem with General Chiang Ching-kuo whom he felt failed fully to comprehend his argument. He recommended that General Chiang make an extended visit to the United States to gain an appreciation of the nature and significance of American public opinion and an understanding of the way in which a strong democratic government solves problems similar to those which face Free China.

D. Chinese Forces in Burma

Upon Admiral Radford’s urging that the United States would like to see China take the initiative in evacuating as many of Li Mi’s forces as possible and that it was in China’s own interest so to do, President Chiang agreed to instruct the Chief of the General Staff and the Foreign Minister once again to give priority to this.

II. Military

A. Proposed Reorganization of United States Military Establishment on Formosa

Admiral Radford informed President Chiang during their conversation on June 3, 1953, that he was planning the establishment of a CINCPAC Liaison Office on Formosa for operational planning and direct contact with the President, the Ministry of National Defense and the Chief of the General Staff. The Admiral announced that General Chase had orders terminating his assignment here and that he would recommend that Brigadier General Macdonald, present Deputy Chief of MAAG, should accede to the position of Chief. MAAG would then be limited to training activities and the new CINCPAC representative on Formosa (an unnamed Army officer of higher rank than Macdonald) would assume responsibility [Page 208] for operations and strategic planning in connection with the joint defense of Formosa. The President approved.2

B. United States Command in a Hypothetical Joint Attack on the Chinese Mainland

Admiral Radford gained immediate consent from the President to the following command pattern should the occasion arise for a combined Sino-American attack on the mainland:

In the event of amphibious attack with support of the USAF and US Navy, the latter would be in command of the whole operation from the time of take-off to the moment when ground forces were able to assume command of the beachhead.
In the event of temporary participation of American ground forces in the initial landing, the commanding officer of such forces would be in charge after the Naval Commander relinquished command to the ground forces until such time as the latter withdrew.

C. Chinese Plan for Counterattack

President Chiang made reference to a Chinese plan for counteroffensive operations against the mainland which had been forwarded to Admiral Radford by the Chief of the General Staff, General Chou Chih-jou. While not requesting participation of American ground forces, the plan apparently counts heavily on air, naval and logistical support from United States forces. Admiral Radford had not studied the plan and made no comment.

D. Chinese Request for Paratroop Training

Admiral Radford expressed grave doubts about the feasibility of paratroop operations in an offensive against the mainland and President Chiang’s related request that the United States train and equip a Chinese paratroop division. The Admiral took the position that the high costs of paratroop training would not be justifiable in view of the remoteness of the possibility that such troops would make a significant contribution.

III. Economic

The President agreed that existing legislation which militates against foreign investment in mining activities could readily be modified to make way for a seismographic survey of Formosa by the overseas exploration subsidiary of Standard Oil of California. Admiral Radford indicated that representatives of this company were prepared to spend $500,000 on a six months’ survey providing legal paths were cleared so as to make initial and subsequent investment profitable. Mutual benefits from the points of view of defense and the economic viability of Formosa were stressed.

[Page 209]



It appears that Admiral Radford’s admonitions regarding excessive security restrictions, political training, and removal of Li Mi forces from Burma had considerable impact upon the President. There was a noticeable quickening in the Chinese Government’s deliberations over the latter problem during the following week. It is less certain that any immediate measurable changes in entry regulations, local procedures of arrest and detention and political indoctrination of the armed forces will ensue. At least it appears that the points made by the Admiral will be given serious consideration and weighed anew against the various compulsions within the Chinese governmental establishment for retention of the criticized practices.


The establishment of a separate office for a CINCPAC representative who is to assume liaison responsibility for operational strategy and presumably questions of policy in the military field and who is to have access to President Chiang at the pleasure of CINCPAC would appear to pose questions of policy coordination formerly covered by the initial MAAG Directive. It is assumed that the Department will wish to arrange through a similar joint directive with the Defense Department for the same close cooperation on policy matters between such a new agency and the Embassy as has existed between the Embassy and MAAG in the past.

Details of the Chinese plan for operations against the mainland which the Chief of the General Staff has passed to Admiral Radford are not yet available to the Embassy.

The Chinese request for paratroop training is not new but the emphasis which it was given by President Chiang is of some interest. It tends to confirm certain accumulating evidence over the past few months that the Chinese Government is relying less and less in its strategic planning on the “widespread guerrilla support” it still officially claims to have on the mainland. Another indication of this trend has been the recent Chinese pressure for MAAG approval of a sharply increased reserve training program on Formosa. During the visit of the National War College group May 9, 1953, Chinese military officials stated that Formosa still maintained more or less effective contact with some 650,000 guerrillas on the mainland. MAAG, G–2, estimates, however, that approximately 70,000 would be a much more realistic figure.

In brief, the visit of Admiral Radford and his staff has been most beneficial and Admiral Radford himself made a distinct contribution in forwarding the interests of American policy here. The Chinese [Page 210] were obviously surprised and pleased to gain concrete evidence from such a high source of continuing United States interest in improving the military strength and strategic preparedness of Formosa through mutual planning and coordinated operations. Despite unanswered questions and continuing concern over the shape of our long range policy for Free China, this practical approach gave considerable boost to local morale.

At the same time, the frank and forceful review of certain shortcomings of the Chinese administration from the American point of view served notice that police state tendencies would have to be held in check, if not abated, here to retain effective support of even the most ardent friends of Free China.

Howard P. Jones
  1. The enclosures are not printed.
  2. The proposed reorganization did not take place. General Chase remained as Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group and in command of Formosa Liaison Center until his retirement in 1955.