No. 146
Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (McConaughy) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)

top secret


  • Briefing of General Smith on NSC-166 and NSC-146/1.

1. NSC-166 “U.S. Policy Toward Communist China”

Mr. Bowie briefly summarized the objectives and courses of action set out in NSC-166 and stated that it was an agreed paper. It had been cleared through the Department and at the NSC Planning Board level by representatives of all agencies concerned. He thought that the Under Secretary could support it without amendment at the NSC meeting at the White House on November 5.

Mr. Bowie referred to the memo from the Joint Chiefs dated November 3, urging that NSC-166 be amended to set forth more definitely that the ultimate objective of the U.S. is the replacement of the Chinese Communist regime by one which, as a minimum would not be hostile to the United States.

Mr. Bowie said that in his view it would be unrealistic to state such an ultimate objective since it was beyond our capabilities. He felt that any objective stated in an NSC paper should be closely related to the courses of action outlined in the paper. Since we could not formulate any course of action which was likely to bring about the downfall of the Peiping regime, he did not think it wise to include the replacement or overthrow of the regime as an objective. He felt that such inclusion would befog the issues and make it necessary to change the treatment of the alternative courses and the recommended course of action. He said that the paper deliberately dealt only with short term policies. Provision was made in the paper for reconsideration of the objectives and the courses of action in the event of any major change in the orientation of the Chinese Communist regime. Such a reconsideration would make it possible for us to consider adoption of a higher objective if it should seem realistic to do so.

General Smith said that it seemed to him that it was mainly a question of semantics which we did not need to treat as a major issue. He thought it was undeniable that the replacement of the regime was highly desirable from the U.S. standpoint. That was merely a statement of the obvious, and he did not see that any harm could come from putting it in the paper. If it would make other agencies happier, we could agree to repeating it over and [Page 263] over, just as the Romans had made a watchword of Delenda est Carthago. General Smith said that he could understand why the Joint Chiefs wanted to state a high objective which seemed beyond our immediate capabilities. He said this was standard military practice. When a military commander started an offensive the stated objective was always somewhat beyond what was actually expected of the troops. If this were not done, the troops would stop short of even the limited objective.

Mr. Bowie said that if the objective were to be included, he thought the best place for it was as an introductory sentence at the beginning of the Policy Conclusions in paragraph 3 on page 5. He suggested that it read “It would be in the interest of the U.S. to seek the reorientation of the Chinese Communist regime or its ultimate replacement by a regime which would not be hostile to the U.S.”. Then the present opening sentence of paragraph 3 would become the second sentence of the paragraph, prefaced by the connecting word “However”.

General Smith said that he did not see any need for using the conditional tense when we were stating an undoubted fact. Hence we should say “it is in the interest of the U.S. to seek …”.

Mr. Bowie felt that we could properly use the conditional in view of the fact that we saw no possibility of the dislodgement of the regime.

General Smith said that no one could tell what was possible. Surprising upsets had occurred before and might occur again. A statement of fact should be declaratory and not conditional. He did not intend to oppose the Joint Chiefs on this issue at the NSC meeting.

Mr. Elbrick1 pointed out that in subparagraph 5, on page 8 it was provided that the U.S. should “continue to exert free world political and economic pressures against Communist China”. He thought the implication that the U.S. unilaterally could exert free world pressures, was unfortunate.

Mr. Bowie pointed out that subparagraph 5i. made it clear that we would “attempt to convince the other members of the free world” of the advisability of their adopting policies similar to ours.

However, it was agreed that since 5g. was a separate subparagraph, Mr. Elbrick’s point had merit. The objection was met by agreeing to recommend the deletion of “free world” for sub-paragraph 5g. Thus it will read “continue to exert political and economic pressures …”.

Mr. Robertson, who arrived late, pointed out that no thought had been given to the second objection raised by the Joint Chiefs in [Page 264] their memorandum of November 3, namely that we fail to mention support for the Chinese National Government as the representative of China in the UN and other international bodies and continued efforts to persuade other nations to adopt similar positions.

Mr. Murphy thought that the general diplomatic and political support of the Chinese National Government by us mentioned elsewhere, implied support of the Chinese position in the UN. However, he did not object to a specific reference to the support of China in the UN.

Mr. Bowie also agreed to this addition but felt that it was unnecessary to mention “efforts to persuade other nations to adopt similar positions” since this was covered in the following subparagraph 5 “i”.

It was then agreed that the Department would advocate the insertion of the following words at the end of the first clause of subparagraph 5h. “and the representative of China in the UN and other international bodies;”.

2. NSC-146/1 “U.S. Objectives and Courses of Action with Respect to Formosa and the National Government of China”

Mr. Bowie outlined in general terms the objectives and courses of action set forth in NSC-146/1. He mentioned that it was an agreed paper which had been cleared throughout the Department and by all the members of the NSC Policy Planning Board.

General Smith asked a few questions about total planned expenditures for the assistance programs and the military strength goals, with particular reference to the figures for jet and conventional aircraft.

General Smith said that he believed that serious consideration should be given to building up the total forces on Formosa to 500,000 rather than 350,000. He said that he thought of Formosa as a sort of unsinkable aircraft carrier containing a strong reserve fighting force which would add appreciably to US-allied strength in the area. He believed it was important that we have sufficient control over these forces to insure that they would not be employed in ways contrary to U.S. interest. He thought that this control could be insured in a negative way so long as the Chinese Government did not have the transport vessels or the air and naval strength to attempt a major adventure on the Chinese Mainland not sanctioned by the U.S. He thought that the proposed program was acceptable.

No amendments to the paper were proposed.

  1. Charles Burke Elbrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.