S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 166 Series
Statement of Policy by the National
U.S. Policy Towards Communist China
[Here follows a table of contents.]
1. The emergence of a strong, disciplined, and revolutionary communist regime on mainland China has radically altered the power structure in the Far East. With the minor exceptions of Hong Kong and Macao, American, Japanese, and European power and influence has been abruptly extruded from the whole vast area between the Amur, the Himalayas and the Gulf of Tonkin. Simultaneously, Russian influence has been abruptly advanced southward to areas in which neither the Czars nor the Soviets have hitherto had more than passing influence—China south of the wall, China south of the Yangtze, and Southeast Asia. The primary problem of U.S. foreign policy in the Far East is to cope with the altered structure of power which arises from the existence of a strong and hostile Communist China, and from the alliance of Communist China with the USSR. (1)2
Elements of the Problem
2. In sum the elements of the problem with which U.S. policy toward Communist China must cope are:
- The Chinese Communists have established strong, centralized political control over mainland China; and have so far succeeded in coping with their economic problems. They may face political pitfalls in the future, and there are limits on their capacity to achieve a strong, modern economy; but for the foreseeable future it is probable that they will continue to make some progress in developing the economic and political strength of their regime. The Chinese Communists have considerable military capabilities, which for the present are largely dependent upon Russian assistance. Their capabilities are sufficient to make invasion of China very costly, and to require the commitment of major U.S. and Western resources to counter further military adventures undertaken by the Communists outside their present area of control. (3–18)
- The nationalist and Communist imperatives of the Peiping regime impel the Chinese Communists toward eventual recapture of the historically Chinese territories which the U.S. and the West now hold or protect; toward eventual expulsion of Western or Western-allied forces from adjacent mainland areas; and toward substitution of Chinese Communist influence for that of the West in the other areas of the Far East. Even if particular Far Eastern issues were resolved to the satisfaction of Peiping, the Chinese [Page 280] Communists, as Communists, would continue to maintain a basic hostility to the West in general and the U.S. in particular. (19–25)
- The Sino-Soviet partnership is based on powerful ties of common ideology and mutual interest between the Soviet and the Chinese Communist regimes; it has proved of considerable value to both partners; the conflicts of interest of both partners with the non-Communist world are for the present much more intense than conflicts of interest between the partners. There are hazards for the alliance in both the short and the long term which center on the relationship between the partners. But the potential dangers to the alliance will stem primarily from the inner workings of the partnership and only secondarily from the nature of external pressures or inducements. (26–33)
- Non-Communist Asia, with the possible exception of Indochina, can, under conditions of continued Western assistance, cope with the present level of Chinese Communist and native Communist pressures. Non-Communist Asia has the potential of developing considerable strength, particularly at the extreme ends of the East Asian periphery in Japan and India. This potential cannot, however, be rapidly realized. Non-Communist Asia will continue to require Western protection against Communist military attack. (34–45)
- Although U.S. capabilities for exercising pressures inside as well as outside China are limited, the United States through economic restrictions and through persuasion of its Allies to exercise similar restrictions, can impose difficulties and delays upon Chinese Communist efforts to achieve industrialization and oblige the USSR to continue to carry the burden of assisting Communist China. The United States, through political measures, can impose impediments to general international acceptance of the Chinese Communist regime, thus reducing Peiping’s effectiveness in rendering propaganda support to the USSR and forestalling an increase of Chinese Communist prestige. (46–55)
3. It would be in the interest of the United States to secure a reorientation of the Chinese Communist regime or its ultimate replacement by a regime which would not be hostile to the United States. However, in the absence of further Chinese Communist aggression or a basic change in the situation, the following policies are currently unacceptable to the United States:
The overthrow or replacement of the Chinese Communist regime by the use of U.S. armed force.
In view of the political and military capabilities of the Chinese Communists, the importance to the Soviets of the Chinese Communist connection, and the attitudes of the major allies of the United States, such an attempt would involve: (4–8, 16–18, 28–29, 46–47, 56–57)
- Full U.S. mobilization.
- Heavy casualties.
- The deployment of a major proportion of U.S. armed forces to the China theater.
- Possible use of a significant proportion of the U.S. atomic stockpile and employment of a major proportion of its atomic carriers.
- Almost certainly a split of the U.S.-led coalition.
- Probability of military intervention by the USSR and a very high risk of global war.
Support with U.S. forces of an attempt by the Chinese Government on Formosa forcibly to overthrow the Chinese regime.
Such support would necessarily involve such extensive use of U.S. armed forces as would result in substantially the same costs and risks for the United States as a U.S. attempt. (4–8, 16–18, 2829, 42, 56–57)
Concessions to Communist China designed to overcome the regime’s basic hostility to the West.
The United States cannot maintain its security position in the Far East if it makes concessions sufficient to satisfy Chinese Communist ambitions, which include: (1) the recovery of Formosa and other historically Chinese territory, (2) the withdrawal of Western armed forces from areas contiguous to China, and (3) the substitution of Chinese Communist influence for Western influence in other areas of the Far East. In any case, U.S. concessions would not necessarily alter the deep ideological hostility of the Chinese Communists to the United States and the West or destroy the SinoSoviet Alliance. In fact, there is no evidence that lesser concessions of an economic and prestige nature would induce the Chinese Communists to agree to settlements of major outstanding issues acceptable to the United States. (19–25)
4. In the absence of further Chinese Communist aggression or a basic change in the situation, the policy of the United States toward Communist China should currently be to seek, by means short of war to reduce the relative power position of Communist China in Asia:
- Primarily by developing the political, economic and military strength of non-Communist Asian countries. (34–45)
- At the same time by weakening or at least retarding the growth of Chinese Communist power in China. (53–54)
- By impairing Sino-Soviet relations. (52)
5. To carry out the policy stated in paragraph 4 the United States should:
- Maintain the security of the off-shore island chain. (48–49)
- Be prepared to prevent, with the use of U.S. armed forces if necessary and feasible, further territorial expansion elsewhere by the Chinese Communists. (48–51)
- Assist, where necessary, non-Communist governments in the Far East to counter Communist subversion. (37–40)
- Foster strong and healthy non-Communist governments in the Far East, particularly in Korea, Formosa and Indochina, which border on Communist China. (34–44, 55)
- Assist in the development of the political, military and economic strength of Japan and, on a selective basis, of other non-Communist Asian countries where a practicable basis for such development exists. (34–44, 55)
- Continue to explore the potentialities of collective arrangements in the Pacific area and to encourage the countries of this area to resolve their differences and overcome other obstacles to cooperation in the area. (45)
- Continue to exert political and economic pressures against Communist China, including unconventional and covert pressures, at least until settlements satisfactory to the United States can be achieved in the areas around Communist China. (53–54)
- Continue to recognize and support the Chinese National Government on Formosa as the Government of China and the representative of China in the United Nations and other international bodies; assist it in achieving increased support from all non-Communist groups; and increase the effectiveness of its armed forces for action in defense of Formosa, for raids against the Communist mainland and seaborne commerce with Communist China, and for such offensive operations as may be in the U.S. interest. (42, 54)
- Employ all feasible means, covert and overt, to impair SinoSoviet relations.
- Attempt to convince the other members of the free world of the soundness of U.S. policies toward Communist China and of the advisability of their adopting similar policies, without, however, imposing such pressures as would be seriously divisive. (54, 56–57)
- A covering note of Nov. 6 from Lay to the National Security Council stated that the President had that day approved the statement of policy, which superseded paragraphs 6–a and 8 of NSC 48/5 (see footnote 5, Document 86). It also stated that an NSC staff study (see enclosure, below) was enclosed for the Council’s information.↩
- A note in the source text indicates that parenthetical references are to paragraphs of the staff study.↩
- President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.↩
- The Treaty of Peace with Japan, signed at San Francisco, Sept. 8, 1951; for text, see TIAS 2490 or 3 UST (pt. 3) 3169.↩