No. 171
Editorial Note

At a meeting of the National Security Council on February 26, Secretary Dulles reported orally on the Berlin Conference. The following portion of his report, as recorded in the memorandum of discussion at the meeting, deals with the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union:

“One of the most interesting aspects of the meeting was the light thrown on the relationship between Communist China and the Soviet Union. While this relationship was still obscure, it did seem clear that the Soviets do not feel in a position merely to hand out orders to Peiping. They treat the Chinese Communist regime as a partner who has to be consulted and, in certain instances, even restrained by persuasion and by economic pressures. It seems quite possible that the Soviet Union is worried over the possibility of new aggression by the Chinese Communists. The Soviets are anxious to avoid a major war, and they realize that the Chinese Communists are in a position to initiate such a war if they choose to do so. Secretary Dulles said that he had tried to make clear to Molotov that if the Chinese Communists used their military power for aggressive purposes they were bound to clash with the vital interests of the United States, and that he was not in a position to estimate the consequences of such a clash. It had seemed worthwhile to seize this opportunity thus to pressure the Soviets, who in turn might put pressure on the Chinese Communists to behave themselves.

“Secretary Dulles warned that one could not be sure that the above was the correct diagnosis of the relations between the Chinese and the Russians, but from a number of impressions and little signs, this appeared at least to be a likely appraisal.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, February 26, 1954; Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file)