FE files, lot 55 D 480, “Nationalist China File”

No. 174
Memorandum for the File by the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (McConaughy)



  • Remarks of the Secretary Regarding Proposed U.S.–Chinese Security Pact.

In the course of a meeting in the Secretary’s Office on Saturday, February 27, the Secretary referred to the FE memorandum1 on the proposed U.S.–Chinese Security Pact. This came at the end of an extended discussion of strategy (especially as to composition of the Indochina part) for the Geneva Conference. Among those [Page 369] present were Deputy Under Secretary Murphy, Counselor MacArthur, Asst. Secretaries, Robertson and Key, Mr. Elbrick and Mr. Jones 2 of EUR, Messrs. Wainhouse and Poppers 3 of UNA, and Messrs. Bonsal,4 McClurkin 5 and the undersigned of FE.

As to the Security Pact, the Secretary said that he had read the FE memorandum and had discussed it with General Smith. He was impressed by the arguments for such a security pact. At the same time he recognized that it might be contended by some that the timing would be unfortunate if such a pact were concluded right now. He anticipated that any announcement before the Geneva Conference as to a security pact with Formosa would not be palatable to the Governments or the public of Great Britain and France. It might be construed as provocative and calculated to prejudice the chances for any agreement at Geneva.

Still it could not be denied that there was much to be said for negotiating such a treaty now. It might be advisable to let all the world (including the French and the British) know before the Conference opened that the status of Formosa was not negotiable.

The Secretary said that in his view any concession to the Chinese Communists as to Formosa would be unthinkable because it would constitute a betrayal of several millions of our Chinese friends on Formosa who are strongly anti-Communist; and because it would deprive us of an indispensable link in our chain of strong positions off the Mainland of Asia extending from the Aleutians to the Philippines. He said he was firmly convinced that we could not hold our off-shore chain without Formosa.

The Secretary said that Admiral Radford had already told him that he was strongly in favor of the Security Pact. Admiral Radford had not made it clear whether he was speaking only for himself or for the JCS.

The Secretary said he anticipated that a Formosa Security Pact might be harder to sell to the Senate than was the Korean Treaty.

He thought that the study of the issue would have to be very carefully prepared. He said that complex and important issues were involved and he was not ready to make a decision now. He wanted to postpone the resolution of the matter until he could consider it further. He would expect to decide the matter when he returned from the Conference at Caracas.6

[Page 370]

In response to a question, the Secretary said that he authorized us to start the project through the NSC Planning Board now7—”if we could be sure there would be no leak to the Alsops 8 the next day”. He cautioned us not to take a final Departmental position yet.

Mr. Robertson said that in his view timing was the critical factor. He would disagree strongly with any who might say the negotiation of such a treaty now would be unfortunate. On the contrary, it is highly important to announce the negotiation of such a security pact before we go to Geneva. Morale has been lowered throughout non-Communist Asia as a result of the decision to negotiate with the Chinese Communists at Geneva. There is a natural fear that the West may come to some sort of an accommodation with the Communists which would undermine the position of nonCommunist Asia. The psychological value of the reassurance which would be conveyed by the announcement of such a treaty would be inestimable.

Walter P. McConaughy
  1. Presumably the memorandum supra .
  2. John W. Jones, Director of the Office of Western European Affairs.
  3. David W. Wainhouse and David H. Popper, Director and Deputy Director, respectively, of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs.
  4. Philip W. Bonsal, Director of the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs.
  5. Robert J.G. McClurkin, Deputy Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  6. The Tenth Inter-American Conference, held at Caracas, Mar. 1–28, 1954; for documentation on this conference, see vol. iv, pp. 264 ff.
  7. A memorandum of Mar. 15 from Robertson to Merchant and other heads of interested bureaus stated that the Secretary had requested that the question of a treaty should be given immediate consideration within the Department with a view to its early presentation to the Planning Board, but that no Department position would be taken until his return from Caracas. (793.5/3–1554)
  8. Journalists Stewart and Joseph Alsop.