793.00/4–1152: Telegram

No. 18
The Chargé in the Republic of China (Rankin) to the Department of State1

secret

1307. Request Dept pass to Defense. Chi Chief of Staff has reported to cabinet that danger of Chi Commie attacks on Kinmen, Matsu and Tachen Islands is more serious at present than any time since mid-1950. Retention these islands is of considerable importance to immediate defense of Formosa, to discouragement of Chi Commie seaborne traffic both milit and commercial, to collection of intelligence and to support of resistance on mainland.

Islands mentioned are strongly garrisoned by Chi Nat troops who shld give good account of themselves against seaborne attack. However air situation entirely reversed since 1950 with tremendous subsequent build-up Chi Commie airpower and steady decline CAF capabilities in absence any additions to its strength in aircraft during same period. Air strikes against islands in support of troops, equipment, aircraft and naval strength by Chi Nats shld be anticipated even if resistance reasonably successful.

While US has disclaimed responsibility for above islands and left their defense entirely to Chi Nats, success or failure in such effort [Page 43]would have considerable moral and practical effect on both US and Chi Govt interests. Their capture wld represent further territorial and psychological gains for Chi Commies.

Question arises to what extent US shld encourage Chi Nats in defending islands and inflicting maximum losses on enemy; also whether US aid shld be extended in logistic or other form, directly or indirectly.

Gen Chase has read this tel and concurs in its despatch.

Rankin
  1. Repeated for information to the Far East Command and CINCPAC.