No. 71
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (McConaughy)1



  • Change in 7th Fleet Directive


  • John M. Allison—Assistant Secretary of State
  • F.S. Tomlinson, Counselor, British Embassy
  • Walter P. McConaughy, Director, Chinese Affairs

Mr. Tomlinson called at Mr. Allison’s request. Mr. Allison said that he wished to inform the British Embassy in advance of the content of a part of the speech of the President on the State of the Union which the President intended to deliver to Congress at noon on February 2. The excerpt related to a change in the Directive to the 7th Fleet. Mr. Allison then said that the President proposed to state that he is issuing instructions that the 7th Fleet no longer is to be employed as a shield for the Mainland of China. The President would affirm that this implies no aggressive intent on the part of the United States, and would point out that since the 7th Fleet was given the task in June 1950, after the outbreak of aggression in Korea, of defending Formosa as well as insuring that it not be used as a base of operations against the Mainland, the Chinese Communists have invaded Korea and attacked United Nations Forces. They have, in accord with the Soviet Union, rejected a UN resolution proposing a Korean armistice, sponsored by the Government of India and accepted by the United States and 53 other nations.2 In the circumstances the U.S. Government cannot continue a situation which in effect has meant that the U.S. Navy has served as a defensive arm of the Chinese Communist aggressors, so that they can with greater impunity kill United States and U.N. troops in Korea. In no part of the world does the United States or any other of the free nations take action which in effect uses its armed forces to protect Communist territory. There are no similar formal or official inhibitions placed upon, for example, Yugoslavia or Western Germany. Public opinion in the United States will not countenance continued use of American armed forces for official protection of the Chinese Communists in view of their present complete intransigence.

[Page 134]

Mr. Tomlinson took notes as Mr. Allison spoke. Mr. Tomlinson said that he would want to dispatch a report of the conversation immediately since the matter might require Cabinet consideration in London. Mr. Tomlinson referred to that part of the statement to the effect that the order implied no aggressive intent on the part of the United States. Mr. Tomlinson said that he assumed that the change in the order probably would not result in any immediate major change in the military situation. Mr. Allison said that the reference in the order to “no aggressive intent on the part of the United States” was explicit, and spoke for itself. The action did not change the present practical situation. It was an effort to make our position consistent and logical.

Mr. Allison stated that inasmuch as the original orders to the 7th Fleet were a United States rather than a UN action, taken as a result of a unilateral decision on the part of the United States, the President believed that in modifying the orders he should assume full responsibility and not endeavor to have this responsibility shared by the other nations concerned. Hence the associated nations were being informed rather than consulted.

Mr. Tomlinson inquired if the 7th Fleet would still be charged with the defense of Formosa. Mr. Allison said that no change in that part of the 7th Fleet Directive was contemplated.

Mr. Tomlinson inquired if the order implied any change in the status of the off-shore islands. Mr. Allison said that the 7th Fleet orders pertained only to Formosa and the Pescadores and the offshore islands were not included either in the original order or in the contemplated amendment of the order.

Mr. Allison told Mr. Tomlinson that the same information would be conveyed by him to the diplomatic representatives of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa later in the afternoon;3 that our Chargé in Taipei was informing the Chinese National Government; and that all UN countries which had troops in Korea, plus a few additional countries directly concerned with the Pacific, such as Japan and India, would be informed in confidence of the comtemplated action through our Missions in those countries very shortly before the public announcement.4

Mr. Allison requested that the decision not be disclosed until after it had been publicly announced by the President.

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Mr. Tomlinson expressed his appreciation for being informed in advance of the proposed step and said that he would convey the information immediately to the Foreign Office.

  1. The source text bears Allison’s signature, indicating his approval.
  2. For the text of UN Resolution 610 (VII), adopted by the General Assembly on Dec. 3, 1952, see vol. xv, Part 1, p. 702.
  3. The conversation was recorded in a memorandum of conversation of the same date by McConaughy, as was a similar conversation with a representative of the French Embassy later that afternoon. (711.5890/1–3053)
  4. Instructions were sent to the appropriate missions in circular telegrams 817, Jan. 30, and 823, Feb. 1, 1953. (711.5890/1–3053 and 711.5890/2–153)