PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Asia, 1952–1953”

No. 77
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison)

top secret

Subject:

  • Discussion of Far Eastern Questions

Participants:

  • Admiral Arthur W. Radford, USN
  • John M. Allison, Assistant Secretary of State

Admiral Radford called this morning and spent something over an hour in the general discussion of Far Eastern matters. The following is a brief summary by topics of the subjects upon which he expressed an opinion.

[Here follows discussion concerning Indochina and the question of British association with the ANZUS Council.]

Revision in Orders of the 7th Fleet. I inquired whether or not the revision in the orders of the 7th Fleet made it any more urgent in Admiral Radford’s opinion for his authority to be enlarged so that he could discuss plans with the Chinese Nationalist authorities and coordinate action in case there should be any retaliatory action on the part of the Chinese Communists, either as a result of the revision of the orders of the 7th Fleet or as a result of action which the Chinese Nationalists might take against the mainland. The Admiral said that he did think there should be such a revision and that one of the reasons he was hurrying back this weekend to Pearl Harbor was so that he could with his staff make a more thorough study of what was necessary. He said that as the situation stands at present he has extremely limited authority for conducting discussions with the Chinese as to how any defense of the island of Formosa might be undertaken if necessary. He also pointed out, as he has previously, that his authority only extends to attempts to repel an attack on the island either by sea or air and that he has no authority to cooperate with the Chinese in case these attacks should be successful and any form of landing be effectuated either as a result of amphibious operation or by paratroops. In response to a question, he said he believed that the Joint Chiefs had sufficient authority to give him the necessary instructions without obtaining an over-all governmental decision, but that as yet he had not been able to get them to do so although for some time they had known his concern over the situation.

With respect to future additional measures, the Admiral referred to reports by columnists in the press and radio commentators to the effect that he was advocating the imposition of a naval blockade [Page 143]of China. As a matter of fact, Admiral Radford said he believed that a decision to establish a naval blockade should not be taken until a thorough study had been made of the consequences of such action and whether or not the benefits to be obtained from a blockade would outweigh the adverse repercussions which would certainly ensue. He mentioned specifically the problem of Hong Kong and expressed the opinion that the benefit to be derived from a blockade would not outweigh the danger to Hong Kong and the possible loss of that island to the Communists. He stated that he believed the United States Government should come to a firm decision that the retention of Hong Kong in friendly hands was important to our interests and that we should agree that we would support the British in maintaining it before we decided to go on into any sort of blockade. He said that he had discussed the question of Hong Kong with Chiang Kai-shek last autumn and that the Generalissimo had told him that he would be willing to furnish troops for the defense of Hong Kong and if necessary authorize the Admiral to inform the British that these Chinese troops would be withdrawn after the need for them had expired, and that Chiang would not use military force to secure the return to China of Hong Kong but that this would be a matter for political discussion at a later date. I referred to the impression I had received when in Hong Kong1 that some of the British officials and business men there were beginning to think of the possibility that there might some time in the future be a split in South China away from the Peking regime. Admiral Radford said he had tried not to let himself think too much about this possibility, as he had felt until recently that there was insufficient information to justify the hope that this might be possible. However, he stated that more and more information was coming in which led him to think that this might in fact be a possibility, not in the immediate future but within a few years and that, if so, Hong Kong would of course be vital in helping to speed this process.

[Here follows discussion relating to Japan (see Document 630) and administrative matters.]

  1. Allison had visited Hong Kong in late October 1952 in the course of his tour of U.S. Missions in the Far East; see footnote 1, Document 56.