31. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

576. For Ambassador from Secretary. (See immediately following cable.)2 In connection President’s request for Congressional authority to use US forces in defense of Formosa and Pescadores, we are considering have you approach Soviets in attempt secure exercise by them of moderating influence on Chinese Communists. Desire your views before deciding to do so. Such approach might make following points:

Settled policy of US is to preserve Formosa and Pescadores in friendly hands in interests of its own security. The US will take whatever action may prove necessary, including use of US military forces if required to maintain this policy.
Close-in offshore islands take on significance for US primarily as they relate to actions directed against Formosa and Pescadores. Increasingly in recent months, Chinese Communist leaders have explicitly asserted that their actions against these offshore islands are directed toward seizure of Formosa and the Pescadores. Under such circumstances, these islands have an importance to US, which they would not have under different conditions.
In order to contribute to reducing area of conflict, US, if requested by Republic of China, is prepared to assist it in withdrawal of its forces from certain of these offshore islands. In participating in such activities US will have purely defensive purposes but will be prepared use its own forces to deal severely and promptly with any interference with such withdrawals.
US believes that United Nations should take action to bring to an end active hostilities in Formosan Straits. US expects that United Nations may be seized of this problem within next few days.
US has hope that United Nations would have good prospects for ending hostilities in Formosan Straits provided Chinese Communists refrain from military action while question is under UN consideration. Chinese Communist military action against Nationalist-held offshore islands during UN deliberations would seriously prejudice chances for a successful outcome. In addition, such Chinese Communist military action would entail gravest consequences for peace. US will not be deterred by such possible consequences from protecting areas important to its interests.
US trusts USSR shares its hope that hostilities in Formosa Straits will be brought to an end and not develop into wider conflict. For this reason US hopes that USSR will exert its influence on Chinese [Page 112] Communists to persuade them to refrain from any action inconsistent with this objective.

Dept requests urgently your comments on (a) utility of such an approach, and (b) substance of points to be made.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/1–2255. Top Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London for information. Merchant is indicated on the telegram as the drafter, but handwritten notes by Merchant on the source text state that it was approved by the Secretary, drafted by Bowie, and cleared with Robertson, and that Murphy had been informed of its gist.
  2. Telegram 577 to Moscow, January 22, summarized the President’s anticipated message to Congress. (Ibid., 793.5/1–2255)