46. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, January 27, 1955, 5:30 p.m.1


  • 1. Off-shore Island Situation
  • 2. Proposed Security Council Action


  • Dr. George Yeh, Chinese Foreign Minister
  • Dr. Wellington Koo, Ambassador Chinese Embassy
  • Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary for FE
  • Walter P. McConaughy, Director for CA

1. Off-shore Island Situation. Dr. Yeh said that eventually a formal Chinese Government announcement of withdrawal from the Tachen Islands would have to be made. The Chinese Government would want this to be timed with some reference to U.S. assistance as necessary in the defense of Quemoy and Matsu, in order to offset the adverse effect of the Tachen withdrawal.

Mr. Robertson reminded Dr. Yeh that the Secretary had made it clear that the U.S. is not committed to make any public announcement regarding Quemoy and Matsu.

Dr. Yeh gave Mr. Robertson a draft Chinese statement about withdrawal from the Tachens. In order to cooperate in full, he wanted the Secretary to see this proposed announcement and to state his opinion regarding it. He said the entire proposal was predicated on the assumption that the U.S. Government, after passage of the Joint Resolution, would make some sort of statement indicating that Quemoy and Matsu were considered essential to the protection of Formosa and the Pescadores. The statement reads as follows:

“Draft Statement of the Chinese Government to be Released at Taipei

“In view of the repeated and continuing acts of aggression by the Chinese Communists as evidence by their renewed attacks on the off shore islands since September 3, 1954, and by their recent seizure of Yikiangshan Island, the Chinese Government, after consultation with the United States Government, has decided to redeploy its garrison forces on the Tachen Islands with a view to consolidating its overall military position and to more effectively dealing with further attacks by the Communists.

“The Government of the United States, our ally by virtue of the Mutual Defense Treaty concluded between the Republic of China and the United States of America on December 2, 1954, in Washington, has offered its aid and assistance in carrying out our plan of redeployment. This friendly offer the Chinese Government has accepted.

“There has been close cooperation between our two countries in recent years to promote the cause of freedom and peace in the area of Eastern Asia and Western Pacific. This cooperation has been consecrated by the above-mentioned Treaty of Mutual Defense. In furtherance of this same cooperation the Government of the United States has indicated to the Chinese Government its determination also to join in the defense of the Quemoy and Matsu areas and such other related positions and territories the safeguarding of which is essential to the defense of Taiwan and the Pescadores. The Chinese Government has expressed its welcome to this participation which it regards as an aided proof of the solidarity of the two countries in [Page 144] promoting freedom and peace in the Asian and Pacific area and the general cause of the free world.”

Mr. Robertson mentioned that the Joint Resolution had encountered some delay in the Senate because of a dispute within the ranks of the Democratic Party. Some Democratic Senators, apparently influenced by the ADA point of view, had introduced restrictive amendments. They were arguing about the authorization for necessary action in the “related area”. The amendments had all been defeated in the Committee but they had resulted in a delay. Also it had been necessary to postpone hearings on the Mutual Defense Treaty. It was felt that the resolution must be passed first.

Mr. Robertson mentioned that the Secretary would leave on Saturday the 29th for a week’s rest.2 He would be unavailable during that time.

Ambassador Koo said that his Government felt that early ratification of the Mutual Defense Treaty was very important. There was general apprehension in Formosa that recent events, including the President’s Message and the Joint Resolution, might tend to sidetrack the Treaty. He and the Foreign Minister had assured the Chinese Government that all the leaders of the Administration are earnestly supporting the Treaty and there was no intention whatever to defer action on it unnecessarily.

Mr. Robertson confirmed that this view was absolutely correct. No serious opposition to the treaty was anticipated. Senator George had confirmed that he expected no real trouble. The Secretary has been pressing the matter with the Senate leaders at every opportunity. There was no intention to postpone action. It could also be expected that the Senate would pass the Joint Resolution by a large majority, and that the amendments which have been offered would be defeated.

Dr. Yeh reiterated that any announcement about the Tachens must be coordinated with an announcement that Quemoy and Matsu would be held.

Mr. Robertson pointed out that it might be unwise to publicly mention two islands by name and apparently exclude the rest of the area. This might water down the authorization to carry out defense actions as necessary in the entire area. A public announcement was very different from classified operational orders to the armed forces. It might be that operational orders had already been issued. He did not know whether detailed public announcement about our defense intentions would fit in with the planned strategy.

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Dr. Yeh said that he wanted to avoid any embarrassment or misunderstanding. He felt that the Chinese Government must make a statement eventually. It was preferable to make the statement after the President had specific power to act. He would like to know if we would go along with Chinese Government mention of Quemoy and Matsu which would associate us in some way with the defense of those islands. Chinese action would have to be governed by the U.S. position after the Resolution is passed. His thinking was all preliminary and he wanted friendly confidential advice from the Secretary and Mr. Robertson as to how the problem should be handled. The evacuation must not be allowed to bring despair and disenchantment to the Chinese forces and people.

Mr. Robertson agreed. He asked if the President’s Message and the large favorable vote in the house on the Resolution had not helped morale.

Dr. Yeh answered affirmatively, but said there was still some uneasiness about Quemoy and Matsu.

Mr. Robertson said the Resolution gives express authority for the defense of such islands of Quemoy and Matsu and any other places considered important to the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores. He did not know whether it would be customary or expedient to make a public announcement about defense of only a part of the “related area”.

Dr. Yeh felt that some public statement, or at least an official confidential communication as to the U.S. intent regarding Quemoy and Matsu was needed.

Mr. Robertson said the President would have the power to conduct operations for the defense of Formosa as necessary in the related area. This would include any and all islands in that area. The Secretary had already informed the Foreign Minister that in our view under present circumstances Quemoy and Matsu are important to the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores. He felt that the Secretary would state this again if requested by the Foreign Minister to do so. But the Resolution would cover the entire area and its coverage would not be restricted. He did not know whether the President wanted to make a rigid statement of his intentions in a situation which was unstable. There was no question but that Congress understood the wide scope of the authority that would be granted under the Resolution.

Mr. Robertson left the Conference to attend another meeting in the Secretary’s office.

2. Proposed Security Council Action. Mr. McConaughy explained in general terms the proposed New Zealand course of action in the Security Council. He stated that the New Zealand letter was to be introduced in the Security Council on January 28 and presumably [Page 146] would be discussed on January 31. It was anticipated that the Chinese Communists would be invited by the Security Council at that time to appear before the Council. The question of when the Resolution would be introduced by New Zealand had been left open. In fact there was no firm understanding as to timing and tactics beyond the debate on the New Zealand letter. There was a firm understanding that the scope of the Resolution, if it should later be introduced, would not be enlarged. Broadening amendments would be resisted by New Zealand, the U.S. and UK, and the effort would be strictly pinpointed at off-shore islands, with everything else rigorously excluded. The Foreign Minister was given copies of the draft New Zealand letter and Resolution.

The Foreign Minister said that in his view the Chinese Communists should not be invited to appear before the Security Council. He felt that this was unnecessary and would give them unnecessary and undesirable “de facto status”. He felt that they should be invited only to submit their views in writing. He felt that a written statement from them should suffice. It would meet all the requirements of the Security Council and would prevent the Chinese Communists from exploiting an opportunity to appear at the UN.

He also objected to the fact that the draft Resolution did not brand the Chinese Communists as aggressors, and made no distinction as to responsibility for the hostilities between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Government.

He said that the Resolution failed to fix responsibility for aggression on the Chinese Communists, and did not make clear the fact that the Chinese Government had only acted in self-defense.

Mr. McConaughy pointed out that the resolution could not be expected to prejudge the case, and all this could come out in the course of the debate.

Dr. Yeh also made the following objections to the Resolution:

He did not like the term “peaceful settlement”. Its implications were too broad and it seemed to contemplate overall negotiations with the Chinese Communists.
He felt the reference to the Chinese Communist regime as The People’s Government of China should be in quotes.
He objected to the phrase “calls upon”. He felt this was too strong as applied to his Government, since it was not at fault and was not guilty of aggression.

Dr. Yeh said he hoped the U.S. representative would make it clear in the course of the debate that the U.S. will continue to oppose the admission of Communist China to the UN, and to repudiate the “two-China concept”.

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Mr. McConaughy said that of course this was U.S. policy and it could be stated on any appropriate occasion. It could be stated where it was relevant.

Dr. Yeh felt a Resolution should be confined to a general appeal for peace and a cessation of hostilities without naming the Chinese Government. There was no reason for referring to an overall peaceful settlement, which was a broader issue of the sort which was to be excluded from the Resolution.

The Foreign Minister indicated that he did not like the Resolution, but did not say what position the Chinese delegate would take. He intimated that the Chinese delegate, T.F. Tsiang would be in touch with New Zealand Ambassador Munro again on the subject.

Near the end of the interview the Foreign Minister apparently realized for the first time that the Resolution might be used to protect the Chinese Government position on the Tachen Islands or at least delay evacuation of the islands. This thought seemed to moderate somewhat his basic opposition to the proposed Resolution.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.5/1–2755. Secret. Drafted by McConaughy and initialed by Robertson, indicating his approval.
  2. Dulles was in the Bahamas January 29–February 6.