106. Telegram From the Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China1

313. Your 3472 and 426.3 Following for your background information.

[Page 186]

Chinese Communists are undoubtedly capable of following military course of action outlined and US must be prepared cope with them if they do so. One essential step this direction is construction Kung Kuan airfield, and Department is pressing for early allocation funds for this purpose. However, in present world situation, any step-up in Red military activities in Taiwan area has disadvantages for them as well as advantages and our policy should be aimed at maximizing both political and military deterrents to their choice of this course. Apart from our obligation to seek release of our imprisoned nationals in Communist China, Geneva talks are part of our program toward above end and are based on following rationale:

Summit Conference dramatized major powers’ awareness of fearful consequences nuclear war.
As a result, any warlike move is subjected to sharper scrutiny and world opinion can be rapidly mobilized against any country taking military initiative which could lead to nuclear conflict.
Chinese Communists’ objectives are varied and their pursuit of some would be seriously interfered with by increased saber-rattling in Taiwan area. Such objectives include: (a) “normalization” of relations with Japan; (b) general recognition; (c) admission to UN; (d) removal of trade restrictions; (e) decrease in strength of US armed forces in Western Pacific.
Gains made by USSR in propagation their “peaceful coexistence” line would be jeopardized by Chinese Communist resort to force and Soviets may therefore exert moderating influence.
In this situation, Geneva talks are serving several useful purposes, (a) They have made it more difficult for Chinese Communists to take military action against off-shore islands and Taiwan. More we are able to rally world support for renunciation of force in Taiwan area, more it will cost Chinese Communists in terms of setbacks in achieving their other objectives if they should take up the sword, (b) They have denied Communists opportunity to plausibly represent US as stubbornly refusing settle disputes through negotiation. Had we not taken initiative to begin these talks under conditions of our own choosing, we could have been confronted with unhappy choice of either accepting Chinese Communist proposal to negotiate under far less favorable conditions (e.g., Far Eastern conference) or turning down such a proposal and risking increasing isolation from our allies and influential neutrals. In latter event, it would become even more difficult for us to rally necessary support for GRC’s international position, (c) British, French and Japanese pressure to reduce trade restrictions from CHINCOM level has become extremely heavy. Only fact that we are negotiating with Chinese Communists at Geneva enabled us to forestall probably successful [Page 187] action to this end at forthcoming CG meeting in December. We argued that it would not make sense to throw away such bargaining counters without something in return and British and French have agreed to withhold action for time being. Foregoing very sensitive, since if Chinese Communists knew Geneva talks were delaying action by European countries to reduce trade restrictions they would have additional motive to break off talks.

In demanding renunciation of recourse to force in Taiwan area, we are endeavoring to place Chinese Communists in position where either acceptance or rejection by them of no force principle would help to solidify world opinion against any subsequent warlike move on their part.

Department is concerned at your assessment that any US-Peiping renunciation of force “no matter how worded” would be regarded by GRC as sell-out, leading to precipitous morale drop “with likelihood of Red take-over in year or so through demoralization and defection.” GRC has been aware for some time that US is unwilling to support return to mainland by force of arms. GRC must also realize that disparity in population territory and resources weights scales heavily against GRC in any military contest with Chinese Communists. Consequently, it is in their interest as well as ours to use all political means at our disposal to block, if possible, further development of such a military contest.

Chinese Communists have so far shown no inclination to accept a renunciation of force applicable to the Taiwan area. Should they do so, this would of course have no effect upon the continuing US determination to fulfill its treaty commitments to the GRC. The US does not intend to trade performance for a Chinese Communist promise and it will consequently be necessary to maintain adequate strength in the area to counter the Communist threat, whether or not they publicly renounce force.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/11–955. Secret. Drafted in CA, cleared by Sebald, and approved by Robertson. Repeated for information to CINCPAC and to Hong Kong.
  2. Document 80.
  3. Telegram 426 from Taipei, November 9, stated that the report in the London Daily Worker of a Communist Chinese proposal for a joint declaration renouncing the use of force, if confirmed from other sources, would produce a “lively reaction” in Taiwan; it read in part as follows:

    “Officials and public on Taiwan continue watch most carefully for any development at Geneva which would represent to them further move toward US recognition of Peiping. Propose joint declaration would be regarded here as highly significant step in that direction. Moreover any suggestion of US action implying acquiescence in status quo of satellites including Red China touches most sensitive spot.

    GRC of course well aware of long established US policy not to resort to force except to meet aggression. However its commitment to use force only after joint agreement with US was undertaking on assumption of continuing American policy looking toward eventual liberation of Red satellites. Joint US-Peiping agreement to renounce force, no matter how worded, almost inevitable would be regarded here as reversal of American policy and as implying assumption by US of responsibility for preventing any future efforts by GRC to bring about liberation of China mainland. It would be politically impossible for GRC to accept such situation even tacitly and independent action by US along this line would be regarded as sell-out. Statements by Chinese officials and press editorials, as reported to Department in past, have portrayed GRC position clearly on this score.” (Department of State, Central Files, 993.61/11–955)