158. Memorandum of a Conversation, Taipei, March 16, 1956, 4:30 p.m.1


  • President Chiang Kai-shek
  • Madame Chiang Kai-shek
  • Vice President Ch’en Ch’eng
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeh (Interpreter)
  • Secretary General of the Presidential office, General Chang Ch’uyn
  • Government Information Bureau Director Sampson Shen
  • Prime Minister O. K. Yui
  • Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
  • American Ambassador Karl L. Rankin
  • Assistant Secretary of State Walker S. Robertson
  • Assistant Secretary of State Carl W. McCardle
  • Counselor of the State Department Douglas MacArthur II
  • Counselor of Embassy William P. Cochran, Jr.
  • First Secretary of Embassy Paul W. Meyer (Reporter)


  • Conference Between Secretary Dulles and President Chiang2

After an exchange of greetings between the Secretary and President Chiang the Secretary related to the President his impressions of the countries he has recently visited. The Secretary said the purpose of his trip was to apprise himself at first hand of Communist activities in the various countries. The situation in the area was better than he had expected. He felt that if the United States stands firm other countries will too.

The Secretary’s comments on the situation in the various countries were briefly stated as follows:

  • Pakistan, strongly anti-Communist;
  • Ceylon, one of the most anti-Communist countries in the area; officials insistent that the United States not desert Chiang Kai-shek;
  • Indonesia, situation complicated by variety of political parties but believed government would be formed excluding Communists;
  • Thailand, categorical assurances given by officials that Thailand would not go Communist, also definitely not neutral;
  • Vietnam, situation miraculously better than a year ago;
  • The Philippines, situation continues good.

In India, the Secretary stated, he had had two interviews with Nehru, one of four hours and another the next day of two hours duration. Neither had been able to persuade the other to his point of view. The Secretary said that Nehru believes that the USSR and the Chinese Reds will fall apart eventually, and he wishes to help that process. Nehru thinks the United States can also help by ceasing to oppose communism in the West Pacific. In that event the Chinese Communists would turn on Russia. The Secretary felt that Nehru was primarily concerned about the future of India. India’s three principal problems were the internal situation, Kashmir, and relations with Pakistan.

With regard to the United Kingdom the Secretary felt that there had been a slight change in attitude largely because of Soviet actions in the Middle East which threatened the source of its oil upon which Britain was highly dependent. The Secretary said that the joint Eden-Eisenhower [Page 325] statement3 contained the strongest expression that Eden had ever made on the subject of communism. He said that President Eisenhower had made a very strong statement to Eden on the United States policy in regard to the admission of Red China to the United Nations, and that there was no doubt in Mr. Eden’s mind as to where the United States stood on that question. The Secretary said that Britain strongly advocated reduction of the number of items on the embargo list and that prior to the Eden-Eisenhower talks the Department had been informed that unless we agreed to a reduction in the embargo list Britain would act unilaterally. Britain appeared less zealous now. We agreed to review single items on the list when the interest of free nations would benefit. The United States still had a total embargo on trade with Communist China and no change was contemplated in that policy. The Secretary’s view was that international control should be kept as high as possible but not so high that the control collapses. He believes that the system will be continued substantially as at present.

The Secretary then asked the President if he did not wish to speak. The President said that he actually preferred to listen. He said he had several questions to put to the Secretary but that he would submit them in writing later.

In summarizing, the Secretary said that things are going on pretty well for us. The greatest dangers were the weakening of Britain in the Middle East, and France in North Africa.

The President agreed with the analysis given by the Secretary, and asked whether the United States had felt it necessary to adopt a new policy since the last Communist Congress.4

The Secretary stated that one purpose of his present trip was to examine the policy in the light of new Communist tactics. He described the new tactics as “pulling in the claws”; that the former policy of the Communists caused free nations to unite and become stronger in their opposition to communism; but that under the new tactics the claws were still there. The President agreed.

The Secretary stated that he felt the new Communist tactics carried with them new dangers for the free world but so far do not call for any basic change of policy. He said that we cannot afford to match Red “paper proposals” with good money proposals. We must rely primarily on the realization by rulers of those countries concerned that proposals involving bringing in Communist technicians are a very real danger to them. We must give them the alternative of [Page 326] reasonable economic support. Russian political motives are very apparent. We must have a campaign of education on this point.

The Secretary stated that the purpose of the Geneva talks is the same as first stated, namely to get American citizens out of Communist China and to obtain from the Communists a statement of renunciation of force. The Secretary said that he does not expect to get such a declaration but sees no harm in talking about it as long as our friends understand the purpose. Such a declaration is in accord with the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and China, and is therefore consistent with both our interests. We do not intend to talk about anything else with the Chinese Communists without close consultation with the Government of the Republic of China. Mr. Chou En-lai seemed anxious to talk with the Secretary, but the Secretary did not reciprocate that feeling. In answer to the President’s question the Secretary said that Mr. Nehru did not press for a meeting between the Secretary and Chou En-lai. (He did mention the offshore islands casually.) Mr. Nehru gave the Secretary a memo5 from the Indian Ambassador in Peiping on this subject but Mr. Nehru did not promote such a meeting although he may favor it. The Secretary said that at the time he talked with Nehru, Nehru was preoccupied with the Pakistan problem.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Meyer on March 18.
  2. Dulles was visiting the Republic of China as part of a tour of Asian countries undertaken after the SEATO meeting in Karachi, March 6–8. His trip took him to India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. The Secretary arrived in Taipei at noon on March 16 and left for Seoul the following morning. Documentation on the trip is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 675–CF 683.
  3. For text of the statement issued jointly in Washington by President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Eden on February 1, see Department of State Bulletin, February 13, 1956, pp. 232–234.
  4. Reference is to the 20th Party Congress held in Moscow, February 14–25.
  5. Document 155.