116. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China 0
255. Following is summary of remarks made by Assistant Secretary Robertson to Ambassador Yeh regarding offshore island problem afternoon Sept. 20: We entirely aware of difficult morale problem confronting GRC in present situation. However, Secretary Dulles wants President Chiang be aware of very difficult public relations problem which United States government faces. We cannot pursue policy here which does not have support public opinion. Much of United States public sees offshore island situation solely in terms two very small islands long way off which not worth atomic war. People of United States not willing support war-like effort by United States government in this situation unless convinced all reasonable steps taken try avoid war.
United States has no idea giving away any territory at Warsaw talks. We had already said we would make no commitments which would prejudice GRC rights or interests. There not slightest possibility of our making any commitments at Warsaw for GRC.
We do not wish be responsible for breaking off Warsaw talks. Chinese Communists have taken very tough negotiating position. Perhaps they will give some ultimatum and break off talks. Khrushchev’s latest note to President abusive and violent. It is important that people realize that it is Communists and not United States who threaten war. If United States is to continue support GRC and free world position in Asia, it important get idea across to GRC leaders that they must work with us. It will be ten times harder for Republic of China maintain its position if it loses United States support.
Has been reported that there some thinking in Taipei it would help United States position at Warsaw if GRC appeared tough. As matter of fact it would do irreparable damage if it appeared GRC wanted war. It would not help our position at Warsaw have GRC appear in this light. Important to show up Soviet Union and Chinese Communists as warlike.
While talks at Geneva did not produce any cease-fire agreement, Chinese Communist firing did die down during talks. After all their boasting it might be difficult for Chinese Communists now make ceasefire pledge, but they might put into effect de facto cease-fire. If this happened, it would be important that GRC not upset it. Must be emphasized [Page 254] repeatedly we do not want go to war if there is any way avoid doing so honorably and without jeopardizing essential positions.
There apparently some suspicions on Taiwan we would take actions affecting GRC interests without consultation. We had assured GRC we would not take actions prejudicial to them. By same token, we here must feel that GRC will not go ahead and take actions without coordinating with United States.
Recently some progress made in getting supplies into Kinmen. Despite early pessimism Berlin airlift had solved supply problem when Berlin blockaded. We intend make greatest effort get in supplies in spirit of Berlin airlift. Any effort bomb Chinese Communists would likely be step which would start trouble. (Retaliatory bombings Communists on Kinmen would make position of its defenders vastly more difficult.) We were not ready take such step until all peaceful means had been exhausted.
Republic of China has important role play in world today as alternative for Chinese people to Communist regime. It must continue play that role and prepare itself for day when Communist regime will no longer be able survive. It is of utmost importance that very existence of GRC not be jeopardized by precipitate or premature action which would not have support of public opinion here or abroad.
FYI. Above is for your information and for such use as you may wish to make in conversations with GRC leaders. End FYI.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/9–2158. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Martin, cleared in draft by Parsons, and approved by Martin.↩