226. Memorandum of Discussion at the 384th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda item 1.]

2. Report by the Secretary of State on His Recent Visit to Taiwan

Secretary Dulles explained that the primary purpose of his going to Taiwan had been to contribute to a peaceful solution of the problems of that area without involving a loss of U.S. prestige or security in the area. One of the main factors influencing him to take this trip had been the Communist success in convincing so many people in the world that the Chinese Nationalists were simply trying to involve the United States in a war with Communist China in order to regain the China mainland. Probably some people in Taiwan were actually trying to do just this, but it was not true of the top Nationalist leaders such as Chiang Kai-shek himself. Nevertheless, many friendly nations believed the Communist propaganda line that Chiang Kai-shek was the master of U.S. policy with respect to the problems of Taiwan and the offshore islands.

Secretary Dulles went on to state that he had had a good many hours of conversation with Chiang alone, except for an interpreter. Together they had discussed the world situation and the situation of Taiwan in the world, and the need to dissipate the fog of Communist propaganda which he had earlier mentioned. Secretary Dulles expressed a certainty that the Generalissimo was converted to the idea that renunciation of the use of military force to retake the mainland was a sound course of action. Secretary Dulles then explained how the final communiqué with respect to the visit had been developed—first on the basis of a draft submitted by him, which was in turn the subject of extensive discussion by the Chinese Nationalist authorities.

Secretary Dulles Felt that the most persuasive argument he had made to Chiang in the matter of renunciation of force, was that of the four countries whose territory was now divided between a Communist government and a free government—namely, Korea, Vietnam, Germany, and China—all except Nationalist China had accepted the concept of not using military force to achieve reunification. Chancellor Adenauer’s statement to this effect had carried particular weight with the Generalissimo.

[Page 471]

As to the effect of this declaration by Chiang on allied and Free World opinion, Secretary Dulles estimated it to be very good, and predicted that it would put Chiang in a much better posture in their eyes.

As an adjunct to the main topic of conversation—namely, the renunciation of force to recover the mainland—Secretary Dulles said that he had had quite a lot of conversation about the status of Quemoy and Matsu. In this connection, Secretary Dulles stated that Chiang had generally accepted the proposal that we would gradually develop with Chiang a more sensible policy with respect to these offshore islands. The problem of these islands would be easier to deal with in the light of Chiang’s new position regarding the problem of the reunification of China. Secretary Dulles cautioned that this did not mean that Chiang would agree at once to any great reduction of Chinese Nationalist forces now stationed on these offshore islands. But he did agree, first, that there would be discussions between his military people and our military people as to the character of a rational defense force on these islands; and secondly, that this would result in some reduction of existing Nationalist forces, both on Quemoy and on the Matsus. Secretary Dulles added that he further believed that if we could achieve a genuine cease-fire in this area, an even greater reduction in Nationalist forces on the offshore islands could occur, and that even their eventual demilitarization was a possibility. However, the present atmosphere created by the Chinese Communists was obviously not very salubrious for the achievement of these objectives. In point of fact, we simply did not know the intentions of the Chinese Communists.

Secretary Dulles said that he had also discussed with the Generalissimo the unwisdom of attaching and identifying his cause with two pieces of real estate which perhaps, in this uncertain world, could not always be defended under all conceivable circumstances. The Generalissimo had replied strongly that he could guarantee that these islands could be held. While Secretary Dulles refused to believe this proposition, he did not press the discussion topic to a firm conclusion.

All in all, Secretary Dulles Felt that our problems with Chiang Kai-shek in the future would be much more manageable than in the past. Morale on Taiwan was good. The quality of the higher officials of the Nationalist Government was very good. The Government of Taiwan was not just a one-man show, and all would not, accordingly, be lost when the Generalissimo disappeared from the scene. As to the Taiwanese population itself, to judge from all the reports Secretary Dulles could obtain, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] they were extremely contented on the whole. They had never been much accustomed to political authority; [Page 472] their economic condition was better than it had ever been before in history. The influence of the Taiwanese in the Army was growing. In general, Secretary Dulles detected no sharp divergencies between the Taiwanese and the mainlanders.

The National Security Council:1

Noted and discussed an oral report by the Secretary of State summarizing his recent consultations with officials of the Government of the Republic of China, and analyzing the implications thereof.

3. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

The Director of Central Intelligence spoke at some length about what he called a new “social experiment” by the Chinese Communists in the form of the so-called people’s commune. This reorganization of Chinese society Mr. Allen Dulles described as “massive slavery”. It encompassed the reorganization of all the nonurban areas of China. He briefly described the system of communes which he said appeared to be tied in with the so-called “Great Leap Forward”. Mr. Dulles promised that he would circulate in the future a detailed report on this new development, which goes far beyond any social reorganizations yet tried in the Soviet Union or any other Communist country. The failure of Moscow to mention the new communes perhaps indicated Soviet coolness to this experiment. The Chinese Communists claim to have organized 500 million people in the new communes, a figure which seemed incredible on the face of it.

Secretary Dulles interrupted to comment that officials on Taiwan Felt that the Chinese Communists wouldn’t get away with this massive attempt to destroy traditional Chinese family life, and that the attempt would provoke revolution against the Communist regime on the mainland. This, of course, could be wishful thinking on the part of the Chinese Nationalists; on the other hand, there might be something in it.

[Here follow the remainder of the discussion of agenda item 3 and agenda item 4.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on October 31. The time of the meeting is taken from the President’s appointment diary. (Ibid., President’s Daily Appointments)
  2. The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 2001. (Department of State, S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)