244. Despatch From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0

No. 261

REF

  • Embassy Telegram #746, November 14, 1958; Deptel #436, November 21, 1958; Embassy Despatch #256, November 25, 19581

SUBJECT

  • Future Military Needs of the GRC

Dr. Yu Ta-wei, Minister of National Defense, Government of the Republic of China, will depart Taipei quietly November 28, 1958, on his annual visit to Washington, D.C., for the purpose of medical treatment and discussions with officials of the Departments of State and Defense. He evidently plans to remain in the United States for approximately three months. As in previous years, the Minister has been readying himself for the trip by stating his views and seeking those of senior United States officials in Taipei concerning the present and future military posture, missions and needs of the GRC. Some indications of the GRC’s interests in these connections have already been furnished the Department in the communications under reference. Additional material on the GRC’s interests is now available and forwarded attached to this despatch2 for the information of the Department during the Minister’s calls in Washington.

During recent discussions Minister Yu asked Admiral Smoot, Commander, United States Taiwan Defense Command, for the ideas of local United States military officials on a concept for modernization of the Chinese military forces. He reportedly sought a “combined United States strategic concept of ChiNat Forces”. The United States comments were furnished in a personal letter from the Admiral to the Minister, dated November 20, 1958, a copy of which is attached as Enclosure #1. The comments were general in nature and avoided specifics with respect to numbers and items of equipment. As a basis for his personal comments concerning the future military needs of the GRC Admiral Smoot informed the Minister that through the experience of facing problems over the past few years the United States had reached certain conclusions: The Free World faces a long range threat during which period the missions [Page 497]and the support required in the several United States Services must change and undergo modification. Forces maintained over the period cannot be completely modern and completely equipped at the same time and they must be maintained in the context of the collective capability of all those nations opposing the common enemy. Recent events have confirmed that defense capabilities of the collective community must exist in depth. Proceeding from that basis the Admiral informed Minister Yu that he suggests a smaller GRC Army force structure, a slight increase in the Navy and continuing modernization of the Chinese Air Force, which he considers to be the primary defensive requirement in this area.

The Ambassador called upon Minister Yu on November 26 to bid him farewell prior to his departure for the United States. A memorandum of that conversation is attached as Enclosure #2. During the conversation the Minister indicated general agreement with the approach set forth by Admiral Smoot’s letter of November 20. He particularly concurred in the Admiral’s concept that the Chinese Air Force and Navy be strengthened. However, he was not enthusiastic about the suggestion that the strength of the Chinese Army be reduced, maintaining that considerable progress has been made in reducing the overall strength of the Chinese armed forces through retrenchment of non-supported units. In the Minister’s opinion, reductions beyond those of this nature at this particular time would be especially unwise and might bring about an adverse psychological reaction among the Chinese people and armed forces. The Ambassador, on the other hand, sought to encourage the Minister to come up with some program for a reduction, pointing out that such a move would provide a more favorable climate for United States agreement toward modernization of Chinese defense forces.

For the Ambassador:
David L. Osborn
Counselor of Embassy for Political Affairs
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/11–2758. Secret; Noforn Except GRC. Drafted by William T. Carpenter, Jr.
  2. See Document 236 and footnotes 2 and 4 thereto.
  3. The enclosures are in the Supplement.