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250. Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State0

The Department of State, together with the other United States Government departments concerned, has given careful study to the Foreign Ministry’s memorandum of January 4, 19581 and the eight proposals made therein. The United States shares the concern of the Government of the Republic of China at the possibility of Soviet military and technical assistance to the Chinese Communists in the fields of missiles and nuclear weapons. Should the Chinese Communists acquire such capabilities, the threat to free world areas in the Far East would be greatly increased. Such a development would have to be taken into account by the United States and the Republic of China in their military planning.

The United States will continue to cooperate closely with the GRC in efforts to improve its military capabilities within the limits imposed by United States laws, other commitments, and capabilities. Concerning the eight proposals made by the Government of the Republic of China, the United States Government has the following specific comments:

With regard to proposals 1 and 2, the present Military Assistance Program has supplied certain types of guided missiles to the Chinese Armed Forces. Training in the use of these missiles is being provided as required. The United States will give continuing consideration, as has been the case in the past, to the desirability of providing additional guided missiles and appropriate missile training in the future.

Whether a public announcement, suggested in Proposal 3, concerning the arming or training of Chinese forces in a particular missile operation would be advisable would depend upon circumstances at the time. As for nuclear warheads, United States policy is not to publicize their presence in any area outside the United States, and in the event of any public inquiry regarding a specific country neither to confirm nor deny such presence.

Concerning Proposal 4, the defense of Taiwan and the Penghus has been and will continue to be a primary objective of United States forces in [Page 510]conjunction with GRC forces. The United States believes that the capability of GRC forces to defend Taiwan against an attack by missiles and nuclear weapons from the mainland will be substantially strengthened by the guided missiles already supplied to and programmed for Taiwan and by appropriate training in their use.

The United States does not consider that special procedures for consultation between the two governments specifically relating to the employment of guided missiles and nuclear weapons in the Taiwan area, as requested in Proposal 5, are necessary. It would, however, be prepared to discuss means whereby existing procedures of consultation in implementation of the Treaty of Mutual Defense of December 2, 1954 and the exchange of notes of December 10, 1954 pursuant thereto might be better adapted to present needs, including the possible employment of missiles. It should be noted in this regard that under United States law atomic warheads must remain in the custody of United States personnel. This would preclude arming Chinese forces with atomic warheads as suggested in Proposal 6, and renders inappropriate the undertaking of a joint study to determine the extent to which the Chinese forces may be armed with nuclear weapons through United States assistance. Training defense against atomic attack will continue to be provided to the greatest practicable extent through MAAG Taiwan.

With regard to Proposal 7, the United States believes, as stated in the Department of State’s note of February 8, 1958 to the Chinese Embassy on this subject, that consideration of a nuclear power project should be deferred until adequate research and training have been accomplished and specific plans for the installation of a nuclear power station have been worked out.

With regard to Proposal 8, the United States is already giving assistance to the GRC in scientific and technical training and plans to continue to do so within the limits of legislative authority and funds.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56393/1–1259. Secret. Drafted in CA by Kahmann and Bennett; cleared by Martin and with S/AE, W/MSC, ISA, and JCS; and approved by Robertson. Sent to Taipei as an enclosure to airgram A–120, January 12, 1959, for transmittal to the Foreign Ministry; the Embassy was authorized to make minor textual changes. G–78 from Taipei, January 22, 1959, reported that the Embassy had transmitted to the Foreign Ministry a memorandum dated January 21. (Ibid., 711.56393/1–2259)
  2. Summarized in telegram 563 from Taipei, January 5, 1958. (Ibid., 711.563/1–558; see Supplement) A copy of the memorandum is filed with a letter of May 22, 1958, from Mansfield Sprague to Robertson enclosing a memorandum of May 8 from Twining to McElroy, with the JCS comments on the GRC proposals. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 62 A 1698, 471.6 Natl China)