252. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Gray) to the Under Secretary of State (Herter)0


  • Communist China

I have your memorandum of January 10.1

What I had in mind was a separate paper on Communist China itself. I would not pretend to be in a position to describe to you all that would be incorporated and I certainly have no prejudgments as to any policy position which might be taken. Indeed my own personal prejudice at the moment would be to reexamine, and where necessary to amplify, our policy toward Communist China within the context of the assumption that under present conditions we will not recognize Communist China.

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It seems to me that some of the clear justifications for a separate paper on Communist China are these:

Communist China is the most populous geographical entity in the world. Like it or not it has made progress industrially and economically, as well as militarily, and there is no reason to suppose that its importance as a geographical entity will diminish in the years and months ahead. It seems to me if we are to have any country papers at all we are extremely vulnerable in not having one on Communist China.
There seems to be some feeling that NSC 5429/5 of December 22, 19542 and that NSC 5723 of October 4, 19573 cover the situation. Very candidly, it does not seem to me that any policy statement with respect to Communist China, which was adopted four years ago, can be necessarily assumed valid today, even to the extent that the paper seeks to enunciate a policy towards Communist China. Furthermore, the 1957 paper deals with Communist China, I believe, only in a secondary way.
Our basic national security policy now calls for efforts to exploit differences between the Soviet Union and Communist China. I may be less than fully informed but I believe that we are doing virtually nothing to implement this policy. Incidentally, Ambassador Thompson earlier this week expressed it as his personal view that this was very important policy and that there may be new opportunities to support it.
Whereas I know of no intelligence estimate which predicts an early rebellion in Communist China, this possibility certainly exists. I do not believe that our present policy papers give clear guidance as to what the U.S. would do in such an event; as for example, whether we would be prepared to give support to the rebelling forces and to what extent and under what conditions. I would hope that the U.S. Government would never again find itself in the kind of state of frustration that existed at the time of the Hungarian revolt.

Finally, I would point out to you my belief that even if a review resulted in a decision to have no separate paper and involved no change at all in the fragmentation of recorded policy, a review cannot but have been useful.

Gordon Gray
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/1–1459. Secret. Filed as an attachment to Herter’s January 30 memorandum to Gray (Document 255).
  2. Herter’s January 10 memorandum to Gray requested clarification concerning “the China paper that you wish to initiate.” (Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers)
  3. “Current U.S. Policy Toward the Far East”; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Part 1, p. 1062. Several paragraphs pertaining to China were amended in NSC Action No. 1295, January 5, 1955, and NSC Action No. 1302, January 13, 1955; for texts, see ibid., 1955–1957, vol. II, pp. 5 and 23.
  4. “U.S. Policy Toward Taiwan and the Government of the Republic of China”; for text, see ibid., vol. III, p. 619. See also Documents 298 and 347.