253. Editorial Note
During a conversation between Secretary of State Dulles and Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas I. Mikoyan on January 16, 1959, there was a brief exchange concerning China. The relevant portion of a memorandum of conversation by Edward L. Freers, Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs, reads as follows:
“The Secretary said he wanted to talk about two other zones in which danger of war could arise. One was the Far East. There the Chinese Communists were supported by the Soviet Union in the objective that the US must be expelled by force from Taiwan and the West Pacific. Such a policy could have very serious consequences. The United States would not be expelled by force or pressure from its collective security associations in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. China, like Korea, Vietnam and Germany, was divided. The US was friendly with one part, the Soviet Union with the other. Unification sought by force would almost surely lead to general war. We had exerted great influence for restraint on President Rhee who wanted to unify Korea by force. On our part, we could not be expelled by force where we were present by invitation or in fulfillment of formal agreements.
“Mikoyan said there was no analogy in the situations mentioned—historically, juridically or in substance. In Germany and in Korea zones of occupation had been set up by victorious allies. In Korea troops had been withdrawn at different dates, then war had occurred—there was no analogy with Germany. As to Mr. Rhee, the Soviets were not sure our professed restraint would always hold. North Korea was now one big reconstruction site and might be envied by South Korea. The former had no intention to fight but if South Korea started, it would fight well, as it had shown. In general it was a good idea to withdraw troops. There was a need for exchanges between the Koreans in the fields of culture and trade as a gradual means of bringing about reunification.
“The division in Vietnam, according to Mikoyan, was the result of agreement reached at Geneva by all concerned.
“Turning to China, Mikoyan said that the United States had been party to agreements that Taiwan should be returned to China along with the other islands. At one time it had not interfered in Chinese affairs—a reasonable policy, useful for the United States. China would win in any case and this would be worse for the United States. After the remnants of counter-revolution had settled on Taiwan the United States had entered into a bilateral agreement and regarded Chiang Kai-shek as representing China. Treaties with him had not been accepted by the real China. No state would accept such unilateral actions. The Soviets were surprised by Chinese patience. Neither China nor the Soviet Union had ever sought to have the United States leave all the islands in the West Pacific. The United [Page 515] States had a treaty with the Philippines and troops there, it had allies in Singapore, it had bases on Okinawa. They did not like this but were not attacking it. In general the Soviet Union wanted all foreign troops withdrawn and peaceful settlements guaranteed by the United Nations. If the United States left Okinawa, it would not be leaving the West Pacific. Since the United States did not want to leave under pressure of force, it should use the respite to leave voluntarily. It would not lose, but gain moral, political and military prestige if it broke with Chiang Kai-shek and recognized the CPR. The latter did not menace the United States, nor did the Soviet Union. The American position gave rise to more anti-Western feeling and tension in the area.
“The Secretary said Mikoyan had referred to the violation of the armistice in Korea as breaking up the possibility of reunification. This is what had happened at Taiwan.
“Mikoyan replied that he had been misunderstood. The Soviets did want reunification of Korea. He had made his remarks as information only and had had no specific purpose in making them.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1183)
The conversation was held during a visit to the United States by Mikoyan, January 4–20; documentation on the visit is in volume X, Part 1.