264. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0
Taipei, February 21, 1959, 10 a.m.
953. CINCPAC for Felt.
- At tea reception yesterday for Admiral and Mrs. Felt,1 Generalissimo invited Felt, Smoot, Doan and me into separate room for private talk.2 Also present were GRC Defense Minister and CGS.
- Generalissimo brought up Tan Islands, saying he had recently received personal letter from Admiral Radford urging voluntary withdrawal from islands and their destruction. Generalissimo said he had sent reply to Radford explaining impossibility of following this advice. Generalissimo said he also desired to apprise Admiral Felt of GRC position re Tans.
- Generalissimo said Tans could not be abandoned for military and political reasons. If Tans were abandoned then Kinmen would fall and this would be followed by fall of Taiwan. Tans could not be destroyed and rendered untenable to enemy unless atomic charges were used. Withdrawal from Tans would deny GRC control of Amoy harbor—a matter of considerable importance—and Red occupation of islands within proximity to other Kinmens would represent unacceptable threat to Kinmen defenses.
- Generalissimo pointed to heroic defense put up by Tan defenders after August 23 last and expressed confidence Tans could be held against enemy assault. He also said enemy attack against Tans would be very difficult to distinguish from attack on other Kinmens. In any case, Reds had announced openly their objective in Taiwan and any attack on Tans could only be regarded as step in effort to occupy Taiwan.
- Generalissimo also said GRC voluntary withdrawal from Tans was even more unacceptable from political point of view which he did not desire to go into at length in this conversation. He would say, nevertheless, that abandonment of Tans would be regarded by GRC military and civilian population as indicating a less than full determination on part of GRC to defend Kinmen and Taiwan to last. Withdrawal would also have unsettling effect on mainland people who hope for liberation, as well as on overseas Chinese compatriots. Loss of confidence in him and GRC could lead to incalculable and unacceptable risks.
- Generalissimo said he had told Mr. Dulles just before latter’s departure last October that loss of Kinmen would lead to loss of Taiwan. He would say now and repeat it again and again that loss of Tans would progress to loss of Kinmen and so to loss of Taiwan. He also wanted to remind Mr. Robertson and Admiral Radford of their visit to Taiwan some three years ago when they had urged withdrawal from offshores. He had told them then that withdrawal was unacceptable; he wanted them to know it is his conviction that withdrawal is even more unacceptable now.
- In reply to Admiral Felt’s query whether Red attack on Tans would lead to GRC retaliation against mainland targets, Generalissimo turned this aside with statement that such action had not been taken last year in face of broader Red attack on Kinmens. In response to my query whether he anticipated early Red attack on Tans, Generalissimo merely [Page 535]said GRC had to assume possibility of such attack and had to maintain utmost vigilance.
- Comment: Generalissimo spoke politely but with marked force, emphasis and conviction. It was clear that he had given this matter deep thought and has come to the conclusions related above. I am convinced that he will not be moved by our persuasions, pressures or pleas to relinquish the Tans. In fact, more argumentation will serve only to irritate him and get his back up further. There would obviously be no profit in pursuing this enterprise further, particularly since it is clear one of Reds’ chief objectives is to open schism between us by showing Americans will not after all go full way to back up their ally. I would earnestly suggest, therefore, that we drop this subject once and for all.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.5/2–2159. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to CINCPAC.↩
- Admiral Felt visited Taiwan during a 3-week trip to Southeast Asia.↩
- Smoot’s report of the conversation was transmitted in telegram 210330Z from COMTAIWANDEFCOM(US)/MAAG to CINCPAC, February 21. (Department of State, FE Files: Lot 65 D 497, FE 3500–3699)↩