337. Memorandum of Conversation0
PRESIDENT’S FAR EASTERN TRIP
- President Eisenhower
- Ambassador Drumright
- Lt. Col. Eisenhower
- Mr. Hagerty
- General Goodpaster
- Mr. Parsons
- Republic of China
- President Chiang
- Madame Chiang
- Vice President Chen
- Secretary General Chang
- Foreign Minister Shen
- Ambassador Yeh
- Vice For. Minister Chow
- Mr. Shen (Interpreter)
- Free World–Sino-Soviet Relations; Proposal [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Aid Program
President Chiang explained that the previous day’s talks were concerned mainly with Soviet-Chinese Communist relations. Today he wished to discuss steps which he believed should be taken to bring about the downfall of the ChiCom regime.[Page 684]
The Far East, President Chiang said, happens to be the weakest link in the chain of free nations, because its educational levels are low and its economies underdeveloped. What happened in Korea1 set off a chain of reactions affecting Turkey and Japan. This sort of political epidemic may well spread. The communists will work hard at schemes to overturn other free nations in the same way. There was in fact already apprehension in free countries that their governments might be overthrown. At this juncture, following uprisings in Korea, Turkey and Japan, the communist forces are at the high tide of success, whereas anti-communist forces are at low ebb. The time has therefore come to have a general reappraisal and review of the situation.
After expressing agreement with the President’s view that the free nations must be ready to band together and act if attacked, President Chiang then said he would like to state what should be done to deal with the situation. First of all, he believed the free nations should work together and take action together against the communists. Of course, the free world is under U.S. leadership and its members will respect US policy. None would so act as to deliberately provoke an attack; at least that is the position of the Republic of China.
Communist successes and conquests, President Chiang said, are being made not by military means but by subversion, infiltration, psychological warfare, propaganda, etc. What the free world needs are counter policies and measures. The free would is also capable of devising and using measures already utilized by the communists to stir up trouble in communist areas and thus bring about the downfall of their regimes. If the free world fails to formulate such counter measures and merely waits for the communists to take positive measures then the free world countries will know no stability, endless troubles will be stirred up by the communists and the situation could only develop unfavorably for the free world. Free world reaction might then come too late and the communists might even be led to the use of military means at a time of their choosing.
The focus of trouble for the free world, President Chiang said, lies in mainland China. If the free world fails to take effective measures to bring about the downfall of the Chinese Communist regime, then Korea, Japan and Turkey can only expect the constant stirring up of trouble and instability.
President Chiang then said that he has thought out a program which he is confident could bring about the downfall of the Chinese Communist regime without resort to military force and without giving the Chinese Communists a pretext to use force. But he needs U.S. confidence in [Page 685] his ability to carry out his planned program. He regretted that sometimes there was not adequate mutual trust among nations.
President Chiang said that the population on the mainland is antagonistic to the communist regime and that this antipathy extended to the rank and file of communist party and to members of the armed services who are restless and uneasy. Since the commune system was initiated two years ago, the dissatisfaction of the Chinese people and of the families of men in the armed forces has mounted and extends even to cadres of the communist party. Psychological warfare could be useful in this situation. This state of affairs could hasten the downfall of the communist regime. In the past, failure to take action to stir up trouble on the mainland caused discouragement and despair among the mainland people. The time has come to do something to sabotage the lines of communication and to organize guerrillas. Actions of this nature would give encouragement to the mainland people.
In recent years there have been uprisings in Sinkiang, Sikang, Tibet, other frontier areas and inside of the interior provinces. But these uprisings were put down quickly because Free China could not provide help in time to enable the revolts to continue.
At the very least, President Chiang said, efforts should be made to establish a number of guerrilla forces in sparsely populated or unpopulated areas in the border regions. The reaction among people of those areas would be sympathetic. Resistance would then spread and could lead to the downfall of the communist regime. President Chiang said the program he had in mind stressed non-use of military forces from Taiwan and would give no cause at all for the ChiComs to blame the U.S. Government.
President Chiang said that four years ago he had discussed his plan with officials of the State and Defense Departments, but his approaches had met with no response. Apparently it was felt in U.S. quarters that this plan might touch off global war or involve the U.S. Government in hostilities with the ChiComs. But since then the situation had so changed that he believed the time had come to renew his plan. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] He said he hoped that President Eisenhower could devote his attention to this proposal upon his return to the U.S.
As a result of careful and detailed study, President Chiang had come to the conclusion that proposal [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was the only feasible and reasonable way without the use of military force to subvert the mainland regime and bring about its downfall. He emphasized that the whole program would be operated and carried out by Chinese personnel and all signs and identification of equipment would be Chinese. All that is needed from the U.S. are airplanes and telecommunications equipment.
President Chiang then turned to the question of the size of the Chinese Armed Forces which he said is under study. These forces presently [Page 686] constitute a heavy burden on the national economy. The provision of newer weapons and increased firepower could enable some reductions to be made in the Free Chinese forces. These were formerly at the level of 670,000 officers and men but have been reduced to the present level of 630,000. The Government has a plan to effect a further reduction of 48,000, but this planned reduction is difficult to carry out because the officers and men to be retired are from the mainland and have no place to settle after retirement. In Korea, President Chiang noted, it is reported that ex-soldiers with nothing to do participated in the overthrow of the Rhee Government. Free China, he said, needed some help to expand its resources so as to provide employment for the men released from the armed forces.
President Chiang then said he wished to take the opportunity to express his heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all the help President Eisenhower and the U.S. Government has given his country in past years. He spoke especially of the economic program which had moved ahead well with the assistance of local U.S. organizations and provided a basis for a proposed accelerated economic program.
President Eisenhower said that he would have President Chiang’s proposal for mainland operations studied when he returned to the United States. President Eisenhower then observed that if 200,000 inspired people should demonstrate in front of the Kremlin all would be promptly and ruthlessly shot down. The free world had a different problem because its system is free and provides the communists with big advantages.
President Chiang said that he had not had in mind mass demonstrations; he knew that these would not work against the communists. His idea was to build up forces in bases at selected points. These forces would endeavor to rally the common people and even cadres and military forces against the communist regime. These forces would, however, lie low and take no action until the situation was ripe. There would be no hasty action such as occurred in Hungary.
President Eisenhower said in reply that he fully understood the position of Chiang and had merely referred to mass demonstrations as means of illustrating the different nature of the problems faced by the free world as contrasted with the communist world. For 18 years, except two years in London, he has had an opportunity to observe the plans and activities of agents. If any plan such as Chiang’s was to be successful, he was convinced that it could not be done openly. Forces resorting to open operations would be hunted down relentlessly and killed by the communist regime. Any such program must start underground and be nurtured quietly. The communists would never come out in such a situation unless they are in great strength. President Eisenhower said that he thought the objective that Chiang had in mind was wonderful, but it would be necessary to have a close look at the methods of going about the operation. To [Page 687] insure a successful outcome the plan must employ very secret, clandestine methods or it would fail. The operation must be built up slowly and carefully and in a way to obtain the peoples’ confidence.
President Chiang thanked President Eisenhower for his observations and again expressed hope that President Eisenhower could have a look at proposal [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] when he returned to the U.S. President Chiang said that he had drawn a lesson from the Hungarian revolt and would not take big risks. Of course, Hungary and the China mainland were different propositions and he thought the situation was different also.
President Eisenhower said that he was not familiar with the troop reduction and resettlement program but would be glad to study it. He said further that the U.S. would cooperate and work with the Republic of China on an accelerated aid program. He said he assumed the Government could find employment for 48,000 military officers and men in conjunction with an accelerated economic program.
President Eisenhower said he was aware of the existence of clandestine groups in his own country and went on to ask why the free world should not build similar underground groups. If successful operations are to be undertaken something must be done by way of encouragement, planning and assistance from behind the table. President Eisenhower thereupon remarked that both offensive and defensive actions must be employed if communist infiltration is to be stopped.
President Chiang said that President Eisenhower had made a very important point and referred to developments in Korea, Turkey and Japan as an indication of the need for the adoption of both offensive and defensive tactics against communism.
Once again stressing the need to keep clandestine operations as invisible as possible lest they be defeated, President Eisenhower said he would have President Chiang’s proposal studied on his return to the U.S.2
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Staff Secretary Records, International Trips and Meetings Series. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Drumright and approved in the White House on June 20. The conversation was held in President Chiang’s office.↩
- Reference is to the political crisis that led to the resignation of President Syngman Rhee on April 26; see volume XVIII.↩
- A July 13 memorandum from Parsons to Joseph W. Scott of the Office of the Operations Coordinator enclosed a draft message to Taipei concerning Chiang’s proposal. (Department of State, CA Files: Lot 67 D 579, 1958—U.S. Policy Toward Communist China) An unlabeled and undated document in the same file, apparently the draft message, stated that under existing circumstances, operations on the scale envisaged by [text not declassified] would meet with almost certain defeat, with undesirable consequences for both the GRC and the United States, and that a fuller and more accurate picture of the existing resistance on the mainland was needed; it proposed continuing consultation between the two governments on the subject. (Ibid; see Supplement) A July 23 memorandum by Gordon Gray states that on July 19 he had discussed with the President a proposed message to the Ambassador in Taiwan relating to [text not declassified], that the President had made some changes in the proposed message, and that the revised document was transmitted to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. (Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Project Clean Up, Meetings with the President; see Supplement) No copy of the revised message has been found.↩