41. Memorandum From Secretary of State Dulles to Acting Secretary of State Herter and the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)0

Allen Dulles had just phoned me that the Chicoms have reportedly been subjecting the Offshore Islands to extremely heavy bombardment.1

If this seems really serious and critical there is perhaps room for the good offices of some acceptable third power.

I do not feel that we have a case which is altogether defensible. It is one thing to contend that the Chicoms should keep their hands off the present territorial and political status of Taiwan, the Ponghus, Quemoy and Matsu and not to attempt to change this by violence which might precipitate general war in the area.

It is another thing to contend that they should be quiescent while this area is used by the Chinats as an active base for attempting to foment civil strife and to carry out widespread propaganda through leaflets, etc., against the Chicom regime. We are, in effect, demanding that these islands be a “privileged sanctuary” from which the Chinats can wage at least political and subversive warfare against the Chicoms but against which the Chicoms cannot retaliate.

I wonder whether there is not the basis for some peaceful modus vivendi, although I realize that it would be extremely difficult to persuade the Chinats not to attempt to be active against the Chicoms. I assume that such activity is important for their morale, although I am [Page 70] inclined to doubt that it has any appreciable effect. We ourselves have, I understand, suspended the dropping of leaflets by balloons, etc., into Eastern Europe.

I suspect that the determining cause of change in both Communist China and Eastern Europe will be natural forces within rather than stimulants from without.

Possibly this situation could be taken to the UN Security Council as was contemplated at one stage back in 1953 or 1954.

  1. Source: Department of State, ROC Files: Lot 71 D 517, Offshore Islands (Misc), July 19–Aug. 31, 1958. Secret. At a meeting on August 24, Herter referred to this memorandum as the “message dictated on the plane.” (Memorandum of meeting dated August 25; ibid., Central Files, 793.00/8–2558) Dulles flew to Watertown, N.Y., on August 23 on his way to a week-long vacation cruise on Lake Ontario.
  2. Allen Dulles telephoned the Secretary just before his departure for the airport. In a telephone conversation after the Secretary arrived in Watertown, Allen Dulles told him that the most intense firing was over and there was no reason for him to return to Washington. (Notes of telephone conversations, August 23; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)