45. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0
Taipei, August 26, 1958, 10 p.m.
230. Deptel 139.1
- On receipt by Admiral Smoot of JCS message, arrangements were made to see President Chiang to communicate authorized portions to him. Admiral Smoot and I met with him at 6:30 p.m. Chang Chun2 was present in addition to officials set forth in Embtel 212.3
- I recalled that on August 24 President had asked what specific steps US was prepared to take in present crisis. I said we now had reply which Admiral Smoot would convey. Admiral then orally set forth measures we would take authorized for disclosure to GRC. Chiang expressed appreciation which he requested be conveyed to President Eisenhower.
- Chiang then launched into an intense, prolonged discussion of present situation of Off Shore Islands. Briefly, his point was that Reds have adopted tactic of creeping interdiction of Kinmen. He stressed particularly threat posed by Communist use of PT boats (apparently having in mind action of night of August 24 when Red PT boats sank one GRC LST and damaged another). He said if Reds could keep up combined shelling, bombing and sea action as at present, Islands would be soon cut off. It was his view that after some days of such action success fully carried out by Reds morale of defending forces and civilians would decline seriously and seizure of Kinmen would then be no problem to Reds. Therefore, he believed that emergency action is required to cope with Red threat of interdiction. He then intimated that GRC is not capable alone of coping with this problem and expressed hope that we could take emergency action to see that Taiwan Strait is kept open to Off Shore Islands.
- Admiral Smoot agreed that Red interdiction is a growing threat to Off Shore Islands, that he had reported threat to his superiors and that they are giving it study. Admiral Smoot asked for Chinese suggestions and it was agreed that he should discuss situation further with Defense Minister Yu and Chief of General Staff Wang Shu-ming.
- Chiang spoke again and again of interdiction threat and was in fact so obsessed with it and so intent on pleading for our help to cope with it that significance of help we were offering seemed lost upon him. Admiral Smoot will report at further length on this aspect of conversation, so let it suffice here to say that Admiral and I both assured him within limits of our authority that US Government would give this matter urgent consideration and would no doubt come up with a solution.
- Defense Minister Yu again advocated issuance of public US statement warning Reds unequivocally of consequences of attack on Off Shore Islands.
- Prime Minister Chen Cheng spoke up to say our measures will strengthen GRC, but are not adequate to solve urgent problem of interdiction described by President. He then urged use of Seventh Fleet to maintain security of Taiwan Strait and uninterrupted communication with Off Shore Islands. President said he concurred with Prime Minister’s observations and asked that they be passed to high US quarters.
- Just as discussion was breaking up Prime Minister came to me and urged in an aside that we try to take steps to prevent crisis from spreading into large-scale hostilities. (By this he apparently was suggesting appropriate warnings should be conveyed in some way to Communists of consequences of their present actions.)
- It is apparent that actions of past three days have President deeply worried that GRC cannot unaided hold Off Shore Islands against gradual strangulation tactics. He is now most concerned to get our assurances that we will see to it that communications with Islands are kept open and Islands remain secure. As of now he does not have those assurances, and under our instructions Admiral Smoot and I were unable to give them to him.
- In view of growing threat of interdiction and in view of Chiang’s current frame of mind, I believe we should lose no time in telling him that we propose to help in keeping Taiwan Straits open to Off Shore Islands.
- I continue to believe also that we should issue a more direct warning to Reds of likelihood of our intervention in hope it will deter them from pressing attack and thus perhaps prevent general war.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2658. Top Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Received at 12:07 p.m. Passed to CINCPAC.↩
- Telegram 139 to Taipei, August 25, informed the Embassy that Smoot would soon be receiving the message transmitted in JCS 947046 (Document 44). (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2558)↩
- Secretary General in the Office of the President.↩
- Document 42.↩