48. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0
241. Telegraphic message from President Chiang Kai-shek to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“Ambassador Drumright and Admiral Smoot called on me on the 24th and 26th of this month to inform me of measures which were taken by the US Government to strengthen China’s defense capability and its own forces in this region in coping with the hostile activities of the Chinese Communists in the Kinmen area. I appreciate your government’s concern over developments on the offshore islands and the steps it has taken.
“During past few days heavy Communist bombardment has inflicted on our Kinmen garrison forces a number of casualties including the loss of three generals. I trust that the Defense Department must have made detailed report to you on our losses. Apart from artillery bombardment from three directions against the Kinmen complex, Communist jet planes have since August 24 made frequent sorties to strafe our ground positions in Kinmen. Their torpedo boats and gun boats have also attacked in the waters around Kinmen our ships evacuating the wounded resulting in sinking and damaging two vessels. The security of the entire Taiwan Straits is now threatened. Not only may the communication lines between Taiwan and the offshore islands be intercepted and cut any time but also the problem has arisen as to whether the US Seventh Fleet would be able to carry out its duty of insuring the safety of the Taiwan Straits.
“Judging from last few days hostilities, the enemy has already formed a cordon around Kinmen with his ground, naval and air forces. Though no amphibious landing has yet been attempted, one cannot rule out its probability on Kinmen. But there is another possibility that, with a view to undermining the morale of our troops and civilians, the enemy might just force us into a war of long-term attrition by continuing what he has been doing, namely, incessant heavy artillery bombardment from all directions, constant harrassment from the air and the sea around Kinmen area and the cutting off of both our seaborne and airborne supply lines. This Communist tactic aiming at the opponent’s natural paralysis and collapse would be even more vicious and dangerous than an all-out military attack. Consequently, if this were allowed to continue unchecked, [Page 84] it would certainly lead to disastrous consequences to our forces. Normally, we would have retaliated in the exercise of our inherent right of self-defense by bombing at once the enemy’s air and naval bases along the coast, or at least his gun positions around Kinmen. But I feel that in view of our joint defense agreement and our promise to hold consultations with the United States in such eventuality, we have exercised extreme self-restraint and have withheld our forces from taking proper retaliatory action. I am sure that Your Excellency is aware of the fact that we have never once made any provocative move against the Communists in the Taiwan Straits during the past three years because of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty relationship. This time it is the Communists who have fanatically tried to provoke us into war on Kinmen. Their hostilities have continued even after Secretary Dulles had expressed the United States concern over Communist hostile activities against Kinmen and Matsu. It is thus beyond doubt that the Communists are bent upon invading Kinmen and Matsu or threatening the security of Taiwan Straits.
“The Kinmen complex is a group of small islands now surrounded by Communist batteries on the east, west and north. Should we fail to deal effective blows against enemy bases while we are subjected to his incessant artillery bombardment from three directions in addition to raids from his submarines, torpedo boats and gun boats from the south and continuous strafing and interdiction by his air squadrons, our garrison forces on Kinmen would be like sitting ducks awaiting annihilation. Your Excellency will understand how precarious their position is and how impossible it is to maintain the morale of the troops in the long run. In these circumstances it is necessary to take the following two steps in order to defend Kinmen: (1) To deter the Communists from continuing and enlarging their aggressive action by joint Sino-American demonstrations of military might. (2) To agree to China’s separate action in bombing at once Communist naval and air bases and gun positions on the opposite shore so as to destroy the enemy’s offensive capability.
“I therefore urge you, my dear friend, to adopt the following measures:
- “(1) [Your Excellency will make]1 a declaration in pursuance of the Congressional authorization of January 29, 1955, that the present Communist aggressive action against Kinmen constitutes a threat to the security of Taiwan and Penghu. Should the Communists continue their attack against the Kinmen complex or embark upon any aggressive plan against the Matsus, the United States Government would employ its [Page 85] military force to assist in the defense of these two island groups in order to insure the security of Taiwan and Penghu.
- “(2) The United States Government will declare that, in order to insure the security of the Taiwan Straits, the Seventh Fleet will provide convoy of vessels on sea lanes between Taiwan and Kinmen and Matsu complexes and will make the entire Straits safe for shipping.
- “(3) As Kinmen and Matsu are situated on the fringe of the Chinese mainland, our military operations call for instant decisions as the occasion demands. The Commanding Officer of the US Taiwan Defense Command must have appropriate authority to make decisions when the United States and Chinese Governments hold consultations on military operation in pursuance of the exchange of notes following the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty. Otherwise, he would have to request for instructions from Washington at each instance. As Washington is far away from the front line and cannot keep up with the ever-changing war situation, the time-consuming telegraph in exchanges will cause delay which may lead to military disasters. I wish to suggest that Your Excellency direct the departments concerned to formulate concrete instructions on military operations arising from the United States assistance in the defense of Kinmen and Matsu complexes, so that the Commanding Officer of the US Taiwan Defense Command would be authorized to take the necessary steps on the spot in keeping with the developments.
“From the military and political points of view, the Kinmen and Matsu Islands are inseparable from Taiwan itself. This was correctly appraised by Secretary Dulles in a statement made public the other day. While the Communists have started their probing action, we must take adequate measures to deter their invasion attempt so as to stabilize conditions in Kinmen, Matsu and the Taiwan Straits. Whether the enemy will adopt the tactics of long siege and attrition, or launch an all-out invasion soon, the United States Government and Chinese Government must now work out concrete plans for joint action so as to be able to deal a decisive blow to the enemy.
“Furthermore, when our two governments agreed on the evacuation of Tachen Island at the beginning of 1955, Secretary of State Dulles assured the then Chinese Foreign Minister, Dr. George Yeh, that following the Tachen evacuation the United States would take steps to consolidate the defense of the remaining Offshore Islands, particularly the Kinmen and Matsu complexes in order to insure greater security of Taiwan and Penghu.2 For this reason, the withdrawal from Tachen was made known to our military forces and the civilian population including the Chinese overseas as a strategic move. The security of the Kinmen and Matsu Islands is therefore closely related to the destiny of the Republic of China. To fulfill our duty of self-defense and self-preservation, we must fight the fanatical aggressors blow for blow and guard every inch of our [Page 86] territory. For us, there is no other alternative. With your wisdom and experience, you will have no difficulty to understand our basic position.
“Since the gravity of the present situation in Kinmen, Matsu and in the entire Taiwan Straits far surpasses that on February 1, 1955 when you telegraphed me,3 I now take the liberty to express to you my candid views. Your kind consideration and early reply will be deeply appreciated. Chiang Kai-shek”.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2758. Top Secret; Niact; Presidential Handling. Transmitted in two sections. Received at 9:50 a.m.↩
- The source text indicates an omission here. The bracketed words are taken from a copy of the message as handed to Drumright by Foreign Minister Huang. (Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Taipei Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 5159, Lot 62 F 83)↩
- For records of conversations between Secretary Dulles and Foreign Minister Yeh in early 1955, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XIV, pp. 38–258 passim.↩
- Reference is to the statement of U.S. policy sent to Taipei on January 31, 1955; for text, see ibid., pp. 181–183.↩