49. Editorial Note

At the 378th meeting of the National Security Council on August 27, 1958, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles discussed the Taiwan Strait situation during his briefing on significant world developments as follows:

“With respect to the situation in the Taiwan Strait area, Mr. Dulles said Chinese Communist military operations in the Taiwan Straits had entered a new phase with the heavy artillery bombardment of the offshore islands. The Chinese Communists had fired 20,000 rounds on August 23 and about 8,000 rounds per day since then. These figures represented the educated guesses of U.S. observers, and were lower than the Chinese Nationalist estimates. The Chinese Communists also strafed Quemoy with a small number of aircraft, and had sent out fighter patrols in great strength. The Chinese Nationalists claimed that an invasion fleet headed toward one small island was driven off; they were pleased with the Chinese Nationalist Air Force performance. Chinese Nationalist morale is still good, but if the offshore islands are cut off from supplies for any length of time, morale would be a serious problem.

“Mr. Dulles then displayed a map indicating that another airfield opposite Quemoy had been occupied by Chinese Communist jets, and that other fields have been reinforced. Some movement of bombers toward the coast opposite the offshore islands had been detected, but these planes were still too far away for effective action in the Straits. Naval and artillery movements had also been detected. There were now 200 Chinese [Page 87] Communist jet fighters in the general area. The Chinese Communists had asked the USSR to complete its 1958 fuel deliveries to Communist China during October and November. [2 lines of source text not declassified] Mr. Dulles concluded that the Chinese Communists were now prepared to do more than merely prevent Chinese Nationalist operations over the mainland, but he did not know how much farther they were prepared to go. He added that Chinese Communist propaganda broadcasts had left the way open for breaking off the Taiwan Straits action. Secretary Herter said Soviet broadcasts had made no mention of the fighting in the Taiwan Straits.

“Mr. Dulles then summarized the conclusions of SNIE 100–9–58 (’Probable Developments in the Taiwan Strait Area’, a copy of which is filed in the minutes of the meeting).

“Mr. Dulles concluded his briefing on the situation in the Taiwan Strait area by emphasizing the possibility that decisive operations could be undertaken by the Chinese Communists against the offshore islands without much intelligence warning.” (Memorandum of discussion by Boggs, August 28; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. SNIE 100-9-58 is printed as Document 47.)