50. Memorandum for the Files0


  • Telephone Conversations Between the Secretary and Mr. Parsons, the Acting Secretary and Mr. Parsons and the Secretary and the Acting Secretary

The Secretary telephoned Mr. Parsons from Presques Iles, Ontario at approximately 2:20 p.m. to inquire about developments in the Taiwan Straits. Mr. Parsons reported that the Chinese Communist bombardment and aerial and naval harrassment of the Chinmen complex had abated considerably from the level of intensity reached over the week end but were still continuing. He mentioned that a personal message from President [Page 88] Chiang to President Eisenhower 1 had just been received which depicted the Chinese Communist interdiction threat to the offshore islands in exceedingly serious terms and proposed (1) that we join with the Chinese Nationalists in a joint demonstration of military might and (2) that we authorize the Chinese to undertake retaliatory bombing of mainland artillery emplacements and air and naval bases. Mr. Parsons told the Secretary that our initial impression on reading President Chiang’s message was that he was portraying the situation in exaggerated terms and that we should not be stampeded into agreeing to the courses of action recommended by President Chiang but should rather take a hard look at the various possibilities open to us. He continued that we were sending an interim reply to the message and that another high level meeting would be held today or tomorrow to discuss the questions raised by it.

In compliance with the Secretary’s request, Mr. Parsons then put through an urgent call to the Acting Secretary, who was at an NSC meeting at the White House, relaying the Secretary’s request that the Acting Secretary call him in Ontario without delay. He recapitulated his conversation with the Secretary. He also conveyed to the Acting Secretary FE’s suggestions with respect to how President Chiang’s message should be dealt with: (1) sending out an interim reply immediately;2 (2) making an evaluation of the situation in terms of the President’s message; (3) seeking a Presidential directive to State and Defense to coordinate in determining graduated courses of action which might be pursued short of use of nuclear weapons to cause the Chinese Communists to desist from further aggression against the islands3 and (4) calling another top-level meeting as soon as feasible.

The Acting Secretary then called the Secretary in Presques Iles. The Secretary stated that he did not favor sending at this time the proposed telegram to Moscow asking Ambassador Thompson’s views regarding the possibility of conveying a warning to the Chinese Communists through the Soviet Government. He added that he was giving serious consideration to the other idea of acting through some other suitable third party. The Under Secretary replied that the Department had examined this possibility as well as that of taking the matter to the Security Council but had found serious disadvantages to both courses of action. The Secretary stated that he was still attracted by the idea of a third country approach, perhaps through India. The Acting Secretary concluded [Page 89] the conversation by saying that he thought the Secretary could safely stay out of touch with the Department for another two days.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2758. Top Secret. Drafted by Lutkins and cleared in draft by Parsons. The documents cited in footnotes 2 and 3 below are in the Supplement.
  2. Document 48.
  3. A message from Eisenhower to Chiang stating that his message was being given urgent consideration was sent in telegram 149 to Taipei, August 27. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2758)
  4. Parsons recommended this in a memorandum of August 27 to Herter. (Ibid.)