58. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0

271. For Acting Secretary. Embtel 269.1

Secretary Brucker had a 30-minute conversation with President Chiang early this morning. He says that Chiang spent most of the time stressing the necessity for his being able to take retaliatory action against Red aggression in offshore area. Brucker urged in reply that GRC take strong action through its Navy to break Communist blockade of Kinmen. (Incidentally, TDC is pressing MND hard on this point.)
I was present during last ten minutes of conversation. I found Chiang considerably more at ease and relaxed than day before. He spoke calmly and argued his position rationally. He said he is most happy about our material help and deeply appreciative. What he is worried about, he said, is his inactivity in face of Communist assaults on GRC positions at Kinmen. If this continues as at present for any length of time he will be severely criticized by his armed forces, by Chinese public, by [Page 110] overseas Chinese and by world public opinion. He is fearful that there will be a public psychological reaction that he will he unable to control. He said that if the situation came to that point it would affect US just as adversely as it would him and Free China. He went on to say there were press reports from Washington that we were “restraining” him from retaliatory action. This sort of thing put him in the role of a puppet in the eyes of Chinese people and is an intolerable situation.
President intimated Washington clearly does not understand psychological significance of present situation. He requested that Washington be fully apprised of his attitude toward it. I said I would inform Washington.
I had refrained from speaking at yesterday’s conference in view of its military character. This morning I spoke to President as follows: There was good reason to believe Communists wanted US to take provocative action which would provide basis for charges against US of aggression. Communists were also seeking to provoke GRC in same way in order to charge GRC with provocation and thus justify their aggression against offshore islands. I said it behooved both GRC and ourselves to exercise greatest caution so as not to be charged with aggression. I argued we should let Communists be clearly shown as aggressors and in this way buttress our position with world opinion. I also argued that when Communists come to comprehend massive assistance we are bringing to bear and our determination to secure offshore islands, there is a good possibility that they will yet be deterred from pressing their present adventure. Therefore we should be patient while we are getting our power into position; we should not in any case retaliate until we are fully ready militarily to do so. I believed none of us wanted to touch off a world war and therefore all of us should act with restraint and prudence in situation before us. There was a possibility that a big war could still be prevented. I supported Secretary Brucker’s point that most important steps now are to break Communist blockade of Kinmen and to provide adequate artillery to knock out Communist batteries. I said Admiral Smoot and his staff are ready and willing to give every possible help. I also reviewed in general way help we are in process of sending here since I have feeling President does not comprehend its enormity and significance.
President readily admitted it might be wise to be more fully prepared militarily before provoking Communists to intensified action. He also appeared to appreciate need now to break interdiction of Kinmen. Nevertheless, he insisted that psychological predicament in which he finds himself is most important and something needs to be done to solve it in near future. I replied that lifting of Kinmen interdiction would have good effect in this regard and I took opportunity to praise conduct and heroism of Kinman defenders.
Secretary Brucker and I feel that President got a good deal of grievance out of his system yesterday and this morning and think frank and almost blunt talk on both sides was beneficial. We consider that relief of Kinmen should be pressed hard now and that if that can be done some of President’s anxiety about his prestige can be dissipated. We believe also that early arrival here of concrete US military material and US forces will likewise have salutary effect on President’s thinking.
I venture to believe we have reached smoother water with President. I hope that actions mentioned above will have salutary effect. But as I indicated in my 269, I think time has come when a warm personal message of support from President Eisenhower would also have very useful psychological effect on Chiang.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/9–158. Top Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Received at 2:50 a.m. Repeated niact to CINCPAC.
  2. Document 56.