65. Memorandum From the Commander, U.S. Taiwan Defense Command (Smoot) to the Chief of General Staff, Republic of China (Wang)0


  • Retaliatory attack against Chinese Communist Air Force


  • (a) MND ltr No. 236 OPNS–5–016 of 15 Aug 1958 (Secret)1
This letter is in reply to reference (a), in which you requested U.S. concurrence for Chinese Air Force retaliatory actions against Chinese Communist aircraft at air bases along the southeast China coast in the event that the Communist air force develops invasion actions and conducts bombing and strafing against Kinmen and Matsu.
I understand fully your concern for the safety of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu and your appreciation of the threat that the Communist air force poses.
I have sought and obtained guidance in respect of your request. This guidance represents the views of the United States Government. These views were communicated orally by Ambassador Drumright to President Chiang, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister and yourself at the meeting held at Ta Chi on August 24, 1958.2 They are as follows:
The letters of December 10, 1954, exchanged between Secretary of State Dulles and Foreign Minister Yeh have a basic applicability to your request for retaliatory military action against the Mainland.
The United States Government does not question the Chinese Government’s inherent right of self-defense, but the United States Government would expect the Chinese Government to consult with it concerning any “use of force” against the Chinese Mainland unless attacks were mounted in such magnitude and determination as clearly to require GRC retaliatory action of an emergency character.
In any event, since, to quote from the exchange of letters of December 10, 1954, referred to above, “the use of force from either of these areas by either of the Parties affects the other,” the United States Government would expect that, regardless of the gravity and emergency nature of the [Page 129] situation, the GRC would consult the United States Government to the maximum extent feasible before taking retaliatory action against Chinese Communist forces or positions on the Mainland.
In addition to the foregoing, I have received guidance from the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding “hot pursuit,” the details of which I passed orally to President Chiang at Yang Ming Shan on August 31, 1958.3 For your convenience, United States Government views on this subject are as follows:
In the event that the Chinese Communists launch air attacks on the Kinmen or Matsu islands, and such attacks are met by GRC aircraft, the Government of the United States would consider that the GRC’s inherent right of self-defense would include GRC air attacks on Chinese Communist aircraft conducting such attacks, and that the right to pursue exists. In other words, GRC aircraft would be justified in following Chinese Communist aircraft to their bases and attacking aircraft at those bases.
In view of President Chiang’s renewed assurances to seek concurrence prior to conducting retaliatory attacks against mainland positions and forces, I am convinced that our two Governments will find it possible to follow a common policy in this most important matter. Both Ambassador Drumright and I will be available for consultation at all times.
Implicit in the request contained in your letter is GRC understanding of the basic position of my Government. This is demonstrated by the admirable restraint your Government has shown under the most trying circumstances. May I assure you that the wisdom of your Government’s restraint is appreciated by the United States Government and authorities.
R.N. Smoot 4
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Taipei Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 5159, Lot 62 F 83. Top Secret; Noforn Except GRC.
  2. This letter from General Wang to Admiral Smoot is filed as an attachment to a September 4 letter from Drumright to Smoot. (Ibid.) For Wang’s letter to Smoot, see Supplement.
  3. See Document 42.
  4. See Document 56.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.