66. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower 0


  • Secretary Dulles
  • Mr. Greene
  • Captain Aurand1
  • Mr. Hagerty
  • General Goodpaster

The Secretary first gave to the President a memorandum summarizing factors involved in the Taiwan Straits situation, prepared following consultation with State, Defense and intelligence officials.2 The President edited this statement and commented upon it. Mr. Dulles directed attention to the point regarding atomic weapons, recalling that we have geared our defense to the use of these in case of hostilities of any size, and stating that, if we will not use them when the chips are down because of adverse world opinion, we must revise our defense setup. The memorandum undertook to bring out this point.

The President said one problem on his mind is that if the Chinese Communists were to use fields well back from the coast, following intervention by us, to conduct night bombardment of Formosa, we would be in a difficult spot, somewhat similar to that of the Germans in the last war, who set loose strategic bombardment which was then returned against their rather confined homeland from bases very widely dispersed. However, that is simply an inherent element of the situation.

The Secretary next gave the President a statement proposed to be issued to the public clarifying our view regarding the offshore islands, and having as its object to deter the Chinese Communists from attack which might bring us into the hostilities.3 He and the President initially started to edit it so that the statement might be made by the President, but after further consideration the President decided to have it put out as a statement by the Secretary, approved by himself. We would then see what the reaction might be, and the President would be in position to follow it up on Saturday, as might seem desirable.

[Page 131]

Mr. Dulles then showed the President a copy of the Chinese Communist statement made public today on the extent of their coastal waters, the last paragraph of which seemed to soften the Chinese Communist threat against Taiwan.4 There was agreement that the territorial limit asserted by the Chinese Communists would not be accepted.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. No classification marking. Prepared by Goodpaster. Dulles’ memorandum of the conversation is ibid., Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President; see Supplement.
  2. Captain E.P. Aurand, USN, Naval Aide to the President.
  3. Document 67.
  4. See Document 68.
  5. A statement issued on September 4 by the PRC Government declared a 12-mile limit for Chinese territorial waters. The final paragraph reads: “The Taiwan and Penghu areas are still occupied by the United States by armed force. This is an unlawful encroachment on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan, Penghu and such other areas are yet to be recovered, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China has the right to recover these areas by all suitable means at a suitable time. This is China’s internal affair, in which no foreign interference is tolerated.” Text is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, p. 1199.