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

684. Embtel 6621 and Deptel 544.2 I spoke to Foreign Minister Shen April 9 along lines reftels. I explained I had delayed requesting appointment with him because decline in press attention to subject I wished discuss with him reduced urgency and because he was so fully occupied last week with visit of Malagasy President. Although tone of press had moderated lately, I thought he would wish to know US Government had been concerned at rising crescendo of press attention to counterattack theme. I added I knew from his prompt and effective reaction to Lien Ho Pao story April 7 (Embtel 682)3 that he was fully aware of problem.

Shen replied he fully agreed that press had played up counterattack too sensationally. He assured me GRC had not instigated press to do this, [Page 215]as was demonstrated by fact that Government papers treated subject in a much more sober and calm manner than independent press. He had personally made effort to restrain press. At secret meeting for Foreign Affairs Committee of Legislative Yuan he had tried to dampen speculation about political significance of Drumright’s resignation, publication of 1943 papers,4 etc. He also held background briefing March 27 for publishers and editors of newspapers at which he not only argued vigorously that there was no basis for speculation regarding possible change in US policy, but also urged pressmen not to agitate unduly counterattack question, particularly US relationship to it. He pointed out to publishers that no possible good could come from causing questions to be put to US spokesmen regarding US attitude toward counterattack, for those spokesmen could not possibly under present circumstances respond in any way helpful to GRC objectives. Shen expressed appreciation at my having raised subject with him and added he thought our two governments had common interest in avoiding excessive press attention to counterattack theme. He said of course subject could not be totally ignored by press in Taiwan, but it should not be sensationalized.

Comment: Moderating of press discussion counterattack past two weeks probably due in part to Shen’s efforts and others reportedly undertaken by KMT Fourth Section (FCT 7683) helped by preoccupation of press with Malagasy President’s visit. Believe MOFA particularly alive to dangers and will do what it can to influence press as well as other party and government officials. We will watch situation closely and seek to head off build-up of any further campaign. We have been warning prominent visiting American officials in advance of questions they may expect from local newsmen on arrival and believe this has helped to keep temperature down.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/4-1062. Secret.
  2. Telegram 662, March 31, expressed concern about the consequences of the press campaign and public statements in recent weeks on the “counterattack” theme, stated that several U.S. officials in Taipei had spoken critically to GRC leaders about the campaign, and recommended a more formal demarche by Clough to Foreign Minister Shen. (Ibid., 793.00/3-3162)
  3. Telegram 544, April 2, authorized Clough to make the approach he had recommended to Shen. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 682, April 7, reported that Shen had told Clough the Foreign Ministry was denying a news story that day quoting Ambassador Tsiang as stating that Presidents Chiang and Kennedy were giving serious consideration to the question of a counterattack. (Ibid., 793.00/4-762)
  5. Reference is to Foreign Relations, 1943, China, which was released on March 20, 1962. Telegram 501 to Taipei, March 8, suggested that in case Chiang raised the subject of the volume’s pending release with Harriman, the latter could point out that the volume had been printed for release in 1957 and had been withheld from publication since that time, but pressure for its release had been intensifying, and the Department considered that further withholding would be more damaging to U.S. and GRC interests than its release. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.00/3-862) Chiang did not raise the subject with Harriman.