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115. Memorandum for the Record0


  • Presidential Conference on Taiwan

At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29, 1962 the President conferred in the Cabinet Room with the following persons: Deputy Under Secretary U. Alexis Johnson; Assistant Secretary Harriman; General Carter; Desmond FitzGerald; Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze; Mr. Bundy, and Mr. Forrestal.

Mr. Johnson reported that a meeting had been held in his office on May 22nd the results of which were summarized in a memorandum dated May 28, 1962 and a draft telegram attached thereto (copies of which are attached to this memorandum).1 Mr. Johnson explained that the GRC had recently requested two more C-123’s, 70-100,000 tons of LST’s and 16 B-57’s.2 The purpose of the draft telegram was (1) to answer this request and (2) to indicate that after his arrival in Taipei Ambassador Kirk would be the principal United States spokesman on all major policy matters between this Government and the GRC.

Admiral Kirk, in response to a question from the President, said the 70,000 tons of LST’s would be the equivalent of approximately 35 ships, each capable of carrying a platoon of tanks or an enlarged infantry company.

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Both Mr. Johnson and Admiral Kirk suggested that we had no information that a drop of a 20-man team or a 200-man team on the mainland of China could survive. It was more likely, according to Admiral Kirk, that this request was being made simple as a means of dragging us into GRC plans for an invasion of the mainland.

The President stated that he did not want the GRC to be able to say that just as they were prepared to go to the mainland, the United States flunked out. The President would rather be in the position of saying that hard intelligence indicated that a landing on the mainland was doomed to failure, or that the GRC had refused to cooperate in getting the essential intelligence on internal conditions on the mainland.

Mr. Johnson and Admiral Kirk both suggested, and the President agreed, that the CIA should prepare a list of specific actions to be taken in order to secure more intelligence on the mainland. This would have the purpose of stimulating the GRC either to collect the necessary intelligence, or, if they refused, of building a record of non-cooperation.

The President agreed with Admiral Kirk that we should not contemplate taking any public action, such as sending ships or bombers, without hard intelligence.

Mr. Johnson observed in connection with joint planning with the GRC we should remember that their security might not be too effective. We must assume, he said, that some of the planning could leak to the Russians.

In response to a question from the President, General Carter and Mr. FitzGerald both said that the five C-123’s which would be prepared would also be of use to their agency in other areas. The ECM equipment will have to be engineered, which will take some time.

No decision was taken on the proposal to send two C-123’s without the ECM equipment to Taiwan for training purposes.

The President read the draft telegram with the changes in ink3 and approved its transmission. He noted that Admiral Kirk expected to be in Taipei on June 28th.

Michael Forrestal 4
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China. Top Secret. Drafted on May 31. The meeting was held at Kennedy’s request, as conveyed in a May 18 memorandum from Bundy to Rusk. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/5-1862) Another record of the meeting is in a memorandum for the record by Desmond FitzGerald, Chief of the Far East Division in the CIA Operations Directorate. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job 80-B01285A, DCI Meetings With the President)
  2. The attached May 28 memorandum from Brubeck to Bundy reported on a May 22 meeting of State, Defense, CIA, and White House representatives. The draft telegram stated that the substance of Chiang’s May 15 meeting with Cline had been passed to Kennedy, that Kirk would be prepared to discuss Chiang’s request for additional airlift when he arrived in Taipei, and that Kirk would have full responsibility as the President’s representative for handling all major policy problems. It also stated that the initial reaction to Chiang’s request for landing ships and bombers was not favorable but further GRC intelligence effort on the mainland and further U.S.-GRC consultation would be desirable. Brubeck’s memorandum stated that it had been agreed that Kirk should tell Chiang that five C-123’s would be prepared but would remain in the United States until it was decided to use them.
  3. The requests were summarized in an unsigned and undated memorandum enclosed with an April 20 memorandum from the CIA Deputy Director for Plans to Bundy. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China, CIA Cables, 3/62-4/62)
  4. The copy attached to the source text bears no handwritten revisions and is apparently the final revised version. An earlier draft is attached to another copy of the Brubeck to Bundy memorandum cited in footnote 1 above. (Ibid., General)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.