116. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to Director of Central Intelligence McCone0
IN 47381. To McGeorge Bundy for passage to President. To Hilsman for SecState. To Lansdale for SecDef.
1. Following is memo conversation of Director with Chiang Kai-shek 5 June 62.1
“Memorandum for the record of a discussion between President Chiang Kai-shek and Mr. McCone on Tuesday June 5, 1962.
The meeting extended from 10:00 to 12:30 pm. After an exchange of pleasantries the entire substance of the conversation dealt with the question of President Chiang's intention to launch operations of various types with the object of destroying the Chinese Communist regime and liberating his people.
The Generalissimo made it abundantly clear that for the past thirteen years his sole purpose, and that of the GRC, had been to prepare for a victorious return to the Mainland. To this end he had created on Taiwan a government which represented free China, built a military machine capable of exploiting the deterioration of Communist control on the Mainland, worked to create an expectation of deliverance among the Chinese people now under Communist rule, and maintained faith in ultimate victory among his adherents on Taiwan.
The President then declared his conviction that conditions on the Mainland had so deteriorated that operations on a reasonable scale, if properly executed, would be supported by the populace and would succeed in establishing control of an area which by further efforts on a larger scale would expand over all of South China and would ultimately topple the Communist regime. This belief, he said, was shared by all his followers on Taiwan giving rise to almost irresistible pressure upon him to act. This pressure, plus his own deep feeling of responsibility to his people on the Mainland, had impelled him to now prepare for initial operations. These were originally scheduled to take place in April-May of this year. He had been persuaded by the United States Government to postpone these attempts for six months. However he could not delay beyond this time and will have to be fully prepared to act in October. He [Page 242]therefore strongly urged that all preparations be made during the intervening months so that his people on Taiwan and his followers on the Mainland would know that he was prepared and would act if conditions existent in October warranted action.
The Generalissimo then stated:
1. That under no circumstances would he undertake a reckless operation or one which did not offer a reasonable chance of success. Any move made by the GRC to recover the Mainland would be carefully thought through and properly planned.
2. He would not undertake any formal military operations without consultation and concurrence with the United States Government.
Mr. McCone questioned the Generalissimo on the term “formal military operations,” asking whether prospective drops of several teams of two or three hundred men constituted in the Generalissimo's opinion a formal military action. The Generalissimo responded that in his opinion such drops would not fall under the definition of formal action and would therefore not require U.S. concurrence. Large-scale amphibious operations, by contrast, would constitute a formal military action and would, under the terms of the treaty, require concurrence. Mr. McCone took exception to this position, stating it was his view that a two hundred man drop was a sizeable operation and one which would be attributable to both the United States Government and the GRC. Therefore any such operation must be fully coordinated and agreed between the USG and GRC. It was finally agreed that the sizeable airdrop operation would require consultation and concurrence.2
Mr. McCone went on to stress the vital importance of success in any operation on a major scale such as large air drops. Failure in such an attempt would be a catastrophic setback to the GRC, place the future of Formosa in doubt and the net result would be to give added momentum to the Communist movement in China and Southeast Asia. He repeatedly expressed concern that a large air drop or sizeable amphibious operation would encounter large, well-equipped Chinese Communist military forces loyal to the regime and the ChiNat forces would be destroyed and the civilians who joined the insurgent effort slaughtered as they were in Hungary. He therefore again emphasized the importance of gathering hard intelligence before launching any sizeable attack on the Mainland and urged that Communist combat units in the southern and central provinces were prime targets for penetration and intelligence efforts. Mr. McCone indicated that if the Generalissimo felt that [Page 243]commitments of food would help to neutralize or disaffect Communist military units his views should be discussed with Ambassador Kirk promptly on his arrival.
President Chiang agreed that an intense intelligence effort should be initiated (and apparently has given orders to this effect) but went on to point out that in his opinion intelligence alone could not provide all the information needed to gauge the chances for success in that reconquest of the Mainland by the GRC was a revolutionary movement which would gather momentum as it succeeded. True knowledge of the Mainland reaction, he contended, could only be gained after a sizeable military operation had been launched, an area secured, and the people together with their local leaders given reason to hope for relief from oppression. In any other situation popular resistance to the Communists would continue to be passive.
At this point the Generalissimo spoke of his dilemma with regard to obtaining United States Government approval for his actions, indicating that this area always presented him with an uncertainty and therefore foreclosed proper dynamic planning of operations. He went so far as to state that he could conceive of a situation under which he would have to free himself of the restrictions imposed on him in his role as head of state by stepping down to a position from which he could lead an independent revolutionary movement. Mr. McCone interpreted this not as a threat but as a reflection upon earlier days when the Generalissimo had taken similar steps on the Mainland.
At no point during the conversation did the Generalissimo say or intimate that he felt that the United States had an obligation to join him with American combat forces nor did he indicate that he expected such assistance; however he made it abundantly clear he expected the U.S. to give him logistic support even though there was no formal obligation to do this. In discussing the question of American support for GRC efforts to recover the Mainland Mr. McCone advised the Generalissimo that two C-123 aircraft were being prepared, that training for GRC aircrews had been approved, and that the GRC request for three additional C-123's was under consideration. Mr. McCone indicated that Ambassador Kirk would be able to advise the Generalissimo concerning these three additional aircraft when he arrived in Taipei. Mr. McCone said that no decision had been reached concerning provision of B-57 bombers and LST's for GRC but that President Chiang's request for these weapons would be considered when an agreement had been reached concerning the operations in which they would be used. Mr. McCone pointed out that this was actually a matter beyond his competence as Director of Central Intelligence.
The discussion throughout was exploratory and very frank (President Chiang stated that the exchange was the most complete in many [Page 244]years) but at no time was the question of U.S. policy taken up, nor did the Generalissimo ask or Mr. McCone volunteer information about what the U.S. position might be under hypothetical future circumstances. All this was left for subsequent discussions with Ambassador Kirk and it was made perfectly clear that Mr. McCone's mission had to do only with intensifying the intelligence effort as a preface to any larger decision or action.”
2. HULA: Please pass CINCPAC. TAMI: Please pass to Clough.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China. Top Secret; Operational Immediate. No time of transmission is indicated on the source text but it was received at 3:13 a.m.↩
- McCone visited Taipei in connection with a trip to Southeast Asia. The memorandum transmitted in this telegram is in Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job-80 B01285A, DCI Far East Trip, 2-14 June 1962. Briefing materials and other materials relating to McCone's visit to Taipei are ibid.↩
- This sentence was not in the telegram as received but was added to the source text in accordance with a CIA request conveyed in a June 12 memorandum from Desmond FitzGerald to Thomas A. Parrott of the White House Staff, filed with the source text. The memorandum cited in footnote 1 above does not include this sentence.↩