130. Telegram From the Consulate General at Hong Kong to the Department of State0
1525. On basis of limited info as to latest movement ChiCom forces to Fukien Province, ConGen sees this build-up as being essentially defensive in character reflecting ChiCom fears of ChiNat attacks on mainland, increased concern over reliability of populace and possibly apprehension over US intentions toward China as result recent US military moves in SE Asia.
In moving force into Fukien Province, ChiComs probably seek to (A) deter attack on mainland by Chiang’s forces or cope with attack should it materialize; (B) provoke US and others to dissuade Chiang from attack; (C) shore up internal security situation particularly along coastal areas most directly exposed to possible ChiNat activity; and (D) divert national attention away from internal malaise and toward a common adversary. Peiping may have in mind provoking USG into disavowing any involvement in threatened GRC military attacks against mainland, thereby smothering possible expectations in China that USG prepared to support return of GRC. (Note relationship to how ChiComs used British closure of Hong Kong to mainland refugee influx in dissuading people from further efforts go to Hong Kong.)
If there is any new concentration of ChiCom forces now pointing toward offshore islands, this is probably aimed at (A) throwing Chiang’s return-to-mainland preparations off balance; (B) calling world attention to possible conflict over these controversial islands; and (C) causing USG to disclaim support for offshores defense and otherwise seeking to weaken US-GRC relations and undermine GRC.
In making moves to date, ChiComs probably have not yet determined whether or not they would carry actions to point of actually attacking offshore islands. May be moving into posture where that alternative open to them. We continue to believe, as we have since 1958 offshore crisis, that Peiping sees the GRC occupation of these islands as providing certain clear benefits, namely, avoid crystallization “two China” concept; but in light of present mood as analyzed Congentel [Page 273]15121 they may feel impelled to act against offshores because of their own nervous state of mind, their desire to score some victory to overcome current disillusionments and setbacks and to internal benefits of having country on war footing.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.54/6-2262. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Taipei, Tokyo, Moscow, London, and CINCPAC for POLAD.↩
- Telegram 1512, June 21, reported signs of “mounting political unrest” conveying an impression of “dispirited people and bewildered leadership.” It cautioned, however, “We continue to doubt the people are prepared to challenge military and police power which is feared and can be broadly deployed to cope with possible disorders. Significant that attitude of refugees recently pouring into Hong Kong reflected no readiness of people on mainland to translate dissatisfaction into political action or to opt for return of GRC rule.” (Ibid., 793.00/6-2162) See the Supplement.↩