140. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0
22. Following presentation credentials President Chiang had me come to his office for conversation at which Foreign Minister, Secretary General Chang Chun and DCM were present. He said that since he was going into hospital this afternoon and would not be available for a few days he wanted to make some additional comments related to our conversation of July 4.
Chiang said he first wished President Kennedy to understand he would not undertake any unilateral action but would cooperate sincerely with the US and fully coordinate his policy with us. He recognized [Page 288]that President Kennedy had many problems to deal with and he certainly would not do anything which would add to these problems. He hoped US Government would on its part also keep in mind importance of maintaining morale of Chinese people and armed forces and their confidence in GRC. Cabot-Wang conversation and Khrushchev declaration had caused much uneasiness in mind of people and Armed Forces. Press in Hong Kong and Taipei reflected this apprehension. I replied Khrushchev could hardly be expected to say anything other than what he said. On basis our own sources of information we feel Khrushchev does not want war in Taiwan Straits and therefore are not too much concerned.
Chiang said top GRC officials shared our view but propaganda effect on people was bad. I suggested GRC make use of its press to reassure its people. Chiang responded that they lost no opportunity to assure people of US support but clarification from Washington would carry greater weight. He expressed hope Ambassador would strengthen work of [1 line of source text not declassified] and that plans for strengthening GRC Air Force and Navy being discussed by this committee could be carried out. GRC would then be in position counter doubts in Armed Forces as to US support by pointing to what US is doing.
I pointed out relations between our two governments are governed by 1954 treaty which guarantees defense of Taiwan and Pescadores and such related territories as US President may find necessary to defense of Taiwan and Pescadores. US maintains forces in this area and is fully prepared to use them in support of its treaty obligations. Treaty does not say we will support GRC counterattack against mainland and it would be mistake to create impression in minds of people that US has any such obligations. If time comes when two governments mutually decided conditions are suitable for invasion that will create a new situation, but at present US commitment is limited to support of defensive nature.
Chiang replied both he and Chinese people fully understand defensive nature of treaty relationship. However, he hoped Ambassador Kirk could not only help maintain but also strengthen morale of GRC Armed Forces. If morale dampened, this would be loss both to US and GRC.
I remarked that I did not think either Khrushchev’s statement or Cabot-Wang talk should be taken so seriously as President Chiang appeared to regard them. Chiang replied that news from US often produced far greater effect than people in Washington imagine. At time when ChiComs showing force he did not expect US publicly announce its support for GRC counter-attack—that would obviously be impossible—but neither did he see necessity of declaring to enemy US would not help GRC. Foreign Minister interjected that President was not so much complaining about past actions as expressing hope care would be taken in future.[Page 289]
Chiang concluded by saying he hoped he would not need too long a rest, but that in meantime Vice President and Foreign Minister were always available. Full memcon follows.1
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/7-562. Top Secret; Roger Channel. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.↩
- Enclosed with airgram A-18; see footnote 3, Document 139. In telegram 3 from Geneva to Taipei (repeated to Washington as telegram 29), July 9, Harriman commended Kirk’s handling of his July 4 and 5 conversations with Chiang and added, “In second talk it would appear that he is using morale in Taiwan as excuse to get US step by step publicly involved in support of possible invasion. President’s June press conference clearly states position we must maintain.” (Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/7-962)↩