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146. Letter From the Counselor of the Department of State (Rostow) to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)0

Dear Max: You may have missed this Airgram from Hong Kong1 which represents, I think, a line of thought many of us share.

One implication of the situation in China which, I believe, should be brought home to the President is this: whether Chinese development has been retarded for “tens of years” (page 3), it is pretty clear that for the [Page 299]1960’s Communist China is not going to be a major industrial and military power. Over the foreseeable future, we do not, therefore, face in Southeast Asia historical pressure which should lead us to any fatalism about losing that region. The Chinese situation should strengthen our will to pursue a policy which would deny South Viet Nam, Thailand—and Laos, too—to the Communists over the indefinite future; and we should pursue this policy with inner confidence.

Sincerely yours,

  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 44, Other Far East. Secret.
  2. Airgram A-60 from Hong Kong, July 18, entitled “Implications for U.S. Policy of Latest Developments in Communist China,” summarized reports of a deteriorating situation on the China mainland and estimated that although there seemed to be no imminent threat to the Communist Party’s retention of power, the weakened economy would “deter Peiping from large-scale overt military adventures” but not from less ambitious efforts. It concluded that the United States should continue to restrain the GRC from attacking the mainland while continuing its general posture of containing Chinese Communist expansionism. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/7-1862) See the Supplement.