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150. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State 0

216. For Harriman from Kirk. Deptel 128.1 I have discussed rubber boats question further with Commander TDC, Chief MAAG and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. We recognize, as stated Embtel 146,2 that GRC doubtless hopes to use these boats along with MAP-supplied equipment in eventual attack on mainland. However, we do not believe that supplying these boats will significantly increase either GRC capabilities for unilateral action or likelihood that GRC will take unilateral [Page 306]action. We also agree GRC authorities unlikely engage in sporadic and reckless adventures with such inadequate equipment as rubber boats. In any case, US cannot effectively deny such boats to GRC, for they could be obtained Japan or elsewhere if US continued withhold license.

Withholding of license increasingly provoking acid comments from Chinese military to MAAG that US does not trust GRC to keep its pledged word. Minister Defense Yu in discussing issue with Chief MAAG Sanborn3 August 21 pointed out GRC had committed itself not to attack mainland without US agreement, and continued withholding of license on such minor item as rubber boats could only be interpreted as demonstrating serious lack of trust in an ally. He said US and GRC had reached “psychological impasse” over this question.

We may soon have to respond to GRC request for bombers and landing craft. I do not think it is wise to complicate our handling of that problem by further delay in licensing item which represents only relatively slight increment to GRC lift capability which they could obtain in any case without our help. I therefore recommend going ahead with the licensing. TDC, MAAG [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] concur.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.56/8-2362. Secret; No Distribution Outside Department.
  2. Telegram 128 to Taipei, August 16, was a message from Harriman to Kirk concerning whether an export license should be granted for a GRC order for 200 rubber assault boats. It noted reasons for believing the GRC wanted the boats for use from the offshore islands and stated that granting an export license might undermine U.S. policies of “attempting prevent provocations from offshores” and “localizing any new offshores crisis if it breaks out.” It concluded, however, that the question had to considered in the context of other problems and stated, “If after considering foregoing you personally want license issued, we will do so.” (Ibid., 793.56/8-662) Other documentation concerning this issue is ibid., 793.56.
  3. Dated August 6. (Ibid., 793.56/8-662)
  4. Major General Kenneth O. Sanborn.