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190. Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs0


Current trends underline the need for taking a new look at the problem of Communist China in a changing world: the deepening of the Sino-Soviet [Page 398]rift, the growing triangulation of the Cold War, the new diffusion of power and authority in the Communist world, progress in arms control counter-balanced by evidence that a truculent China may soon enter the nuclear club, and signs that Peiping baffled by the great leap backward and the enormity of China’s long-term economic problems is casting about for new solutions which could involve dangers and/or opportunities for us.

In this situation there is a need to lay the foundation for a longer-range China policy, for a better coverage of North Korea, North Vietnam and Outer Mongolia, for closer attention to the world-wide implications for US policy of the Sino-Soviet split and for new focus on Subcontinent affairs as they affect China. This Bureau must share responsibility for developing policy affecting Communist Asia and must assume the main responsibility for carrying out these policies.

Although Mainland China, North Vietnam, North Korea and Outer Mongolia comprise two-thirds of the land area of the Far East and have over two-thirds of the population of the Far East, it is a fact that at present there are only two officers in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs who spend full time on Mainland Chinese affairs, working under an officer in charge who devotes perhaps two-thirds of his time to Mainland China. These three officers comprise a sub-section of the Office of East Asian Affairs which is responsible for Japan, Korea, and Taiwan as well as Mainland China. Obviously, the Office’s overwhelming concern is with operational problems affecting Korea, Taiwan and Japan, the first two of which are major recipients of our aid with the largest armed forces in free Asia while Japan is by far the most important nation of the free Far East. The Office has little capacity left for Mainland China. Besides this, there is no officer in the Bureau dealing full time with North Vietnamese or North Korean affairs while Mongolia is almost totally ignored.

We, therefore, believe it essential to make certain adjustments in the structure of the Bureau to permit more adequate coverage and handling of Asian Communist affairs. (We recognize that we should avoid creating any public impression of change in our China policy, but we feel there may be advantage in acknowledging efforts being made to follow more closely Asian Bloc developments and implications for the US.)

We propose to establish an Office of Asian Communist Affairs which will have the responsibility within the Bureau of reinvigorating our China policy and meeting all other requirements for increased attention to Asian Communist affairs. The new Office will be small, consisting of a Director and five or six officers with area and functional specialties. Three of these would be taken from the Mainland China desk of the Office of East Asian Affairs thus relieving that Office of responsibility for Mainland China affairs. Additional officers would include a Sino-Soviet specialist, a [Page 399]specialist in South and Southeast Asia, and people to work on North Korea and North Vietnam.1

  1. Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 65 D 6, ORG—Organization and Administration. Limited Official Use. The source text is an attachment to a memorandum of October 8 from Hilsman to Deputy Under Secretary for Administration William O. Crockett proposing the establishment of an Office of Asian Communist Affairs in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. Neither bears any drafting information.
  2. Establishment of the office was authorized in a November 14 memorandum from Assistant Secretary for Administration Dwight J. Porter to Hilsman. Telegram 470 to Taipei, December 4, informed the Embassy that the office had been established effective November 27. (Both ibid., Central Files, ORG 8 FE)