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30. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (McGhee) to Secretary of State Rusk 0


  • The Offshore Islands Issue and Related Problems

I attach a study (Tab A)1 on the offshore islands and other problems, involving the Government of the Republic of China (GRC), on which that [Page 73]issue has immediate bearing; and the pertinent portions of an earlier paper examining the offshore islands problem in greater detail (Tab B).2

On the basis of the conclusions of this study, I make the recommendations which follow:


We should, without prematurely giving outside indication of our aim or ruling out the possibility that new GRC-Chinese Communist hostilities may sometime become in our interest, adopt a policy designed: (a) to bring about maximum damping down of the GRC-Chinese Communist civil war, and (b) to leave minimum chance that we may become unnecessarily involved in it through different US and GRC interpretations of our respective obligations under the mutual defense treaty.
We should, recognizing the difficulties it will impose in our relations with the GRC, adopt as a policy objective bringing about GRC evacuation of the offshore islands.
FE should, in consultation as may be necessary with other elements in the Department and elsewhere in the Government, formulate such plans for your approval and subsequent action as may be needed to implement these policies, including plans for preliminary steps designed to provide circumstances most favorable to GRC acquiescence in the evacuation of the offshore islands and indication as to how the requisite approach might best be made.
That you should determine when, after the Chinese membership issue has been dealt with in the next UNGA, this approach should be made.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, China. Top Secret. Concurred in by McConaughy. Filed with a June 29 covering memorandum from Rusk’s Special Assist-ant Emory C. Swank noting that Rusk had approved the first of the recommendations but had taken no action on recommendations 2, 3, and 4. A handwritten note on Swank’s memorandum reads in part: “I spoke to McConaughy, Alex Johnson & Swank. All agreed that the Secretary probably withheld action on 2, 3, & 4 because of current delicate situation.”
  2. Dated June 15 and titled “U.S. Policy towards the GRC—the Necessity for Decision,” it declared that the principal problems between the United States and the GRC stemmed from its over-riding objective of reestablishing its rule over all of China. It concluded that the United States could not expect that the GRC leadership would soon abandon its ambition to return to the mainland and that the only other readjustment that would make it possible to damp down the civil war and promote “conditions under which Taiwan’s long-term viability might be promoted more effectively” would be evacuation of the offshore islands.
  3. Dated June 28, 1960, and titled “Taiwan Straits and Offshore Islands Problem.” Regarding this paper, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XIX, p. 695, footnote 1.
  4. Rusk initialed approval of recommendation 1 on June 29. The other recommendations were neither approved nor disapproved.