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39. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy 0

I had a long talk last night with Ray Cline, who is the head of CIA in Taiwan.1 He is I think the ablest officer in any service on the island, and he is the one who has the closest confidence of the Generalissimo and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo.

Cline reports that the Chinese Nationalists are more disturbed about their relation to the U.S. than at any time in the past five years. They live in a queer world in which only the U.S. stands between them and disaster, and in which therefore the faintest indication of a change in U.S. attitudes can seem like a matter of life and death. Moreover, they are used to Republicans and fearful of Democrats.

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They have been deeply shocked by the U.S. position on Outer Mongolia. They were also disturbed by the Liao incident, and of course most of all by the possibility of U.S. support for a two-China position in the UN. But according to Cline, what has particularly troubled them in all three cases is that they did not feel consulted in the process. Our earlier and successful pressure on the matter of Chinese Nationalist forces in Burma bothered them less, Cline says, because it was handled by private communication—which Cline himself was our most effective persuader. The Department of State has been sending stern lectures to Chiang (I attach a sample, together with Chiang’s response, Tab A),2 instead of talking with him ahead of time about hard problems. The fact that the Department is right does not make its pills more palatable.

The net result, according to Cline is that the Chinese Nationalist Government now feels deeply uneasy about the U.S., and is preparing dangerous adventures of its own, up to and including a suicidal landing on the mainland. Their intransigence on Outer Mongolia, moreover, threatens to make any manageable solution of the UN problem unlikely. The Generalissimo personally cancelled Chiang Ching-kuo’s visit to the U.S., Cline reports, and if present trends cannot be reversed, he foresees a grievous split.

What makes all this so sad is that in fact we have no intention of deserting Chiang and every reason to support real progress in Formosa. Yet we seem headed for the same impasse Marshall and Acheson got into—and with equally bad political results at home and abroad.

Cline makes the following suggestions:

The Chinese suspicion is currently directed more at the State Department than at you, and reassurance directly from you can do more to encourage the Generalissimo than any other course. At my invitation he has drafted a possible letter which would move in this direction, and while it would need to be checked closely with Dean Rusk, it seems to me a highly promising start. (Tab B)
Our own interest in a mission in Outer Mongolia is pretty small, and Cline thinks we could back off from this with no great loss of face. He doubts whether in any case our mission would get any very attractive facilities and he does not see why we need to put a mission in Outer Mongolia [Page 91]when our real concern is simply not to oppose its admission to the United Nations. He agrees with me, however, that we must try to persuade the Chinese Nationalists not to veto Outer Mongolia admission.
The Liao visa does not need to be withheld but we can give assurance that Liao will not be treated to any official notice or support.
On the UN issue, we both think that Dean Rusk’s proposal of a move from the moratorium to a straight debate on the merits has real promise. Even Cline believes that we could lose such a debate and not bother our Chinese friends very much, because it would be an honest defeat on what they would call an issue of principle. The same thing would hold with respect to domestic opinion—and in any case we might not lose on the merits if the case is strongly made. Opposition on this one is likely to come from ADLAI.
A great sustaining dream of the Chinese Nationalists is of course a return to the mainland, and in Cline’s view we could at once recapture great support from Chiang if we would join with him in certain reconnaissance probes on the mainland. This is, of course, a lot to ask of us, although no U.S. troops would be involved, but there is at least a case for a study of this possibility with more sympathy than has yet been given it. I will have more on this after the weekend.

In sum, Cline gives me the strong impression of being a tough, flexible, wholly American observer of this very difficult situation. He will be here until Tuesday3 if you should want to see him.

McG. B. 4
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China. Secret. The memorandum bears no indication that it was seen by Kennedy.
  2. For Ray Cline’s recollections of his years in Taipei, see Secrets, Spies and Scholars: Blueprint of the Essential CIA (Washington: 1976), pp. 172-181. See also Cline, Chiang Ching-kuo Remembered: The Man and His Political Legacy (Washington: 1989), pp. 15-99.
  3. The tabs are not attached to the source text. According to a marginal note, Tab A was telegram 715 to Taipei, June 30, and telegram 5 from Taipei, July 2. The former instructed Drumright to meet with Chiang and respond to the views reported in Document 32; it instructed him to assure Chiang of U.S. support but to lay out the U.S. views on Chinese representation, Mongolia, and the Liao visa issue. Telegram 5 from Taipei reported that Drumright had done so in a July 1 conversation with Chiang, who had replied that the GRC had not ruled out the possibility of an alternative to the moratorium but that it would withdraw from the United Nations rather than accept a “two Chinas” arrangement. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/6-2961 and 611.93/7-291, respectively) See the Supplement.
  4. July 11.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.