5. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China0

401. For Ambassador from Secretary. Ref [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] messages dated February 19 and 20 from Taipei.1

Please see President Chiang at earliest practicable moment and impress upon him utmost seriousness USGov regarding KMT irregulars in Burma and Laos.

It is imperative that GRC make immediate arrangements to evacuate all KMT personnel who are willing to return to Formosa, especially those who were transported into area with GRC assistance during past three years. Further, all irregulars unwilling return Formosa should be disarmed and resettled as civilians to small groups in any neighboring country other than Laos willing to receive them. Maintenance and identity as a large organized group must cease.
USGov would consider it a major infraction of expressed and implicit obligations of GRC to USGov if supplies of US origin are henceforth furnished KMT irregulars by US type aircraft.
Recent activities GRC regarding these irregulars, contrary to earlier understanding that GRC would accept no further responsibility for personnel not evacuated in 1953-54, plus failure GRC to inform USGov of such activities imposes a severe strain on hitherto friendly relations between our two countries.
We find it incomprehensible that GRC should recklessly create situation which imposes upon itself formidable international political burdens at time when it can least afford them. Further such action severely [Page 13]limits any effective political help which USGov might be able render to GRC in its difficult situation.
USGov will not bargain with respect to reabsorption KMT personnel in Formosa but would be willing to ask assistance other necessary governments regarding arrangements to liquidate problem.
USGov must enter reservations to GRC’s denial that arms equipment or supplies furnished to GRC for other purposes were improperly used pending results further investigation.
GRC must be aware that other nations will hold US directly responsible for GRC actions in this situation in view of close military and other relationships between our two countries. GRC must understand that USGov is determined to protect its reputation and good faith and will, if necessary, do so at cost of GRC. USGov is considering steps it might take to reduce cooperation with GRC in order make clear its complete disassociation from these activities but believes that most effective solution would be steps taken publicly and vigorously by GRC to liquidate situation. This would be better solution for both.
USGov hopes that this serious threat to otherwise good relations will not be permitted to continue; we would find it difficult to believe that GRC would underestimate gravity of problem and fail to act with greatest vigor.

FYI. Greatly appreciate your previous strenuous efforts this matter. If position outlined above sounds severe, it is intended to be. GRC would make serious miscalculation if it supposes we would not back it up. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files 793.551/2-2261. Top Secret; Niact; Eyes Only. Drafted by Rusk and approved by Parsons. According to a memorandum of February 21 from Director of the Department of State Executive Secretariat Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., to Ralph A. Dungan of the White House staff, this telegram was sent as a result of a discussion that morning between Rusk and Kennedy. At Rusk’s suggestion, Stoessel attached a February 20 memorandum from Rusk to Kennedy, enclosing a paper entitled “United States Efforts To Effect Cessation of Government of Republic of China’s Support of Chinese Irregulars in Burma-Laos Border Area.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China)
  2. The February 19 message, not found, is summarized in the paper cited in the source note. It reported that in response to earlier representations by the Ambassador on the subject, President Chiang had offered to withdraw all Chinese military forces from Burma but wanted the irregulars in Laos to remain there. The February 20 message from [text not declassified] in Taipei [text not declassified] reported that he had told General Chiang Ching-kuo that day that this would not be acceptable and had urged repatriation of the irregulars from both Burma and Laos; Chiang Ching-kuo argued against this in the “angriest” and “most heated” exchange [text not declassified] had ever had with him. The message is filed with a covering note of February 21 [text not declassified] to Military Aide to the President Brigadier General Chester V. Clifton. (Ibid.)