65. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy0
I telephoned George Yeh about Chiang and Outer Mongolia, and he urgently asked me to come over for a talk. I did, and he spelled out the feelings and response of his government in recent months with extraordinary candor.1 His account is as follows:
Vice President Chen went back from Washington with a conviction that you personally were committed to strong support of Chiang and maintenance of this U.S. policy. He found Secretary Rusk “cagey.” This account was persuasive to the Generalissimo, and it still colors his whole approach to U.S. policy. Your first effort, after the Vice President’s visit, to shift Chiang on Outer Mongolia was not effective, but it did not change his regard for you. Indeed, he was getting the same arguments from all the professionals in his own government, except the Foreign Minister. Then the Chinese Government undertook a campaign of persuasion with the Brazzaville group, and was discouraged to find no responsiveness whatsoever. As Yeh put it, “The Africans were interested in Mauritania and not at all in our problem.”
As the moment of choice came closer, and estimates of the voting became more and more narrow, the Chinese professionals continued their pressure on their own government, but without avail. Then last week the Secretary of State had his stern conversations with Tsiang and the Foreign Minister in New York. Yeh reports that these conversations deeply shook the Generalissimo. I think myself that the Secretary is probably right in his belief that this shaking is what has moved Chiang to his present apparent willingness to reconsider the veto. The Secretary said that if the division persisted, it might affect the “basic relationships” of the two countries. This phrase above all others is what led Chiang to his series of anguished questions to Drumright.
Yeh said to me in the strongest terms that a message of friendliness and encouragement from you might well be decisive, and I told him that you had asked me to get in touch with him precisely to deliver such a message. I made it clear that there was no difference in policy between you and the Secretary, and that you associated yourself with his estimate of the seriousness of the situation. But I also said that neither you nor Mr. Rusk [Page 146]had any intention of shifting away from the basic treaty relation between our two countries, and I went further by emphasizing your own great respect and regard for the Generalissimo as a heroic figure, and your sense of close personal partnership in purpose with him. I said that he could be assured that our whole object in this affair was to prevent the admission of Communist China for as long as possible, and that this seemed to us to be in the common interest of our two countries. I said that you would deeply regret any misunderstanding that might have occurred inadvertently in any of our conversations, and I indicated that we would hope to be able to work together more closely and without misunderstandings if we could reconcile this particular difference over Outer Mongolia.2 All of this Yeh undertook to report to his government, and indeed I said some of it at his suggestion in order to take advantage of his obvious agreement with us that the thing to do is to use every reasonable instrument to insure that the Generalissimo does, in fact, change his mind.
I believe that this conversation serves the purpose which Drumright has in mind in the attached message, just received from Taipei.3 But perhaps we could also send the special personal message as he suggests in the last paragraph.4 The Department agrees to this—the “10-10” celebration next week offers an admirable time for a warm personal message from you, and a draft will be prepared for your decision.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China. Top Secret.↩
- A memorandum for the files dated October 4 by Arthur H. Rosen of the Office of Chinese Affairs summarizes the highlights of the meeting between Bundy and Yeh the previous evening as told to Rosen that day by Chinese Embassy Political Counselor C.C. Lai, who was present. (Department of State, Central Files, 303/10-461)↩
- According to Rosen’s memorandum cited in footnote 1 above, Bundy stated that the President “now feels that our initial, rather casual move toward recognition talks with Outer Mongolia was ill-advised” and that the President had instructed Rusk and Stevenson “to use all possible means to block admission of the Chinese Communists and protect the GRC in the United Nations.”↩
- Drumright urged in telegram 287 from Taipei, October 4, that Kennedy send a personal message to Chiang, and that in return for a GRC commitment not to veto Outer Mongolian admission, the United States give a return commitment to abstain. (Department of State, Central Files, 303/10-461)↩
- It suggested an especially warm and personal message to Chiang for the 50th anniversary of the 1911 Chinese revolution on October 10.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.↩