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95. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 13-3-62

An April 4 letter from Hilsman to Clough, enclosing a copy of the estimate, states that it was generated largely as a result of Harriman’s and his own talks in Taipei and that the major problem was estimating GRC capabilities for independent operations. (Ibid.) Hilsman visited Taipei on March 8. His conversation with Chiang Ching-kuo on that date was reported in telegram 620 from Taipei, March 8. (Ibid., Central Files, 793.00/3-862) A more detailed account is in a memorandum for the record by Hilsman, dated March 19. (Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Box 1, China, Planning on Mainland Operations, 3/62) See also Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy, pp. 312-314.


The Problem

To evaluate the intentions and capabilities of the Government of the Republic of China (GRC) to undertake limited military operations on the China mainland in 1962 and to estimate the prospects for and consequences of such operations.

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Public dissatisfaction and demoralization are widespread in Communist China and there has been some weakening of discipline among local officials and low-level party cadres. Nevertheless the regime’s control apparatus is still intact and effective. Present indications are that the regime will continue to be able to isolate and repress any likely internal challenge to its authority. (Paras. 5-7)
Even if GRC special forces teams could be successfully established on the mainland, they would almost certainly be destroyed in a short time. Very few people, and no significant military units, would be likely to join the GRC forces in the absence of clear military success—which we believe would be impossible without large-scale US support. (Para. 17)
US refusal to support or sanction the GRC proposals for special forces operations would place additional strains on US-GRC relations. We believe that the GRC leaders, despite their limited capabilities, might undertake some kind of special force operations against the mainland in 1962 even without US approval. (Para. 9)
If the GRC were or undertake military operations on the mainland, with or without US support, Communist China and the USSR would launch major propaganda and political campaigns against the GRC and the US. Peiping might undertake some retaliatory action in the Taiwan Strait area. Moscow would be most unlikely to alter its policies toward Communist China or the US so long as the GRC operations met with no notable success. In the unlikely event that Communist control of the mainland were threatened, the Soviet leaders would almost certainly support the regime to the extent necessary to put down the rebellion, while exploiting the opportunity to attempt to bring Peiping’s policy and outlook in line with that of the USSR. (Paras. 18-21)

[Here follow paragraphs 5-22, comprising the Discussion portion of the estimate, in three sections, headed “The Situation on the Mainland,” “GRC Intentions and Capabilities,” and “Consequences of the Proposed GRC Military Operations on the Mainland.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 110, SNIE 13-2-62. Secret. According to a note on the cover sheet, the Central Intelligence Agency and intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force and the Joint Staff participated in the preparation of this estimate. All members of the USIB concurred with this estimate on March 28 except the representatives of the AEC and the FBI, who abstained on the grounds that the subject was outside their jurisdiction.