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97. Memorandum for the Record0


  • White House Meeting on GRC Plans

The meeting was in the Cabinet room. Present were the President, the Secretary, McGeorge Bundy, Ray Cline, General Pat Carter1 (who by the way looks pretty good) and Mike Forrestal. McCone is out of town. The Secretary began, tossing the ball immediately to Ray Cline. Cline’s presentation focused attention on whether the operation would succeed rather than how we handle the GRC. Our maps2 came in handy. The Secretary intervened with great vigor and a strong opinion, that this operation just wouldn’t wash, etc., the plan was nonsense, and the idea that we could keep it covert was also nonsense. The GRC hand would show and so would the American hand. I said that the issue really was not whether or not the Chinese Nationalists could get back into the Mainland. They couldn’t. The issue was whether we reject the plan outright or whether we temporize. My fear was that if there were an outright rejection, the GRC would immediately start a public campaign to arouse the China lobby. There was also a great danger in temporizing, i.e., that we get ourselves more and more committed to the GRC in the familiar pattern of the covert operations in Indonesia and Cuba.

[Page 205]

Harriman, by the way, beforehand was very worried that the Secretary would recommend outright rejection. Harriman prefers temporizing.

The President proposed preparing two C-123’s in the United States.

Ray Cline said that he had to take back something tangible. The President then suggested that we also train Chinese crews here in the United States in the operation of these planes.

Mr. Cline said that this would be satisfactory.

The Secretary agreed providing that the planes were prepared in this country and not sent to Taiwan before a further decision was made.

The President said that Cline should make it clear to the GRC that no commitment was being made other than to prepare the planes and be willing to consider their use in the light of the intelligence available in October. The President also instructed Mr. Cline to get a commitment from the GRC that there would be no further public discussion of a return to the Mainland.

I suggested that another commitment be obtained to permit American participation in the other planning that the GRC was doing.

McGeorge Bundy made the point very strongly that Ray Cline was to tell the GRC that with the appointment of a new Ambassador the United States intended to transfer to the Ambassador the special role formerly played by the CIA.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Box 1, China—Planning on Mainland Operations, 3/62. Top Secret. According to Kennedy’s Appointment Book, the meeting was held from 10:30 to 11:25 a.m. (Ibid.) Hilsman describes this meeting briefly in To Move a Nation, pp. 314-315.
  2. Deputy Director for Central Intelligence Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA.
  3. Not further identified.