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

354. Reference Deptel 312 repeated Vientiane 7541 and Embtel 394 repeated Vientiane 11.2

At earliest opportunity you should see President Chiang to present our further views on irregulars problem.

Developments in Burma–Laos border area since November have confirmed our concern and borne out our warnings expressed to GRC over past two years re its support of irregulars and their operations. Burmese, exasperated with presence on their territory of alien forces, have sought and obtained Peiping’s assistance, resulting in entry of Chinese Communist troops into Burma. Moreover fact irregulars ineffective as fighting force now demonstrably clear in view recent Burmese Army capture their airfield at Mong Pa Liao and their Keng Lap base. Thus they cannot be regarded as posing threat of any significance to Chinese Communist control of Yunnan. Lastly, according to reliable information reaching us from Laos, irregulars now entered Laos where their presence offers Peiping good pretext for intervention if it chooses and aggravates already delicate civil war situation.

Tell President we consider it imperative in this situation that GRC avoid any actions with respect to irregulars, including particularly resupply air-drop flights, that could be regarded as provocative. In addition we consider it essential that GRC undertake without delay to effect return to Taiwan of its own military personnel and arrange with governments concerned for demobilization and resettlement of all others. With world attention currently focussed sharply on Laos and in view possibility some form of international presence in Laos there is obvious danger that fact irregulars are in Laos and are resupplied from abroad will be [Page 87] detected and attract public attention. Public revelation of GRC resupply of irregulars in contravention of its public pledge in UN on October 31, 1953 and by Acting Foreign Minister Shen on September 1, 1954 to have nothing further to do with irregulars remaining in area after 1953–54 evacuation, specifically not to furnish them any further support, would have most unfavorable impact on GRC’s international standing and possibly disastrous consequences for already threatened GRC position in UN.3

Tell President that while for obvious reasons it undesirable we be publicly associated with return of GRC personnel from area to Taiwan, we prepared to lend good offices in seeking cooperation RLG, and if necessary Thai Government, and also to lend assistance as necessary and appropriate. Would also be prepared to lend whatever assistance feasible in demobilization and resettlement of those elements who cannot be returned to Taiwan.

We would appreciate President’s informing us soonest what steps GRC taking deal with this dangerous situation and in what ways US might be of assistance.

You may inform President that we also discussing with RLG on urgent basis means of dealing with irregulars problem.4

FYI. During call by Ambassador Yeh on Secretary Rusk yesterday afternoon, Secretary emphasized unfortunate irregulars in Laos; anything giving Chinese Communists pretext intervene was great disservice to Laos and to mobilization of opinion to resist Communists. He urged Yeh to impress on his Government need to clean up irregulars problem.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/1–1461. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Lutkins and Martin, cleared by Parsons and in draft by Chapman, and approved by the Secretary. Repeated to Bangkok, Vientiane, and Rangoon.
  2. In telegram 312, January 12, the Department instructed the Embassy in Taipei to express to President Chiang “grave concern” over reports that the GRC was planning to offer Phoumi the use of GRC armed forces personnel currently in the Burma-Laos border area controlled by Chinese irregulars. At his discretion, Ambassador Drumright could tell Chiang that without an unequivocal assurance of cooperation, the United States was prepared to apply pressure on him. (Ibid., 751J.00/1–1261)
  3. Telegram 394, January 14, reported that Drumright met with Chiang on January 14 and conveyed the substance of telegram 312 except for the threat to apply pressure. Chiang volunteered that Chinese Communist forces were in Phong Saly Province of Laos and would coordinate with Burmese forces against “our guerillas,” as he called the irregulars. Drumright considered the reports of irregular use in Laos a trial balloon and doubted Chiang would act without U.S. concurrence. (Ibid., 751J.00/1–1461)
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Part 2, p. 165, footnote 2. The statement of September 1, 1954, has not been further identified.
  5. In telegram 459 from Taipei, February 7, Drumright reported that he passed to Chiang the substance of all of this telegram except the last paragraph. Chiang promised a more formal reply later, but “with some acerbity” gave Drumright his informal impressions. Chiang complained that the United States was blind to Chinese Communist forces in Burma and Laos and concerned only with KMT irregulars, which were not part of the GRC armed forces and did not take orders from Taiwan. Drumright told Chiang that the main U.S. concern was the dispatch of “special forces” to Burma and resupply and base buildup. Drumright commented that Chiang would probably make a token offer of withdrawal to meet minimum U.S. requirements. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/2–761)