15. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency’s Deputy Director for Intelligence (Cline) to Director of Central Intelligence McCone 1


  • U.S. Relations with Republic of China (Taiwan)
My trip to Taipei last month succeeded in getting the Government of the Republic of China (GRC) to postpone breaking relations with France for two weeks, thus forcing both Peiping and Paris to make clear that France was obliged to drop its diplomatic support of the GRC in Taiwan as the price of establishing relations with Peiping. This was a gain for the U.S. since many nations would recognize Peiping if they thought they could maintain diplomatic relations with “Two Chinas.” Few nations have followed the French lead because it became clear that any nation recognizing Peiping had to go all the way and recognize its right to take over Taiwan and its twelve million non-Communist people.
President Chiang Kai-shek agreed to this delay out of respect for President Johnson’s direct request to do so, but pointed out (correctly) that the French had sold out to Peiping and would force a break between Paris and Taipei. He also said this would be a shattering blow to morale in Taiwan, particularly among the Mainland Chinese element in his Armed Forces and Government.
President Chiang requested that his views be conveyed to Washington, along with his recommendations for actions to restore morale in Taiwan and build up U.S. prestige in Southeast Asia. I summarized these views in the form of an oral message for President Johnson and provided it to Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Harriman and McGeorge Bundy about three weeks ago. A copy is attached.2
This memorandum is intended to call to your attention some information on which I orally briefed Governor Harriman and McGeorge Bundy. It is that (a) I found the morale of GRC officials exceptionally and dismally low; (b) a senior Chinese General had attempted on 21 January 1964 to lead the crack 1st Armored Division against Taipei [Page 26]to overthrow the Government (of course, he failed); (c) President Chiang told me personally in highly emotional tones that a continuation of present U.S. policy in Asia, which he feels will end in Chinese Communist control or domination of all East and Southeast Asia, will create a situation in which the GRC cannot survive; (d) many officials in addition to President Chiang felt that present trends would bring a military coup in Taipei against the present Government within two years because of frustration with inability to return to the Mainland and a feeling that U.S. military, economic and political support was weak and waning.
In view of the seriousness with which these views were impressed upon me, I feel that they should be seriously considered by the U.S. Government. My own feeling is that a strong U.S. initiative in Vietnam would buck up morale in Taipei, but I think it would be dangerous to assume that we can always take stability and friendly cooperation on the part of the GRC for granted.
Ray S. Cline
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL CHINAT-US. Top Secret. Filed with a covering memorandum of March 2 from McCone to Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, and Harriman suggesting that a warm communication be sent to Chiang Kai-shek promptly “in the interests of rekindling confidence.”
  2. Not attached to the source text. A copy is filed with a covering memorandum of February 8 from Cline to Harriman, which states that he had left the original with Bundy for the President. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Kennedy-Johnson Administrations, Subject Files, Cline, Ray S.)