19. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1

Relations with the Chinats. Your reply to Chiang’s messages and our other actions appear to have calmed Taipei for the moment.

The Gimo will naturally keep talking up his pet ideas for a stronger anti-Chicom posture: (1) a US-backed alliance of Vietnam, S. Korea, and the GRC; (2) a Chinat landing on Hainan; and (3) sending GRC and ROK troops to help in Vietnam. However, we should be able to fob off these ideas, all of which have serious drawbacks on present reading. Rusk’s mid-April stopover in Taipei after Manila SEATO meeting will be a further safety valve.

Meanwhile we’re doing our best to prevent further erosion on the Chirep issue. Fortunately, the French Africans have not all followed DeGaulle. The GRC itself is also playing a cannier game, which is encouraging.

Chiang keeps talking of the risk of military coup on Taiwan if the GRC’s international position collapses. But our new NIE on GRC prospects (43–64)2 is more reassuring. Its chief conclusion is that:

“A. French recognition of Communist China, together with fears about the strength of the US position in the Far East and the firmness of US Far Eastern policy have further damaged the morale and confidence of the Government of the Republic of China (GRC). However, we believe that, unless the GRC leadership becomes convinced that the US is abandoning Taiwan and the anti-Communist cause in the Far East, the GRC will live through this setback relatively intact and that it is also likely to survive subsequent blows arising from recognition of Peiping by other important powers and from a bitter struggle over the UN China seat. The possibility cannot be excluded, however, that a crisis might precipitate a radical change in the makeup or policies of the GRC.”

R.W. Komer
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, China, Vol. I. Secret. A notation on the source text reads: “President read. 3/19.”
  2. NIE 43–64, March 11, is entitled “Prospects for the Government of the Republic of China.” (Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 110)