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12. Summary of the CIA Response to NSSM 141

SUMMARY PAPER ON NSSM 14:UNITED STATES CHINA POLICY

I.
There is no evidence to indicate that the PRC intends to expand its borders or to pursue its objectives by armed conquest, except possibly in the case of Taiwan.
A.
The primary objectives of the present regime in Peking include treatment as a major world power and as a primary source of revolutionary leadership; accommodation of its policies by other Asian states; and control of Taiwan.
II.
There is little prospect for change in China’s attitudes and policies regarding the US while the present leadership obtains, and the US has a limited ability to influence these attitudes and policies.
A.
Any US “overtures” to Communist China would be primarily intended to have an impact on China’s post-Mao leadership.
B.
The immediate post-Mao leadership will share the same nationalism and inexperience in dealing with the West, but the new leadership’s ideological fervor may be moderated by domestic political requirements, economic and military development needs, relations with third countries, and somewhat different generational perspectives.
III.
Two major alternative strategies to our present policy are available— intensified deterrence and isolation, or reduction of points of conflict and international isolation.
A.
Intensified deterrence and isolation is based on the assumption that a post-Mao leadership would be most inclined to moderate2 its policies toward the US under the strain of repeated policy failures and growing frustration over China’s isolation. [Page 31]
1.
In the military phase of this strategy the US would expand its military and economic support to Asian countries and increase the forward deployment of strategic and tactical nuclear forces.
2.
The political approach would involve vigorous US efforts to support the GRC’s international position and to convince Peking that it cannot gain acceptance into the international community on its present terms.
3.
The economic phase would call for stronger pressures on our allies to restrict trade with Communist China.
B.
The strategy of reducing points of conflict and international isolation would be based on the assumption that a gradual relaxation of external pressures will be most likely to cause a post-Mao leadership to reassess US attitudes and intentions toward China and China’s role in international affairs.
1.
The military phase would involve a de-emphasis of the military aspect of our policy of containing the PRC while at the same time maintaining an offshore or mid-Pacific deterrence posture toward any overt Chinese attack against US allies in Asia.
2.
The political phase could involve public recognition that the PRC exercises authority over the mainland, unilateral reduction or elimination of political measures designed to isolate Peking, and attempts to expand diplomatic contacts.
3.
The economic aspect of the strategy would entail a relaxation of trade controls to the COCOM level.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 14. Secret. A May 15 short covering memorandum from [name not declassified] Executive Staff, Office of the Deputy Director for Intelligence, CIA, indicated that the summary, prepared by CIA, “is being circulated to members of the Review Group at the request of Mr. Morton Halperin.” The final version of the response to NSSM 14 is printed as Document 23. The CIA comments were based upon the April 29 draft response to NSSM 14, not printed. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–037, SRG Meeting, China NPG [Part 2], 5/15/69)
  2. A handwritten correction changed “moderate” to “alter.”