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257. Memorandum Prepared for the 40 Committee1


  • China Covert Action Program

CIA has finally come up with a proposal for its China covert action program which accommodates the “new look” in U.S.–Sino relations.2 It has been three years since the 40 Committee approved a program which included “black” and “grey” radio broadcasts from Taipei and Seoul, propaganda sent to the China mainland via balloons, media operations in Hong Kong and Tokyo, and activities worldwide to denigrate and obstruct the People’s Republic of China (PRC).3

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Broadcasts from the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] facility were terminated in mid-1972 as were two of the three “black” radio legends broadcast from Taipei. With attention to avoiding a reaction from Taiwan which would endanger continued [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] activities, it is proposed that other blatant anti-mainland China operations be terminated.4

All support to Taiwan’s propaganda and psychological warfare against the PRC will be terminated during FY 1973. Selective support to Taiwan’s efforts to enhance its position overseas will continue. The unilateral radio facility in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be maintained on a standby basis. Media capabilities in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be maintained. The primary goal will be to support the initiative toward better relations with the PRC with priority to operations which put covert action assets into direct contact with individuals who might persuade the PRC to improve relations with us.

Funds budgeted for this phase-out year total [dollar amount not declassified]. This contrasts with [dollar amount not declassified] budgeted for last year and the [dollar amount not declassified] approved for FY 1969.5

  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, 303/40 Committee Files, China. Secret; Eyes Only. Although no drafting information appears on the memorandum. Holdridge initialed his concurrence.
  2. Attached but not printed is a 10-page CIA report to the 40 Committee, October 10, 1972. A handwritten notation on the bottom of page 1 of this report reads: “Telephonically approved by the 40 Committee on 26 October 1972.” In a December 1, 1971, memorandum to Kissinger, Helms noted: “We have attempted to draft a China Covert Action program but found it most difficult to do so in the absence of more specific guidance.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80–B01086R Executive Registry Files)
  3. See Document 30.
  4. In a September 7 meeting with Nelson, Green stated that “he wished to see us move as fast as possible to get out of any connection with GRC activities directed against the PRC. Such association was inconsistent with our policy of improving relations with both powers. It was perfectly appropriate and indeed desirable to support GRC attempts to bolster its image with the rest of the world, particularly overseas Chinese.” The minutes of the meeting continue: “Mr. Nelson said that rigorous pursuit of this approach would reduce our [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] activities against the GRC itself.” (Memorandum from James R. Gardner of INR to Cline, September 8; Department of State, INR Historical Files, Subject Files, China, 1971–1977) On September 12 Gleysteen wrote that he agreed with the need to terminate these activities: “However, to cut off all or almost all activities immediately, would seem unnecessary, and to make the cut precisely at the moment the GRC is uptight over the Japanese issue might prove ill-advised.” He suggested informing the ROC Government “between the completion of the Tanaka visit and the end of this calendar year.” (Ibid.)
  5. The CIA was considering other changes to its operations on Taiwan in late 1972. During in a November 6 meeting with Green, Nelson divulged that “it would be necessary to close the Air America headquarters on Taiwan for reasons of economy, move some of the functions to the Washington office and disperse others to other East Asian locations.” He and Green agreed that McConaughy would inform Chiang Ching-Kuo of this immediately, and defer notice of changes to the propaganda programs until early December. (Memorandum from Richard K. Stuart of INR to Cline, November 6; ibid.) McConaughy met with Chiang Ching-Kuo on December 13 and stated that the change was “a logical consequence of the previously announced U.S. policy aimed at improving relations with the PRC and lowering tensions in the Far East.” McConaughy added that the activities would terminate by March 31, 1973, but offered several “palliatives,” such as a subsidy payment and spare parts for radios. “According to the Ambassador, the Premier seemed somewhat taken aback by the suddenness of this termination date but did not argue the point.” (Memorandum from Nelson to Green, December 14; ibid.)