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30. Memorandum Prepared for the 303 Committee1


  • CIA Covert Action Program Against Communist China

1. Summary

This memorandum describes the covert action program of CIA which is directed against Communist China. CIA seeks approval to continue this program. Communist China, because of current ferment, appears especially vulnerable to the program’s extensive, varied, but carefully targeted efforts: clandestine radio operations to Communist China [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]; political action groups, with related newspaper, journal and magazine publications [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]; use of world-wide covert press placements; balloon-delivered leaflets [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]; black operations originating from Headquarters and field stations; assistance to the Government of the Republic of China (GRC) overt radio broadcasts to the mainland; and the establishment of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] political action agents [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

The program fund levels for these activities are: [dollar amount not declassified] in Fiscal Year 1969, of which over half is for the purchase and installation of new radio transmitting equipment, and [dollar amount not declassified] in Fiscal Year 1970.

In the field these activities are coordinated with the U.S. chief of mission, as appropriate. At Headquarters they are coordinated with the Department of State at the Assistant Secretary level.

2. Background

Communist China, weakened by the Cultural Revolution, is redefining its internal and external policies and there are indications it may re-emerge into the world society. The recent Ninth Party Congress [Page 79]set a wobbly course for China’s recovery from internal chaos. Preliminary indications are that ideology will be again stressed with emphasis on constant revolution for China and, where possible, for the rest of the world. The Chinese people appear weary of internal conflict and the lack of individual material progress. These weaknesses in the Chinese Communist system are vulnerabilities which the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] covert action program is designed to exploit.

The program aims to further U.S. policy objectives by supplementing such U.S. overt efforts as Voice of America with covert activities which, if attributed to the U.S., would embarass the U.S. Government, compromise our foreign assets, or reduce the credibility and impact of the operation.

The program conceives that continued lack of success at home and abroad will lead the Chinese Communist regime to adopt more sensible practices and policies. We do not seek to overthrow the Mao regime, but rather we work to induce moderation and greater internal orientation. In addition, we attempt to widen the Sino–Soviet split and to exacerbate relations between Communist China and North Vietnam and North Korea.

This program was approved by the 303 Committee on 28 April 1967.2 The Committee commended a progress report on the success of the black radios on 16 August 1968. A proposal to provide additional transmission facilities to both overt and covert radio operations [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was approved by the 303 Committee on 22 April 1969.3

[Omitted here is a 9-page discussion of activities concerning China.]

  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, 303/40 Committee Files, China. Secret; Eyes Only. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. A handwritten notation on the first page indicates the 303 Committee approved the memorandum at the October 16 meeting. According to the minutes of that meeting, attended by Kissinger, Mitchell, Packard, U. Alexis Johnson, and Helms: “The consensus was that this is a worthwhile program and its continuation was approved.” (Memorandum for the record by Frank Chapin; ibid., 303 Committee, 1969 Minutes) The 303 Committee became the 40 Committee after President Nixon signed NSDM 40 on February 17, 1970, thus updating NSC 5412/2.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXX, Document 254.
  3. As outlined in a memorandum prepared for the 303 Committee, April 10 (Subject: Improvements in Radio Propaganda Broadcasts to China), and approved according to a memorandum for the record by Frank Chapin, April 24. (Ibid., Subject Files, China and ibid., 303 Committee, 1969 Minutes)