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92. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State1

4603. Dept pass White House and Vice President’s Office. CINCPAC also for POLAD. Subject: Ambassador’s Conversation with Vice Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo on US/GRC Relations. Reference: Taipei 4580.2

I paid my first call following recent home leave on Vice Premier. Chiang Ching-Kuo October 21. Personal rapport as strong as ever, and amenities and personal exchanges consumed ten minutes of one-hour meeting.
I then told CCK that I would not press for discussion of official matters on this initial occasion. But at some time convenient to him, I wanted to have completely candid discussion of any elements in US/GRC relationship which might be troubling him. Our close friendship did not permit any unrealistic pretenses and I was of course aware of GRC preoccupation with certain recent developments, especially [Page 233]those related to MAP and Peng Ming-min case. I was ready at any time to give him full exposition of US rationale for decisions taken and I wanted to have a full and uninhibited exchange of views with him. The preservation of the traditional close and trustful relationship between our two governments was too important to permit any disagreement to fester beneath the surface.
The Vice Premier heartily reciprocated my preference for friendly candor and said he would like to set forth at once the essential GRC position on MAP cut and admission of Peng to US.
As to MAP cut, CCK said that although they had noted warning of possible substantial cut conveyed by Vice President Agnew end of August, they had not anticipated that the new level would go below $15 million. It was inconceivable to GRC that all investment items would be eliminated and fund for operations and maintenance cut out completely, leaving nothing but a sum of less than $7 million for overhead type expenses. He said his government had not yet recovered from shock and still found US action incredible. He said that there had to be some continuity in any important major program and some reasonable relationship between present levels and levels of immediately preceding years. Changes need to be gradual and there needs to be opportunity for advance planning and adjustment to necessary changes. The total withdrawal of the entire substantive program without notice and contrary to the advance joint planning could not be justified in GRC view. He said confidence in US consistency and dependability had been seriously diluted in all sectors of his government, adding that the US action would also work against the morale of the GRC armed forces. He said that the GRC officials could not see how the US action, particularly as to the manner in which it was carried out, could be reconciled with the requirements of alliance and friendship. He said the consensus in meetings held by various organs of government was that the US action was “outrageous.” GRC officials had said that they did not see how any American associated with the matter could avoid a feeling of embarrassment. He said that while the most serious tangible effect was on the GRC armed forces, the budgetary consequences were also worrisome. The GRC budget was already over-strained and it would not be easy to finance the shortfall, particularly since there had been no opportunity for advance budgetary preparation. But he thought that the intangible consequences were even worse than the concrete results. The GRC officials felt that there had to be policy implications in such a drastic unilateral move, and the implications which the GRC was bound to read into the action were disturbing.
I explained our MAP action along the same lines I used October 20 with Acting FonMinShen (reftel). I assured him categorically that there were no anti-GRC policy implications in the move whatever. I noted the limited total of the expected appropriation and the top [Page 234]priority unexpected emergency requirements for Cambodia and Korea which had to be met. I frankly pointed out that the absence of any apparent immediate aggressive intent against Taiwan by the ChiComs and the impressive economic progress of the GRC were necessarily taken into account in Washington when the painful decisions had to be made as to how the unavoidable cuts would be applied. I told him that while we could make no commitment as to MAP levels for following years, it was a fact that the current cut applies only to FY 1971. I recalled our ongoing efforts in association with GRC representatives to find ways of buffering the shock of the cut through a readjustment of purchases under military credit and otherwise.
CCK said he recognized US budgetary difficulties and the emergency situations in Cambodia and Korea. He did not deny that some cuts might have been necessary but he thought that the matter could have been handled in a different way with some consultation, some advance notice, and at least a partial preservation of the O&M program.
CCK then turned to Peng Ming-min case. He termed the US action in opening its gates to Peng the most abrasive event in Sino-US relations in the last 20 years.3 He called the action a direct blow at the political and social stability and security of Taiwan. He recalled that the prestige of President Chiang himself had been engaged in the GRC effort to convince the USG that Peng’s admittance to the US would be contrary to essential GRC interests and would be deeply upsetting to GRC. He noted strong appeal which FonMinChow in Washington.4USG had acted in complete disregard of these most insistent pleas of a friendly government. The results were a widespread assumption that US was sympathetic to TIM movement, a considerable encouragement to TIM sentiment, and a compounding of the problems of GRC at a difficult juncture.
I set forth basis for our reluctant decision in Peng case and precautionary steps we had taken in recognition of GRC concerns, along lines used with Acting FonMin. I stressed great difficulty of denying entry to a visa applicant qualified under the law and regulations when he cannot be termed a subversive by any US definition of the term. I also dwelt emphatically on extensive harm to the GRC reservoir of goodwill in US if academic, congressional and journalistic communities had been alienated by exclusion of Peng.
CCK’s response was to effect that GRC had documented number of cases where USG had excluded by administration action aliens whom it wanted to exclude. He said flatly that US could easily have kept Peng out of the country if it had wished to do so. He dismissed goodwill argument, saying that GRC was accustomed to unfriendly attitude from substantial sectors of American public and it could, if necessary, withstand some further hostility from American public. He said the holding of a firm internal security line was far more important to his government than the goodwill of the American elements I had mentioned.
CCK summed up by saying that the local standing of the US unfortunately had been severely damaged by these actions. Consequences could be serious. The Chinese view was that the basic requirement of governmental as well as personal friendship was a sympathetic understanding of the needs of the friend and a willingness to go to some trouble to accommodate those needs. It was felt that the USG had not met this friendship test in these two cases. He said that these two decisions were history now, but “they had left scars.” The two decisions between them had struck at both the external and the internal security of the GRC. He believed that both types of GRC security had some importance for the US.
CCK then mentioned Canadian recognition of ChiComs.5 He called this a highly unfortunate development which aggravated the international problems of GRC. He noted that the GRC is facing reverses from several directions but they refused to be discouraged and setbacks would only cause them to redouble their efforts. He said “we will stand up and fight to the end in any event.”
I told CCK that it was our established policy and confirmed intention to uphold the international position of the GRC and to carry out all of our commitments. I told him his government was mistaken in reading sweeping policy implications into the two actions we had discussed. We do not support or encourage any TIM effort to overthrow the GRC. I told him I and my colleagues would work unremittingly to set right any misunderstandings and to preserve the [Page 236]traditional close USGRC relationship. I said that I earnestly hoped that no lesions would be left from the two events we had talked about. If there had to be any scars, I hoped they would be completely healed and hardly noticeable.
CCK said that he wanted to work with me on the remedial action which he felt was needed. He said he thought the GRC had always lived up to its commitments. It had tried to be forthright, frank, and accommodating in all its dealings with the US. It had not complained or threatened when the AID program was terminated in 1965, when the initial MAP cuts began in 1968, or when other programs had been cut back. He hoped that the US would be able to take account of the needs and the special circumstances of its Chinese ally.
I told CCK that the best assurance of the steadfastness of this administration to its commitments lay in the character, the convictions, and the wisdom of its leaders, President Nixon and Vice President Agnew. The leaders of the GRC knew them both well as sympathetic and understanding friends of the GRC.
CCK told me that his government did indeed find much comfort and reassurance in President Nixon’s and Vice President Agnew’s positions of leadership.
At the end of the meeting CCK told me that regardless of circumstances the GRC position of close alignment with the United States and support for the US position will not change.
CCK insisted on escorting me from his third-floor office to my car.
See septel for brief CCK representations to me about alleged involvement of some private American nationals on Taiwan with members of Taiwan Independence Movement.6
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POLCHINATUS. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated to CINCPAC, COMUSTDC, and CHMAAG.
  2. In telegram 4580, October 21, the Embassy relayed the contents of McConaughy’s discussions with Acting Foreign Minister Shen on October 20. Their talks focused on MAP funds and Peng Ming-min. (Ibid.)
  3. On September 16, Washington local time, Green informed Ambassador Chow in Washington, and Armstrong informed Shen in Taipei, of the decision to grant a visa t. Peng. (Telegram 151025 to Taipei, September 15, and telegram 152198 to Taipei, September 16; both ibid., POL 30 CHINAT) ROC officials immediately protested. The Embassy reported a September 21 conversation with Chou Chung-feng, Director of the National Security Bureau, similar to the talk between McConaughy and Chiang Ching-Kuo: “Chou predicted that issuance of a visa to Peng will create misunderstanding and protest on the part of the people of Taiwan.” Chou asked that Peng be prevented from coming to the United States or at least be dissuaded from engaging in political activity. The U.S. Government declined to do so. (Memorandum from William E. Nelson to Shoesmith, September 25; ibid., EA/ROC Files: Lot 74 D 25, POL 29, Peng Ming-min)
  4. In telegram 3737, August 29, McConaughy reported on his meeting with Wei. (Ibid., Central Files 1970–73, POL 30 CHINAT) Chow met with Green on September 22 and called McConaughy, then in Atlanta on home leave, on September 24 to complain about the military assistance program and Peng’s visa. (Telegram 155267 to Taipei, September 21; ibid., and Shoesmith’s memorandum for the file, September 24; ibid., EA/ROC Files: Lot 74 D 25, POL 29, Peng Ming-min)
  5. See Document 2and footnote 2, Document 93.
  6. In telegram 4613 from Taipei, October 23, McConaughy reported that on October 21, “Vice Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo said the security authorities here have definite evidence that certain private American citizens are giving encouragement and assistance to members of the Taiwan independence movement.” McConaughy said that the Embassy would, at most, consider “passing some sort of cautionary word to the persons involved.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POLCHINATUS).