88. National Security Study Memorandum 2121


  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Deputy Secretary of State
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China

The President has directed a study of U.S. policy on the transfer of American military equipment to the Republic of China over the next three to five years. The study should define relevant U.S. interests and objectives, and should be based upon the following assumptions:

  • —That the process of normalization in U.S.-PRC relations will continue.
  • —That there will be no radical change in the Sino-Soviet conflict.
  • —That the U.S. defense commitment to the Republic of China will continue.2

The issues to be examined in the study should include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:

  • —The threat to the security of Taiwan over this period.
  • —The roles of U.S. and ROC forces in deterring and defending against a possible PRC attack on Taiwan and the Pescadores.
  • —In light of these roles, the principal deficiencies in ROC defensive capabilities.
  • —In light of these deficiencies, and taking into account the constraints posed by the continuing normalization of U.S.–PRC relations, the study should define and evaluate policy options for further transfers of U.S. military equipment to the ROC. The evaluation should include consideration of the ROC’s economic and technological ability to support the acquisition and maintenance of new weapons systems, and should consider the possibility and feasibility of the ROC developing alternative sources of supply.

The study should be prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for East Asia, which should be chaired by a representative of the Department of State. The study should be submitted to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs no later than November 1, 1974, for consideration by the Senior Review Group prior to consideration by the President.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSSMs and NSDMs, 1974–77, NSSMs File, Box 2, NSSM 212. Top Secret; Sensitive. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the JCS.
  2. Kennedy, Smyser, and Solomon promoted this study as a way “to gain control over the transfer of U.S. arms and military equipment to the Republic of China,” but they disagreed on the assumptions that should underlie it. Kennedy and Smyser argued in favor of the three assumptions stated in the NSSM. Such a study, they contended, would be “bureaucratically preferable since it deals with a limited set of contingencies and is less likely to raise questions—public or private—about where we are going,” and would also likely avoid a “massive requirements estimate.” Solomon, in contrast, asserted that the study should address a broader range of possible scenarios. (Memorandum from Smyser and Solomon to Kissinger, September 24; ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–32, NSSM 212, U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China)