90. Study Prepared by the Ad Hoc Interdepartmental Regional Group for East Asia and the Pacific1

U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China

[Omitted here are the title page and table of contents.]

THE SETTING

Introduction

The changed context of U.S. China policy requires a new look at the question of providing military equipment to the ROC. Political and psychological considerations will have to play an increasingly important role in Taiwan’s security if we are to find the narrow ground on which the contradictory objectives of advancing normalization with the PRC while assuring the security of the ROC can be successfully pursued.

Assumptions:

The assumptions governing this study are:

1.
U.S.–PRC normalization will continue;
2.
There will be no radical change in the Sino-Soviet dispute;
3.
The U.S. defense commitment to the ROC will continue;
4.
Over the next three to five years, the political and psychological importance of the U.S. supply of weapons to the ROC will be greater than the objective military importance of the weapons themselves.

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Interests and Objectives

The basic U.S. interest is a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue by the Chinese themselves. Progress toward a peaceful settlement will depend on many factors, but because of the great disparity between PRC and ROC capabilities some form of U.S. involvement in Taiwan’s security will continue to be important to inhibit the possibility of force being used to resolve the issue.

The U.S. objectives governing the supply of arms to the ROC are to:

  • —avoid actions which the PRC would interpret as inconsistent with “normalization” or which the ROC might interpret as a weakening of our commitment in the Shanghai Communiqué to normalize relations with the PRC.
  • —maintain confidence on the part of ROC leaders and public that Taiwan is sufficiently secure to minimize the dangers of domestic instability or desperate acts that would hinder U.S.–PRC normalization, including a possible ROC attempt to involve other parties in its fate.
  • —avoid actions which might lead the PRC to conclude that we no longer have an important interest in the security of Taiwan.

Arms Supply and Taiwan’s Security

Along with the deterrent effect of the U.S.–PRC relationship, the U.S. security treaty and the remaining U.S. force presence on Taiwan, ROC access to U.S. military equipment is a major element in Taiwan’s sense of security. As our China policy evolves, the relative importance of these elements will change. Access to U.S. arms will become increasingly important to the ROC to the extent that other elements of Taiwan’s security equation appear uncertain in its eyes. Specifically, the eventual withdrawal of all U.S. troops or changes in the nature of our security commitment would have that effect.

ROC willingness to rely less on military factors in assuring Taiwan’s security has evolved to some extent as a result of the conditioning effects of our policy, but the evolution has been heavily dependent on the assumption of our continued commitment to Taiwan’s defense. Somewhat grudgingly the ROC has come to appreciate the deterrent value of the PRC’s preoccupation with the Soviet Union and the PRC’s related interest in détente with the U.S. the ROC has thus shown increasing resignation to the inevitability of a growing PRC military superiority and has accepted reduction in U.S. force levels on Taiwan, MAP phase-out and FMS cuts, and non-supply of F–4s. Nevertheless, the view which will continue to permeate ROC society for the foreseeable future is that the PRC remains an unregenerate enemy and that the island’s survival is dependent on possession of a credible military deterrent and a continued U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s security.

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A Political Approach to Arms Supply

Current circumstances necessitate an even more political approach to decisions on supply of arms to Taiwan. The nature and level of our arms supply will obviously affect normalization of our relations with the PRC, but it will also have a major impact on the ROC’s tolerance of a changing political and security environment. To date the pattern of our arms supply, while posing no major problems with Peking, has contributed significantly to the flexibility with which the ROC has adjusted to rather drastic changes in its status. As our relations with the PRC evolve, however, the ROC may ask for more weapons to help compensate for the weakening of its political and security situation.

Dangers of Sharply Changed ROC Access

Significantly Higher Access—Although a higher level of supply, which satisfies most ROC weapon requests, could ease ROC adjustment to further changes in the ROC–U.S. relationship, the upward direction would disturb Peking. It could also convey the wrong impression to Taipei about our intent to pursue normalization (i.e., that we were no longer moving further in that direction) and could encourage an inflexible ROC approach to the politics of the Taiwan issue.

Greatly Reduced Access—Severely reduced access to U.S. equipment leading to an unmistakable deterioration of ROC military capabilities would risk the danger of setting off a train of developments on Taiwan seriously harmful to our (and possibly PRC) interests. This would be particularly true if it coincided with other changes in our China policy. Our performance would be interpreted on Taiwan as clear evidence that we were washing our hands of the Taiwan problem. the ROC political and military leaders would be the quickest to arrive at such a judgment, but the issue is of such fundamental importance that the rest of Taiwan’s society, including Taiwanese oppositionists, would not be far behind in arriving at a similiar conclusion. The resultant erosion of confidence could lead to political dissension which would threaten the stability of the current leadership, to severe repression of popular unrest by a shaky government, or even to the ultimate disintegration of social order on Taiwan. A panic-stricken government’s efforts to deal with a deteriorating situation could lead to desperate attempts to change Taiwan’s juridical status or involve others in its fate. The readily perceived direct U.S. responsibility for this state of affairs would confront us with serious problems at home and abroad.

Effect of ROC Military Nuclear Program—Loss of confidence in the U.S. could lead the ROC to intensify efforts to acquire a military nuclear capability. To date these efforts have been effectively inhibited by our firm and explicit opposition and by an unwillingness to jeopardize Taiwan’s rapidly growing civilian nuclear power program which is [Page 548]hostaged to the U.S. because no other country can legally supply reactors to the ROC. Nevertheless, the ROC has not abandoned its covert military nuclear energy research program and it probably possesses most of the technological know-how for the development of a nuclear device. It has a small safeguarded Canadian heavy water reactor (similar to that used by the Indians), but was blocked by us from acquiring a chemical separation facility necessary to extract plutonium.

The inhibitions which have kept the ROC in line could be swept aside by a ROC calculation that a nuclear capability was required as an effective substitute for the vanishing U.S. security commitment. However, it would still take the ROC considerable time to fabricate a nuclear device.

Peking’s Viewpoint

We do not know with precision the extent to which at any given time our military relationship with the ROC is an obstacle to normalization of relations with the PRC. Peking keeps careful track of ROC millitary capabilities, but it does not appear to conduct this assessment in isolation from other political factors. U.S. arms supplies are only one variable in a more complicated equation in which other aspects of the relationship between Washington on the one hand and Taipei and Peking on the other, as well as the overall international situation in East Asia, are all factors.

Peking obviously does not desire that U.S. support for the ROC should be offered at a level that might cause the leadership in Taipei to conclude that it is essentially invulnerable to pressures. On the contrary, it would like to see an attenuation in the U.S. military relationship with the ROC sufficient to demoralize the ROC to the point where it would be receptive to political accommodation. Nevertheless, there have been indications from Peking that it does not wish our presence in Taiwan—of which arms supply is an aspect—to be withdrawn so fast that others would be tempted to intervene or that uncontrollable changes on the island become likely. In any event, our military involvement with the ROC will be monitored by a PRC suspicious about our ultimate intentions on Taiwan. Insensitivity in our handling of this issue could undermine the position of those within the PRC who advocate normalization or lead them to a change in attitude.

Particular PRC Sensitivities—Given these various and somewhat conflicting considerations, it seems reasonable to conclude that Peking would be bothered by an indefinite and formal U.S. military involvement with Taiwan. In this general context, the following U.S. actions would appear to be particularly bothersome to Peking:

  • —The introduction into Taipei’s arms inventory of weapons which were clearly offensive in nature (e.g., strategic bombers, long-range missiles, or modern amphibious equipment);
  • —The creation in Taiwan of a domestic capacity to produce—or co-produce—sophisticated weapons (e.g., advanced aircraft or major missile production capabilities);
  • —The provision on a high priority basis of the most advanced weapons in the U.S. inventory (e.g., F–15 aircraft, TV guided bombs, advanced ECM systems);
  • —The rapid introduction of large quantities of weapons into Taipei’s inventory (e.g., an Enhance Plus type of program).2

An additional factor relating to delivery schedules ought also be considered. Given the long lead time before various weapons systems which presently interest the ROC would be available for delivery, the actual arrival of such weapons on the island—even if agreement on delivery were made well in advance and even if Peking became aware of such an agreement—might occur in a somewhat changed international environment resulting from further progress in normalization of relations with Peking. At that time the PRC might react strongly to the introduction of the weapons on the island, even though the agreement with the ROC for the supply of the weapons had been reached under different circumstances.

Room for Maneuver Narrowing

We will continue to be confronted with ROC demands for weapons which are unacceptable given our policy toward the PRC, as well as displays of PRC displeasure over our having any military dealings with the ROC. To date both sides have not evidenced a serious expectation of complete satisfaction of their respective positions because they judge their overall interests require concessions to U.S. views on the Taiwan problem. As normalization proceeds, we will have less room for maneuver in dealing with the issue of arms supply to the ROC, especially as we complete substantial withdrawals of our forces from Taiwan and as the focus shifts to other elements of our security relationship with the ROC.

Third Country Sources

Under prevailing international circumstances there is little prospect of the ROC finding reliable third country sources of major weapons. It is doubtful, for example, that any of the few nations capable of producing advanced aircraft would risk endangering their relationship with the PRC by providing such a high profile weapon to the ROC. However, some weapons would be available to the ROC from third country sources which, within limits, could spare us problems with the PRC that might arise if we provided such weaponry. Israel and possibly Italy are prepared to supply surface-to-surface missiles to the ROC and Taipei apparently would not have much difficulty in [Page 550]obtaining patrol crafts from European sources. Moreover, through packages comprised of various third country components the ROC could probably satisfy some of its electronic and naval requirements. Light arms would be readily available to the ROC on the international market, although at a cost to logistical efficiency. Nevertheless, third country channels will represent limited and unreliable sources of supply for the ROC and will not appreciably reduce our key role in maintaining a credible ROC military deterrent.

Technological and Economic Factors

The ROC has had no serious technological difficulties in handling the present levels and sophistication of U.S. equipment and would be technologically capable of absorbing any of the weaponry contemplated under the options presented later in this paper. Present projections indicate that Taiwan’s economic resources would be sufficient to permit purchase of certain new weapon systems even in the event of drastically reduced FMS and Excess Defense Articles availabilities. Over the next five-year period, however, the capability of the ROC economy to support continued increases in defense spending at past rates will diminish. Moreover, the ROC would have to greatly reduce the size of its bloated army and would have to sacrifice much of its current economic infrastructure program if it were to try to greatly improve its current military capabilities vis-à-vis the PRC. (A discussion of ROC Economic Capabilities is presented in Annex A.3)

II

PRC Military Threat to Taiwan

Although political factors will play an even greater role in determining our position on supply of military equipment to the ROC, the strictly military aspects of Taiwan’s security and the ROC’s preoccupation with these must be considered. the PRC military threat to the ROC as summarized below and discussed in Annex B assumes that there will be no change in the PRCUSSR confrontation; that the PRC will neither use nor threaten to use nuclear weapons in invading Taiwan; and that the U.S. will not intervene at least initially in the event of a PRC attack:

1)
The Sino-Soviet border confrontation is a major constraint on Chinese military resources. This confrontation will continue to tie up more than 40% of the PRC ground and air forces and the strongest of its three naval fleets—the North Sea Fleet—for an indefinite period. Nevertheless, the remaining available PRC forces would be sufficient to overcome ROC defenses.
2)
The PRC Air Force could gain air supremacy over the Taiwan Strait in a period of perhaps two or three weeks although only by accepting extremely high losses to the more sophisticated but considerably smaller ROC Air Force. Such losses would gravely compromise Peking’s air arm. This assessment assumes the completion of the ROC’s co-production program of 100 F–5Es and the provision of adequate hardening and anti-aircraft artillery and missiles for key ROC air defense assets.4
3)
The PRC, utilizing only units of its East Sea Fleet, would establish naval supremacy in the Taiwan Strait. If control of the air had been gained, this could be accomplished in short order, perhaps in a matter of days. Once such supremacy is established, PRC naval forces could isolate the off-shore islands and effectively blockade Taiwan’s ports.
4)
Either prior to or concurrent with the establishment of air and naval superiority, the PRC could assemble, load, dispatch, and assault beaches on Taiwan with an amphibious force of some 30,000 infantry troops with equipment plus an additional 75,000 lightly equipped troops by using some 500 small landing craft. (These landing craft, which are largely 60–90-foot LCN’s and which are normally devoted to non-military uses, are all that the PRC is known to have, and thus would have to be mobilized country-wide.) These forces could probably maintain a beachhead for several days—long enough to be reinforced in strength, if air and naval superiority had been established.
5)
In three to five years, the PRC’s capability for a successful attack could be improved through acquisition of air-to-air missiles and additional more advanced aircraft.

III

ROC Force Composition

The ROC’s inability to withstand a determined PRC attack on its own has necessarily required military contingency plans under the Mutual Defense Treaty for active participation of U.S. air and naval forces in Taiwan’s defense in the event of such an attack. Such planning, however, assumes that the ROC would have to meet the first four to five days of a PRC attack with its own forces, giving us time to resort to [Page 552]diplomatic efforts to end the conflict and to assess the need and extent of U.S. involvement in the defense of Taiwan.

Given Taiwan’s location, the nature of the PRC threat, and role ROC forces would have to play in the island’s initial defense, the optimum structure of the ROC military force would be:

  • —an Air Force designed primarily for air-to-air capability against fighters, bombers and airlift forces, and for countering a PRC naval attack;
  • —a navy capable of withstanding attacks by PRC submarine forces and missile-equipped surface craft and of countering PRC amphibious forces in coordination with the ROC Air Force;
  • —a relatively small but mobile and well-equipped ROC Army, including surface-to-air missiles for air defense, backed by a trained reserve force.

ROC Deficiencies

Existing major ROC deficiencies in achieving such a military force are as follows:

Air Defense—The replacement of older aircraft with 100 F–5E aircraft under the current co-production program will provide the ROCAF with a strong air combat capability for the next few years. Completion of this program, however, will still leave the Air Force with over 100 older aircraft (F–104’s and F–100’s) which should be replaced in the early 1980’s. In addition, the ROC AF will presumably continue to require at least some all-weather interceptors, a role now filled by 36 F–104G’s. These also will need to be replaced within the next five to ten years. Depending on PRC capabilities, the ROC may require a follow-up aircraft such as the YF–16 or 17 for the 1980’s.

ROCAF facilities on the ground remain vulnerable to PRC bombardment, and improvements are necessary. An aircraft shelter program, introduction of two battalions of the improved Hawk surface-to-air missile, one of which has already been approved by the USG, and acquisition of modern anti-aircraft artillery such as the Vulcan system would help correct these deficiencies. In addition, improved command and control equipment for the ROC air defense system, including improvements in the air operations center, are necessary.

Defense Against Naval/Amphibious Attack—The Navy is probably the weakest of the ROC services, and has the most immediate deficiencies. Not only is it greatly outnumbered by PRC naval forces, but its ships are inferior. Its most critical deficiency is the limited defense against the PRC’s high speed patrol boats equipped with Styx anti-ship missiles. The Navy is also hampered by a limited anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. Finally, incompatible communications between the Navy and Air Force, and questionable Air Force capabilities against surface ships result in serious naval defense deficiencies.

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Improved electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment on ROC ships would reduce their vulnerability to attack by the PRC’s Styx missiles, but the most effective counter would be for the ROC to obtain its own anti-ship missiles such as Harpoon. These would best be mounted on high-speed patrol boats; construction of five such craft under a co-production arrangement has already been approved by the USG. the ROC’s deficiencies in ASW are of less immediate importance. These could be remedied with improved aircraft (16 S–2E ASW aircraft were recently approved for sale to the ROC), improved sonar and improved torpedoes for the ROC’s destroyers. Finally, a compatible communications system for ROC ships and aircraft and improved anti-ship munitions for the ROCAF, perhaps laser guided bombs, would add considerably to the ROCAF’s ability to participate in defense against an amphibious attack.

IV

OPTIONS

Introduction

The options presented below relate the question of supply of military equipment to the ROC to our overall China policy objectives. They range from handling the issue in a manner designed to minimize arms supply as an obstacle to U.S.–PRC normalization to one designed to maximize ROC confidence in the U.S. security commitment.

The options were developed on the assumption that over the next three to five years the political and psychological importance of U.S. supply of weapons to the ROC will be greater than the objective military importance of the weapons themselves. Both the ROC and PRC will view our handling of this issue as an indicator of the relative importance the U.S. attaches to each. Nevertheless, their reactions to what we do in this sphere may be asymmetric. As an example, the ROC would regard a significant restriction on its present access to weapons as a serious matter while the PRC response might not be equivalently favorable.

It is also worth reiterating that ROC arms access cannot be considered in isolation from the other elements of Taiwan’s security: the deterrent effect of U.S.–PRC relationship, our defense commitment and the remaining U.S. force presence. Not only are these elements inextricably bound up, but their relative importance can—and will—shift markedly depending on events.

Option I, Complete Cut-Off of Access to U.S. Equipment, would completely terminate ROC access to U.S. arms, either immediately or gradually over the next three to five years. Option II, Freezing ROC Access to Current Types and Levels, would restrict ROC access to replacement of items already in its inventory (e.g., the F–5E program would be completed and could be extended to replace additional obsolescent aircraft on a one-for-one basis); no new weapons systems would be authorized. [Page 554]Option III, Limited ROC Access to New Weapons, would at its lower range permit ROC access to some additional and new weapons which we would judge as unlikely to be provocative to the PRC (e.g., improved air-to-air missiles and possibly Harpoon missiles); at its upper range, we would permit access to new weapons which run a higher risk of provoking the PRC if we thought such weapons were necessary to shore up ROC confidence or to counter a growing PRC capability (e.g., Harpoon missile and AS ROC). Option IV, Substantial ROC Access to New Weapons, would permit ROC access to a broad range of new weapons systems (e.g., large number of laser-guided bombs and YF–16 or 17 aircraft as follow-on to F–5E). Under all of these options, even Option I, we would not interfere with ROC purchases from third countries, unless under exceptional circumstances; in some cases we might encourage such ROC purchases.

We have considered these options in light of the following criteria:

1)
the impact on our objective of reducing the military component of Taiwan’s security;
2)
the effect on U.S.–PRC normalization;
3)
the effect on Taiwan’s confidence and stability;
4)
the deterrent effect against a PRC use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue;
5)
the effect on chances of ROCPRC political accommodation;
6)
the ROC’s economic and technological capabilities.

Option I. Complete Cut-Off of Access to US Equipment

This option would seek to eliminate or minimize to the greatest extent possible the issue of U.S. arms supply to Taiwan as an obstacle to normalization of relations with the PRC. At the lower range of the option, ROC access to U.S. arms would be terminated abruptly. At the upper range, ROC access would be phased out over the next three to five years. In either case, the cut-off would be complete: no additional equipment or spare parts would be authorized for sale to Taiwan.

Advantages:

  • —would promote normalization of U.S.–PRC relations;
  • —would impose least economic burden on the U.S. and ROC;
  • —upper range of option could ease PRC pressure for an abrupt arms supply cut-off, while offering ROC transitional period to adjust to new reality;
  • —could be used as bargaining chip in negotiations with Peking;
  • —although at the risk of chaos on Taiwan, would increase pressures on ROC to seek accommodation with the PRC.

Disadvantages:

  • —would cause deep erosion of ROC confidence, leading to possible disintegration of social order or desperate acts which could complicate [Page 555]rather than ease U.S.–PRC relations; our direct responsibility for such consequences would confront us with serious problems at home and abroad;
  • —could cause PRC to miscalculate our intentions with respect to Taiwan, tempting it to use, or more likely to threaten to use, force as Taiwan’s defense capabilities rapidly deteriorate;
  • —would result in a severe decline in our influence with the ROC;
  • —so long as security treaty remained in effect, would necessitate earlier and more substantial U.S. role in meeting our defense commitment in event of PRC attack;
  • —might prompt accelerated ROC efforts to develop nuclear weapons;
  • —could cause serious concern in other Asian nations dependent on the U.S.;
  • —would endanger U.S. investment on Taiwan.

Option II. Freezing ROC Access to Current Types and Levels

This option would place new limitations on arms supply to the ROC in order to improve the climate for U.S.–PRC normalization. Over a three to five-year period it would involve an unmistakable deterioration of ROC military capabilities relative to the PRC. Under this option we would permit continued access to spare parts, replacement of equipment or items already in the ROC inventory and certain improved models made necessary by phase-out of weapons in the U.S. inventory (e.g., F–5Es, improved Hawk missiles). Under this option no new weapons systems would be authorized. An illustrative list of the kinds of equipment which could be provided under this option is at Annex C I.

Advantages:

  • —could for a time at least reduce arms supply as obstacle to normalization of U.S.–PRC relations;
  • —would for the next few years maintain a credible ROC military deterrence;
  • —would preserve some elements of our arms relationship with the ROC as a bargaining chip for later use with Peking;
  • —would reduce U.S. economic burden;
  • —could over time help convey to the ROC our interest in its seeking accommodation with the PRC.

Disadvantages:

  • —as departure from present practice would erode ROC confidence in U.S. support, possibly leading to instability on Taiwan or to ROC moves which could complicate our relations with the PRC;
  • —could over time tempt PRC to threaten the use of force since disparity in relative military power in the Taiwan Strait area would gradually increase;
  • —to extent ROC’s self-defense capability is limited, would imply earlier and more extensive US role in the event of PRC attack;
  • —might prompt accelerated ROC efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Option III. Limited ROC Access to New Weapons

This option is divided into a lower and upper range. Under the lower range the ROC would not be permitted to obtain “controversial” new equipment; under the upper range we would permit limited acquisition of such equipment. We would define “controversial” as any major, new weapon which would be seen by the PRC as providing the ROC clear technological superiority or altering the current relative military “balance”. Since we cannot be confident in assessing Peking’s views, we would also have to take into account the role in the U.S. inventory, and popular “image” of the weapon.

Under the lower range, we would permit the ROC to replace or modestly increase existing equipment (including F–5E aircraft), and would also permit it to obtain new equipment which is not “controversial” (e.g., anti-tank missiles, certain kinds of ECM equipment, improved command and control systems for air defense; the Harpoon missile to counter the rapidly growing PRC Styx missile boat threat would be a borderline case). We assume the ROC would turn where possible to third-country sources for “controversial” weaponry and we would not interfere. Our objective under this lower range of equipment supply would be to maintain a balance between accommodating PRC sensitivities and fulfilling ROC needs for psychological confidence in its security. An illustrative list of the kinds of equipment which could be provided under this lower range option is at Annex C II.

Under the upper range, we would permit the ROC to replace and modestly increase existing equipment, including a limited number of new equipment items the PRC might consider “controversial”, but which would help to maintain ROC confidence in U.S. intentions and in its ability to deal with what it perceives to be serious and growing PRC capabilities. However, if there were alternative sources of such “controversial” equipment available to the ROC, we would not feel compelled to supply our equipment. The objective would be to give, within limits, greater emphasis to ROC psychological concerns over its security, while accepting some risk of PRC displeasure over our actions in the arms supply area. We would have to make a careful case-by-case examination of all ROC requests keeping in mind that the extent to which any weapons system is “controversial” might well change, either over time or because of other changes in the relationships between [Page 557]the U.S. and the two Chinese parties. Under this option we would provide the Harpoon missile or laser guided bombs. An illustrative list of the kinds of equipment which could be provided under this upper range option is at Annex C III.

Advantages:

  • —should be sufficiently reassuring to ROC (particularly at upper range) to prevent instability on Taiwan or acts of desperation; would cushion the impact of any further changes in the ROC’s political environment;
  • —provides flexibility to deal with weapons supply in the context of evolving U.S. China policy and probable changes in other elements of Taiwan’s security;
  • —would maintain credible, though gradually deteriorating, ROC military deterrent;
  • —would inhibit PRC temptation to use force;
  • —would provide the U.S. with a bargaining chip in later negotiations with the PRC.

Disadvantages:

  • —particularly at upper range could give rise to both PRC and ROC doubts about our interest in normalization and peacefully resolving the Taiwan problem;
  • —might involve modest risk to ROC (particularly at lower range) by acquiescing in a gradual deterioration of ROC defense capability relative to that of the PRC;
  • —provides the least precise practical guidelines for judging specific items of military equipment;
  • —at upper range would place strain on ROC economic capabilities;
  • —long lead times for many new weapons systems may lead to misunderstanding of U.S. intentions by PRC when weapons delivered.

Option IV—Substantial ROC Access to New Weapons

Under this option we would permit the ROC to attempt to maintain or enhance its military capabilities relative to those of the PRC. the ROC would be permitted to increase its inventory of weapons systems already held, and also obtain new weapons systems in significant numbers. The distinction between “controversial” or “non-controversial” equipment would be minimized, but not ignored, and we would continue to prevent the ROC from acquiring a serious offensive capability for use against the PRC. Our objective under this option would be to use arms supply as a means of enhancing ROC confidence in its security and of minimizing the effects of any other changes in our security relationship with the ROC. Under this option we would provide [Page 558]both Harpoon missiles and laser guided bombs and eventually YF–16 or 17 follow-on aircraft. An illustrative list of equipment which would be provided under this option is at Annex C IV.

Advantages:

  • —by maximizing ROC confidence, would entail least risk of ROC instability or acts of desperation and would cushion the impact of any further changes in its political environment;
  • —greater ROC capability might reduce need for more direct U.S. involvement in Taiwan security.

Disadvantages:

  • —would hinder normalization of U.S.–PRC relations and the wider U.S. objectives associated with it;
  • —would mislead ROC about U.S. interest in achieving a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan problem in keeping with Shanghai Communiqué
  • —strain in U.S.–PRC relations would reduce the political deterrent against a PRC attack;
  • —would place maximum burden on the ROC economy, and would require substantial new U.S. financial assistance;
  • PRC would be likely to view this course as an increased threat to it, and might augment its own forces in the area;
  • —long lead times involved would mean deliveries into late eighties of approvals within this period.5

[Omitted here are Annex A on ROC economic capabilities, Annex B on the PRC military threat, and Annex C of illustrative lists of equipment under various options.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–32, NSSM 212, U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China. Top Secret; Sensitive. This study was prepared in response to NSSM 212, Document 88. Scowcroft received the study under a November 12 covering letter from Habib, who chaired this interdepartmental group. (Ibid.) On January 10, 1975, Jeanne Davis sent it to the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of State, and Director of Central Intelligence. The Chairman of the JCS also received a copy. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files:FRC 330–78–0059, China (Nats), 1975, 091.3, 10 Jan 1975)
  2. See footnote 3, Document 73.
  3. Annexes A–C are attached but not printed.
  4. On January 14, 1975, Davis distributed a memorandum that asked recipients of the study to insert a footnote that reads: “USAF and DIA believe that the initial PRC air assault against Taiwan would be carried out with sufficient forces to overwhelm the ROC AC&W system, thus negating the ROC advantages in equipment and training, reducing PRC losses, and insuring the early attainment of PRC superiority.” (Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–32, NSSM 212, U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China)
  5. A memorandum prepared by the NSC staff reported the various departmental views: State favored Option III in its lower range; Defense supported Option III in its upper range;CIA took no formal position but asserted that Options II or III, singly or in combination, were the most realistic means to maintain the U.S. relationships with the PRC and the ROC while preserving stability in Taiwan. The authors of the memorandum agreed with State that Option III in its lower range provided the best broad policy guidance. (Memorandum from Solomon, Granger, and Froebe to Kissinger, May 23, 1975; Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–32, NSSM 212, U.S. Security Assistance to the Republic of China)