CHINESE REACTIONS TO CERTAIN COURSES OF ACTION IN INDOCHINA

Created: 6/11/1970

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Concurring:

It. Gen. R. E. Cushman,SMC, the Deputyf

Central Intelligence Mr. George C. Oenney,or the Director of Intelligence

and Research, Department of State Lt. Gen. Donald V. Bennett, the Director, Defense Intelligence

Agency

Vice Adra. Noel Gayler, the Director, National Security Agency Abstaining:

Kr. Charles A. Sorwier, for the Assistant General Hanager, Atomic Energy Conrnission and Mr. Fred J. Cassidy, for the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.

et

ibution

E AGENCY0

SUBJECT: CHINESE REACTIONS TO CERTAIN COURSES OF

ACTION IN INDOCHINA

NOTE

The changing character of the struggle in Indochina has raised again the question of Chinese responses to postulated developments there. This paper considers how the Chinese might react to guerrilla operations by small units of indigenous Southeastesigned to cut cotnnunfst supply lines in certain areas of northwestern South Vietnam, southern Laos, and northeastern Cambodia. US participation would be limited to training and air support. In particular, the paper assesses theof the Chinese using "volunteers"esponse to successful guerrilla operations to interdict communist lines of coirnvuni cation in this area.

This paper does not attempt to describe the extent of Chinese Contnunist capabilities to conduct conventional or guerrilla type military operations in Indochina.

THE ESTIMATE

I. PEKING'S GENERAL VIEW OF TNE STRUGGLE IN INDOCHINA

1. From the outset of armed struggle in Vietnam, Peking has set cautious limits on its own role in the Indochina conflict. Chinese

* Specifically, Thai, South Vietnamese, Cambodians, Lao, and local tribal groups.

statements have made clear that the fightingest of Hao's theory of "people's war." They have consistently advised the communists tn Indochina to persist in self-reliant and protracted warfare andong and costly struggle before eventual victory. Theyo victory achieved in this way would enhance their claims for Ideological pre-eminence over the Soviet Union and strengthen their political Influence in Asia. Thus. Peking's policy has been to rule out any use of Chinese troops in the ground fighting and to Unit the risks of even an accidental confrontation with the US. The Involveient of Chinese forces in the struggle hat been Halted to construction and anti-aircraft missions In North Vietnam and in northwestern Laos.00 Chinese have in the past performed such missions In North Vietnam. China has built roads from its own territory Into Laos, and currently has within northwestern Laos00 troops in engfneerirg, anti-aircraft artillery, and security units. China's troubled internal situation and Its unresolved problems with the USSR will probably incline Its leaders to continue Baking cautious calculations of risk.

2. Recent developments in Cambodia do not appear to have changed this basic approach. So long as Allied moves do net critically affect Hanoi's ability to continue the war, Pekingikely to minimize the

threat to Its own Interests and to Interpret new Allied Initiatives as further evidence that the US is getting more and more bogged down In an expanding war. Peking has consistently asserted, and appears to believe, that the US Isosing war In which Hanoi has only to he patient and persevererder to outlast the US. To help Hanoi preserve that patience. China will continue to supply North Vietnam with economic and military aid. But In this process Peking will rent in careful to keep its support indirect and its forces out of the lino of fire. In this connection we have observed no significant changes in the essentially defensive posture of Chinese military forcesouth China that wouldajor shift in Peking's assessment of the Indochina conflict.

3. The many recent reports that Chinese troops have already intervened or are about to intervene In the Indochina fighting do not stand up under careful analysis. They lack internal consistency, come from untested or clearly unreliable sources, or are deprived from obvious rumors or unfounded speculation. Ho credible source hassighted Chinese troops either In Cambodia or Southern Laos and no Chinese bodies or prisoners have been taken to date. We expect further such reports, however, because the corawnists are aware that even rumors of Chines* intervention have considerable psychologicalbecause the many ethnic Chines? in Southeast Asia complicate th*

identification problea; and finally,atter of such Import Is bound to generate widespread speculation and conjecture among the peoples of Indochina. Improbable as they may be, such reports can not he ignored, and will call for careful checking.

II. CHINESE REACTION TO THE USE OF INDIGENOUS GUERRILLAS IN ATTEMPTS TO DISRUPT COIffJNIST SUPPLY LINES

4. Peking's basic approach described above would, we believe, determine its reactions to any attempts by the Allies to use Southeast Asian guerrilla forces for the purpose of harassing coranunist supply lines in southern Laos, northwestern South Vietnam, and northeastern Cambodia. Thus, Peking's initial reaction to the operations of such units would probably be low key. In the past China has reacted directly only to threats to its iirnedtate border regions and the area underhere is well removed from tht Chinese border. Moreover, the Chinese would probably see the action for whatas, an effort to cut tha logistics flow southward, anfhreat to northern Laos or North Vietnam itself. In their propaganda, they would describe It as further evidence of US intent to shift the burden of fighting toforces. Peking already charges the US with using "Asians to fight Asians" and the Allied employment of Indigenous groups for guerrilla

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action would not be seen in Pekingajor departure from what they already assume to be US/Allied policy. In short, Peking's awareness of the addition of such small units to the fighting in Indochina would probably not lead to courses of action other than more propaganda and the usual reassurances to Hanoi.

5. If the guerrilla operations began to disrupt the flow of supplies, Peking would tend to see this as simply requiring stronger reaction on the part of Hanoi in offending its lines of communication. Peking would, of ccarse, offer further supplies of arms and equipment to allay whatever apprehens'on Hanoi feU. But we believe that .North Vietnam has sufficient manpower resources of its own to cope, at least initially, with the disruptive effects of guerrilla operations.

6 Should the added effect of guerrilla operations come toore sertous threat to VC/NVA supply lines, despite the initialcounteract!onst we believe Sanoi would commit nore of its own available military strength rather than call for Chinese troops, even in the guise of "volunteers." Ue remain convinced that Hanoi would be most reluctant to invtte Chinese fcrces into Its "liberation" war unless the security of North Vietnam was itself critically threatened. For its part. Peking would probably calculate that the dispatch of

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"volunteers" in any number would soon become apparent and would involve risks of confrontation with US forces. Peking may believe that the odds of the US taking any serious retaliatory action are diminishing;in view of its other problems we doubt that the Chinese would wish to become directly involved inotentially complicatedunless the security of North Vietnam were itself at stake.

7- 9 would, of course, remain alert to the possibility that the activity discussed abovearger scale and more formal Allied military effort in Laos. Peking's concern over this possibility would increase if the Allied action was announced publicly and inay as to imply the beginningsS-supported Southeast Asian military alliance. Peking might feel it advisable in theseto attempt to forestall any such action by intensifying its threats against the participating Asian nations.

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