SNIE 100-12-58 - PROBABLE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE TAIWAN STRAIT CRISIS

Created: 10/28/1958

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE NUMBER

PROBABLE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE TAIWAN STRAIT CRISIS

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PROBABLE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE TAIWAN STRAIT CRISIS

THE PROBLEM

To estimate probable Chinese Communist courses of action with respect to the crisis which has existed in the Taiwan Strait since August; and probable Chinese Communist, Chinese Nationalist, and non-Communist East Asian reactions topossible developments ln the Taiwan Strait area.

THE ESTIMATE

the chinese communists and the Taiwan strait crisis

A. Chinese Communisl Objectives and Mo-lives in Initialing the Crist*

n Initiating ibe present crisis, Commuxtlat China has shown greater boldness lo probingntentions in the Taiwan Slialt than at any Ume heretofore. This shift in tactics bas taken placeackground ofIncreased Chinese Communist asserUve-ness and confidence since tbe advent of spal-nix. In general, however, we believe that the shift in tactics In the Taiwan area docs not portend any basic change In the over-allof Chinese Communist foreign policy as described In

he Chinese CotnmunieU regard continued GRC control of the offshore islands as an

a Ml Hw lttS! Held Out; Um CtUtwM Comrannlcti vkv the present world position of the BicecoeuJderable. confidence: Uier reel tbe trend tn Atie to De rename: satinet Uw West; tbar are not bapattent lo aeMeve IbtUber are directing Bear eneriVa lowers tbe ta-tencec&ele objecUn of eva*anlng U* and Infleenet of ibe US lo Axe: Ibe prtoapaJ Oma of tbelf poBcr will continue telessen-ataenest aod preterm ooaxutenee, ihouch Uiej will dlsplar more uecrUvencai; tber era con-remed about the troth of "two China*"to their national prestige and dignity They may itUI regard the ORG position oo the offshore islands, backed aa It ts by the US,ililary threat. However, wc do not believe that the Chineae Command lathe present crMs with the firm attemitoo Of obtaining the offshore Islands regardless of GRC. US, and aval reactions. Such recent actions ba the present crtsU as the failure to use the CCAF for offensive action, tbe less than maximum possible artillery effort, the emphasis on the undermining of Chinese Nationalist morale, and the cessation of the bombardmentlmost certainly Indicate that Pelplng's leaders are using military power primarilyolitical weapon, and lhat tbey are notto the immediate capture of. tbe island* at all coals.

menl;l probably not resect to eeert nUO-tarv miuUmi which ihey beOeve weald In voir? (beta to eomterv aeUen with tbe OB. tbe* triO cooUnoe COcb effort* to eeeWrntne WstloBeHst wSt asat -tete poiiffiiiwy cannot be eatludedLV Chinese CtdxuMU WIS Sduptrsont acaieaalte poller toward Um Ofttbore Islands, to put tecauae of mutet WittaUon slidseme of afteont. In pert to eeapbesUe IheU Oeurmlnslkc lo destrOv tha MaUoneJist Oovernraenl,oS Intentions in Uie Talwsn area."

Nor do we believe ihat ihe Chineseviewed the acquisition of the offshore Islands aa their fundamental objective. Thelr prbnary purpose in Increasing military and political pressure In the Taiwan Strait area was undoubtedly to further their ultimata goal of eliminating the ORC and bringing about the withdrawal of US forces from the Taiwan area. Tbey probably bcoVvcd that their action would serve this purpose: (a) by probing DS determination tn support the ORC; <b) byedge between the US and the ORC; (c) by discrediting the ORC and the US before world opinion; (d) bythe world that Communist China must be reckoned(e) byrift toward wider acceptancee facto "two Crimea" situation, and (f) by straining Nationalist morale. Although domestic con-skJetatlora probably played some part In Use timing of the Chinese Communal initialwe believe that these considers ikvis ware of secondary Importance In the reaching of tha decision to Initiate the attack.

Available evidence, albeit inconclusive,that tbe USSR did not Initiate the crisis by encouraging the Chineseto ihtlr actions. However, the Soviets clearly acquiesced in It and have supportedtfft* certainly In the behef that II would not lead to large-scale hostilities between Cccnmunlst China and the US. There Is no evidence as to what rots tbe USSR played, if any. In the temporary rjspenslon of shelling.

b. Present Chinese Communis! Intentions

the expectations of theleaders In July and August,probably become convinced that thewould fight rather than permit thekdands to fan In the face of directpressure. Is these eCoramuniitj. appamntly unwillingresort to those increased militarywhich would berteccesaxy to effect aInterdiction of the Wands,that they can best pursue theirat the moment by emphasisingaspect of their effort, whilea measure of military pressure. They probably retain considerable confidenceourse of shelling and mu-rmlttent "truces'* will still serve to aggravate US GRC relations, erode Nationalist morale, and exert world and domestic pressures on tlie US to effect sof Nationalist troops from the offshore islands,tep towards Communal China's aim of eliminating the ORC

The Chines* Communists abnost certainly consider that their positiontrong one and that there fat little compulsion on them to make conccsslona. They probably intend to maintain In tbe Warsaw talks that the only Issue negotiable with the USithdrawal of US forces from the Taiwan area. Insisting that the question of the csTabora Islands and Taiwanurely Chinese affair. However, they probablyontinuation of these talks as desirable in order to give the world the Impress ton that they are willing toto forestall UN or other International consider! U* of the crista, to arouse doubts In the GRCs mind regarding US policy, and to reap whatever prestige benefits result from direct talks with the US. At the same time, they win probably continue to offer towith th* ORC, suggesting to Useopenly and through covert contacts that they had bettereal soon before the US abandons them. They will almostprefer such negotiating channels to any discussion of tha crisis In the UN or in any other international forum, since this would probably Involve resolutions which would not fully endorse Peiping's position and which might have "two Chinas" connotations.

Peiping's negotiating position is limited by its concern that acceptance of any conces-stoos might prejudice Its claim to Taiwan and the offshore Islands. It may hope that the US will exert pressure on tbe ORC tofrom tbe offshore islands, filiating that such preasure wiD exacerbate us-GRC relation* However, the Chinese Commnnats would not acceptithdrawalermanent solution to the Taiwan problem, although they may suggest that if they were given the offshore Ulanda and it the US were

to withdraw Its forces from the Taiwan area, they would not use force against Taiwanertain period. They certainly do note locto neutralizationeduction of the Nationalist garrisons as acceptable solutions, and it Is most unlikely that they wouldto such proposals by offering any con-cessUone. Certainly theynot agree to torn, reciprocal measuresemilitarisation of the coastal area opposite the offshore Uttanda

The specific actions which Communist Chma will pursue within the uxnlta Indicated aboverefraining from both extreme risks and major concessionsare difficult toChinese Communist (actio will depend In Luge measure on Soviet attitudes and on Nationalist and particularly US actlona The Chinese Communists will probably move up new and Improved aircraft and other weapons Into the immediate coastal areas, but wethat they will continue to refrain fromirect assault to capture Ibeoffshore islands as long as they believe that this would involve there Ln hostilities with the US. Nevertheless, this does not rule out,in the event that their present tactics fall to advance their cause, tbe resumption of serious Interdiction efforts and mereemployment of ah and naval units tn the Taiwan Strait Although the Chineaeprobably now believe that the US would fight rather than permit the mends to fall In tbe lace of direct military pressure, they probably also believe that the C8 would exercise considerable restraint short of aand flagrant Chinese CommunistConsequently, they probably believe that It would be safe again toigh degree of military tension In the Strait area. Iaituation there would alwayserious chance of miscalculation, from which hostilities could devetOp betweennd Chineae Communist forces.

On balance, we feel that for the near future the chancesrolongation of the present situation of no maximum interdiction effort, ito serious negotiation, no solution. Assuming the Nationalists remain on theislands, the Chinese Communists wii!

probably maintain an atmosphere of crisis and tension in tba Taiwan Strait for some Ume to come. In any event, they win not give up their efforts to sptlt the US and the GRC. to cause the collapse of the GRC. andsnntm US prestige tn As**.

e do not anticipate that the Chinese Communists wm take evert military action against other Far Eastern countries during the near future In Ihe event that theislands weie lost by the Chinesewe would foresee heightenedpressures against other areas ol Asia.

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