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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXII, Northeast Asia, Document 21


21. Letter From President Kennedy to President ChiangSourceSource: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Kennedy/Johnson Correspondence with Chinese Officials. Confidential. Limit Distribution. The letter was pouched to Taipei on April 24. It was drafted in the Office of Chinese Affairs, except the last sentence which was added in the White House, and was sent to the White House with a covering memorandum of April 14 from Rusk stating that it had been drafted to take advantage of the occasion to reassure Chiang of U.S. support. (Ibid., Central Files, 303/4-1461)

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I have received your thoughtful letter of April 1,11. See footnote 2, Document 19. which was brought to Washington by Ambassador Yeh following his consultations in Taipei. I am grateful for your kind words of greeting and wish to reciprocate them fully. I appreciate also your careful exposition of the views of the Government of the Republic of China with regard to the problem of Chinese representation in the United Nations and other problems facing the nations of the free world.

My government is keenly aware of the expansionist aims of world communism and of the particular threat posed by its sustained efforts to divide the free world. The Republic of China faces most directly the threat of communist aggression. Here the Communists do not conceal their aims, but rather they proclaim their “right” to attack Taiwan. I assure you, Mr. President, that my Government will faithfully adhere to its commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty between our countries.

We are mindful of Communist attempts to manipulate the United Nations so that it may serve as an instrument in their drive for world domination. We will continue to use every opportunity to strengthen the United Nations as the best means of preserving genuine world peace and protecting the independence of small nations.

One of our major objectives in the United Nations is the maintenance of the status of the Republic of China as a member of the organization. Our problem is not one of objectives, on which we agree, but rather on the choice of tactics to attain those objectives. We have indicated to Ambassador Yeh, with whom we are in close consultation, our serious doubt that sufficient support remains to carry the moratorium procedure successfully in the next General Assembly, and are giving urgent consideration to other tactical means of assuring success in attaining our objectives. These exchanges with Ambassador Yeh have been most useful. We will continue to consult closely with him in the interest of both our countries and of the free world.

In the long run, the free world can best meet the challenge of communism by strengthening its democratic institutions and making them more responsive to the aspirations of the peoples of the world. In this connection, the American people have become increasingly aware of the significant social and economic progress that has been achieved in Taiwan during recent years in spite of the heavy burden imposed by the requirements of defense against Communist aggression. The United States Government has supported these successful endeavors and will continue to do so as free China demonstrates in its accelerated economic growth program that a nation can advance the material welfare of its people while maintaining its great traditions.

Please accept my best wishes for continued success in your high office in the service of the Chinese people. My wife joins me in extending greetings to you and Madame Chiang.

Sincerely,

John F. Kennedy22. Printed from a copy that indicates President Kennedy signed the original note.

* Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Kennedy/Johnson Correspondence with Chinese Officials. Confidential. Limit Distribution. The letter was pouched to Taipei on April 24. It was drafted in the Office of Chinese Affairs, except the last sentence which was added in the White House, and was sent to the White House with a covering memorandum of April 14 from Rusk stating that it had been drafted to take advantage of the occasion to reassure Chiang of U.S. support. (Ibid., Central Files, 303/4-1461)

1 See footnote 2, Document 19.

2 Printed from a copy that indicates President Kennedy signed the original note.