33 Cablegram from Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Washington, 20 August 1958

1562. Secret

Communist China

Following from Marshall Green (Regional Planning Adviser, Far East) on 19th August:

Khrushchev-Mao Meeting1

  1. All evidence now suggested that the Khrushchev-Mao meeting had been prepared some time in advance and that such questions as a Summit Meeting in the Security Council and the convening of a Special Session of the General Assembly had been side issues. Green believed that the central questions under discussion had been:
    1. development of more aggressive Communist China external policies including increased pressure on the Off-Shore Islands and Taiwan, and
    2. Communist China request for nuclear and other modern weapons.

[matter omitted]

Nuclear Weapons

[matter omitted]

  1. The State Department believed […] that the Russians had so far resisted Communist Chinese demands for nuclear weapons and there was an accumulation of intelligence evidence to back up the view that the Russians would refuse to make such weapons available to the Chinese because of the fear that the Soviet Union might be dragged into some rash adventure. Also the risk to the Russians of United States passing nuclear weapons to its allies was a factor Moscow would need to consider. There was a possibility that the Soviet Union might be willing to station Russian units with nuclear weapons in Communist China, but the State Department believed that in this case, the Russians would insist on retaining a strict control of such weapons. A further possibility was that nuclear weapons might be secretly stationed in China, but if the fact remained unknown it would not, of course, serve to increase China's capacity to apply pressure.
  2. It was of interest that in two conversations in Moscow during last week Russian officials had hinted to United States Ambassador, Thompson2 that, if the United States would keep a firm control over the National[ist] Chinese, they would exercise a similar restraint on the Communist Chinese. The State Department did not expect any change in the Russian position and believed, on the evidence available, that the Communist Chinese would not themselves be able to fabricate nuclear weapons for a number of years.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, TS695/5/5]