The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/8)

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Korea: (a) Chinese Intervention

Korea: (a) Chinese Intervention

E.B. 

We tried to pursue policy wh. wd. avoid Ch. interventn.
Now comg. up in Sec. Council. We have voted to hear Ch. Govt. - on both ques. on interventn, they have declined to attend "to discuss MacA.'s report" because apparently he is appointee of U.N. (illegal etc). So that ques. is being discussed. May be another line-up, v. China for resistg. U.N. decision.  Don't yet know.
Hutchinson has recd unconfirmed rpt. tht. R. troops are passing thro' Tsientsin. Trying to get confirmn. If U.S. bomb Manchuria v. serious posn may arise.
India has lost influence over this because ignored by China.
Looks like a big tussle - in Korea and in U.N

C.A.S. 

Chinese in gt. strength in M'churia. In Korea, elements of 5 Armies identified. U.S. think 35.000. R-type fighters in large nos.
Not v. effective - may therefore be flown by Ch. or Koreans.
Risk tht. U.N. overwhelming air power may be off set.
If Ch. took a v. serious offensive, U.N. forces shd. have reasonable chance of holdg. it - mainly because of air power.
Complete clearance of all Korea and establmt of U.N. regime is not now practicable w'out risk of major war. Lasting commitmt Ques: how reduce it and prevent major war. Doubtful if we cd. reach or hold frontier w'out attackg. targets in M'churia. To hold it, 450 miles line in mountainous country.  Alternative line across neck only 100/150 miles. Mil. threat wd. be same wthr. on frontier or other line - guerrilla opns. Gt. disadv. of crossing 38th was always loss of air weapon unless ready to bomb w'in M'churia.  Want buffer area this side of frontier. Ch. prob. playing R. game of involvg. us in lastg. commitmt.  Tho' a genuine defensive element in their policy.
Recommend therefore U.N. stand fast on alternative line.  Declare area to N. de militarised - but bomb it if used by Ch/N. Korean forces.  Case fire on that line pendg. discn in U.N. And m'while clear up guerrilla opns to the south.
Strategically Korea is unimportant and we want to disengage as quickly as we can.
Alternative line - around 40th, about 120 miles n. of 38th.
Wd. cover most of importce in Korea save power stations.  And it wd. be militarily unwise to go for those.

E.B. 

This brings in Relief - on wh. we have bn. talkg. to U.S. Amb.
I believe R. is switchg. aggressive role to Chinese. Want in U.N. to take a line makg. it clear we aren't threatening China. This will put us right with Asian opinion. Don't want it to appear tht. mil. necessity is carrying us on Imperialist road.
Don't want U.S. to go for 100% of Korea. State Dpt. are sound on this. But are U.S. military?

C.A.S. 

We don't know and are nervous.

E.B. 

Cab. decn on "buffer" policy wd. help, if put to U.S. and our friends in U.N. Shd. like to make our posn clear at once.
Coupled with relief. U.S. want bigger contn from us, as evce of our goodwill.
On U.N. proportions M. shd. give £5 m. U.S. suggest we give £12 m.
We shall have to spend on troops or relief. Combine [cost of] C.O.S. "buffer" policy and instruct Younger in U.N. to negotiate relief budget with thght in mind tht. we might go above £5 m. if we saw chance of earlier cease fire thereby. This wd. make it easier to get a clear U.S. directive to stop MacA. fr. embarkg. on dangerous adventures.

A.B. 

How wd. no man's land be administered? Wd. China be assocd with it?

E.B. 

Don't know yet.

P.M. 

Endorse this general line.
{We must continue to save U.S. fr. themselves.
{A way to save both U.S. and Chinese faces.
{Money for relief rather than troops.

Att.G. 

No legal issues arise.
Ch. action no more illegal than U.S. over Formosa.
On legal basis, cd. we do a deal by wh. U.S. yields over Formosa and Ch. over Korea?

E.B. 

Policy will be settled in next 24 hrs. in U.N. Want to put across a complete scheme at once: and get U.S. and Canada to sponsor it.

E.Sh. 

Need to know wthr. U.S. wd. support this line. 
Latest tel. fr. Tedder is reassuring. U.S. mil authies don't want to get embroiled any further.
F.O. telegram to Pekin re evacuation of B. nationals. Mght this not give impression tht. we mean to cause serious trouble?

E.B. 

Diff. choice.  Suppose I leave them there and things go wrong. Apart fr. criticisms, what cd. our Forces do then to help? Wd. reduce their efficiency.  Not fair to B. authies there to take this risk. Doubt if it wd. influence Ch. policy decisions.

A.B. 

Endorse E.B.'s general line. Wd. like to add one more thing. Convey to Chinese tht. alternative line is not chosen on mil. grounds alone - lest they feel reculer pour mieux sauter. Cd. we accompany it by statemt. tht. we are doing our best to assuage reasonable Ch. fears? They must be basing their policy on U.S. Press and MacArthur - neither of wh. is at all reassuring.  Also get Indians to vouch for our sincerity. And, as soon as poss., associate Ch. with adminn of buffer area.

H.M. 

Last suggn mght provoke revival of Ch. Comm. infiltration fr. over a line.
Endorse E.B.'s policy.
Cost of relief - mainly because of damage done by U.N. Forces.  Was more damage done that was strictly necessary?

P.M. 

Rope Doms. into support of this policy. Agreed.

G.W. 

Don't rely on India to influence China.
No man's land shd. not include any part of Manchuria, as State Dpt. appear to contemplate.

Taken from C.M. 73(50) - Meeting held on 13 November 1950.