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Letter to Ambassador Warren Austin Restating the U.S. Position on Formosa.

August 27, 1950

Dear Warren:

As I told you on the telephone this morning I want to congratulate you on your able presentation of the views of the United States Government in the Security Council of the United Nations from the first onset of the aggression against the Republic of Korea. Throughout the entire course of the proceedings you have represented this Government with great effectiveness and in full accordance with my directions.

The letter which you addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations on August 25 on the subject of Formosa admirably stuns up the fundamental position of this Government as it had been stated by me on June 27 and in my message to the Congress on July 19. You have clearly set forth in that letter the heart and essence of the problem. You have faithfully set down my views as they were then and as they are now.

To the end that there be no misunderstanding concerning the position of the Government of the United States with respect to Formosa, it may be useful to repeat here the seven fundamental points which you so clearly stated in your letter to Mr. Lie.

"(1) The United States has not encroached on the territory of China, nor has the United States taken aggressive action against China.

"(2) The action of the United States in regard to Formosa was taken at a time when that island was the scene of conflict with the mainland. More serious conflict was threatened by the public declaration of the Chinese Communist authorities. Such conflict would have threatened the security of the United Nations forces operating in Korea under the mandate of the Security Council to repel the aggression on the Republic of Korea. They threatened to extend the conflict through the Pacific area.

"(3) The action of the United States was an impartial neutralizing action addressed both to the forces on Formosa and to those on the mainland. It was an action designed to keep the peace and was, therefore, in full accord with the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations. As President Truman has solemnly declared, we have no designs on Formosa, and our action was not inspired by any desire to acquire a special position for the United States.

"(4) The action of the United States was expressly stated to be without prejudice to the future political settlement of the status of the island. The actual status of the island is that it is territory taken from Japan by the victory of the Allied forces in the Pacific. Like other such territories, its legal status cannot be fixed until there is international action to determine its future. The Chinese Government was asked by the Allies to take the surrender of the Japanese forces on the island. That is the reason the Chinese are there now.

"(5) The United States has a record through history of friendship for the Chinese people. We still feel the friendship and know that millions of Chinese reciprocate it, We took the lead with others in the last United Nations General Assembly to secure approval of a resolution on the integrity of China. Only the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites did not approve that resolution.

"(6) The United States would welcome United Nations consideration of the case of Formosa. We would approve full United Nations investigation here, or on the spot. We believe that United Nations consideration would contribute to a peaceful, rather than a forceable solution of that problem.

"(7) We do not believe that the Security Council need be, or will be, diverted from its consideration of the aggression against the Republic of Korea. There was a breach of the peace in Korea. The aggressor attacked, has been condemned, and the combined forces of the United Nations are now in battle to repel the aggression.

"Formosa is now at peace and will remain so unless someone resorts to force.

"If the Security Council wishes to study the question of Formosa we shall support and assist that study. Meanwhile, the President of the Security Council should discharge the duties of his office and get on with the item on the agenda, which is the complaint of Aggression Against the Republic of Korea, and, specifically, the recognition of the right of the Korean Ambassador to take his seat and the vote on the United States resolution for the localization of the Korean conflict."

These seven points accurately record the position of the United States.

In the forthcoming discussion of the problem in the Security Council you will continue to have my complete support.

Sincerely yours,


[The Honorable Warren R. Austin, United States Representative in the United Nations, 2 Park Avenue, New York, New York]

Harry S Truman, Letter to Ambassador Warren Austin Restating the U.S. Position on Formosa. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230173

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