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Anti-Communist National Salvation Army

The Anti-Communist National Salvation Army was established in 1949 with the assistance of the US Central Intelligence Agency to raid the southeastern coast of China. When the Chinese Communist Party established the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the Chinese mainland in 1949, the ROC government, led by the Kuomintang (KMT), relocated to Taiwan, where it maintained jurisdiction over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and numerous other islets. The Corps was deactivated in 1998 as part of the services-wide "Ching Shih" personnel streamlining project.

In an effort to divert China's attention from the Korean front in 1950 and relieve pressure on the allied forces, the CIA sponsored a series of raids along the southeastern coast of China conducted by anti-Communist guerrillas. The guerrillas were trained and supported by the paramilitary arm of the CIA from coastal islands still in Nationalist hands. The irregulars, called the "Anti-Communist National Salvation Army," were trained and supported by Western Enterprises Inc, a paramilitary arm of the CIA. The "civilian" employees of the Agency-run Western Enterprises, Inc., included Army and Marine officers on loan to the CIA. A number of raids were launched by Chinese Nationalist guerrillas (assisted by American adventurers) from Quemoy and other lesser-known islands off the Chinese mainland.

The rocky island of Tungyin, 50 miles off the coast of China, was the headquarters of the little-known Anti-Communist National Salvation Army. The secret army, 30,000 strong as of 1963, was Chiang Kai-Shek's instrument for the long-promised return to the mainland. The troops are trained as guerrillas, armed with US. weapons, and came largely from the mainland coastal provinces. Where the troops went or what they did was a tight secret. In January 1963 Radio Peking announced that communist security forces had " wiped out " 172 commandos who had secretly landed in coastal Kwangtung province in the Fall of 1962. The communists claimed that the interlopers planned to set up a "guerrilla corridor" in Kwangtung to "open the way for a subsequent military adventure of invading the mainland ." To back up the story, communist newspapers splashed front-page pictures of the captured agents and their stockpiles of US rifles, grenades, and plastic demolition equipment. The official nationalist Central News Agency quickly verified the story. Taipei claimed the guerrillas had tied up 100,000 communist troops for three months, inflicted 700 casualties, shot down a PRC reconnaissance plane, and engaged in a widespread campaign of sabotage.

In 1950 the CIA regrouped what remained of the defeated 'Nationalist Chinese Army' (KMT) along the Burma-Chinese border for an invasion of Southern China, in an effort to draw Chinese troops away from the Korean front. The KMT had concentrated their forces in a long, narrow strip of territory parallel to the China border. In April 1951 the attempted reconquest of Yunnan began when the 2,000 KMT soldiers of the Yunnan Province Anti-Communist National Salvation Army based at Mong Mao crossed the border into China. The town of Mong Hsat lies in one of several fertile valleys in Burma. Shan live in the valleys, with mainly Lahu and Akha living in the hills. Mong Hsat was the headquarters of the Chinese Nationalists' Yunnan Province Anti-Communist National Salvation Army until 1954. Opium was allegedly flown from the air-strip in Mong Hsat by C-47s to Thailand and Taiwan. By 26 January 1961 the fighting was actually over, since Civil Air Transport (CAT) aircraft evacuated the last 4,200 NSA fighters to Taiwan, and further 6,000 to Laos. The remainder of the NSA withdrew into the jungle, where it continued to receive small shipments from the CIA for a number of years. Since the 1950s, various ethnic armies have operated in the Mong Hsat hills and border areas. During the 1990s, Shan (first MTA and then SSA-South) and Wa armies have been the main forces in the area.

Since 1962, Chiang had been pressing for US support for Nationalist operations to stimulate resistance on the mainland. The Kennedy administration, convinced that such efforts would fail but fearing that a complete rebuff might lead Chiang to launch a suicidal attack, had temporized, acquiescing in small-scale raids but rejecting any larger-scale operations. The Johnson administration at first continued this policy. When Secretary Rusk visited Taiwan in April 1964, Chiang suggested consideration of operations against the mainland. Rusk discouraged him, telling Chiang that in his judgment the Nationalists could not establish themselves on the mainland without large-scale assistance from the United States, the involvement of US troops, and possibly the use of nuclear weapons. Chiang backed away from his suggestion, saying that he was opposed to the use of nuclear weapons, especially against China. Rusk told Chiang the United States wanted to keep in close touch and suggested the growing conflict in Southeast Asia might lead to changes in the situation.

Chiang maintained his faith that the Nationalists would eventually regain control of the mainland. If any US policymakers had ever believed this, they no longer did. A September 1964 policy paper ruled out US adoption of a "two-China" policy but recommended that US economic, political, and security policies should be designed to facilitate the survival of Taiwan as an independent entity. (48) In March 1965, James C. Thomson of the NSC Staff returned from a visit to Taiwan disturbed by the effect on the relationship of the "unquestioned myth" of return to the mainland. "On the face of it," he wrote, "the situation is rather eerie; the GRC [Government of the Republic of China] knows that we don't believe it; and we know that they know we don't believe it; and we suspect that some of them don't believe it; but no one says it. The result is that our every relationship is affected by the unmentionable dead cat on the floor."

In September 1965, when Chiang's son, Defense Minister Chiang Ching-kuo, visited Washington, he gave Secretary of Defense McNamara a paper laying out a "concept" for the seizure of China's five Southwest provinces. McNamara was clearly skeptical, but Chiang assured him the proposal would not require the use of US ground forces or nuclear weapons. Four months later, the Embassy in Taipei gave Chiang Ching-kuo the US reply rejecting the plan. In the US view, it would require US naval, air, and logistic support, including air strikes against mainland bases, meaning war with the PRC, which the United States did not want, and it was based on the expectation that a Nationalist invasion would inspire popular uprisings, an expectation which US intelligence analysis did not support.

The exchange had brought to a head the fundamental but usually submerged issue of the basic divergence between US and Nationalist objectives in Asia, Thomson observed. US policymakers had long understood that the Nationalist desire for war with mainland China and the US desire to avoid such a collision were at cross purposes, but they had usually been able to mute and disguise those differences. The latest proposal, with Chiang Kai-shek's personal imprimatur, had been turned down flat. Thomson recommended the generous application of "soft soap."

In early 1967, with the Cultural Revolution at its height, Chiang renewed his plea for support for a return to the mainland. He sent a message to Johnson urging that the Sino-Soviet split and mainland unrest created a "golden opportunity" to rid the mainland of the Communist regime, destroy the Chinese nuclear threat, and end the Vietnam war. If he returned to the mainland, Chiang argued, the people would rally to his cause. He would need only US approval and logistic support. Johnson decided the time had come to put an end to ambiguity. He sent a firm message to Chiang declaring that the course he advocated would run counter to US policy of seeking to limit the war in Vietnam and end it by negotiations. Instead, it would risk a wider war with "incalculable consequences" for the people of Asia and the world. The American government and people, he declared, "would not only disapprove such an action but would oppose it."

Former members of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army want compensation from the government for unfair treatment they maintain they received from the KMT.

The China Youth Anti-Communist National Salvation Corps was established in 1952 to provide military trainings to youths before they were drafted into the Nationalist Armed Forces. On 25 October 2000, the China Youth Anti-Communist National Salvation Corps dropped the 'Anti-Communist' from its full title. The shortened title 'National Salvation Corps' is the term normally used within Taiwan, while 'China Youth Corps' or CYC are common in English.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:51:25 ZULU