- The CIA and Third Force Movements in China during the Early Cold War: The Great American Dream by Roger B. Jeans
In Roger Jeans' earlier study of Zhang Junmai (Carsun Chang)1 and his best-known book, The Third Force in China,2 we learn that, by "third force," Zhang was referring to a political alternative to the Nationalist and the Communist parties in twentieth century China. Zhang Junmai was a major political and intellectual leader in Republican China. In this new study, Jeans has used numerous sources, including a hitherto untapped history of the Civil Air Transport (CAT) by CAT President (1949–1955) and later CIA officer Alfred T. Cox, and the recollections of both Cai Wenzhi (commander of the CIA-sponsored secret third force army) and Zhang Fakui (the pivotal figure in the Hong Kong-based third force movement), providing us a detailed and thoughtful picture of the CIA's failed efforts to back a Chinese third force between the Communists and the Nationalists in the early Cold War (1949–1954). The thoroughly researched book will be of great use to scholars of twentieth century Chinese and Cold War history. Although Chinese scholars have researched and published on many Cold War history subjects, including the CIA's psychological warfare and covert operations against China, this "Third Force" movement or operation is still a largely unexamined subject among mainland Chinese scholars.
In recounting the CIA's involvement with and support of China's third force movements, Jeans provides considerable historical background. It was in June of 1948 that the National Security Council created the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which "was charged with the lead in battling Communism in China by supporting anticommunist resistance groups and [End Page 28] guerrilla forces" (p. 1). It was in 1949 that the OPC established contact with ex-Nationalist General Cai Wenzhi. In April 1949, Cai had broken relations with the Nationalist regime and its leader Chiang Kai-shek (p. 13).
After China's entry into the Korean War in October 1950, the United Nations Command (UNC) forces suffered huge loss in the winter of 1950 and 1951. U.S. officials became more interested in the third force movement. According to Jeans, the CIA renewed its effort to recruit Zhang Fakui, an ex-Nationalist general then living in Hong Kong, in the hope of creating "guerrilla bands" on the mainland so as to pressure the Chinese Communist regime. But by late 1951 and 1952, it became quite clear that no anti-Communist guerrilla groups were able to survive and sustain themselves on the mainland (p. 47).
Almost simultaneously, the CIA tried another approach, launching a third force organization in Hong Kong in early 1951. The Fighting League for Chinese Freedom, the short-lived political wing of the third force emerged from the shadows in Hong Kong in October 1952. Zhang Fakui, ex-Nationalist leader Gu Mengyu, Zhang Junmai, and ex-Communist leader Zhang Guotao formed the Third Force leadership. Its mission was twofold: publication and anti-Communist propaganda in Hong Kong and intelligence collection on the mainland regime. With the CIA funding and advisers, the Hong Kong-based third force had money and an organization. Meanwhile, the CIA also set up its third force training and operations bases in Japan, Okinawa, and Saipan. General Cai Wenzhi, nicknamed the "CIA's general," commanded the Chinese third force trainees. He also supervised the training and actual airdrops of Chinese agents into China (pp. 111–112). These trainees were recruited from Hong Kong under the cover of employment with the "Far East Development Company." These trainees were immediately killed or captured as upon parachuting into Manchuria. The capture of the CIA agents John T. Downey and Richard Fecteau in November of 1952 was "one of the most glaring examples" of the CIA's "failed covert policy" directed at mainland China in the early 1950s (p. 147). The trial of Downey and Fecteau in November of...