The Grand Alliance and the Future of China


Yalta Conference Briefing Book Papers on Policy Toward China (February 1945) |

Excerpts from Roosevelt-Stalin Meeting (February 8, 1945) |

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China (George Atcheson); Message from President Roosevelt to President Chiang Kai-shek (March 15, 1945) |

President Roosevelt to Mr. Mao Tse-Tung (March 10, 1945) |

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (George F. Kennan) to the Secretary of State, transmitting communication from Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley (April 17, 1945) |

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State, for Ambassador W. Averell Harriman (April 23, 1945) |

Memorandum by Mr. Everett F. Drumright –A Brief Estimate of the Situation in China on the Conclusion of the War in the Far East (May 8, 1945) |

Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. John S. Service to the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (John Carter Vincent) (June 6, 1945) |

Excerpts from the Ambassador in China (Hurley) to the Secretary of State (July 10, 1945) |

Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. Edwin A. Locke, Jr., Personal Representative of President Truman (August 20, 1945)

Yalta Conference Briefing Book Papers on Policy Toward China, February 1945

There exist areas of potential discord between our policies and those of the United Kingdom and the U. S. S. R. toward China. At present, the British recognize that China is a theater of primary concern to us in the prosecution of the war, and the Russians desire to see established in China a government friendly to them. But the progress of events during the war and in the immediate post-war period may develop discords detrimental to the achievement of victory and peace-detrimental to our objective of a united, progressive China capable of contributing to security and prosperity in the Far East.

An unstable, divided, and reactionary China would make stability and progress in the Far East impossible, and would greatly increase the difficult task, which will be largely ours, of maintaining peace in the western Pacific. A strong, friendly China would do much to lighten our task and to promote mutually beneficial cultural and commercial intercourse.

It is not enough that we merely hope for a strong, friendly China or that we simply pursue the negative policies of the pre-war period. We should assume the leadership in the development of the kind of China that will contribute toward peace in the Pacific in cooperation with the United Kingdom and the U. S. S. R. We may reasonably expect that a strong, united China will cooperate with the United States, the United Kingdom and the U. S. S. R. in dealing with post-war Japan.

There is now Kuomintang China, Communist China, and puppet China. Kuomintang China is being weakened by dissident elements and widespread popular discontent. Communist China is growing in material and popular strength. Puppet China is filled with pockets of Communist guerrilla resistance. A partial settlement between the Kuomintang and the Communists would not eliminate the fundamental struggle for power, one aspect of which will be competition to win over the puppet troops as Japan is driven from China. The only hope of preventing civil war and disunity will lie in the creation of a democratic framework within which the opposing groups can reconcile their differences on a political level.

There are reports that elements among the British out of imperial considerations desire a weak and possibly disunited China in the post-war period. The British are undoubtedly less optimistic–more cynical–than we are regarding the future of China but neither the British Government nor the British people will derive benefit from an unstable China in the post-war period.

Some apprehension has been voiced lest the Russians may utilize the Chinese Communists to establish an independent or autonomous area in north China and Manchuria. There is nothing in Russia’s present attitude as officially disclosed to us to substantiate those fears. But if Russia comes into the war in the Far East, or if an open break between the Kuomintang and the Communists occurs, Russia may be strongly tempted to abandon its policy declared in 1924 of non-interference in China’s internal affairs.

It is our task to bring about British and Russian support of our objective of a united China which will cooperate with them as well as with us. The British attitude is characterized by skepticism and is influenced by a residue of nineteenth century thinking. We hope that the British, given a clear knowledge of our objective and assurance that we mean to work consistently and energetically for that objective, will support our efforts. The Russians primarily want a China friendly to them. We should give Russia definite assurance that we too desire and are working for a united China friendly to all its neighbors.

Our policy toward China is not based on sentiment. It is based on an enlightened national self-interest motivated by considerations of international security and well-being. Unless the United Kingdom and the U. S. S. R. are in substantial agreement with us it is doubtful whether we can accomplish the objective of our policies.

Outline of Short-Range Objectives and Policies of the United States with Respect to China

The principal and immediate objectives of the United States Government are to keep China in the war against Japan and to mobilize China’s full military and economic strength in the vigorous prosecution of the war. To accomplish these objectives the United States Government has undertaken the following measures:

  1. Direct Military Assistance to China and the Chinese Armed Forces
    We are keeping China in the war by supplying war materials to the Chinese armed forces, by maintaining an effective air force in China and an American expeditionary force based in India but operating in northern Burma with the participation of Chinese units, and by flying into China a substantial quantity of munitions and war materials. It is this Government’s policy to encourage and to assist, in so far as transportation of supplies permits, effective participation by Chinese armies in the war against Japan. To this end we are also engaged in training numbers of Chinese troops.
  2. Promotion of Effective Sino-American Military Cooperation
    Sino-American military cooperation has been strengthened since the appointment of General Wedemeyer as commander of the China area and we hope that it will become increasingly effective. There would be advantages from a political and probably from a military point of view if an American officer should be given command of all Chinese and American forces in China.
  3. Encouragement to the Chinese to Contribute their Maximum Effort in the War
    Internal disunity, economic instability (including severe inflation), lack of supplies and general war weariness are greatly impeding China’s war effort. It is this Government’s policy to support and encourage all measures designed to resolve these difficulties. Through the exercise of friendly good offices our Ambassador is endeavoring to promote greater internal unity, including the reconciliation of the fundamental differences between the Chungking Government and the Communist group. The establishment of a Chinese WPB as a result of Mr. Donald Nelson’s mission should result in increased production of certain types of military equipment and in an improvement in the problem of supply. Arrangements are being completed for the shipment of increased quantities of Lend-Lease materials into China, including spare parts for industrial equipment, raw materials, several thousand heavy trucks, a complete oil refining unit and a substantial number of small power plants. Inflation in China, which has been a serious obstacle to maximum war effort, may be partially checked by such measures and by the shipment into China of small quantities of consumer goods.

This Government believes that China can and should make every effort to collaborate with us to the full extent of her capabilities in the vigorous prosecution of the war. We consider that the Generalissimo should continue earnestly to seek to bring about internal unity, that he should take immediate measures adequately to feed and clothe his troops and that he should strengthen national morale and increase popular participation in the war by the introduction of fundamental governmental reforms.

Outline of Long-Range Objectives and Policies of the United States with Respect to China

The American Government’s long-range policy with respect to China is based on the belief that the need for China to be a principal stabilizing factor in the Far East is a fundamental requirement for peace and security in that area. Our policy is accordingly directed toward the following objectives:

  1. Political:A strong stable and united China with a government representative of the wishes of the Chinese people:
    1. We seek by every proper means to promote establishment of a broadly representative government which will bring about internal unity, including reconcilement of Kuomintang-Communist differences, and which will effectively discharge its internal and international responsibilities. While favoring no political faction, we continue to support the existing government of China as the central authority recognized by the Chinese people and we look for the establishment within its framework of the unified and effective type of government that is needed.
    2. Should these expectations fail of achievement and the authority of the existing government disintegrate, we would reexamine our position in the light of the manifested wishes of the Chinese people and regard sympathetically any government or movement which gave promise of achieving unity and of contributing to peace and security in eastern Asia.
    3. We regard Sino-Soviet cooperation as a sine qua nonof peace and security in the Far East and seek to aid in removing the existing mistrust between China and the Soviet Union and in bringing about close and friendly relations between them. We would interpose no objection to arrangements voluntarily made by China and the Soviet Union to facilitate the passage of Soviet trade through Manchuria, including the possible designation by the Chinese Government of a free port.
    4. We consider cooperation between China and Great Britain to be an essential part of United Nations’ solidarity and necessary for the development of China as a stabilizing factor in the Far East. We would welcome the restoration by Great Britain of Hong Kong to China and we are prepared in that event to urge upon China the desirability of preserving its status as a free port. Should other territorial problems arise between the two powers, we would hope to see them settled by friendly negotiation.
    5. We favor the establishment by China of close and friendly relations with Korea, Burma, Thailand, Indochina and other neighboring areas. We do not favor Chinese domination or political control over such areas.
    6. We believe that China’s territorial integrity should be respected, including her claim to sovereign rights over such outlying territories as Tibet and Outer Mongolia. We would not oppose, however, any agreements respecting those territories reached by process of amicable negotiation between China and other interested governments. We hope that the Chinese Government will meet the aspirations of the native peoples of such territories for local autonomy.
    7. In line with the policy enunciated at Moscow and the pattern outlined at Dumbarton Oaks, we offer and seek full collaboration with China as an equal among the major sovereign powers entitled and needed to share primary responsibility in the organization and maintenance of world peace and security.
  2. Economic:The development of an integrated and well-balanced Chinese economy and a fuller flow of trade between China and other countries. Toward these objectives we intend to:
    1. Continue to give to China all practicable economic and financial assistance which she may request within the framework of our traditional principles of equality of opportunity and respect for national sovereignty and the liberal trade policies to which this Government is endeavoring to secure general adherence.
    2. Negotiate with China a comprehensive treaty relating to commerce and navigation on the basis of unconditional most-favored nation treatment and looking toward the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment.
    3. Give practicable assistance to China in connection with her efforts to plan an integrated and well-balanced economy, with particular reference to agriculture, transportation, communication and industry. Such assistance would be extended at China’s request.
    4. Make available such technical assistance as may be desired by China, including the training of Chinese technicians in the United States.
    5. Provide such financial assistance as may be appropriate in the light of conditions obtaining in China, largely through private financing and investment.
    6. Promote American trade with China by all practicable means to the mutual benefit and advantage of China and the United States.

    In extending such forms of support, we propose to take careful cognizance of the commercial policies of the Chinese Government and of actual conditions affecting American trade with and in China.

  3. Cultural:Cultural and scientific cooperation with China as a basis for common understanding and progress:
    1. We consider most essential closer association between China and other United Nations in cultural and scientific fields. Toward that end we are undertaking in various ways to promote between the Chinese and American peoples a better appreciation of each other’s thought and culture and to make available to China scientific knowledge and assistance which she needs for her development and contribution to international progress.

Excerpts from Roosevelt-Stalin Meeting


Livadia Palace
February 8, 1945 – 3:30 PM

President Roosevelt Marshal Stalin
Mr. Harriman Foreign Commissar Molotov
Mr. Bohlen Mr. Pavlov
Bohlen Minutes


Far East: Russian Desires

Following the discussion of certain military questions involved in the Far East, MARSHAL STALIN said that he would like to discuss the political conditions under which the USSR would enter the war against Japan. He said he had already had a conversation on this subject with Ambassador Harriman.

THE PRESIDENT said he had received a report of this conversation, and he felt that there would be no difficulty whatsoever in regard to the southern half of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands going to Russia at the end of the war. He said that in regard to a warm water port in the Far East for the Soviet Union, the Marshal recalled that they had discussed that point at Tehran. He added that he had then suggested that the Soviet Union be given the use of a warm water port at the end of the south Manchurian railroad, at possibly Dairen on the Kwantung peninsula. The President said he had not yet had an opportunity to discuss this matter with Marshal Chiang Kai-shek, so therefore he could not speak for the Chinese. He went on to say that there are two methods for the Russians to obtain the use of this port; (1) outright leasing from the Chinese; (2) making Dairen a free port under some form of international commission. He said he preferred the latter method because of the relation to the question of Hong Kong. The President said he hoped that the British would give back the sovereignty of Hong Kong to China and that it would then become an internationalized free port. He said he knew Mr. Churchill would have strong objections to this suggestion.

MARSHAL STALIN said there was another question and that involved the use by the Russians of the Manchurian railways. He said the Czars had use of the line running from Manchouli to Harbin and from there to Dairen and Port Arthur, as well as the line from Harbin running east to Nikolsk-Ussurisk connecting there with the Khabarovsk to Vladivostok line.

THE PRESIDENT said that again, although he had not talked with Marshal Chiang Kai-shek on the subject, there were again two methods of bringing this about: (1) to lease under direct Soviet operation; (2) under a commission composed of one Chinese and one Russian.

MARSHAL STALIN said that it is clear that if these conditions are not met it would be difficult for him and Molotov to explain to the Soviet people why Russia was entering the war against Japan. They understood clearly the war against Germany which had threatened the very existence of the Soviet Union, but they would not understand why Russia would enter a war against a country with which they had no great trouble. He said, however, if these political conditions were met, the people would understand the national interest involved and it would be very much easier to explain the decision to the Supreme Soviet.

THE PRESIDENT replied that he had not had an opportunity to talk to Marshal Chiang Kai-shek and he felt that one of the difficulties in speaking to the Chinese was that anything said to them was known to the whole world in twenty-four hours.

MARSHAL STALIN agreed and said he did not think it was necessary yet to speak to the Chinese and that he could guarantee the security of the Supreme Soviet. He added that it would be well to leave here with these conditions set forth in writing agreed to by the three powers. THE PRESIDENT indicated that he thought that this could be done. MARSHAL STALIN went on to say that in regard to the Chinese, T. V. Soong was expected to come to Moscow at the end of April, and he said that when it was possible to free a number of Soviet troops in the west and move twenty-five divisions to the Far East he thought it would be possible to speak to Marshal Chiang Kai-shek about these matters.

MARSHAL STALIN said that in regard to the question of a warm water port the Russians would not be difficult and he would not object to an internationalized free port.

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China (George Atcheson); Message from President Roosevelt to President Chiang Kai-shek

March 15, 1945 – 8 p.m.

447. Please deliver a close paraphrase of the following message from the President to President Chiang Kai-shek:

“I have received from Ambassador Hurley a detailed report in regard to the situation in China and the various problems facing you and I am encouraged to learn that progress is being made.

In connection with the forthcoming United Nations security conference to be convened at San Francisco on April 25, for which the National Government of the Republic of China is a sponsor, General Hurley has informed me of the suggestion made to him by the Chinese Communist Party that the Chinese delegation be composed of representatives of the Kuomintang, the Democratic Federation, and the Communist Party on a basis of equality. I fully concur in General Hurley’s reply to the effect that the conference at San Francisco is to be a conference of national governments and not of political parties.

At the same time, I would like to let you know that I can anticipate no disadvantage that would arise from the inclusion in the Chinese Government’s delegation of representatives of the Communist Party or other political parties or groups. In fact, there might be distinct advantages in such. a course. Undoubtedly a very favorable impression would be created at the conference and this democratic gesture by you might prove of real assistance in your task of unifying China.

As you no doubt know, the major political parties in this country will be represented on the United States delegation and I believe that Canada and other nations are following a similar course.

I send you my personal greetings and good wishes and earnestly hope for your continuing good health.

Franklin D. Roosevelt”


President Roosevelt to Mr. Mao Tse-Tung, March 10, 1945

March 10, 1945.

My Dear Mr. Mao: I received your letter of November 10, 1944 upon my return from the Yalta Conference and appreciate very much receiving your personal views on developments in China.

I have noted with special interest the emphasis which you place on the unity of all Chinese people and military forces for the defeat of Japan and the reconstruction of China.

It is my sincere hope that you and President Chiang Kai-shek will work together harmoniously to achieve internal unity. Through unity the Chinese people can add to their already magnificent contribution to the prosecution of the war against Japan.

I welcome your expression of appreciation of General Hurley. He has kept me informed of developments in China and I expect in the near future to have opportunity of personal discussion with him.

The friendship of the Chinese people and the people of the United States is, as you say, traditional and deep-rooted, and I am confident that the cooperation of the Chinese and American peoples will greatly contribute to the achievement of victory and lasting peace.

Sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (George F. Kennan) to the Secretary of State, transmitting communication from Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley

April 17, 1945 – 7:00 p. m.
[Received April 17 – 5:05 p. m.]

1212. From Hurley. I concluded conference with Marshal Stalin and Foreign Minister Molotov on the night of 15 April. Ambassador Harriman was present and participated. I recited for Stalin, in the presence of Molotov, my analysis of Molotov’s former statement on the Soviet’s attitude toward the Chinese Communist Armed Party and the Chinese National Government. My analysis was briefly as follows: Molotov said at the former conference that the Chinese Communists are not in fact Communists at all. Their purpose is to procure what they consider necessary and just reformations in China. The Soviet is not supporting the Chinese Communist Party. The Soviet does not desire internal dissensions or civil war in China. The Soviet Government desires closer and more harmonious relations with China. The Soviet is intensely interested in what is happening in Sinkiang and other places and will insist that the Chinese Government prevent discriminations against Soviet nationals. Molotov assented to my analysis of my former conference with him. I then outlined for Stalin and Molotov the existing relations between the Communist Armed Party in China and the National Government. I stated frankly that I had been instrumental in instituting conferences and negotiations between the National Government and the Chinese Communist Party. I briefly outlined the negotiations, the progress made and the present status. I told Stalin that the Chinese Communist Party and the National Government of China both claimed to adhere to the principles of Dr. Sun Yat-sen for the establishment in China of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I told him that both the Chinese Communist Party and the National Government are strongly anti-Japanese and it is the purpose of both to drive the invader from China. There are unquestionably issues between the Communist Party of China and the National Government but both are seeking the same major objectives, namely, the defeat of Japan and the establishment of a united, free, democratic government in China. Many differences do exist between the two parties on details because of past conflicts. I made it plain that the United States is insisting that China furnish its own leadership, make its own decisions and be responsible for its own policies. With this in mind the United States had (1) supported all efforts for the unification of the armed forces of China and (2) endorsed China’s aspirations to establish a free, united, democratic government in China. I told him that President Roosevelt had authorized me to confer with Prime Minister Churchill on this subject and that we had obtained from Prime Minister Churchill and Foreign Secretary Eden complete concurrence in the policy for the unification of all armed forces in China for the defeat of Japan and the endorsement of China’s aspirations to establish for herself a free, united, democratic government. To promote the foregoing program it had been decided to support the National Government of China under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. Stalin stated frankly that the Soviet Government would support the policy. He added that he would be glad to cooperate with the United States and Britain in achieving unification of the military forces in China. He spoke favorably of Chiang Kai-shek and said that while there had been corruption among certain officials of the National Government of China he knew that Chiang Kai-shek was “selfless”, a “patriot” and that the Soviet in times past had befriended him.

I then related to Stalin and Molotov the request made by the Chinese Communists for representation at the San Francisco Conference, I told them that before leaving China I had advised the Chinese Communists that the Conference at San Francisco was to be a conference of governments and not of political parties and that I had advised the Communists to request representation at San Francisco through the National Government of the Republic of China. I told him that this decision had been upheld by President Roosevelt and that the President had advised Chiang Kai-shek of the advisability of the National Government’s permitting the Chinese Communist Party to be represented on the Chinese National Government’s Delegation to the Conference at San Francisco. I told the Marshal that it was a very hopeful sign when Chiang Kai-shek offered a place on the delegation to San Francisco to a Chinese Communist and that the appointment had been accepted. I told Stalin that I thought it was very hopeful that a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party would be a delegate of the Chinese National Government at San Francisco. Stalin agreed that this development was very significant and he approved. I told him that President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill had indicated their approval of the policy outlined. The Marshal was pleased and expressed his concurrence and said in view of the overall situation he wished us to know that we would have his complete support in immediate action for the unification of the armed forces of China with full recognition of the National Government under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. In short, Stalin agreed unqualifiedly to America’s policy in China as outlined to him during the conversation.

New subject. President Roosevelt briefed me on another subject on which I was to confer with Stalin. Stalin asked me if I was familiar with the subject. I answered in the affirmative. He then asked me if Chiang Kai-shek had been advised by me. I replied in the negative. He then indicated that he had agreed with President Roosevelt that when the time came for discussions with Chiang Kai-shek that they would be instituted by me. A full discussion of this subject followed but I suggest that you get the details and the decisions reached from Ambassador Harriman who is now en route to Washington. In the conference with Stalin and Molotov and in all others matters, Harriman’s cooperation and general helpfulness were of great value. [Hurley.]


The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State, for Ambassador W. Averell Harriman

April 23, 1945 – noon
[Received 12:30 p. m.]

1310. For Ambassador Harriman. General Hurley’s report of his conversation with Stalin was forwarded to the Department as my 1212, April 17, 7 p. m. The message was marked secret for the Secretary, but as the interview took place in Moscow in your presence I think you should see it.

In view of your familiarity with the matter and the opportunity that you now have for stating your own views to the Department, I am of course making no comment on my own to the Department in regard to Ambassador Hurley’s telegram nor did I make any to him since I was not sure what your views were. I do want to let you know, however, that it caused me some concern to see this telegram go forward. I refer specifically to the statements attributed to Stalin to the effect (a) that he agreed unqualifiedly to our policy in China as outlined to him by Ambassador Hurley, (b) that the Soviet Government would support this policy, and (c) that we would have his complete support, in particular, for immediate action looking toward the unification of the armed forces of China with full recognition of the National Government under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek.

I do not question that Stalin was correctly cited here nor do I question the good faith–from his standpoint–of his remarks.

In Ambassador Hurley’s account of what he said to Stalin there was of course nothing to which Stalin could not honestly subscribe, it being understood that words mean different things to the Russians than they do to us. Stalin is of course prepared to affirm the principle of a unification of the armed forces of China. He knows that such unification is practically feasible only on terms acceptable to the Chinese Communists. The Ambassador further referred to our desire for a free, united and democratic China. These words would also be quite acceptable to Stalin. A free China means to him a China in which there is a minimum of foreign influence other than Russian. In official Soviet terminology the Warsaw Provisional Government and even Soviet Estonia are “free”. Russia is entirely ready to support the principle of a “united” China, knowing that this could be achieved in reality only if the demands of the Chinese Communists, which would ultimately amount to domination of the government, could be realized. As far as a “democratic” government is concerned, we know from experience what the term “democratic” means in Moscow.

Stalin’s courteous reference to Chiang is gratifying, but in no sense binding for any practical purpose.

Actually, I am persuaded that in the months and years to come, Soviet policy toward China will remain what it has been in the recent past: a fluid, resilient policy, aimed at the achievement of maximum power with minimum responsibility on portions of the Asiatic main-land lying beyond the Soviet border. This will involve the exertion of pressure in various areas in direct proportion to their proximity to the Soviet border and their strategic importance. Within the frame-work of this policy, I am sure that Moscow will aim specifically at:

  1. Reacquiring in substance if not in form all territorial and diplomatic assets formerly possessed by Czarist Russia on the Asiatic mainland.
  2. Acquiring sufficient control in all areas of North China now dominated by the Japanese to prevent other foreign powers from repeating the Japanese incursion. To the Russian mind this means maximum possible exclusion of penetration in that area by outside powers, including Britain and America.
  3. Domination of Chinese provinces adjacent to the Russian border in central Asia. The strategic necessity of protecting in depth the industrial core of the Soviet Union dictates such action.

Obviously, the achievement of these objectives would be simpler if Russia had the cooperation of a unified Chinese Government “friendly” to the Soviet Union. As far as can be observed, Russia has no desire for a conspicuous demonstration of her power in China which would engage Russian prestige or commit the Soviet Union to any rigid program. She prefers, if feasible, to work through others and to veil the means by which her real power is exerted. For this reason I have no doubt that she would prefer to work through an inwardly strong and nominally independent national Chinese Government sufficiently reliable and subservient to constitute an effective channel of influence. If this cannot be achieved, she is quite prepared to work, as at present in Sinkiang, through local forces which will not hesitate, where necessary, to challenge central authority.

The issues involved in our estimate of this situation are of such enormity, in view of the sacrifices we are now making in the Pacific, that I think it is our obligation to study with clinical objectivity the real character and the ultimate implications for ourselves of these Russian views and aims concerning the Far East. It would be tragic if our natural anxiety for Russian support at this stage, coupled with Stalin’s cautious affability and his use of words which mean all things to all people, were to lead us into an undue reliance on Russian aid or even Russian acquiescence in the achievement of our long term objectives in China. This is a question of Russian-American, as well as Chinese-American relations; and I would not feel comfortable if I thought that the failure of this Mission to clarify completely the wording of Ambassador Hurley’s telegram might have contributed in any way to a misunderstanding of the situation in high quarters at home.


Memorandum by Mr. Everett F. Drumright

May 8, 1945.


I. Political and Military

There are strong indications that China, will be politically and militarily disunited. The Kuomintang-controlled National Government will likely exercise a varying measure of control over western China and portions of northwestern, central, eastern and southeastern China. In certain of these areas the control of the National Government will be limited by the semi-independent status of local military elements. The National Government’s control of Sinkiang (Chinese Turkestan) is likely to be impaired and, in some areas at least, may be completely lost either before or after termination of the present Far Eastern war.

The end of the war in the Far East seems likely, in the absence of internal political and military unity, to find the Chinese Communists exercising control over large areas in northern, northeastern, central and eastern China. Such control in areas lying north and east of the Yellow River and up to the vicinity of the Great Wall is likely to be relatively secure. The Communists are, moreover, strongly entrenched in northern Kiangsu and. in portions of Anhwei, Honan and Hupeh. They have also established bases in areas south of the Yangtze River, notably in Kiangsu, Chekiang and Kwangtung, and are at present endeavoring to consolidate and expand these bases. The Chinese Communists are almost certain to seize the opportunity to expand into Manchuria when Japanese control comes to an end there, and they may also seek control of Inner Mongolia and possibly Sinkiang.

Failure of the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists to unite will in all probability lead to the formal establishment of two distinct political and military entities in the areas described above, the Kuomintang controlling one and the Communists the other. Large-scale internal strife is likely to be the product of this division–probably after the defeat of Japan. As the military power of the two contending groups appears to be relatively well balanced, a long, devastating and perhaps indecisive struggle is likely to develop. Should external assistance be accorded both groups the severity of the struggle will doubtless be intensified. The granting of external assistance to one of the contending factions and the withholding of it from the other will without doubt tip the scales decisively to the faction accorded aid.

It seems clear that the Kuomintang-controlled National Government is looking to the United States and Great Britain for support. It seems equally clear that the Chinese Communists hope to receive aid from the Soviet Union. Russian participation in the Far Eastern war would likely lead to Soviet military penetration of Manchuria and the probable establishment in that area of a Chinese governing regime–possibly Chinese Communist–friendly and receptive to the desires and interests of the Soviet Union. Should such a Russian-sponsored regime be set up in Manchuria, it would be in a position to exercise a profound influence over political, military and economic developments in areas lying south of the Great Wall. It seems obvious that Anglo-American support of the National Government and Soviet support of the Chinese Communists would lead to a situation pregnant with explosive possibilities for the future peace of the Far East and the world.

A China torn by internecine strife obviously cannot take its place as one of the major stabilizing powers of the world; on the contrary, civil war in China will invite external intervention which will in turn directly threaten the future peace of the world.

II. Economics

The termination of the war in the Far East will find China sapped economically and financially. It will find China enmeshed in the throes of virulent inflation and possessed of a worthless currency. It will find China’s nascent industry and transport system largely destroyed and utterly dislocated. Japanese implementation of their oft-repeated threat to carry out the “scorched-earth” policy would add to the destruction of China’s economy. Substantial foreign assistance and guidance will be needed if China’s industry and transport system are to be rehabilitated. Political instability and/or civil strife will of course seriously hinder, if not render impossible, the industrial and financial rehabilitation of China, and can only lead to the further disintegration and dislocation of China’s economy with disastrous results to the Chinese people.

III. United States Policy with respect to China

United States policy is directed toward the development of a strong, independent, stable, peaceful and united China and of a government representative of the wishes of the people and able effectively to discharge its internal and external responsibilities. In pursuance of this policy, we would expect to continue to support the existing National Government of China, headed by Chiang Kai-shek, as the central authority which offers the best hope for unification and avoidance of chaos. However, as a safeguard against the possible disintegration of the authority of the existing Government, it is our purpose to maintain a degree of flexibility of policy to permit cooperation with any other leadership in China which may give greater promise of achieving our policy with respect to China. While our present military policy is devoted to the immediate objective of effective joint prosecution of the war, we would logically expect to assist China to develop a modern and effective post-war military force to contribute to world peace and security. We are not prepared to commit ourselves to assist China in the creation of such a military force, however, until we are convinced that China is making substantial progress toward the implementation of the policy enunciated above and until China has developed her resources and economy to such an extent as will, in our opinion, enable China to maintain and support a modern and effective post-war military force.

In pursuance of our policy toward China, as enunciated above, we seek the active aid, understanding and cooperation of other interested nations, particularly the Soviet Union and Great Britain. We believe that such aid, understanding and cooperation are vital to the end that China may be enabled to become a bulwark of peace and security on the Far East.

Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. John S. Service to the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (John Carter Vincent)

June 6, 1945

While in Yenan I discussed with Communist leaders the possibility of Communist policy becoming more radical in the near future, especially if they found themselves involved in a civil war. I suggested that the growing preponderance of peasants in the Chinese Communist Party might force them, for instance, to placate peasant demands for a more radical land policy such as confiscation of land-lords’ property.

Without exception the Communist leaders vigorously and emphatically rejected this possibility of their policy becoming more radical. Their reasoning was that their present moderate policy of preserving the interests of the middle class, including landlords and private business, and protection of the institution of private property and capitalism, was a most effective political weapon against the Kuomintang. They argued that under Chinese conditions for them to adopt policies serving interests only of the farmer would reduce them to the status of a peasant revolt or Jacquerie, which by numerous Marxist quotations they proved has never and cannot be successful .

Furthermore they insist that China will need large-scale foreign aid in her necessary economic and industrial development. China does not have the capital or experience to carry out this development her-self. Russia likewise will be too busy rebuilding and developing her own country. Aid therefore must come from other countries, particularly the United States, and the Communists say that it would be a mistake for them to adopt policies which would prevent or discourage foreign investment and hence retard Chinese economic development.

Finally, there is the familiar basic argument of the Chinese Communists, supported by Marxist doctrines, that a primitive country, such as China, with a basically agrarian economy and suffering from feudalism and foreign imperialism, cannot progress at one jump to socialism, but must go through a stage of democracy and private capital. Getting away from ideology, the Chinese Communists admit that Socialism or Communism simply will not work in China today with either the farmers or any other important class.

The question of leadership is probably basic. The European Communist parties with their united front policies are finding that the Socialists and other groups are becoming more “left” than they and hence threatening to take away progressive leadership. The Chinese Communist Party, however, with the minor exception of insignificant and powerless liberal groups, has a monopoly of the progressive leadership in China. They are neither small like the American Communist Party, nor one among many competing parties as in Europe. As long as their policies are considerably more progressive than those being carried out by the Kuomintang, it is unnecessary and not likely for them to turn toward radicalism. It is probable, therefore, that there will be little change in their present moderate coalition policies.

Recent evidence seems to show no change in international Communist approval of this Chinese Communist line. It was notable, for instance, in a recent article from Izvestia, reported in the New York Times of June 4, which generally supported the Chinese Communist Party and called for a coalition government.

The resolution of the American Communist group which set its new line also seems to support the present Chinese Communist policy. One of its “slogans of action” is:

“Press for a united and free China based upon the unity of the Communists and all other democratic and anti-Japanese forces so as to speed victory. Full military aid to the Chinese guerillas led by the heroic Eighth and Fourth armies.”

Although by this reasoning it seems likely that the Chinese Communist Party will not follow this general shift toward abandonment of the united front policy, it is also probably safe to assume that it will be less likely to go in the opposite direction by relaxing its present demands in order to reach a compromise with the Kuomintang. We may expect to see the Chinese Communists hold rigidly to their present position. Kuomintang-Communist reconciliation seems more than ever to depend on Kuomintang concessions.

Excerpts from the Ambassador in China (Hurley) to the Secretary of State

July 10, 1945 – 1 p.m.
[Received July 19 – 8:21a.m.]

We advised President Roosevelt more than a year ago that the Communist problem in China could not be settled until the Soviet attitude toward the Chinese Communists was known to us and understood by Chiang Kai-shek. In compliance with this suggestion we went to Moscow late in August, 1944, for the purpose of ascertaining definitely the Soviet attitude toward the Chinese Communists. We did ascertain that attitude and we did recommend more harmonious relations between the Soviet and China…

We are convinced that the influence of the Soviet will control the action of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communists do not believe that Stalin has agreed or will agree to support the National Government of China and the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. The Chinese Communists still fully expect the Soviet to support the Chinese Communists against the National Government. Nothing short of the Soviet’s public commitment will change the Chinese Communist opinion on this subject…

We are advising the National Government that if an agreement is reached with Russia the National Government can afford to be very generous in the political concessions it will have to make to secure the unification of the armed forces of China.

Before the Yalta Conference, I suggested to President Roosevelt a plan to force the National Government to make more liberal political concessions in order to make possible a settlement with the Communists. The President did not approve the suggestion.

I believe the Soviet’s attitude toward the Chinese Communist is as I related it to the President in September last year and have reported many times since. (See my Navy telegram NR 232355, December 23, 1944, to the Secretary of State.) This is also borne out by Stalin’s statement to Hopkins and Harriman. Notwithstanding all this, the Chinese Communists still believe that they have the support of the Soviet. Nothing will change their opinion on this subject until a treaty has been signed between the Soviet and China in which the Soviet agrees to support the National Government. When the Chinese Communists are convinced that the Soviet is not supporting them, they will settle with the National Government if the National Government is realistic enough to make generous political concessions.

The negotiations between the Government and the Communist Party at this time is merely marking time pending the result of the conference at Moscow.

The leadership of the Communist Party is intelligent. When the handwriting is on the wall, they will be able to read it. No amount of argument will change their position. Their attitude will be changed only by the inexorable logic of events.

The strength of the armed forces of the Chinese Communists has been exaggerated. The area of territory controlled by the Communists has been exaggerated. The number of the Chinese people who adhere to the Chinese Communist Party has been exaggerated. State Department officials, Army officers, newspaper and radio publicity have in large measure accepted the Communist leaders’ statements in regard to the military and political strength of the Communist Party in China. Nevertheless with the support of the Soviet the Chinese Communists could bring about civil war in China. Without the support of the Soviet the Chinese Communist Party will eventually participate as a political party in the National Government.


Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. Edwin A. Locke, Jr., Personal Representative of President Truman

August 20, 1945.

A Proposal Aimed at Averting Civil War in China

1. Stake of the United States

Although there are a good many people who feel that a civil war in China is “inevitable”, this country certainly has every interest in averting it. It is clear that armed strife in China would be a serious threat to world peace and a setback to world hopes of stability. As for America specifically, our relations with Russia might be seriously damaged by internal Chinese conflict. Since August 1943 the Russian press has been increasingly critical of the Central Government. Now that Russia has signed a pact of friendship, settling her main problems with China, this press criticism has ceased; but it is clear that Russia’s present friendship with the Central Government is primarily a response to the important economic and strategic concessions which the Russians have received. Russia, it is safe to say, would be deeply concerned over the prospect of the destruction of the Chinese Communists, since such a development would mean a victory of the rightist elements in China and thus a policy of suspicion and unfriendliness toward Russia. In the event of civil war in China I think we may take it for granted that the moral support of the Russian people would be behind the Communists. If the majority of American public opinion were to incline to the Central Government against the Communists, as happened during the Spanish civil war, a growing breach might easily develop in our relations with the Russians.

Moreover, civil war in China would be an economic calamity for all the world. Inevitably, China would suffer immense destruction. Her hopes of early development would be dashed. China needs stability if she is to develop. A stable, developing China would be a very large and growing market for the products of the world’s industrial countries. Prolonged civil disturbances in China would greatly reduce that market at a time when the world most needs international trade. Regardless of which faction won, China and the world would lose.

The United States certainly has no desire to interfere in the internal problems of China. On the other hand, any help that we can give to China in resolving these issues peacefully would be well worth giving. The only practical alternative to civil war is some far-reaching adjustment and compromise between the two factions resulting in a genuine democratic government. The Chinese nation is unquestionably tending away from her previous extreme rightist position. It is very much to her interest to make this swing through evolution rather than through revolution. In the long run she will certainly progress much faster through democratic adjustments than through the extreme swing or swings which would probably follow civil war, no matter what its outcome.

2. Nature of Problem.

The conflict between the Central Government and the Communists, I am convinced, is too fundamental to be settled peacefully through negotiation between the two parties solely under their own auspices. Even though the Communists do not urge collectivism for China at this stage of her development, the differences between them and the Central Government are very far-reaching. The situation has points of similarity to that of Spain just before the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

There is a great deal to be said on both sides and, personally, I do not favor either side. On the other hand, there are some essential facts which sometimes have been lost sight of in our natural sympathy for the hard pressed wartime Chinese Government of Chiang. The big property owners of China, who are powerful in the Central Government, will fight before they allow the kind of reforms that the Communists have put into effect in the part of China they control. These reforms include redistribution of land to eliminate absentee owner-ship; drastic lowering of farm rents; abolition of usury; abolition of tax extortion and official corruption; better wages, treatment, living conditions, and education for workers and peasants and their families.

As a result of these reforms, authenticated by objective American reporters, the Communists have broad popular support all over China. The small farmers of China, who comprise 70% of the total population, and the coolies of the cities, who comprise approximately 20%, are generally eager for the protection, security and improved working conditions offered by the Communist program. Many of the intellectuals, even in Chungking, are also sympathetic to the Communists. The Kuomintang, which dominates politics under the Central Government, is now widely regarded by the Chinese masses as the party of the big bankers, merchants, landlords and owners of industry. Its prestige rests largely on the personal reputation of Chiang Kai-shek. That reputation alone can hardly offset his people’s war weariness and economic discontent. For the most part, they would fight the Communists only reluctantly.

If civil war comes to China I think it will be long and costly. I feel pretty sure that the Central Government cannot win a quick victory and, in fact, I have strong doubts that they can win at all. Under circumstances much more favorable to them than those existing today they tried consistently throughout the ten-year period preceding the Japanese war to destroy the Communists, and failed. The Communists, although at the present time probably even less well equipped than the Central Government’s troops, are highly disciplined, well entrenched in a relatively impregnable area, skilled in guerrilla warfare, and ably led. Their war record is said by many of our own Army men to be far superior to that of the Central Government. If they can get hold of considerable quantities of Japanese arms–as seems likely–they will be even more formidable opponents.

The Central Government, influenced by Ambassador Hurley, has shown a certain statesmanship in that, although it has branded the Communists in the past as “Red-bandits” and rebels, it has lately made public overtures to them. However, it has not been willing to put into effect significant reforms of a kind that might make a genuine coalition with the Communists possible and thus bring internal peace to China. As for the Communists, I am told that they have consistently raised their demands each time that the Central Government has made concessions, and thus have aggravated the difficulties in the way of a settlement. My feeling is that Chiang would rather fight than make major concessions to the Communists. He understands the use of force, and his record shows that in the past he has inclined toward military methods of settling issues. Unless powerful influences are brought to bear on him from outside China, I think it very likely that he will fight the Communists at the first favorable opportunity.

Similarly I feel sure that the Communists will not hesitate to take up Chiang’s challenge. They will not enter a government that does not make broad and intensive economic reform a sincere national policy, to be actively carried out; and above all they will not put their army under the Central Government, as Chiang insists, unless they are given an extensive share in military command. Without an army, or equivalent protection, they well know that they would be at the mercy of Chiang and his generals. Evidence suggests that no offer of cabinet posts in the Central Government can alter their determination to retain the protection of armed forces, until the military leadership of the Central Government is no longer a threat to them.

3. Broad Outlines of the Proposal.

The only hope for internal peace in China, as I see it, is the concerted use of influence by the great powers. I find my thought well expressed in an editorial in the Washington Post of August 17:

“If this is actually so (that the Soviet Government has no intention of taking the side of the Chinese Communists) and if, as a sequel to this treaty, Russia joins hands with the United States and Great Britain in putting pressure on the Chinese factions to settle their differences, a very dangerous state of affairs will have been averted.”

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek must realize the seriousness of his position. Lend-Lease deliveries to his government in effect. cease with V-J Day. He surely knows that large scale financial and technical aid from the American Government, were civil war to rage in China, would be highly improbable. Chiang’s rightist policies do not have the sympathy of many influential men in the present British Government. Russia’s recent pact of friendship with China does not prevent her preference for the aims of the Chinese Communists. Chiang is not likely to receive much support from abroad in. a war against the Communists. Whether by civil war or by inaction, he runs the risk of losing ground in the eyes of the foreign nations to which China must look for the aid so important to her rapid economic development. If some method can be found by which Chiang could invite foreign assistance in finding a peaceful solution of China’s present crisis, without infringing her sovereignty, I believe he could be induced to try it. In my judgment, the Communists also would look with favor on any really constructive approach to peace opened to them by the three great powers, particularly Russia.

My proposal comes to this: I think real results could be obtained through a suggestion from you to the Generalissimo that he request the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to name representatives to an Advisory Commission that he would appoint to make recommendations to him for the settlement of the existing disputes between the Central Government and the Communists. I conceive this Commission as consisting of two members of the Chinese Government, two Chinese Communist leaders, and one qualified representative each of America, Great Britain and Russia. Chiang need not necessarily be bound by the findings of the Commission, but if arrangements were made that its proceedings and report be published by him, the moral effect would undoubtedly be exceedingly powerful.

I believe that Chiang can be made to see that his world prestige could be greatly enhanced, and not diminished, if he were to make a creative and statesmanlike move to preserve peace in China by inviting other nations to participate with him to that end. is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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