5-403 Memorandum for the Secretary of State, March 26, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 26, 1946

Subject: China

Memorandum for the Secretary of State1

March 26, 1946 [Washington, D.C.]

The following is a proposed announcement by you, if this proves necessary relative to American forces in China.2 It is the result of a compromise between certain Naval complications in the theater and Army proposals. I hope it will prove satisfactory.

“The so-called China theater of operations will be inactivated on May 1 next. As a result, the only United States Forces, other than Naval, remaining in China will consist of those required to dispose of surplus U. S. property, to complete assistance to the Chinese Government in the repatriation of the Japanese and in the movement of Chinese armies and equipment, and to participate in the operation of Executive Headquarters in Peiping which was established by the President’s Special Envoy, General Marshall to implement the agreements he reached with the representatives of the Chinese Government and the Communist Party to terminate hostilities, restore communications, and effect demobilization and reorganization of the armies.

“In anticipation of this inactivation the U. S. Army Forces have already been reduced by 60,000, that is by 90 per cent, and there are now no army combat units, either air or ground, remaining in China.

[“]The Marine forces in China have already been reduced from about 53,000 to 34,000. The reduction in strength will be continued throughout the spring.”3

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, China Mission, Memoranda-Messages-Cables, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. On Marshall’s copy, this title was followed by “To reach him in New York without delay.” Marshall cleared this memorandum with Army Chief of Staff Eisenhower and the concluding paragraph on the Marines with Admiral Nimitz, who had been chief of naval operations since December 1945. Marshall noted on the file copy: “Signed copy sent to Under Secretary of State 1215 PM 3/26/46 G. C. M.”

2. Secretary of State Byrnes had said in late February that he wished to announce the deactivation of the China Theater in order to counter Soviet and Chinese propaganda about the presence of American troops. Wedemeyer thought that mid-summer would be a good termination time, but Marshall told him that May 1 should be the target date. On March 24, Marshall asked Wedemeyer to draft a statement for Byrnes’s possible use; when the draft was received, Marshall edited it into the document printed here. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 849-50, 855-58.)

3. Secretary Byrnes did not issue the proposed statement. On April 1 General Wedemeyer announced that the China Theater would cease to exist at the end of the month, although three to four thousand U.S. Army personnel were to remain in China in various capacities. (Ibid., pp. 860-61; New York Times, April 2, 1946, p. 2.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 514.

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