5-305 To Dean G. Acheson, December 21, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 21, 1945

Subject: China

To Dean G. Acheson

December 21, 1945 Radio No. 400. [Shanghai, China]


On arrival in Shanghai I am disturbed by the following:

I find that the President’s statement of policy was preceded by an inept summary of that statement issued by the U.S. Information Service in terms of frequent “musts” that inevitably involves loss of face by the Generalissimo and in effect nullifies and distorts the tactful statement of the case by the President.1 This summary was immediately put on the radio as a matter of routine and did the harm before the full statement appeared.

Next, I find last night a statement credited to a spokesman of the State Department publicizing the fact that the President has reposed in me the authority to approve or disapprove any movement of Chinese troops into North China, thus taking out of my hands the determination of the best method of utilizing this authority to accomplish the desired result.2

As a consequence of the foregoing I enter on my first discussion with the Generalissimo today under what in my opinion are unnecessary handicaps.

I request that in these critical stages of our negotiations, I be given an opportunity to comment on any future statements, official or semi-official by the Department in Washington which relate to the Chinese situation. I would appreciate also if careful scrutiny be given to the China-directed output of USIS before it leaves Washington.3

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. New York Times correspondent Tillman Durdin reported from Chungking on December 17 that the Information Service dispatch described the December 15 statement “U. S. Policy Towards China” as, in Durdin’s words, “a warning and worded its summary in such a way as to give the meaning that United States credits, loans and further military help to China could be given only if peace and unity were established and a `fair and effective representation’ of non-Kuomintang political elements included in the Government.” (New York Times, December 18, 1945, p. 2.)

2. The State Department announced on December 18 that General Wedemeyer had received authorization to assist the movement of Nationalist troops to Manchurian ports, but only if Marshall “determines that such a movement is consistent with his negotiations with the Chinese.” (New York Times, December 19, 1945, p. 2.)

3. Acting Secretary of State Acheson replied that the “slanted summary” of U.S. policy apparently originated in the U.S. Information Service office in Chungking, then headed by Dr. John King Fairbank, a prewar history professor at Harvard University and formerly a member of the Office of Strategic Services in China. “We have urgently ordered a full investigation and expect to take appropriate disciplinary action as soon as facts are reported.” Concerning the statement on the movement of Chinese troops: “In future we will, as requested by you, clear with you all statements contemplated for release in Washington which might affect your negotiations or position.” (Acheson to Marshall, December 21, 1945, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Division of Chinese Affairs, USIS].)

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), pp. 399-400.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 5-305

Rights: Public Information