5-353 To Harry S. Truman, February 9, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 9, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

February 9, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 170. [Chungking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mr. President:

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Dr. Wang Shih-chieh, called on me last night to inform me of the increasing critical developments in Manchuria. He reported that he had called in the Russian Ambassador, [Appolon Alexandrovich] Petrov, several days before to inquire of him why Soviet Forces had not completed their withdrawal from Manchuria by February 1, in accordance with the Sino-Soviet Treaty and subsequent corollary agreements between the two governments. Petrov replied that he would have to consult Moscow and would then report to the Chinese on the status of the Soviet withdrawal. (Petrov had not reported by the time Dr. Wang called on me last night.) Dr. Wang then commented to Petrov that Soviet authorities in Manchuria had “informally” suggested to the Chinese authorities that the Soviet withdrawal could be expedited by Chinese agreement to Russia’s demands for economic concessions, which she claims as Japanese war booty. These economic concessions or “war booty”, as the Soviets call them, involve 50 per cent Soviet ownership, or participation, in virtually every phase of Manchurian economy. They include joint ownership of natural resource developments, such as coal mines and hydro-electric systems, future air transport systems and virtually every important industrial establishment in the country. It is quite clear that the Soviet is demanding tremendous economic concessions in Manchuria for the present and the future rather than anything that could reasonably be called “war booty”. Dr. Wang informed Petrov that the Chinese Government could not meet such Soviet demands and that, in any event, could not negotiate a settlement of legitimate war booty until Soviet troops had withdrawn.1 He recalled that the Chinese Government had already made major concessions in the Sino-Soviet Treaty and could pay no additional price for Manchuria under threat. Dr. Wang said the Chinese Government now has several courses of action in mind. In brief they are:

1. Seek to effect a reasonable settlement with the Soviets on part ownership or [of] industrial establishments in Manchuria which were bona fide Japanese properties as a recognition of Soviet claims for war booty. This settlement would be by informal understanding prior to Soviet withdrawal and negotiated formally after withdrawal.

2. Propose to the Soviets that the entire issue be put to the Far Eastern Commission as Molotov had suggested to Dr. Wang in the first meeting of Foreign Ministers at London. Wang believes that Molotov may have made the proposal as an empty gesture since at the time the U.S. refused to agree to the principle of a Far Eastern Control Commission.2

He then asked for my views on what might be done. I first asked him what he thought the U.S. might do to assist China in this matter and he had no specific proposals. I then told him I thought first of all China must proceed with her projected unification at the fastest possible pace so as to eliminate her present vulnerability to Soviet undercover attack, which exists so long as there remains a separate Communist government and a separate Communist army in China. Secondly, I told him that I believed he should make no commitment formal or informal with the Soviet which would recognize her claims that war booty consisted of the kind of economic concessions she is demanding. I suggested that if a settlement seemed possible on the type of concessions that were implicit in the Sino-Soviet Treaty, such limited concessions might be made. I told Wang it was my belief that time was running against the Soviet, since the longer her troops remain in Manchuria the more clearly she becomes a deliberate treaty violator in the eyes of the world. I suggested further that this psychological weapon could be sharpened by the entrance of American and Allied correspondents into Manchuria.

Doctor Wang said he concurred completely in my point that a speedy execution of the unification was essential. He agreed with me that time was running against the Soviet and said that the idea of turning the spotlight of publicity on Manchuria was already under consideration.

Harriman has already probably told you the Generalissimo is deeply concerned over the steadily increasing dilemma his officials and his troops find themselves in Manchuria. He is opposed to combined teams of the Executive Headquarters going into Manchuria because he fears the Russians would demand representation on such teams, since Russian troops are usually present if not directly involved in the troublesome incidents. It was reported to him that when his small National force entered Yingkow in Manchuria it was attacked by some 400 Russian soldiers with armored vehicles and heavy weapons along with an overwhelming Communist force. I have been unable to check on the accuracy of this report as he declines to agree to the dispatch of a team to Yingkow.

I have reported this situation to you in detail because I feel that it not only involves me in matters beyond my mission but is perhaps more dangerous to world accord than any other present issue. It is clear to me that the survival of much of what has been accomplished in China this past month will depend to an important degree on an early disposition of the festering situation in Manchuria. I also believe that our government must shortly do more for China in this matter than give advice. Just what action might be taken with reasonable hope of success I do not know, but the following thoughts occur to me:

1. First of all China must speed up on her unification-nationalization of her armies, actual development of the projected coalition government and restoration of communications.

2. We must clear our hands out here as quickly as possible in order to avoid the inevitable Russian recriminations similar to those today regarding the British troops in Greece. I mean by this, we must terminate the “China Theater of Operations” and in its place quickly develop the Military Advisory Group. (Wedemeyer on my urging is actually but unofficially organizing this group in Nanking). Also, in this connection, we must move all of the Marines out of China but some reconnaissance and transport aviation and some housekeeping and local guard units. The timing of this last move requires a critical decision. I have been having it planned for some time but there is still a grave question in my mind as to the effect on both the Kuomintang and the Communist groups. I am not prepared to advise this action now, but I hope I will be ready to do so in another month. Meanwhile I have agreed to considerable reductions in Marine strength.3

3. China should announce her intention to send troops into Japan. Generalissimo was previously forced to state his inability to do this, but under present and prospective circumstances I think he will make the offer shortly, on my suggestion, the movement to be initiated about May 1st.

4. China would now be ready to carry the Manchuria issue to the Far Eastern Commission, with definite evidence of unification, with the embarrassment of the presence of American combat troops removed, and with her status dignified by the fact of her troops having joined the Allied Occupation Forces in Japan.

Another subject:

Negotiations regarding nationalization of Chinese armies progressed well at first but have been delayed by necessity of Chou En-lai having his views confirmed by Yenan. Also, he is so deeply engaged with initial discussions for actual formation of National Council, etc., that he has been prevented from proceeding rapidly with military conferences. Incidentally, he and the National Government representative were in conference with me for three hours and a half this morning straightening out serious differences which had continued ten days in Peking over problem of control of railroad operations in Communist territory. An agreement was reached.4

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. Sino-Soviet negotiations in Changchun concerning the disposition of former industries in Manchuria that were owned or partially owned by the Japanese had been suspended by the Chinese government because the Soviet Union had failed to withdraw its armed forces from the region. In late March, the Soviets informed the Chinese government that their forces would be completely withdrawn by the end of April and that they were willing to negotiate in Chungking on matters of economic collaboration. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 1121.)

2. The Far Eastern Commission had been established on December 27, 1945, when, with China’s concurrence, the foreign ministers of the U.S., U.K., and the U.S.S.R., meeting in Moscow, issued a communiqu

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 5-353

Rights: Public Information