893.00/14610: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China ( Johnson )

58. Your 632, December 23, noon, and Department’s 216, December 28, 6 p.m.67 Mr. Hornbeck and Mr. Hamilton asked the Chinese Ambassador and Mr. T. V. Soong to call on March 7 for the purpose of a mutually helpful general talk68 in regard to the general political situation in the Far East and the projects in which Mr. Soong has been especially interested.

In the course of the conversation both the Ambassador and Mr. Soong made extended comment in regard to the difficulties between the Central Government and the Chinese Communists. Neither seemed to feel that the situation was especially serious. In response to the comments by the Chinese giving outlines of antecedents, Mr. Hornbeck remarked that the effects of dissension between the Communists and the Chinese Government were more important than the causes, and Mr. Hamilton stated that this country was of course very much interested in China’s unity and stability.
An officer of the British Embassy called at the Department on March 11 and stated to Mr. Hamilton69 that the Embassy had a few days ago received a telegram from the British Foreign Office in which was expressed the view that dissension between the Chinese Government and the Communists might have a number of very unfortunate effects.70 The British Foreign Office felt that, in as much as the British and American Governments were extending substantial aid to the Chinese Government, both the British and the American Governments were entitled to express to the Chinese Government concern in regard to the dissension between the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communists. The Foreign Office directed the British Embassy here to keep in close touch with the Department in regard to this matter, with a view possibly to the American and British Ambassadors at Chungking making perhaps simultaneous but separate approaches to General Chiang Kai-shek for the purpose of expressing the concern of their Governments in regard to the situation. Mr. Hamilton stated that our reports indicated that the British Ambassador at Chungking had on a number of occasions spoken to General Chiang in regard to this matter and that the Department had authorized the American Ambassador at Chungking to express to General Chiang our concern [Page 491] and that the Ambassador had done this. Mr. Hamilton also mentioned the remarks which had been made to the Chinese Ambassador and Mr. Soong here on March 7.
Without undertaking to make with the British Ambassador the suggested simultaneous or identic approach to General Chiang, the Department desires that you keep in touch with your British colleague; that you continue to follow developments carefully; and that if and as occasion presents itself you continue to keep before General Chiang and other appropriate officials of the Chinese Government this Government’s concern over reports of dissension between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist forces, pointing out that Chinese unity has comprised one of the principal factors in our policy toward China for many years, that this Government’s interest in the progressive maintenance of Chinese unity continues, and that in our view the importance of the maintenance of Chinese unity cannot be overestimated at the present serious juncture in world affairs.
  1. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. iv, pp. 472 and 476, respectively.
  2. See memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, p. 610.
  3. Memorandum of conversation not printed.
  4. These included “the possibility that the Soviet Union might be influenced thereby toward ceasing to grant aid to China and toward effecting some sort of an agreement with Japan.” (893.00/14727)