The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China (Gauss)
Washington, May 1, 1942—1 p.m.
342. Reference your 432, April 18, 2 p.m.
- Please inform the Chungking authorities of this Government’s appreciation of General Chiang’s request for an expression of our views in regard to the conclusion of the Chinese Government that it [Page 874] is desirable that it extend recognition to the “Korean Provisional Government” now at Chungking without delay.
- You may inform the Chinese Government that in the United States various groups, including groups composed of Koreans, have organized to undertake to speak for the anti-Axis forces in countries controlled or dominated by German or Japanese troops. In dealing with these groups, this Government has been guided by two primary considerations: First, it has insisted that there not be made any appeal for support of any free movement in this country which would be incompatible with the unity of the United States and with the duties of Americans of foreign descent as citizens of the United States; and, second, this Government has not desired to take steps which would tend to deprive the conquered populations of full freedom, when victory over the Axis aggressors is won, to select and set up governments of their own choosing.
- The people of the United States have indicated increasing sympathy and support for the aspirations to freedom of the Korean people as well as similar aspirations of the other peoples now subjugated by the tyranny of the Axis powers. This Government intends to give such peoples all practicable aid in regaining their freedom and welcomes such assistance as these subjugated peoples can themselves give toward achieving victory.
- In this Government’s thought a distinction is made between statements advocating the independence of Korea and the according of recognition to any particular group of Koreans as the Provisional Government of Korea. With regard to the various existing groups of Koreans interested in achieving Korean independence, you may inform the Chinese authorities that this Government had had no immediate intention of according recognition to any one Korean group in view of such factors as: (a) the lack of unity existing among Korean groups interested in achieving Korean independence and (b) the probability that groups now existing outside of Korea have little association with the Korean population in Korea. In this connection you may wish to suggest that, in according recognition, the Chinese Government may deem it advisable to stress the provisional character of the recognition in order that the Chinese Government may retain greater freedom of action in the event of future developments as yet necessarily unpredictable. Such a provisional recognition would also tend to eliminate the danger that the people of Korea might be led to believe that their right to choose their own government following the achieving of their independence had been circumscribed in advance by action of any of the members of the United Nations.
- In making the foregoing comments to the Chinese Government, please emphasize that we are aware of the fact that geographical and [Page 875] racial factors render the question under reference of more immediate concern to China than to the United States; that in presenting our views to the Chinese Government we are motivated solely by a desire to give a responsive and frank reply to the question which the Chinese Government has been so good as to take up with this Government; and that we do not desire to stand in the way of the Chinese Government’s taking any step which, after careful and full consideration of all the factors, seems to that Government the wisest step to take; and that, if the Chinese Government, in addition to announcing its support for Korean efforts to achieve freedom, should accord recognition to a Provisional Government of Korea, this Government would of course expect to re-examine its position in the light of that new step. Please mention to the Chinese Government also that there are certain special factors in the Korean situation to which this Government must give particular attention because of their possible effect on a number of other free movements in this country which also desire formal recognition as governments by the United States.
- You may also recall to the Chinese Government that the President in his radio address of February 2330 referred to the people of Korea and said that they “know in their flesh the harsh despotism of Japan” and that the President also stated later in that address that “We of the United Nations are agreed on certain broad principles in the kind of peace we seek. The Atlantic Charter applies not only to the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”
- Department of State Bulletin, February 28, 1942, p. 183.↩