Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton) to the Secretary of State 2

Mr. Secretary: On April 17 an officer of the Chinese Embassy, at the instance of the Chinese Foreign Office, approached an officer of FE3 to obtain in strict confidence the view of this Government in regard to the question of recognition of the “Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea” located at Chungking, China.

You may recall that two reports have appeared recently in the press in regard to the future status of Korea: Dr. T. V. Soong4 was quoted in the New York Times of March 13 as having stated, in response to a question, that China wanted to see Korea independent; and in a press report from London, dated April 7 and written by Frederick Kuh of the Chicago Sun, it was stated that the President and Mr. Eden5 had “reportedly agreed that Korea is to be detached from Japan and after being placed under international trusteeship for a limited period will be proclaimed an independent state”. Also, on March 29 Dr. Soong called on Mr. Welles6 at Dr. Soong’s request, at which time Dr. Soong made inquiry in regard to any general impressions relating to Mr. Eden’s conversations in Washington. In reply, Mr. Welles, referring to the question of Korea, commented to the general effect that it seemed to him that the thought of the Chinese, the British, and the United States Governments was moving along similar lines in envisaging the setting up after the war of Korea as an independent country under a temporary international trusteeship.

In view of the foregoing, it is suggested that Mr. Berle7 ask the Chinese Ambassador8 to call on him and that Mr. Berle inform the [Page 1091]Ambassador of the substance of the preceding paragraph. It is suggested further that Mr. Berle make further comment to the Ambassador to the effect that it would seem best to us to let the matter rest there; that, as the Ambassador knows, the question of recognition of any regime as the Government of Korea involves a good many complicated factors which relate not only to the situation in the Far East but have a bearing also upon somewhat analogous situations in other parts of the world; that this Government and, we are sure, the other governments of the United Nations are giving special attention at this time to questions which are associated with prosecution of the war; that if the Chinese Government has views or information which we do not have and which it believes would be helpful to us, we should, of course, be very glad to be informed thereof; that we appreciate the spirit of cooperation shown by the Chinese Foreign Office in making this inquiry; and that we hope that there will continue to be free and frank exchange between our two Governments in regard to this question.

In this connection, it may be of interest that our Chargé d’Affaires at Chungking9 has reported in a despatch dated March 17, 194310 that, according to the Director of the East Asiatic Affairs Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,11 the Chinese Government has always encouraged unity between the two principal Korean factions in China, namely, the “Provisional Government”, composed chiefly of conservative Koreans, and the Korean Revolutionary Party, which is “radical” and which has the support of the younger and more aggressive Korean elements. The Chinese official informed Mr. Vincent that if the two factions were able to attain unity he felt that the Chinese Government would then wish again to consider the question of recognition and consult with the United States Government with regard to its attitude toward the question. Mr. Vincent indicates in his despatch that the two factions are still a long way from unity. Mr. Vincent adds that the “Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Korea”12 recently released a statement in Chungking opposing proposals appearing in the American press that Korea be put under international or mandated control.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]
  1. Marginal notation by the Secretary of State: “OK”.
  2. Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  3. Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. For correspondence on his visit to Washington, March 12–30, see pp. 1 ff.
  5. Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State; for memorandum of his conversation with Dr. Soong, March 29, see Foreign Relations, 1943, China, p. 845.
  6. Adolf A. Berle, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State.
  7. Wei Tao-ming.
  8. John Carter Vincent.
  9. No. 1004, not printed.
  10. Yang Yun-chu.
  11. Tjo So-wang.