Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1944, China, Volume VI
Vice President Wallace to President Roosevelt 63
Dear Mr. President: I am handing you herewith a report on my trip to the Far East.
Summary Report of Vice President Wallace’s Visit in China
Our first stop in China was at Tihua (Urumchi), capital of Sinkiang province. The Governor, General Sheng Shih-tsai is a typical war lord. The Government is personal and carried out by thorough police surveillance. Ninety percent (90%) of the population is non-Chinese, mostly Uighur (Turki). Tension between Chinese and non-Chinese is growing with little or no evidence of ability to deal effectively with the problem. General Sheng, two years ago pro-Soviet, is now anti-Soviet, making life extremely difficult for the Soviet Consul General and Soviet citizens in Sinkiang.
There seems little reason to doubt that the difficulties in the early spring on the Sinkiang–Outer–Mongolia border were caused by Chinese attempts to resettle Kazak nomads who fled into Outer-Mongolia, were followed by Chinese troops who were driven back by Mongols. The Soviet Minister in Outer-Mongolia stated that Mongolian planes bombed points in Sinkiang in retaliation for Chinese bombings in Outer-Mongolia. He did not appear concerned regarding the situation now.
Soviet officials placed primary responsibility on General Sheng for their difficulties in Sinkiang but our Consul at Tihua and our Embassy officials felt that Sheng was acting as a front for Chungking, willingly or unwittingly. Sinkiang is an area which will bear close watching.
Due to bad weather at Chungking, we stopped for two hours at the large 20th Bomber Command (B–29) airfield near Chengtu. The first bombing of Japan had taken place only a few days before. We found morale good but complaint was freely made of inability to [Page 241] obtain intelligence regarding weather and Japanese positions in north China and leak of intelligence to the Japanese.
Summary of conversations with President Chiang Kai-shek is contained in a separate memorandum.64 Principle topics discussed were: (1) Adverse military situation which Chiang attributed to low morale due to economic difficulties and to failure to start an all-out Burma offensive in the spring as promised at Cairo; (2) Relations with the Soviet Union and need for their betterment in order to avoid possibility of conflict (Chiang, obviously motivated by necessity rather than conviction, admitted the desirability of understanding with USSR, and requested our good offices in arranging for conference;) (3) Chinese Government–Communist relations, in regard to which Chiang showed himself so prejudiced against the Communists that there seemed little prospect of satisfactory or enduring settlement as a result of the negotiations now under way in Chungking; (4) Dispatch of U. S. Army Intelligence Group to north China, including Communist areas, to which Chiang was initially opposed but on last day agreed reluctantly but with apparent sincerity; (5) Need for reform in China, particularly agrarian reform, to which Chiang agreed without much indication of personal interest.
It was significant that T. V. Soong took no part in the discussions except as an interpreter. However, in subsequent conversations during visits outside of Chungking he was quite outspoken, saying that it was essential that something “dramatic” be done to save the situation in China, that it was “five minutes to midnight” for the Chungking government. Without being specific he spoke of need for greatly increased U. S. Army air activity in China and for reformation of Chungking government. He said that Chiang was bewildered and that there were already signs of disintegration of his authority. (Soong is greatly embittered by the treatment received from Chiang during the past half year.)
Conversations with Ambassador Gauss and other Americans indicated discouragement regarding the situation and need for positive American leadership in China.
Mr. Wallace and Mr. Vincent called on Dr. Sun Fo and Madame Sun Yat-sen. Dr. Sun had little to contribute. He was obviously on guard. Madame Sun was outspoken. She described undemocratic conditions to which she ascribed lack of popular support for government; said that Dr. Sun Fo should be spokesman for liberals who could unite under his leadership; and advised Mr. Wallace to speak frankly to President Chiang who was not informed of conditions in China. Madame Sun’s depth and sincerity of feeling is more impressive [Page 242] than her political acumen but she is significant as an inspiration to Chinese liberals. Dr. Sun Fo does not impress one as having strength of character required for leadership but the fact that he is the son of Sun Yat-sen makes him a potential front for liberals.
Mr. Vincent talked with Dr. Quo Tai-chi, former Foreign Minister and for many years Ambassador in London, and to … They see little hope in Chiang’s leadership. Dr. Quo spoke in support of Sun Fo under whom he thought a liberal coalition was possible. Quo is an intelligent but not a strong character. … said that economic situation had resolved itself into a race against time; that new hope and help before the end of the year might be effective in holding things together.
Conversations with other Chinese officials in Chungking developed little of new interest. The Minister of Agriculture (Shen Hung-lieh, who incidentally knows little about agriculture) showed himself an outspoken anti-communist. General Ho Ying-chin, Chief of Staff and Minister of War, also an anti-communist, is influential as a political rather than a military general. Dr. Chen Li-fu, Minister of Education, a leading reactionary party politician, also had little to say. Ironically, he took Mr. Wallace to visit the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives which he is endeavoring to bring under his control to prevent their becoming a liberalizing social influence.
Conversations with provincial government officials were also without much significance. As an indication of political trends, there were unconfirmed reports that the provincial officials in Yunnan, Kwangsi, and Kwangtung provinces were planning a coalition to meet the situation in the event of disintegration of central government control. In Szechuan province the Governor, Chang Chun, is a strong and loyal friend of President Chiang. The loyalty of military factions, however, is uncertain. In Kansu province the Governor, Ku Chenglun, is a mild appearing reactionary who, during his days as Police Commissioner in Nanking, earned the title of “bloody Ku.”
Developments subsequent to conversations with General Chennault and Vincent in Kunming and Kweilin have confirmed their pessimism with regard to the military situation in east China. There was almost uniform agreement among our military officers that unification of the American military effort in China, and better coordination of our effort with that of the Chinese, was absolutely essential. It was also the general belief that, the Japanese having during recent months made China an active theatre of war, it was highly advisable to take more aggressive air action against such Japanese bases as Hankow, Canton, Nanking and Shanghai. However, the factor of loss of Chinese life at those places was recognized as an important consideration. It was the consensus that Chinese troops, when well fed, well [Page 243] equipped, and well led, can be effectively used. A number of Chinese generals were mentioned as potentially good leaders. Among them were Generals Chen Cheng, Chang Fa-kwei and Pai Chung-hsi.
In Outer-Mongolia there is considerable evidence of healthy progress, military preparedness, and nationalistic spirit. Soviet influence is without doubt strong but political and administrative control appear to be in the hands of capable Mongols. Any thought of resumption of effective Chinese sovereignty would be unrealistic. On the contrary, it is well to anticipate considerable agitation in Inner-Mongolia for union with Outer-Mongolia after the war.
Specific conclusions and recommendations regarding the situation in China were incorporated in telegrams dispatched from New Delhi on June 28 (copies attached).64a
We should bear constantly in mind that the Chinese, a non-fighting people, have resisted the Japanese for seven years. Economic hardship and uninspiring leadership have induced something akin to physical and spiritual anemia. There is widespread popular dislike for the Kuomintang government. But there is also strong popular dislike for the Japanese and confidence in victory.
Chiang, a man with an oriental military mind, sees his authority threatened by economic deterioration, which he does not understand, and by social unrest symbolized in Communism, which he thoroughly distrusts; and neither of which he can control by military commands. He hoped that aid from foreign allies would pull him out of the hole into which an unenlightened administration (supported by landlords, war lords and bankers) has sunk him and China.
Chiang is thoroughly “eastern” in thought and outlook. He is surrounded by a group of party stalwarts who are similar in character. He has also, reluctantly, placed confidence in westernized Chinese advisers (his wife and T. V. Soong are outstanding examples) with regard to foreign relations. Now he feels that foreign allies have failed him and seeks in that and the “communistic menace” a scapegoat for his government’s failure. His hatred of Chinese communists and distrust of the USSR cause him to shy away from liberals. The failure of foreign aid has caused him to turn away from his uncongenial “western” advisers and draw closer to the group of “eastern” advisers for whom he has a natural affinity and for whom he has been for years more a focal point and activating agent of policy than an actual leader.
At this time, there seems to be no alternative to support of Chiang. There is no Chinese leader or group now apparent of sufficient strength to take over the government. We can, however, while supporting Chiang, influence him in every possible way to adopt policies with [Page 244] the guidance of progressive Chinese which will inspire popular support and instill new vitality into China’s war effort.…
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[In an article printed in the Department of State Bulletin, July 9, 1944, pp. 36, 42, Willys R. Peck, Special Assistant in the Office of Public Information, wrote in part:
“In corresponding with educators and scientific institutions in China the Department frequently learns of situations in which small quantities of chemicals, a few books, or other cultural materials would be of great assistance to such persons and institutions in their activities. The meagerness of transportation available for such articles has hampered the collaboration in which the State Department is engaged. It was with deep appreciation, therefore, that the State Department received the consent of the Vice President to carry with him on his plane a limited quantity of these materials on his visit to China. Mr. Wallace left Washington on May 20, 1944 taking with him over 90 separate packages, addressed to 43 separate institutions scattered over several Chinese provinces. Each parcel bore the following statement: ‘The contents of this package are sent to you under the program of cultural relations of the Department of State of the United States as a small evidence of the continuance of the longtime cultural exchanges between our two countries.’ Every article was sent in response to a request or to fill a known need. A few items will show the general nature of the shipment. Parcels of books and current journals were sent to a dozen universities. To a national university went laboratory equipment and some supplies for the manufacture of drugs; to the Ministry of Education, a collection of college catalogs and curriculum outlines for use in developing instruction in animal husbandry; to the governor of a province, copies, illustrated with photographs, of the investigations of an American specialist into the development of the wool industry; to the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, a wide selection of pamphlets, manuals, and charts for use in manufacturing without power machinery; to the International Cultural Service, electric bulbs for microfilm readers; to several institutions, about thirty documentary motion pictures; and to the American Embassy at Chungking, a set of reproductions of American paintings and a collection of books and pamphlets for distribution.”]