The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 25.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: With reference to the mission to China of Mr. Donald Nelson and Major General Patrick J. Hurley, personal representatives of the President, I enclose for your information copies of the agenda prepared by these gentlemen for their discussions with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Mr. Nelson told me shortly before his return to Washington23 that there was substantial acceptance of his proposals by the Generalissimo and that he considered that Chiang had shown evidence of high leadership in his approach to the problems discussed. Mr. Nelson informed me that he proposed to recommend to our President (1) increased allocation of planes—probably planes of the C–46 type—to China for increased transportation of civilian goods from India to China, (2) provision of trucks urgently needed for internal transportation in China, and (3) the despatch to China about the end of this year or early next year of a mission of 6 or 7 highly qualified American experts to work out with an equal number of Chinese experts appropriate postwar plans for China. He admitted that some of the Chinese plans for postwar reconstruction and industrialization24 are “air castles”.
The details of Mr. Nelson’s discussions with Generalissimo Chiang, and the details of his proposals to Chiang, are not known to the Embassy.
With reference to the Hurley agenda, I am informed that while Generalissimo Chiang was at first agreeable to the appointment of General Stilwell as field commander in China, certain recent developments have served to revive the friction between Stilwell and Chiang and the latter is now unwilling to accept the Stilwell appointment. [Page 257] While I have long known of the Chiang–Stilwell feud, which dates back several years, I have not known its details. I have regretted the lack of harmony and understanding between the Generalissimo and the American commander, but neither of them has at any time informed me of their difficulties. Both Dr. Soong, the Foreign Minister, who has been participating in the Chiang–Hurley conversations, and General Hurley himself apparently consider that the present break between the Generalissimo and Stilwell is irreparable and final. Apparently consideration is now being given to the selection of some other American officer as Allied field commander in China.25 The post will require an officer of great ability, patience and tact; and one not unfamiliar with the Oriental mind.
Mr. Nelson and General Hurley told me upon their arrival here of their conversations with Mr. Molotov at Moscow. The Embassy at Moscow has informed you of these talks. General Hurley later has told me that the Molotov conversations having been reported to Generalissimo Chiang have had the effect of dissipating the latter’s distrust of Soviet Russia and his suspicion that the Chinese Communists are controlled from Russia, to the end that the Generalissimo has indicated that he will effect a settlement with the Chinese Communists. I do not share General Hurley’s optimism in this regard, but I do believe the report on the Molotov conversations has been helpful.
I reported to you by telegram a few days ago26 that I had been informed in strictest confidence by a well-informed high Chinese official that Generalissimo Chiang has at long last decided that there must be changes in the Government military and civilian personnel, and that Generalissimo Chiang has decided to make a liberal agreement with the Chinese Communists but desires that this information be carefully guarded in order that it may not become known to the Communists who would be likely to increase their demands.
I might here comment that Chungking is full of rumors at the moment of impending changes in military and civilian personnel, all originating from Chinese sources. There are no secrets in China.
I trust that the Nelson–Hurley mission will be productive of some beneficial results. My long experience in China does not lead me to share the optimism they display. As one of my closest Chinese friends (who has participated in the discussions with Chiang) remarked to me in strict confidence a few days ago, it is not so difficult to arrive at understandings but exceedingly difficult to implement them. I do not question Generalissimo Chiang’s good faith; but I do question his ability under the present situation in China to implement his undertakings. I feel that there must be a radical reformation [Page 258] of the present regime to recapture popular support. It remains to be seen whether the Generalissimo’s proposed shake-up in the Government and his approach to a settlement of the Kuomintang–Communist problem will bring beneficial results.
- Mr. Nelson reported to President Roosevelt in Washington on September 27.↩
- For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 1040 ff.↩
- For recall of General Stilwell and appointment of General Wedemeyer, see telegram No. 1388, October 28, to the Ambassador in China, p. 183.↩
- Telegram No. 1613, September 26, 10 a.m., p. 595.↩
- China National Aviation Corporation.↩