Memorandum of Conversation, by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Service)87

To: Chief of Staff88

Present at the interview, which took place at 5:00 p.m. on this date, were: [Page 461]

  • The Generalissimo
  • T. V. Soong (who interpreted)
  • Wang Shih-chieh
  • Madame Chiang
  • Vice President Wallace
  • General B. G. Ferris
  • Mr. John Carter Vincent
  • Mr. Owen Lattimore
  • Mr. Service

The Vice President stated that since his talk of the previous evening88a with the Generalissimo he had received a radio message from President Roosevelt through the U. S. Army. He then read the pertinent portion of the President’s message regarding the need for intelligence purposes of sending American observers to all parts of North China including the Communist areas.

The Vice President also read, as from the President, the first portion of the letter explaining the need for such observers which had been prepared by this Headquarters in consultation with the Ambassador about April 1, 1944.

The Vice President then remarked that the Generalissimo had already agreed in principle to the dispatch of such American observers. To this the Generalissimo indicated agreement. Mr. Wallace then asked Mr. Vincent, who had been present at the previous talks, to recapitulate the agreement which had been reached and the conditions which the Generalissimo had laid down.

Referring to his notes, Mr. Vincent brought out the point that the only qualification finally made had been that the observers should be sent by, or under the auspices of, the National Military Council. The Generalissimo here again indicated that this was his only condition.

The Vice President remarked that because of the unusual circumstances, it was necessary to have a clear definition of what this condition meant. Dr. Wang Shih-chieh, who had also been present at the earlier discussion, supplied the exact Chinese term that had been used. Mr. Service suggested that this might best be translated as “sponsorship”. Mr. Lattimore and Dr. T. V. Soong agreed.

The Vice President returned to the need of clarification of just what this meant and said that he had asked representatives of the U. S. Army to accompany him so that there could be intelligent discussion of this point and obviation of possible future misunderstanding.

General Ferris then thanked the Generalissimo for his agreement to the dispatch of observers and pointed out the benefit of this step to the obtaining of intelligence which would assist our joint war effort. He added that a number of factors in the situation required that the observers have considerable freedom of operation. For instance, the necessity of speed in relaying back operational information of value to the air forces would require the installation of direct radio communications.

[Page 462]

The Generalissimo agreed that the observers might have their own radio communications. He then raised the question whether intelligence obtained would be furnished to the National Military Council. General Ferris stated that all enemy intelligence would be communicated to the Council.

General Ferris mentioned the difficulty of determining the itinerary of the Group in advance because of the wide area involved and the changing conditions that might be met with. The Generalissimo agreed that the Group would have full freedom of movement.

General Ferris mentioned that it might be better that the Group not be accompanied by the usual interpreters and liaison officers of the National Military Council. Without asking for details of the reasons (which were obvious), the Generalissimo agreed that usual requirements for interpreters and liaison officers would not be imposed.

Mr. Lattimore interjected the statement that it was clear from the Chinese phraseology of the Generalissimo’s remarks that he intended giving the Group the most complete liberty of action.

The Generalissimo asked that actual clearance and the details regarding the Group be taken up by General Ferris with General Ho Ying-chin.

General Ferris hoped that General Ho would be informed of the Generalissimo’s decision in the matter so that there would be no misunderstanding or delay. The Generalissimo replied that he would issue instructions to General Ho at once and that General Ferris could see him at 4:00 p.m. the following day to discuss details. The Generalissimo went on to give assurances that there would be no delays and that the Group could leave “as soon as assembled”.

General Ferris mentioned that the Group might include up to 20 men. The Generalissimo said that this number would be quite acceptable.

The Generalissimo then raised the question of the name of the Group. He indicated dislike of the term “Observer Mission” which had been used in the President’s message. He suggested in its stead: “Observer Section” (chen ch’a tsu). General Ferris and the other Americans present agreed to the use of this name.

The Generalissimo returned to the subject of his attitude toward the project by emphasizing again that he desired it to have the completest freedom, and being merely under the nominal sponsorship of the National Military Council. He went on to say, however, that while he could promise full freedom in Kuomintang territory, he could make no promises for the treatment and freedom given by the Communists, and that we would have to arrange that with the Communists ourselves. The Vice President and General Ferris indicated their appreciation of this point.

[Page 463]

Mr. Lattimore said, and General Ferris agreed, that it would be well to remember that we eventually hoped to send military observers to all parts of North China, including those outside of Communist control.

General Ferris and Mr. Service withdrew at about 5:40 leaving the interview between the Generalissimo and the Vice President still in progress.

John S. Service
  1. Apparently transmitted by air mail; receipt date not indicated. See also United States Relations With China, pp. 556–557.
  2. Brig. Gen. Thomas G. Hearn.
  3. See United States Relations With China, p. 551.