740.0011 P. W./7–1645

No. 1212
The Secretary of War ( Stimson ) to the President 1

top secret

Memorandum for the President

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

the yalta agreements

As for the Russian participation [in the war against Japan] and the so-called Yalta Agreements,31 believe that these agreements, so long as they are interpreted consistently with our traditional policy toward China, should not cause us any concern from a security point of view, assuming always we keep clear our control over the Pacific islands. By our traditional policy toward China I refer, of course, to the Open Door and the recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Manchuria.


We can afford to permit Russia to have access to ports in Manchuria, and I interpret the Yalta Agreements as giving her full commercial access to Dairen, with the necessary facilities. Likewise I understand the late President Roosevelt’s willingness to permit the Russians to have what in effect is the lease of a naval base at Port Arthur on the peninsula for a limited time. However no concessions should be made which would permit Russia to control or prohibit trade through Dairen or any other commercial port in Manchuria. In other words I would insist that Manchuria be treated precisely as China proper in this regard, except that Russia be permitted to acquire the facilities necessary to develop and support her trade from and to [Page 1224] Russia through the port by her joint control with China of the railway and the normal acquisition of the necessary port facilities. The operation of the railway must be conducted on the usual public carrier basis without discrimination against the trade in Manchuria of any power. I understand Dr. Soong to take this view and I would not hesitate to support China on this, as any other course could constitute an abandonment of one of our longest established and most highly respected American policies. It would also be antagonistic to our clear and growing interests in the orient.4

Except for the lease of a naval base at Port Arthur, which in itself is a trend in the wrong direction, no further military rights or control should be granted in the Dairen peninsula or elsewhere in Manchuria.

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Henry L Stimson
  1. Submitted to Byrnes for transmittal to Truman (see document No. 1236).
  2. For the other sections of this memorandum, see the enclosure to document No. 1236, and documents Nos. 732 and 1274.
  3. i. e., the agreement regarding entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan signed by Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill on February 11, 1945. For text, see Executive Agreement Series No. 498; 59 Stat. (2) 1823; Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 984.
  4. The following extracts from Stimson’s diary are relevant to this paragraph:

    “[Undated entry inserted before July 14:] … In addition to that I had talks with him [Truman] and I gave him a memorandum on the conflict between the supposed plans of Russia as to Dairen in Manchuria and our Open Door Policy, and went over them with him carefully, again and again warning him to be absolutely sure that the Russians did not block off our trade by their control over the Chinese Eastern Railway. I pointed out that an open port would be useless if our trade could be smothered by railroad control behind that, and that was what it looked as if the Russians were planning to do.

    “[July 15:] … Averell Harriman and Ambassador Murphy came in to see us in the late afternoon. Harriman was much worked up over his fears of the Russian plans for Manchuria and wanted help. I helped him out by pointing out that any plan such as he feared the Russians had in mind to monopolize trade in Manchuria would be in direct violation with our historic Open Door policy and the Nine Power Treaty, and I afterwards took this up with the President.…

    “[July 17:] I went to the ‘White House’ for a conference with Byrnes early in the morning.… I impressed on him the importance of the Open Door policy in connection with Stalin’s new pressure for commercial rights in Manchuria, and advised that any claim for exclusive rights should be firmly opposed. I described to him the development of the Open Door and the Nine Power Treaty. Byrnes evidently accepted that advice, . . . .

    “[July 18:] … The President again repeated [to Stimson] that he was confident of sustaining the Open Door policy, and I took the occasion to emphasize to him the importance of going over the matter detail by detail so as to be sure that there would be no misunderstanding over the meaning of the general expressions.…“Cf. ante, p. 43, footnote 3.