The Chief of the Division of
Chinese Affairs (Vincent) to the Assistant Secretary of State
Subject: Suggested Protocol Pertaining to the Chinese-Soviet Agreements under Negotiation.
There is attached the draft of a suggested understanding between our Government and the Soviet Government in regard to the Chinese-Soviet [Page 1242]agreements concerning Manchuria now under negotiation. The suggested understanding has been phrased to have general application but its purpose is to reserve our historic American position in the face of potential encroachment. A reservation of the American position would have considerable political value in the likely event that the agreements under negotiation, if consummated, are made the occasion for public and press criticism of the administration.
Our commitments at Yalta regarding Manchuria and our undertaking to obtain Chinese acceptance of those commitments place us squarely in a position of responsibility which we cannot transfer to the Chinese on the theory that the negotiations are bilateral and that the Chinese should get as good terms as they can from the Russians. The Chinese are in no position to bargain. Our interpretation of the Yalta commitments is for them controlling.
It might be argued that, should the Chinese supported by us take a firm stand against concessions beyond the Yalta commitments, and as a result agreements not be consummated, in the final settlements regarding Manchuria we would be in as strong a position to safeguard American interests as we are now—conceivably, with the backing of public opinion, in a stronger position than we are now.
It might also be argued that the expedient of a resumption of a special Russian position in Manchuria having been conceded at Yalta, the present differences between the Russians and the Chinese in regard to the agreements are of minor importance. But the situation is not likely to be so regarded by the American public, a large section of which is profoundly interested in China and in safeguarding the American position in China. They will be critical of the Yalta commitments; they will be highly critical of any concessions beyond the Yalta commitments; and they will expect reservations safeguarding American interests in the face of those commitments. It is with this thought in mind that the attached protocol has been prepared.
- Printed from an unsigned carbon copy.↩