Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 3

Subject: Communist-Kuomintang Relations.

Attached is a summary of a telegram4 from Ambassador Hurley.

The Ambassador points out that Chiang and the Communists have similar objectives—popular government and military unity. But Chiang’s promises of popular government are distrusted and his conception of unity is summed up in his statement to the Vice President: I want to cooperate with the Communists but they must obey my orders.

The Ambassador states that “the Kuomintang still hopes to keep China under one-party rule”. The Communists want a coalition government. Their optimum is ⅓ Communist, ⅓ Kuomintang, and ⅓ minority party representation. Chiang is willing to concede representation which does not endanger Kuomintang control. The gap between Chiang and the Communists is wide and fundamental. It is hoped that the Ambassador can persuade Chiang and the Communists to bridge it. If they do not, civil war, as he points out, will come sooner or later.

Chiang is in a dilemma. A coalition would mean the end of conservative Kuomintang dominance and open the way for the more virile and popular Communists to extend their influence to the point perhaps of controlling the government. Failure to settle with the Communists, who are daily growing stronger, would invite danger of an eventual overthrow of the Kuomintang. Chiang could, it is felt, rise above party selfishness and anti-Communist prejudice to head a coalition government which might bring new life into the war effort and assure unity after hostilities.

If a settlement is not reached, the alternative might be an American military command of all Chinese forces. It is understood that both Chiang and the Communists would agree to this. Such a command would make possible limited supply of ammunition and demolition material to the Communists which all observers agree could be effectively used. It would obviate political difficulties in the event of coastal landings adjacent to areas under Communist control. If Russia comes into the war in the Far East, it would be highly advantageous to have in China an overall American command, rather than a disunited Chinese command. And finally, an American command could serve as a stabilizing political influence in the period immediately following the conclusion of hostilities in China.

E. R. Stettinius, Jr.
  1. Drafted by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Vincent).
  2. Summary not printed; for unnumbered telegram of December 24, 1944, from the Appointed Ambassador in China, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vi, p. 745.