893.00/1–3145: Telegram

The Ambassador in China ( Hurley ) to the Secretary of State 48

141. Preamble. This Embassy is not equipped to make reports of the nature that I am now entering upon. The Embassy has but one stenographer. America has never heretofore attempted to use its good offices in actual negotiations to bring about a unification of the military forces of China. We have official personnel who have communicated with, observed and reported on the Communists but we have no personnel who have negotiated with the Communists for the unification of the Communist and National forces. For that reason we have no official personnel in the Embassy, except myself, prepared to make either decisions or reports on the subject which I am covering. I make this statement not as criticism, but as a statement of fact.

We are fighting a relentless enemy. That, in my opinion, justifies our action in attempting to unify the forces of China to help us defeat the enemy. A unification of the military forces of the Communist Party and the National Government would have a battle effect, equal at least, to one fully equipped American Army. The result of unification of the Chinese military forces is worthy of much more consideration than it has heretofore received from America. As I have heretofore reported to you, my negotiations with the Communists have been with the advice, approval and direction of both the Generalissimo and the American Commander, General Wedemeyer.

These reports are being dictated by me to any [an?] Army stenographer. As you know, I am conducting meetings of the representatives of all American Agencies in China with a view of eliminating overlapping and conflicts. We hope to be able to coordinate American authorities in China. I am conducting regular military conferences with the American military commander and the Generalissimo. I am also carrying on the routine duties of Ambassador. It is difficult for me personally to attend so many conferences and also to do my own reporting. I have wired the Department suggesting a setup for this Embassy which I hope will have attention as early as convenient.49

Part 1.

As indicated by my message to you No. 107, January 24, 1945, conversations have been resumed between the National Government and the Chinese Communist Party. It should be frankly stated, however, [Page 193] that in the very first meeting both sides stated with great emphasis the obstacles to any practical agreement between the two factions. Dr. Soong for the Government and Chou En-lai for the Communists are both able debaters.

At this point, I begin giving background that will provide correct outline of my participation in and the progress of the conversations between the National Government and the Communist Party. I had been talking to the Generalissimo at periods during the Stilwell controversy50 of the necessity of uniting China’s military forces so that instead of fighting or watching each other the forces of the National Government and those of the Chinese Communist Party could be united to drive the Japanese from China. I was advised that the crimes committed by the Communists were so grave that reconciliation seemed impossible although the Generalissimo said he was willing for me to negotiate with the Communist Party leaders in an effort to bring about unity.

On September 11, 1944, I received a telegram51 from General Chu Teh, Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Communist troops, inviting me, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the New Fourth and Eighth Route Armies of Communist troops, to go to Yenan, in the Communist area, for a personal investigation and a visit with the Communist leaders. I immediately made this invitation known to the Generalissimo. For a number of reasons he wished me to postpone the visit but he did not decline to permit me to meet with the Communist leaders. I then began rather extensive work with a committee which had been appointed by the Generalissimo and the National Government to confer with the Chinese Communist leaders. The members of this committee were Dr. Wang Shih-chieh, now Minister of Information, and General Chang Tze-chung, Director of Political Training of the National Military Council. I found these two gentlemen were committed to the proposition that China must remain under one party rule, according to the idea of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, until a period of tutelage would make it ready to support a democratic government. They were of the opinion that the time had not arrived to institute a bi-party or multi-party government. After much work with these gentlemen, with Dr. Soong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Generalissimo, I evolved five points, some of them rather innocuous, to which the National Government Committee agreed. These points were suggested by me after conferences with the local representatives of the Communist Party, [Page 194] after meetings between these representatives and the representatives of the Government. I was only beginning to understand the issues involved. On the 7th of November, I flew to Yenan with the advice and consent and by the direction of the Generalissimo and General Wedemeyer. My reception by the Communist leaders was enthusiastic. They expressed great admiration that I had come into Yenan at a time when it was necessary for my plane to be covered by fighter escort. This seemed to be of great significance to them. In opening our first formal meeting, Chairman Mao Tse-tung stated that our meeting was so important that I had risked my life to come to see him. That fact, he stated, impressed him with the earnestness of our desire to see all Chinese military forces united to defeat Japan and to prevent civil war in China.

The meeting with Communists opened under the most favorable circumstances. For 2 days and 2 nights we argued, agreed, disagreed, denied and admitted in the most strenuous but most friendly fashion and pulled and hauled my 5 points until they were finally revised and were signed by Mao Tse-tung to be presented by me as the Chinese Communist proposal to the National Government. I was even able to limit the inclusion of unnecessary details in the 5 points so that the whole document could be written on 1 page. By agreement this document was to remain secret until the negotiations were closed or until Mao Tse-tung and I would agree to its publication. The document is still secret. The National Government has taken every precaution to keep it from becoming public. Therefore, the State Department should know that it would be injurious to our negotiations if this document should become public. I have outlined the document in reports to the President. This is the first time I have given the entire document. I am giving it now because I feel it essential that the State Department be fully informed if I am to expect direction, cooperation and support in these negotiations. The 5-point proposal of the Communist Party to the National Government is dated November 10, 194452 and is in full, as set forth in Embstel 142, January 31, 7 p.m.53

I was also authorized to say to Chiang Kai-shek that the Communists pledged themselves to support and sustain his leadership both as Gmo54 and as President of the Government.

In Yenan I had contracted heavy cold. The day after I returned (November 11) I was confined to my room. I sent a signed copy of the Communist proposal to Dr. Soong and the others of the National Committee and requested that it be translated and given to Gmo [Page 195] Chiang Kai-shek. Dr. Soong and Dr. Wang55 came to my room in a state of considerable perturbation. Dr. Soong immediately said, “You have been sold a bill of goods by the Communists. The National Government will never grant what the Communists have requested”. He then pointed out all of the defects he found in the proposal, only one of which seemed to me to have merit and that was that the Communists really meant to say that they desired a coalition administration whereas they had actually asked for a change in the name of the Chinese Government. This seemed to me to be trivial and could easily be corrected. I maintained that the offer by the Communists had outlined at least a basis upon which to construct a settlement. Drs. Soong and Wang saw the Generalissimo before I did. They had convinced him that a settlement on the basis suggested by the Communists was impracticable. The Generalissimo’s argument was that he could not agree to a coalition government without acknowledging the total defeat of his party by the Communists. He also said that the proposed plan would be in conflict with the program outlined for China in the will of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He said that acceptance of the plan would have a serious effect on the war effort and would cause controversy at a time when the situation in China was already precarious. I, of course, had deep sympathy with him because I well understood that the National Government must be maintained. The collapse of the National Government would have caused chaos.

The Generalissimo was kind enough to say that the basis for settlement that I had obtained from the Communists would, in his opinion, be accepted as a settlement of the same kind of a controversy in Washington or in London but, owing to the peculiar Chinese psychology, it would mean total defeat for him and his party. I suggested to the Generalissimo that he revise the Communist offer and call the result a bi-party or a multi-party or a party-representative government thus avoiding the use of the word “coalition”. I believed that an agreement between the National Government and the Chinese Communist Party would strengthen the Government both politically and morally and would prevent the collapse which, at that time, was widely predicted and to many informed people seemed imminent. My arguments were ineffective as were also the arguments of General Chou En-lai, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, who had accompanied me from Yenan to Chungking. The Government finally and definitely declined the Communist offer of settlement. The Government made a 3-point counter proposal. The 3-point counter offer of the Government was submitted to me on [Page 196] November 2156 and I, in turn, presented it to General Chou. The 3-point counter proposal of the Government is, in full, as set forth in Embassy’s telegram 143, January 31, 8 p.m.57

Dr. Wang stated, in meeting, that the 3-point counter proposal of the Government was prepared by me and that it represented my idea of a fair compromise. To this statement I replied publicly that there was not one word of the counter proposal that I considered mine and that I had not presented it as my idea of an equitable compromise. I did not denounce the argument. I disclaimed its authorship. The 3-point proposal was not, of course, acceptable to the Communist Party. I did argue the 3-point proposal with General Chou En-lai and attempted to persuade him that it would be advisable on the part of the Communists to accept the 3-point proposal and be in cooperation with the National Government to effect a unification of National and Chinese Communist forces for the defeat of the enemy. I pointed out that the Government’s 3-point proposal did provide for the recognition of the Chinese Communists as a legal political party in China. At this time, in the discussions, the Chinese Communists began to charge the Chinese Government with bad faith. They said the Chinese Government had not desired to effect a unification of China and that the Chinese Government was in correspondence with Japan and, with support of the imperialistic governments of Southeast Asia, intended to keep China divided against herself. The charges and counter-charges of that period are too numerous to be recited here. All the atrocities committed in China during the civil war and much of those committed during the war of resistance were charged to the Communists by the representatives of the National Government. Chou En-lai returned to Yenan without having made any notable progress in his negotiations with the Government.

In conclusion of this part 1 of my report on the background of the Communist negotiations, I wish to state that in all my negotiations with the Communists I have insisted that the United States will not supply or otherwise aid the Chinese Communists as an armed political party or as an insurrection against the National Government. Any aid from the United States to the Chinese Communist Party must go to that party through the National Government of China. The Chinese Communist Party had never indicated to me that they desired to obtain control of the National Government until, if and when, they achieve control through a political election. The Communist Party demands the end of the 1–party government by the Kuomintang. The Chinese Communist Party is willing for the Kuomintang to still have a vast majority of the Government offices. The Chinese Communist [Page 197] Party demands representation both for itself and other anti-Japanese political parties in China, in the policy making agencies of the Government. If proper representation is given to the Chinese Communist Party in the National Government, that party will agree to submit its army to the control of the National Government.

On the other side of the ledger there is opposition to the unification of the military forces of China within both the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party. Members of the Chinese Communist Party oppose unification with the Chinese National Government on the ground that the Government is incompetent, corrupt and destructive of the welfare of China. The Kuomintang Party points to the fact that it began as the party of Sun Yat-sen, the party of reformation in China, and has brought China through a revolution and through nearly 8 years of the war of resistance. They believe themselves to have been successful. They believe that they have served China well and are naturally reluctant to surrender their 1-party control of China.

There is [also?] opposition among some of our own military on the ground that the Communist armed party is stronger than the National army and we should deal directly with the Communists, bypassing the National Government. This opposition is in my opinion based on erroneous and unsound premises.

In addition to these factors, all of the representatives of the so-called imperialist colonial powers of Southeast Asia are opposed to unification. The policy of the imperialist powers appears to be to keep China divided against herself.

  1. This telegram is part 1 of an extensive report. Part 2 is telegram No. 180, February 7, 8 a.m., p. 205; part 3 is telegram No. 238, February 17, 7 p.m., p. 220; part 4 is telegram No. 242, February 18, 11 a.m., p. 223.
  2. Telegram No. 53, January 13, p. 31.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vi, pp. 1 ff; Lt. Gen. Joseph Stilwell, Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces in China, Burma, and India, and Chief of Staff of China Theater until October 1944.
  4. Not found in Department files.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vi, p. 687.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Generalissimo.
  8. Wang Shih-chieh, Chinese Minister of Information.
  9. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vi, p. 706.
  10. Not printed.