Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs ( Vincent ) to the Acting Secretary of State 51

Mr. Grew: Reference is made to your request for information to use in replying to an inquiry by the Secretaries of War and Navy regarding policy on China.52

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The short-term objective of the United States Government is to assist in mobilizing all of China’s human and material resources for prosecution of the war against Japan. We are using our influence to bring about a greater degree of political and military unity, and to achieve greater efficiency and volume in the production of war material. We are supplying China with materials for direct military use and for industrial purposes connected with the war effort.

Our long-term objective in China is to assist in the development of a united, democratically progressive, and cooperative China which will be capable of contributing to security and prosperity in the Far East.

The mission of our military authorities in China, we believe, should be focused for the present upon the short-term objective described above. Undoubtedly measures devised to “contain” Japanese forces, in cooperation with the Chinese, will result in a degree of rearmament of Chinese forces, but it is believed that measures undertaken at this time to rearm China in order that it might become a strong Asiatic power would be impracticable.

We would like to see the rearmament, to such extent as may be practicable, of all Chinese forces willing to fight the Japanese, but the present unsatisfactory relations between the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communists makes it impolitic to undertake measures for the rearmament of the Chinese Communists even though it is generally conceded that they could effectively use quantities of small arms ammunition and demolition materials. However, if operations are undertaken along the China coast it is suggested that our military authorities should be prepared to arm any Chinese forces which they believe can be effectively employed against the Japanese, and that they should at an opportune time so advise the Chinese military authorities.

It is our purpose, as indicated above, to utilize our influence to bring about, both as a short-term and as a long-term objective, the unification of China. It does not necessarily follow that China should be unified under Chiang Kai-shek. However, with regard to the short-term objective, Chiang appears to be the only leader who now offers a hope for unification. The alternative to the support of Chiang for the attainment of our immediate objective might be chaos. With regard to our long-term objective, it is our purpose to maintain a degree of flexibility which would permit cooperation with any leadership in China that would offer the greatest likelihood of fostering a united, democratic, and friendly China. Developments in this regard would of course have a bearing on any plans to assist in the peace-time rearmament of China.

It is understood that the attitude of the President with regard to Hong Kong is as follows: Hong Kong should be returned by the British to the Chinese and the Chinese should immediately declare [Page 39] Hong Kong a free port under Chinese sovereignty. With regard to possible military operations against Hong Kong, we have felt that it is undesirable from the political point of view that American forces be employed for the reoccupation of the island or the adjacent Kowloon leased territory.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Ambassador in China by the Acting Secretary of State in instruction No. 40, February 9.
  2. Copy of the following policy statement, transmitted with a memorandum of May 28 from the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee to the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy (not printed), was identified as “Substance of a paper communicated by the State Department to the Secretaries of War and the Navy and by them to the Joint Chiefs of Staff about February 1, 1945.” (SWNCC 83/1)