Memorandum by General of the Army George C. Marshall 5 to Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy

General Handy6 has just informed me that you told him you had been directed by the President to draft a statement of U. S. policy regarding China. For that reason I am sending you the attached paper.7

The other day the Secretary of State read to me (and to himself for the first time) a draft of a statement of such a policy. It did not appeal to me as sufficiently plain to be understood by the public, it appeared susceptible of serious misunderstanding, and was not sufficiently definite to form the sure base for a directive to Wedemeyer.8 Therefore I asked him to let me have the carbon to try my hand on it. The attached is the result.

I have some hesitancy in sending this to you since it came to me direct from Mr. Byrnes as an uncorrected draft, but under the circumstances, I have decided to send it to you confidentially.

[Page 748]

The rewrite attached represents the combined efforts of General Handy, General Hull,9 General Craig,10 and myself, with some consultation with others. The endeavor was to couch the policy in such language that the public at home could really understand what we were talking about and what the implications were. Also, that it would both give the Generalissimo11 sufficiently definite data on which to calculate the troops available to him, having in mind that Marines would be in certain ports to guarantee their security, and so that it would at the same time be couched in such manner that we could hold him to action in other matters more purely political. Incidentally, it was felt that the statements should be of such a nature that the Chiefs of Staff could really use it as the basis of a new directive to General Wedemeyer, the previous instructions not being satisfactory for this purpose.

I am clear that we must not scatter Marines around China, but on the other hand, I feel we must hold them in certain ports to protect our beachheads. By such action the Generalissimo would be free to remove most of his troops from those ports, feeling secure in regard to them and having these released troops available for the extensive task of taking over rail communications in North China and releasing the Japanese troops now holding those lines.

I assume that the Communist group will block all progress in negotiations as far as they can, as the delay is to their advantage. The greater the delay the more they benefit by the growing confusion of the situation and the serious results which will follow from the non-evacuation of the Japanese military. Also the longer the delay the less probability of the Generalissimo’s being able to establish a decent semblance of control over Manchuria, with the consequent certainty that the Russians will definitely build up such a control.

I suppose we will find ourselves, in this matter, on the horns of a dilemma—on the one side, the reluctance of the Government or the State Department to make so plain and bold a statement; and on the other side, the necessity of saying what we mean so that the people at home and the people in China, and the Russians also, will clearly understand our intentions.

G[eorge] C. Marshall
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Draft Statement Prepared in the War Department Based Upon the Memorandum of November 28

U. S. Policy Towards China

The Government of the U. S. holds that peace and prosperity of the world in this new and unexplored era ahead depend upon the ability of the sovereign nations to combine for collective security in the United Nations organization.

It is the firm belief of this Government that a strong, peaceful, united and effective China is of the utmost importance to the success of this United Nations organization and for world peace. A China, disorganized and divided either by foreign aggression, such as that undertaken by the Japanese, or by violent internal strife is an undermining influence to world stability and peace, now and in the future. The U. S. Government has long subscribed to the principle that the management of internal affairs is the responsibility of the peoples of the sovereign nations. Events of this century, however, would indicate that a breach of peace anywhere in the world threatens the peace of the entire world. It is thus in the most vital interest of the U. S. and all the sovereign nations that the people of China overlook no opportunity to adjust their internal differences without resort to violence.

Therefore, the Government of the U. S. respectfully urges:

That a cessation of hostilities be arranged between the armies of the National Government and the Chinese Communists and other dissident Chinese armed forces for the purpose of completing the return of all China to effective Chinese control, including the immediate evacuation of the Japanese forces. The U. S. is prepared, if so requested by the National Government of China, to assist in arranging for necessary pledges and to request the Governments of the U. K. and the U. S. S. E. to join in this effort.
That a national conference of representatives of major political elements be arranged to develop an early solution to the present internal strife which will promote the unification and stability of China.

The U. S. and the other United Nations have recognized the present National Government of the Republic of China as the only legal government in China. It appears to offer the only instrument able to achieve the objective of a unified China, including Manchuria.

The U. S. and the U. K. by the Cairo Declaration in 1943 and the U. S. S. R. by adhering to the Potsdam Declaration last August12 [Page 750] and by the Sino-Soviet Treaty and Agreements of August 1945, are all committed to the liberation of China, including the return of Manchuria to Chinese control. These agreements were made with the National Government of the Republic of China.

In continuation of the constant and close collaboration with the National Government of the Republic of China in the prosecution of this war in consonance with the Potsdam Declaration, and to remove the possibility of Japanese influence remaining in North China, the U. S. has a definite obligation to assist the National Government in the disarmament and evacuation of the Japanese troops. Accordingly, the U. S. has been assisting and will continue to assist the National Government of the Republic of China in effecting the disarmament and evacuation of Japanese troops in the liberated areas. The U. S. Marines are in North China for that purpose. For the same reason the U. S. will continue to furnish military supplies and to assist the Chinese National Government in the further transportation of Chinese troops so that it can re-establish control over the liberated areas of North China and Manchuria.

The U. S. has and will continue to recognize and support the National Government of China in international affairs and specifically in eliminating Japanese influence in China. There are bound to be Incidental effects of such assistance upon any dissident Chinese elements will probably be unavoidable. However, beyond these incidental effects U. S. support will not extend to U. S. Military intervention having as its objective the resolution of any Chinese internal strife.

The U. S. is cognizant that the present National Government in China is a “one-party government” and believes that peace, unity and democratic reform in China will be furthered if the basis of the Government is broadened to include other political elements in the country. Hence, the U. S. strongly advocates that the national conference of representatives of major political elements in the country agree upon arrangements which would give those elements a fair and effective representation in the Chinese National Government. It is recognized this would require the modification of the one party “political tutelage” established as an interim arrangement in the progress of the nation towards democracy by the father of the Chinese Republic, Doctor Sun Yat-Sen.

The U. S. is convinced that The existence of autonomous armies such as that of the Communist army is inconsistent with, and actually makes impossible, political unity in China, Concurrently with the institution of a broadly representative government, autonomous armies should be eliminated as such and all armed forces in China integrated effectively into the Chinese National Government army.

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So long as the Chinese National Government of the Republic of China moves towards peace and unity along the lines described above, the U. S. is prepared to assist it in every reasonable way to rehabilitate the country, improve the agrarian and industrial economy, and establish a military organization capable of discharging Chinese national and international responsibilities for the maintenance of peace and order. Specifically, the U. S. is prepared to establish an American military advisory group in China, to dispatch such other advisors in the economic and financial fields as the Chinese Government might need and which this Government can supply, and to give favorable consideration to Chinese requests for credits and loans under reasonable conditions for projects which contribute towards the development of a healthy economy in China.

It must be clearly recognized that the attainment of the objectives herein stated will require an expenditure of resources by the U. S. and the maintenance for the time being of United States military and naval forces in China. These expenditures, however, will be minute in comparison to those which this nation has already been compelled to make in the restoration of the peace which was broken by German and Japanese aggression. They will be infinitesimal by comparison to a recurrence of global warfare in which the new and terrible weapons that now exist would certainly be employed. The purpose for which the United States made a tremendous sacrifice of treasure and life must not be jeopardized.

  1. On November 27 General Marshall was appointed by President Truman as his Special Representative in China with the personal rank of Ambassador; for announcement, see Department of State Bulletin, December 2, 1945, p. 883.
  2. Gen. Thomas T. Handy, Deputy Chief of Staff, U. S. Army.
  3. Infra.
  4. Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, Commanding General, U. S. Forces in China Theater and Chief of Staff, China Theater.
  5. Lt. Gen. John E. Hull, Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations Division, War Department General Staff.
  6. Maj. Gen. Howard A. Craig, Operations Division, War Department General Staff.
  7. Chiang Kai-shek, President of the National Government of the Republic of China, Supreme Commander of the China Theater.
  8. For this Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, and the adherence to it by the Soviet Union on August 8, see Foreign Relations, 1945, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), vol. ii, p. 1474, and footnote 1. See also Department of State Bulletin, July 29, 1945, p. 137.