Memorandum by the Secretary of State23

Memorandum for the War Department

The President and the Secretary of State are both anxious that the unification of China by peaceful, democratic methods be achieved as soon as possible.

At a public hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate on December 7, the Secretary of State said:

“During the war the immediate goal of the United States in China was to promote a military union of the several political factions in order to bring their combined powder to bear upon our common enemy, Japan. Our longer-range goal, then as now, and a goal of at least equal importance, is the development of a strong, united, and democratic China.

“To achieve this longer-range goal, it is essential that the Central Government of China as well as the various dissident elements approach the settlement of their differences with a genuine willingness to compromise. We believe, as we have long believed and consistently demonstrated, that the government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek affords the most satisfactory base for a developing democracy. But we also believe that it must be broadened to include the representatives of those large and well-organized groups who are now without any voice in the government of China.

“This problem is not an easy one. It requires tact and discretion, patience and restraint. It will not be solved by slogans. Its solution depends primarily upon the good will of the Chinese leaders themselves. [Page 761] To the extent that our influence is a factor, success will depend upon our capacity to exercise that influence in the light of shifting conditions in such a way as to encourage concessions by the Central Government, by the so-called Communists, and by the other factions.”

The President has asked General Marshall to go to China as his Special Representative for the purpose of bringing to bear in an appropriate and practicable manner the influence of the United States for the achievement of the ends set forth above. Specifically, General Marshall will endeavor to influence the Chinese Government to call a national conference of representatives of the major political elements to bring about the unification of China and, concurrently, effect a cessation of hostilities, particularly in north China.

In response to General Wedemeyer’s recent messages, the State Department requests the War Department to arrange for directions to him stipulating that:

He may put into effect the arrangements to assist the Chinese National Government in transporting Chinese troops to Manchurian ports, including the logistical support of such troops;
He may also proceed to put into effect the stepped-up arrangements for the evacuation of Japanese troops from the China Theater;
Pending the outcome of General Marshall’s discussions with Chinese leaders in Chungking for the purpose of arranging a national conference of representatives of the major political elements and for a cessation of hostilities, further transportation of Chinese troops to north China, except as north China ports may be necessary for the movement of troops and supplies into Manchuria, will be held in abeyance;
Arrangements for transportation of Chinese troops into north China may be immediately perfected, but not communicated to the Chinese Government. Such arrangements will be executed when General Marshall determines either (a) that the movement of Chinese troops to north China can be carried out consistently with his negotiations, or (b) that the negotiations between the Chinese groups have failed or show no prospect of success and that the circumstances are such as to make the movement necessary to effectuate the surrender terms and to secure the long-term interests of the United States in the maintenance of international peace.

J[ames] F. B[yrnes]
  1. Apparently draft, prepared by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent), of a proposed letter from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of War, setting forth the desires of the Department of State with respect to new directives to General Wedemeyer; apparently drafts submitted concurrently to President Truman on the one hand for approval substantively and on the other to the War Department General Staff primarily for informational purposes.