Memorandum of Conversation, by Lieutenant General John E. Hull, War Department General Staff

On Sunday, 9 December 1945, General Hull attended a conference at the State Department at which were present Secretary of State [Page 762] Byrnes, Undersecretary of State Atcheson,24 Mr. Vinson,25 and General Marshall.

The subject under discussion was the U. S. policy as regards China.

Mr. Byrnes stated his views that a strong unified China was essential to the interests of the United States; that it was necessary to bring the Chinese Communist elements, other dissident elements and the National Government of China into a unified government; that if this were not done, we could expect Russia to ultimately take control of Manchuria and maintain a dominant influence in North China. His view was that there was no other step the Russians could be expected to take if China could not, itself, control Manchuria.

The Secretary of State stated that he felt it necessary that General Marshall proceed to China with sufficient weapons in his hands to induce the Central Government and the Communistic Government to get together. Mr. Byrnes felt that the movement of Chinese forces into Manchuria to take over control of that area was necessary in order to stabilize the area, and that General Wedemeyer should be advised to proceed to accomplish this by moving additional National Government forces into Manchurian ports including logistical support for them. Arrangements should go forward to move additional forces as needed into North China in order that the Japanese can be removed from that area and stability established. This latter movement, however, should await negotiations by General Marshall with the Central Government and the Communist Government.

When asked by General Marshall the question—What if the Communist Government agrees to concessions which would appear to be acceptable, while the Central Government refuses to give ground?—Secretary Byrnes stated that in this case the Central Government would be informed that the assistance which we could otherwise give to China would not be given, such as loans, supplies, military and civilian, establishment of military advisory group, etc.; that we would be forced to deal directly with the Communists in so far as the evacuation of Japanese from North China was concerned. General Marshall laid considerable stress on the importance of not leaving Japanese in China and although China had always been able to absorb races and invaders in the past, a large number of Japanese left in China might not be absorbed in positions of responsibility. To this Secretary of State Byrnes agreed.

In answer to the question posed by General Marshall as to what action would be taken if the Communist Government failed to grant concessions while the Central Government conceded what appeared [Page 763] to be necessary to meet the views of this Government, Secretary Byrnes stated that in such case our full support would be given the Nationalistic Government and we would move her armies into North China as required.

A public announcement26 to be submitted to the President was gone over at the conference and agreed to; a copy of this will be furnished the War Department.

The draft of a letter from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of War27 setting forth the desires of the State Department with respect to new directives to General Wedemeyer was gone over in the conference and General Hull brought a copy of the unsigned letter to the War Department for use of the Planners. The letter will be transmitted to the Secretary of War as soon as it is put in final form, and although some editing may take place, General Hull was informed that no change would be made in the sense of the letter as drafted.

J[ohn] E. H[ull]
  1. Dean Acheson.
  2. John Carter Vincent.
  3. Apparently the Department of State’s draft statement on U.S. Policy Towards China, p. 754.
  4. See memorandum by the Secretary of State on December 9, supra.