Moscow Embassy Files, Lot F–96

Memorandum of Conversation Between the Secretary of State and Generalissimo Stalin


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5. North China

The Secretary said he had talked at considerable length with Mr. Molotov concerning our troops in North China, but he felt that it was still not clear to the Soviet Government.

Stalin inquired why the United States did not wish to remove their troops from North China.

The Secretary replied that on the contrary, we would like to have them leave tomorrow if possible but that for the reasons he had explained to Mr. Molotov we had certain obligations and there were also certain circumstances which made that difficult.

Stalin replied that the Soviet Government would have no objection if the United States wished to leave its troops, but they would merely like to be told about it.

The Secretary said he recalled at Potsdam the Generalissimo had expressed his opinion to the press and to himself that Chiang Kai-shek’s was the only possible Government in China, that the Communists were not real Communist, and that the United States had been supporting Chiang Kai-shek in accordance with what he understood was the agreed policy of both countries.

Stalin said that they had a treaty to that effect with Chiang Kai-shek’s Government.

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The Secretary explained the situation in North China and the difficulties caused by the weakness of the National Government forces and the presence of large numbers of armed Communists surrounding the area where the still armed Japanese forces remained. He explained that General Marshall was going to attempt to arrange a truce between these forces in order to permit the prompt disarming of the Japanese forces in that area. He assured the Generalissimo that the United States had no desire whatsoever to interfere in the Chinese internal struggle but that we did not wish to do anything which would worsen the situation of the Central Government which we had all agreed to support.

Stalin said that if the Chinese people became convinced that Chiang Kai-shek was depending on foreign troops, he would lose his influence. Chiang Kai-shek apparently does not understand this, but the three Governments should understand it for him. It would be much better for Chiang Kai-shek to rely on his own forces, but if we desired to help Chiang Kai-shek we should not give him help in such a manner as to destroy his authority with the Chinese people.

The Secretary explained that although General Marshall was prepared to make ships and even planes available in the event of necessity to have United States forces disarm the Japanese, he was not going to tell Chiang Kai-shek of these preparations since it would make him less desirous of reaching an understanding with the Communists.

Stalin said he thought that the size of the Communist forces had been greatly exaggerated by the Chinese Government. He said all Chinese were boastful and tended to exaggerate both the size of their own forces and those of their opponents. He inquired where the army of a million and a half was which Chiang Kai-shek was supposed to have.

The Secretary said we would like to know also, but according to our reports there were only 50,000 Nationalist troops in the North China area. He outlined the position of these troops in relation to the Japanese forces and the Communist forces along the railroads in North China.

Stalin said that in his view 50,000 troops were sufficient to disarm the Japanese. For example, 25 Soviet aviators had taken the surrender of two Japanese army corps in Mukden. He inquired as to the size of the Communist forces in the Tientsin area.

The Secretary replied that Mao18 claimed to have 600,000.

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Stalin laughed heartily and repeated his assertion that all Chinese were boasters.

In conclusion The Generalissimo expressed the greatest confidence that if any man could settle the situation it would be General Marshall whom he regarded as one of the few military men who was both statesman as well as soldier.

[For section IV of the Communiqué on the Moscow Conference of the Three Foreign Ministers, which deals with China, see Department of State Bulletin, December 30, 1945, page 1030.]

  1. Mao Tze-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.