Moscow Embassy Files—710 Sino-Soviet Relations: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to President Truman and the Secretary of State


[031200.] This morning I called on Soong at his request. He gave me to read the detailed English notes of his second talk with Stalin which took place last night. Molotov, Lozovsky, Vice Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and Petrov were present at the conversation.

What most disturbed Soong is Stalin’s insistence that the interpretation of the phrase “status quo in Outer Mongolia shall be preserved” means that the Chinese Government should recognize the independence of Outer Mongolia.

Soong argued that this should be interpreted to mean that China would not at the present time raise the issue but would allow the situation that presently exists to continue. He told Stalin that China could not agree to the cession of territory, that it would complicate the question of Tibet, and that no Government in China could last if it ceded Outer Mongolia. He explained to me that it was a matter of principle deep in Chinese psychology and that although they recognized they could not exercise suzerainty over Outer Mongolia at the [Page 912] present time, the Chinese would be unwilling to support a Government which gave up Chinese claims to this territory for all time.

The military importance of Outer Mongolia to Russia was emphasized by Stalin, as well as the dangers from possible Japanese recovery and the necessity of Russia having the right to move troops freely in Outer Mongolia.

China, Soong said, would assent to free movement of Russian troops in Outer Mongolia or any other formula which would not finally and permanently give up China’s claims. Stalin suggested a secret agreement on the independence of Outer Mongolia which might be published after the defeat of Japan. This Soong objected to also. He is cabling for instructions from Chiang.

Soong asked me what the understanding of President Roosevelt was on this point, and said that he understood President Truman interpreted the Soviet proposal in the same manner that he (Soong) did. I told him that to my knowledge there had been no discussion of interpretation. The words were accepted as written. He has asked me to telegraph urgently to ascertain the interpretation of the United States Government.

He is hopeful of reaching agreement on the railroads and ports. Stalin is making some expanded demands in connection with the detailed arrangements. However, Soong hopes to be able to negotiate a reasonably satisfactory understanding. In a subsequent message I will deal with this subject.

The negotiations, says Soong, are at a standstill until the Outer Mongolian question is settled, and he feels it is essential for him to know the interpretation placed on this provision by the United States Government.