Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Ludden) to General Marshall

During the past few weeks it seems to me that there has been considerable change in the attitude of the Chinese Communists toward events in China, particularly with regard to Manchuria. It has been my experience with the Communists that there has always been a tendency in public statements and the Party press to follow fairly closely the Soviet Communist Party line. Generally speaking this similarity has been confined largely to broad ideological generalizations, such as, agrarian reform, taxation, worker’s rights, etc.

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In recent weeks, however, I have arrived somewhat reluctantly at the conclusion that this general tendency is becoming more and more a matter of firm policy. It is manifested most obviously in Yenan statements which follow closely recent Soviet releases and statements concerning specific problems in the Far East and events in other areas of the world. I have likewise noticed this same change in recent conversations with Chinese Communist friends, with some of whom I have been closely associated in north China.

Yenan broadcasts of late have been adopting the attitude with regard to Allied victory that the Soviet Union was the nation mainly responsible for the defeat of Germany and Japan; the part played by the United States and other Allied powers has recently been ignored completely and the Soviet Union has become the sole savior of the world from fascism.

This change seems to have commenced with the Communist statement on policy with regard to Manchuria, released by a spokesman of the Central Committee of the Party at Yenan on February 14th. The change has become more noticeable following a statement by Malinovsky’s chief of staff at Changch’un to the effect that “reactionary elements” in China were being encouraged by the Chinese Government to foment anti-Soviet feeling in China. The Chinese Communists have now commenced to follow this line in all of their releases. It is also interesting to note that the Chinese Communists are now using the word “Fascist” in a completely Russian sense—that is, anyone who is in opposition to Russian, and now conversely [likewise?] Chinese Communist, wishes. There is also notable a Chinese Communist fulmination against “remnant Japanese fascists” in union with “Chinese fascists”—another recent Russian innovation with regard to Manchuria.

In a recent conversation with several old Communist acquaintances, Po Ku, editor of the Chieh Fang Jih Pao, the Communist Central Committee organ at Yenan, expressed great bitterness at the movement of Central Government forces into the north by American air and water lift. He then went on to say that we could not expect the Russians to withdraw from Manchuria while we maintained Marines in north China, occupied Japan and southern Korea, and proposed the permanent occupation of island bases in the Pacific. He went on to point out that even though we had withdrawn our forces from Iran we still maintained missions there for the purpose of reorganizing the Iranian police force and army. All of this conversation followed closely Russian statements on the same issues.

At the same time other Communists pointed out to me that they had nothing to do with the situation in Manchuria because they did not control the foreign relations of China and that settlement in [Page 515] Manchuria depended upon diplomatic negotiations. They went on to say that they had proposed an extension of the “truce-team” technique to Manchuria, but when questioned as to how this could operate in the face of Russian occupation they immediately returned to the point that this was a diplomatic question for the Central Government and they had no authority nor responsibility. They also professed to have no knowledge of reported Russian stripping of Manchurian industries or Russian demands for joint Sino-Soviet development companies for Manchuria.

Although Chou En-lai has stated to me, and later to Til Durdin of the New York Times, that he wished an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Manchuria, General Chu Teh83 at Yenan stated to another foreign correspondent that General Chou was mistaken in this announcement. Chou’s statement, as far as I am aware, has received no publicity in the Communist press.

During the past two years as more information became available about their areas in the north, the Communists have built up in China and abroad a vast fund of good will among non-Communists; in China this has even extended to many members of the Kuomintang and was particularly true within the Democratic League. At the present time the Communists appear to be alienating this good will because of their silence concerning Russian activities in Manchuria and playing directly into the hands of the CC Clique or other Chinese elements who are disgruntled with the PCC and military reorganization programs. There are two possible broad explanations:

Collusion with the Russians in Manchuria in order eventually to establish a satellite state similar to those of eastern Europe.
Conflict within the Party itself between pro-Russian and nationalist elements with the former in temporary ascendency.

I hesitate to accept either explanation completely in the absence of more evidence than that now available, but certainly recent trends in Chinese Communist propaganda and news releases shows a closer connection with Soviet policy statements than has been evident in recent years. No Communist leader has been able to present me with any reasonable explanation of the phenomenal expansion of Communist strength in Manchuria. In January of 1945 I was in a Communist area close to Peiping and the Political Commissar of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Communist Base area informed me that Communist operations were impossible in Manchuria at that time. He also stated that on at least six separate occasions they had sent parties into Manchuria to attempt to contact guerilla units reported to be operating in eastern Manchuria in the Long White Mountain range; these parties [Page 516] were unsuccessful in making any contact with any organized guerilla activity in Manchuria and Communist plans for expansion into Manchuria were abandoned as hopeless.

Local Communists, including General Chou, now profess to have no knowledge of where the arms for 300,000 men in Manchuria could have been obtained, and when questioned there is a marked tendency to weasel out of the Yenan statement of February 14th by suggesting that large bodies of these troops may not possess arms at all.

It seems to me that the time has arrived for the Communists to make it clear whether they are primarily Chinese nationalist-reformers following Communist ideology or whether they are a satellite force of Russian expansion in Asia, but it is extremely doubtful that such a clear-cut definition of position can be obtained from any Chinese. Mutual suspicion, always present on the scene, is now being intensified and may well wreck the good work already accomplished in China proper.

Raymond P. Ludden
  1. Commander in Chief of the Chinese Communist armies.