Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270: Telegram

Colonel Marshall S. Carter to General Marshall

86246. Reur 1790. The Acting Secretary of State, Mister Dean Acheson, has asked me to send you the following message:

  • “1. We are confident that you have a knowledge and understanding of international relationships which fully qualifies you to speak for the Department in any conversation you have with the British Ambassador. There are no special quirks or angles or considerations unknown to you which would modify the general picture as you understand it.
  • 2. As you know, one of our principal concerns, if not our principal concern, in endeavoring to bring about peace and unity in China, has been to forestall China’s becoming a serious irritant in our relations with Russia. There has been much loose talk about China’s becoming the stabilizing influence in the Far East. We have never felt that this was a possibility in the reasonably near future but we have hoped that China would not become an unstabilizing influence—which is an entirely different thing. There is also loose talk about China’s inability [Page 560] to fill the ‘power vacuum’ in the Far East created by the defeat of Japan. From chance remarks and attitudes of the British it appears that there is some feeling that Japan might again fill this vacuum, or at least be the ‘stabilizing influence’ in the Far East. From our point of view there is no power vacuum in the Far East. It seems to have been filled by Russia and ourselves. Therefore, the principal problem is adjustment of our relations there with the Russians without prejudice to our legitimate interests. It has been our hope, and we know it has been yours, that a peaceful settlement of China’s internal problems would be conducive to such an adjustment. We have not given up that hope and are prepared to persevere in our efforts. Furthermore, although we welcome the cooperation and assistance of third powers in seeking a solution, we do not intend to relinquish our leadership. No question of a change of policy, or strategy, is presently being considered, although obviously tactics may have to be adjusted to suit changing circumstances.
  • 3. The information given to the Department by the British Embassy (Stuart’s 1898 of 18 Nov) consisted in Vincent’s being allowed hurriedly to read a lengthy memorandum on China which a British Embassy officer said did not yet represent Foreign Office policy but was a draft prepared by British Far Eastern experts. This was about a month ago. There was much in it about trade and treaty relations. The political discussion contained a rather poorly veiled cynicism with regard to the wisdom of the policy followed by us in China. Although Vincent was led to believe that a more authoritative paper would be given the Department at some subsequent date, it has not yet been received. The British Ambassador’s talk with Stuart may have been based on this same informal Foreign Office paper.
  • 4. Somewhat over a month ago, Vincent had a long talk with an officer of the British Embassy reviewing for him in general terms the progress and character of your negotiations and also telling him broadly what we are trying to achieve. In doing so, he utilized material in some of the memoranda prepared on China, copies of which Colonel Carter has sent you: For instance, much of the material in the memoranda of conversation of 13 Aug61 and 9 Sep62 with the Chinese Ambassador63 and the Minister-Counselor,64 and some of the thought in the final paragraph of the memorandum of 26 Sep to Mister Clayton.65
  • 5. We, of course, welcome British interest and desire to cooperate in regard to China. Although there are indications that the British do not altogether see eye to eye with us on China policy and there are reasons to take with a grain of salt a statement that the British are completely resigned to our having taken over the position they previously occupied in China, we feel that the British should be assured that by and large our interests with regard to China are parallel and that we desire to work in the closest harmony with them on matters of mutual interest. At the same time we should bear in mind Chinese proclivity for playing off one power against another and avoid any obvious United States–United Kingdom versus Union of Soviet Socialist Republics development in China. For these reasons, we feel that the British should not be encouraged to intervene actively in the China situation.
  • 6. The foregoing thoughts are given you for such use as you may think it wise to make of them. You can of course best judge the extent to which the substance of paragraph 2 should enter into your discussion.
  • 7. We will be interested in any comment you wish to make on the foregoing and also in your report of the conversation with the British Ambassador.” End of Acheson message.

  1. Ante, p. 23.
  2. Ante, p. 163.
  3. V. K. Wellington Koo.
  4. Tan Shao-hua.
  5. William L. Clayton, Acting Secretary of State (p. 226).