Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270:
Colonel Marshall S.
Carter to General Marshall
,] 23 November 1946.
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
- 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
- 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.