Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Subject: Situation in Manchuria

The Chinese Ambassador19 called at his request and stated that he had just returned to the city on yesterday.

The Secretary inquired about the status of the negotiations in China at this time.

The Ambassador said he first wished to tell the Secretary about the successful conclusion of the conference, which was very encouraging. Many Communist troops continued to fight at first but the situation was gradually getting better. The Ambassador stated that because the Communist troops were stranded in certain locations, they used this as an excuse to continue fighting. On the whole, he thought that generally things were quite all right.

The Ambassador stated that one of the most important questions of all was the question of merging the troops. Without that, there could be no unification in China. He said that before he left Chungking, he had had a talk with General Marshall, who seemed encouraged about the situation. The Communists had officially accepted General Marshall as adviser to the working committee. The Ambassador said that they were beginning to work with General Marshall on a preliminary plan of reorganization of the Army and were hopeful that something could be achieved.

The Secretary asked what the situation was with regard to Manchuria.

The Ambassador replied that this was a most difficult question. He added that the Russians were to have completed the evacuation of their troops from Manchuria by February 1, but as yet they hadn’t even started. The bulk of their forces was still there. The Russians gave bad weather and difficulties of transportation as their reasons for not withdrawing, but the inside story was that they wished to consider all the industries as war booty.

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At first the Secretary understood the Ambassador to say, in reply to a question about war booty, that the statement was not official, but had been made repeatedly by the Russian authority in Manchuria. Later in the conversation the Ambassador said it was official.

The Ambassador said that up to now no conclusion had been reached with regard to Chinese claims for reparations in Manchuria. He thought that some pressure should be put on the Russians.

The Secretary inquired if the Russians had removed any material from Manchuria. The Ambassador replied that it wasn’t so much a question of their removing material. It was more a question of the Russian troops remaining in Manchuria.

The Ambassador said that they had received a telegram from Chungking stating that the Russians have no intention to withdraw according to schedule. Secondly, Russia wishes to take the industries in Manchuria as war booty. He said that Russia’s purpose in maintaining an army there was to exercise pressure in order to get a solution of the problem.

The Ambassador asked the Secretary if Molotov20 had not discussed economic affairs with him at Moscow. The Secretary replied that Molotov had not made any claim. The Secretary said that in a talk he had had with Stalin, however, Stalin stated that they were going to stay in Manchuria until February 3 at the Chinese Government’s request but that they did not expect to remain there. The Secretary said that at one time the Soviets did propose to him that they move out January 15 and we leave China January 15. I told them that that was an absurdity. He said he had explained to them at least a half dozen times that we had guaranteed to remove the Japanese from China and to restore to China the territory stolen from them by the Japanese. We have the primary responsibility and we would not leave there until the Japanese were evacuated from China. That is why we made General MacArthur Commander-in-Chief. Until the evacuation took place we would set no date for leaving.

The Secretary said he had explained all this to Stalin to his satisfaction, and he had admitted he understood it. We had no discussion about any claim regarding war booty and he did not know until recently that such a claim was made.

The Secretary asked if the Chinese were in Mukden and the Ambassador replied that they had a few troops there. The Secretary wished to know why they didn’t have more troops there. The Ambassador replied that they couldn’t get any more there. Every time they made a move, the Russians had to be informed.

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The Ambassador said that his Minister of Foreign Affairs had asked him to deliver his greetings to the Secretary and would also like his opinion about the economic situation in Manchuria.

The Secretary replied that it was a question of the facts there. He said that he did not see how industries could be considered as war booty. If that is war booty, then everything was war booty.

It was at this point that the Ambassador declared that the Soviet request was official and that it was made about a week or two ago when the Soviets had talked with the Chinese Consul to Manchuria.

The Secretary wanted to know just what the Soviets said. The Ambassador replied that the Soviet formula is that they wish to regard that part of industry which supplied the Japanese Army during the war as war booty.

The Secretary said that some of the same problems had been raised in Germany. Certain of the plants had been moved out of Germany and there was a great deal of discussion with the Soviets at Potsdam21 as to the definition of war booty. He told the Ambassador that it would be of value if he would get in touch with Mr. Vincent22 of the Far Eastern Division, who was at Potsdam, to find out what happened there with regard to this matter. The Secretary said he too would speak with Mr. Vincent about the matter.

The Secretary asked what progress had been made with regard to the truce.23 The Ambassador said that most of the troops have stopped fighting, but that the Communists had attacked several times since. The Secretary said that once this matter had been taken care of, we would be in a much better position ourselves to help with the question of having the Russians withdrawn.

  1. Wei Tao-ming.
  2. V. M. Molotov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
  3. For correspondence on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1945, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), vol. ii, pp. 833834.
  4. John Carter Vincent, Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs.
  5. Signed January 10, 1946; see vol. ix, p. 125.