893.00/8–947: Telegram

The Ambassador in China ( Stuart ) to the Secretary of State

1677. There is quoted below Mukden’s 312, August 4, 11 p.m.:

“From time to time during past month mention has been made orally and once in press of likelihood early Soviet coup in Manchuria similar 1931 Mukden incident. Inquiry and observation fail reveal sound reasons for such action within immediate foreseeable future.

For some weeks elaborate and effective precautions have been taken against Communist surprises in Nationalist-held area, particularly cities, and not unlikely some persons have misinterpreted precautions as directed against possible Soviet coup.

Ample indications Soviet Union aware almost complete disappearance popularity which it enjoyed in China prior V–J Day and which it almost lost originally through high-handed acts Red Army in Manchuria and later through acts Chinese Communists and refusal return former Kwantung Leased Territory to China, to exclude recent [Page 250] Mongolian aggression in Sinkiang.45 Any overt act in Manchuria by Soviet Union at this time would create further Chinese resentment against Russians. Fear such resentment per se would probably prove insufficient deter Soviet Union should any overt act now be under consideration (at least unlikely would deter them any more than such fear deterred Japanese). Soviet Union gives little evidence holding opinion western powers in high esteem today but, should it be considering Manchurian coup, I believe consideration of western opinion would prove stronger deterrent than Chinese resentment, Should Central Government fail purge malodorous corrupt officialdom in northeast, whose carpetbag regime is probably more [most?] potent single factor in causing northeasterners to turn from Nanking to Communists and should it not change from passive (with ‘strategic’ retreats and paper ‘victories’) to active in military field, and should it not make such successful effort toward economic and financial rehabilitation of northeast, it is common belief that Manchuria in toto will soon pass into possession Communist units. Soviet Union probably equally aware this possibility, and, if so, is logical assume its willingness await developments and let time work in favor Communists.

Should active United States aid China follow visit Wedemeyer Mission and should such aid be paralleled in northeast by Nationalist house cleaning coupled with establishment local self-government and active (as against present passive) anti-Communist military activities, such turn events would seize present initiative from Communists and force them into defensive position. Such turn would create likelihood Manchuria slipping from grasp Communists and is not unlikely Soviet Union would then give active consideration to staging coup Manchuria, but until that time likelihood Soviet coup seems remote.”

Embassy is in complete accord with the foregoing message. There have been recent indications at Nanking that the Government at the present time is endeavoring more energetically than in the past to establish that the problem of Manchuria is one caused solely by Soviet interference without relationship to manifest corruption and ineptitude on the part of Central Government administration there.

  1. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 546 ff.