SWNCC Files, Lot 52M45

Minutes of Meeting of the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy, February 12, 1947, 10 a.m.

  • Present
    • State
      • Secretary Marshall
      • Mr. Matthews25
      • Mr. Penfield26
    • War
      • Secretary Patterson
      • Ass’t Secretary Petersen
    • Navy
      • Secretary Forrestal
      • Under Secretary Sullivan
      • Admiral Mmitz27
      • Captain Dennison28

. . . . . . .

III. Current Problems of U. S. Policy Relating to China.

[Identical letters dated February 11, 1947 from Secretary Marshall despatched to Secretaries Patterson and Forrestal as of that date.29]

[Page 796]


Secretaries Patterson and Forrestal agreed to give the letter further consideration.
The three Secretaries agreed to defer active consideration of Secretary Forrestal’s proposal relating to a proposed mission until the return of Mr. Blandford30 from China.
Secretary Marshall agreed to make any information brought back by Mr. Blandford available to Secretaries Patterson and Forrestal.
Agreed to give further consideration to Secretary Forrestal’s suggestion that General MacArthur31 visit China.


Secretary Marshall said that he had sent identical letters covering a proposed United States policy toward China to the other Secretaries for their consideration. Both Secretaries Forrestal and Patterson said that they wished to go into the subject in more detail with their own staffs. Secretary Marshall said that he believed he could furnish certain background material which might be useful to Secretaries Patterson and Forrestal in their consideration of his letter.
Secretary Marshall said further that in his opinion the most important civilian and military leaders of the Kuomintang had overestimated their ability to solve the Communist problem. He said that on the other hand he had been continually pressed for United States financial assistance to the Central Government.
Secretary Marshall stated further that it was most difficult if not impossible to convince the Generalissimo that China could only be saved by drastic political and military reforms. The influence of the Generalissimo’s reactionary political and military advisors had made his task even more difficult.
Secretary Marshall added that in his opinion the only possible solution for China’s troubles was to oust the reactionary clique within the Central Government and replace them by liberals from both the Kuomintang and Communist parties.
Secretary Forrestal said that the United States might as well face the fact that if the United States withdrew its support from the Central Government, the influence of the U. S. S. R. in China was bound to proportionately increase.
Secretary Marshall stated that in his opinion the U. S. was definitely in a negative position and that the basic question which [Page 797] must be answered soon was what should the United States do at this junction [juncture?]?
Secretary Forrestal said although he disagreed initially with some of the points raised in Secretary Marshall’s letter dated 11 February 1947 that he had certain proposals to offer. He went on to say that he believed that economically and financially China must “go through the wringer” as did Germany after World War I. He said that he believed that the United States position in China might be improved if a financial and economic mission were sent to China with the idea of setting-up a type of Dawes Plan.32 Such an operation should not necessarily comprehend any layout of funds on the part of this Government but would be intended to assist China in putting her own house in order. The matter of doing anything about China’s current inflation would obviously be beyond the capabilities of such a mission. Secretary Forrestal further stated that he believed such a move by the United States would indicate to the Chinese that the United States was still very much interested in China and the problems in which she finds herself involved.
Secretary Forrestal went on to say that he believed that a visit by General MacArthur to China might have a beneficial effect on the situation there and indicate continued American interest in China.
Secretary Marshall said that Mr. Blandford who was now working closely with officials of the Chinese Government on economic problems would soon return to the United States. Any information which Mr. Blandford was able to provide would immediately be made available to Secretaries Forrestal and Patterson.

. . . . . . .

  1. H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs.
  2. James K. Penfield, Deputy Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs.
  3. Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations.
  4. Capt. R. L. Dennison, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations.
  5. See footnote 20, p. 794.
  6. John B. Blandford, Financial Adviser to the Chinese Government.
  7. General of the Army Douglas A. MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Japan.
  8. See Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, pp. 1 ff., especially pp. 1315.