893.00/8–1048: Telegram

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

1473. I have approved the dispatching of the immediately preceding telegram No. 1472 because it represents the unanimous views of the senior officers on my staff. I am in complete agreement with their analysis of the situation as it stands today, but I cannot agree with the conclusions they reach as to the course of action the United States should follow if our analysis proves correct.

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It is my belief that if some form of coalition seems most likely it behooves us to consider whether we continue to regard this as to our national interest and whether we should endeavor either to assist or to obstruct its realization. We are already too deeply involved both by moral responsibility for the past and by present commitments to evade the issue. We cannot overlook the history of coalitions with Communists in other countries and their trained ability to dominate by skilled political techniques. We should also not overlook the benefit to the Communists of a coalition government receiving international recognition. But we must also recognize that the present Government or any anti-Communist Chinese combination can scarcely be expected to completely eliminate the Communist menace by military or any other means. The trend is almost entirely in the other direction.

Disintegration into regional units would make our assistance very difficult. Each of these would presumably be created by one or more strong personalities. Assuming that they are genuinely anti-Communist, they would at once be facing acute financial problems which would complicate matters within their own areas and help the increasing Communist infiltration. There would be changes in leadership from natural causes and from political machinations. There would be strong temptations to draw upon our willingness to aid and to use this in bargaining with rivals or even with Communists. The resulting economic and other chaos would aggravate the present discontent or despair and inflame anti-American resentment. Meanwhile the Communists would be utilizing all these circumstances to their own advantage. Of course, if disintegration proves unavoidable and if there could be retained a loose federation with a semblance of central authority we might help to some extent through this nominal central Government.

I believe that if we wish to anticipate this, there would seem to be two alternatives for us:

We could give outright military aid, including advice, to the National Government encouraging a large measure of reform and conditioning further aid upon progress in this. This would involve a much greater intervention in Chinese administrative processes and perhaps very much larger expenditure than would have been necessary before deterioration had reached its present stage. We should be prepared for aroused violent anti-American feelings due to Nationalistic resentment against our interference and its immediate consequences. The Communist issue would be blurred in popular thought and they would, of course, effectively exploit it. Even so, we could probably crush the Communist military strength and secure some sort of settlement, but that would not end our participation.
We could continue to keep the door open for our assistance toward a negotiated peace and in the military reorganization and the economic recovery that should follow. We should condition this upon the [Page 410] maintenance of certain safeguards to democracy, including freedom of speech, publication, elections, et cetera, the avoidance of minority controls, of secret police and of other totalitarian methods. We can dare to believe that the insidious methods of Communism would be largely neutralized by being thus forced out into the open. More positive advocacy of education for citizenship, cultural interchanges and improved economic livelihood would further help to disseminate democratic ideas and in general accentuate the natural Chinese attraction for what we may modestly describe as our American way of life and China would then be spontaneously and intelligently our ally in any ideological or even more serious conflict.

You can readily see from a comparison of these two telegrams that we are in disagreement over the course which should be followed if a serious break occurs in China. We are agreed, however, that even though the moment of crisis is not here, it is quite likely that it is not far off and we should be prepared to meet it. We would all greatly appreciate an expression of the Department’s views in at least general terms on the policy which the United States is likely to follow in the event of a major change. It is, of course, at this particular moment impossible to be precise, but we would appreciate a general indication for our guidance should the situation develop as we see it.