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

No. 230

The Acting Secretary of State refers to the Embassy’s despatch no. 396, September 20, 1948,85 and in particular to the following sentence:

“(5) Coalition Government. The reversal of American policy in regard to this issue becomes a rather academic question in view of the intransigeant attitude of both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.”

A review and careful examination of all recent instructions to the Embassy has been undertaken in an attempt to ascertain the possible occasion for any such concept of a reversal of American policy. This search revealed that the only recent instruction which dealt with the question of a coalition was the Department’s Top Secret telegram no. 1164 of August 12, 1948. This telegram was occasioned by the following statement in the Ambassador’s despatch no. 287 of June 30, 1948: [Page 567]

“They [the Chinese Communist Party]86 hint that if we Americans are sincere in wanting peace, we should demonstrate this by withdrawing all of our armed forces from China, which is only one of several indications that they continue to think in terms of our mediation. I am maintaining an attitude of friendly but passive interest while assuring them that the door is still open if they care to take advantage of it.”

Telegraphic instruction no. 1164 of August 12, 1948, was sent as indicated therein so that there should be no misunderstanding since it was considered that the above-quoted statement was not constant with the instructions set forth in telegram 90664 of January 27, 1947,87 which was despatched by the Secretary of State to the Ambassador through Colonel Underwood88 at Nanking, the third paragraph of which is as follows:

“The foregoing decision [i. e., the withdrawal of the Executive Headquarters]89 should not operate to interfere with assistance by you if either side initiates appeal to you, in your normal functioning as American Ambassador, for assistance in the various problems peculiar to the Chinese situation. The above does however spell conclusion to negotiations which were initiated by me in December 1945. Should a decision be reached to reopen negotiations they of course would probably take a new shape and you would be duly advised as to whether or not it is desirable for the Embassy to participate.”

Accordingly, it will be appreciated that assurances that “the door is still open” were misleading and unauthorized. So far as the U.S. Government was concerned, the door was not open and, therefore, the assertion quoted in the first paragraph of this instruction is not in conformity with the facts.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Brackets appear in the original instruction.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. x, p. 709.
  4. Officer in charge of the Embassy Liaison Office, successor to General Marshall’s office in China.
  5. Brackets appear in the original instruction. A press release issued by the Department on January 29, 1947, indicated that the United States Government had decided “to terminate its connection with Executive Headquarters which was established in Peiping by the Committee of Three for the purpose of supervising, in the field, the execution of “the agreements for the cessation of hostilities and the demobilization and reorganization of the Armed Forces in China.”