Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
She36 opened the meeting by stating that she came here primarily to see me. She accentuated the importance of my actions in connection [Page 300]with the future of China. Madame immediately outlined three steps that she felt were urgent and necessary.
- A statement by our Government in opposition to the Communists in the Far East and in support of the Generalissimo’s Government.
- The importance of sending an outstanding American soldier to China to advise and be the “spark plug” of Chinese military effort, along with the participation of American officers in following through on the actions of the Chinese incompetent staff officers and commanders, particularly in relation to logistics.
- Economic assistance.
She talked at great length regarding the seriousness of the situation; denied the surrender of 33 divisions, said it was only 12; explained the ineffectiveness both of the military commanders now in power, with few exceptions, and most of the political leaders surrounding the Generalissimo in Nanking.
In connection with the last statement, she frankly outlined the provisional or preliminary plans of the Government for its transfer to Canton, which she felt would permit the shedding of the ineffective officials of the Government, the introduction of new blood, leaving the army to fight the battle along the Yangtze and create their new and well equipped force in the south. She also referred to Formosa and Hainan Islands in connection with the Kwan[g]tung region.
Madame stated that whoever we sent would receive the complete support of the Generalissimo. He assured her of this when she asked him this question. Also, that he would rid himself of the ineffective and incompetent plotters around him. …
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Again and again Madame came back with the proposition that there must be an outstanding American soldier sent to China who could be the “spark plug” of whatever was done.
I explained to Madame why a statement at the present time was not advisable; that President Truman and I had discussed it and felt it was impossible to reconcile the facts of the case as we understood them and as we would desire to explain to the American public and a statement favorable to the Generalissimo’s Government at this time; that the latter would have to be so watered down that it would do more harm than good. I told her that in the circumstances, despite the urgent necessity of informing the American public of the facts of the situation as we understood them, we, for the time being at least, were foregoing any statement rather than say something that would be destructive of the position of the Generalissimo.
I explained why it would be highly inadvisable for this Government to place its representative in the position that he would necessarily [Page 301]become involved, particularly under present circumstances, and in any event without the controls that could not be established without virtually taking over the Chinese Government.
I explained my own experiences, as amplified by conversations with the Generalissmo to which she was a personal witness. I also explained the procedure here in which political manoeuvers of the Republicans as well as honest desires of certain lovers of China which had greatly confused the consideration of the matter last spring and early summer in the Congress. I also explained to her the inconsistency of the Republican action which had actually resulted in a reduction of what we had proposed for China and at the same time that they were advocating more aid to China. I explained the complications of expending the $125,000,000 fund which was being devoted to military supplies.
As to economic matters, I told her that Mr. Hoffman37 was going to China some time next week, en route from London where he was going on Monday, and that he and Mr. Lapham38 could discuss the economic pros and cons with the principal officials in Nanking. I made clear that the economic problem was very largely in the hands of the ECA.
The discussion was very lengthy and covered several hours but the foregoing are the principal points involved, except that I said that our Ambassador there had instructions to support the Generalissimo’s Government and that the rumors to the contrary had no foundation. In this connection, I told her of the numerous protests that are reaching here from prominent Chinese and Americans in China in regard to our continued support of the Generalissimo’s Government, which they claim is doomed. I told her that I thought that the coming Congress would be favorably inclined to continue economic support along the lines of that proposed by President Truman last March, but I could not state this positively at this time.
I told Madame that if she cared to see me later after she had seen the President, I would be glad to talk to her and she left with that understanding.
Incidentally, Bullitt’s39 name was not mentioned by either one of us, which I thought was on her part rather significant.
Madame had seen me for about an hour yesterday afternoon, but she confined herself purely to personal matters and no Chinese problems were brought up.
- Madame Chiang Kai-shek.↩
- Paul G. Hoffman, Administrator of the Economic Cooperation Administration.↩
- Roger D. Lapham, Chief of the ECA China Mission.↩
- William C. Bullitt, former Ambassador in the Soviet Union and France, at this time in China as a consultant to the Congressional Joint Committee on Foreign Economic Cooperation.↩