711.93/1–2948: Telegram

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

181. We are perturbed by the implications we read into Deptel 52, January 12, 6 p.m. and feel that we have failed to create in the Department a realization of the practical problem which confronts US policy in China.

Basic problem facing US here is creation of conditions conducive to prolonged stability in eastern Asia. For creation these conditions it is essential that there be in China a government reasonably sympathetic with our aims in Far East and with American political concepts, and also capable maintaining itself without prolonged or even perpetual support. Of many possible alternative policies for attaining this end, the support and reform of the present Chinese Government would seem most practicable. This Government possesses certain attributes of legality, retains some authority and a modicum of popular support and is reasonably well disposed toward the US, so that if supported and reformed it would, to some considerable degree, meet our requirements.

While devising of specific means for supporting the Chinese Government is task for technicians, in framing concrete plans they must be guided by two over-all considerations. The first of these is that support for Chinese Government must include support in economic, military and political fields and that support in these separate fields must be concurrent and coordinated. We cannot stress too strongly fact that Government’s military situation is critical and that Government is completely unable to regain lost ground or even maintain hold on areas now under its control unless effective military assistance is forthcoming.45 Further, additional Government territorial losses will rapidly impair Government’s political stability to point where it will lack capability of utilizing economic or political support. Second [Page 465] and more important consideration in framing concrete means to support Government is Government inadequacy in terms of administrative ability.

In virtually all spheres of Government activity we have studied—military, political, economic and other—we find failures on part Government to effect improvements result largely from misfeasance, blunders, and mismanagement, rather than from deliberate malfeasance. This misfeasance in turn stems largely from lack of technical ability to devise general over-all policy needed in present situation and specific policies for specific situations, and also lack of grasp of administrative techniques to implement and execute policies.

In light above, we feel no program of US aid to China can possibly be effective if activated solely through present Government or native talent available to that Government. However, we feel that aid can be effectively applied through present Government administrative structure, provided we develop requisite plans, and, on advisory basis, supervise their implementation and execution.

We further feel that resources of Chinese Government, if properly mobilized and applied, are sufficient to effect improvement in situation. While further provision of material by US is undoubtedly required, aid in form of advice on planning and in administration is vital. It is precisely aid of this type that Soviets supply Chinese Communists through Soviet trained Chinese political, economic and military technicians. Also, this type assistance should decrease amount American materiel required and permit rational expenditure such materiel in support over-all program and specific projects. Concretely, this would entail provision of small staffs attached to highest echelons of certain sections of Chinese Government with the function of developing plans in conjunction with Chinese chiefs of sections, plus small group of personnel to report on activation and execution of plans. Some could be recruited direct by Chinese; some could be supplied and controlled by US.

We are fully aware that the above suggestions would involve a degree of responsibility. However, we wish to reiterate that unless responsibility is assumed, it is most difficult to see how situation here can be restored in our favor. Also, as regards responsibility for possible failure of Chinese Government to solve its outstanding problems, it is a patent fact that in the minds of most Chinese it is the US which keeps the present Government in power, and is, therefore, already implicated in current Government failure to function effectively. We have previously reported the current apathy of the Chinese people toward civil war and their great desire for early solution no matter which side is victorious. The present stalemate and prolongation of the conflict is attributed by both sides to our intervention. This will continue to be the case unless we pull out of China. [Page 466] As our fundamental interests would appear to require a friendly Government in China, we cannot believe we would be warranted in pulling out of China at this time. This leads us inevitably to the assumption that we must take a more active part in the internal affairs of China and be willing to assume responsibility therefor.

The Chinese Government is well aware of its perilous state, well knows its administrative shortcomings and is most desirous of effective support. However, its leader, the Generalissimo, is a proud and stubborn man. Also, he is an unusually practical man. If some formula can be found which will assist him in resolving the practical situation which confronts him without loss of prestige, he will accept a large measure of outside control and we believe will cooperate heartily so long as he is convinced of a reasonable possibility of success. On the other hand, he is sufficiently proud that he would permit himself and the regime he has led so long to go down in defeat rather than accept aid under conditions which he considered unnecessarily derogatory to the prestige of China and himself.

Given this situation, there has been much searching of hearts among the politically realistic Chinese. Considerable doubt remains in many minds as to the amount and the effectiveness of prospective American aid. It is inevitable, therefore, that many Chinese have considered alternatives to continuing to resist Communism even with American aid. The alternative championed by the Generalissimo, which involves neither compromise with nor surrender to an alien ideology, is becoming increasingly unpalatable in Government circles. This has led many individuals into a search for a possible basis for peace with the Communists. Too many rumors to be ignored have been reaching us of late indicating that certain elements in the Kuomintang—CC Clique46 as well as Political Science group—have been speculating and taking soundings as to the possibility of Soviet mediation between the Communists and the National Government. From the Chinese point of view this seems the less desirable alternative, yet they may be driven to accept it if American aid is ineffective, inadequate, or late in coming.

  1. For Department’s reply, see telegram No. 153, January 30, 1 p.m., p. 8.
  2. Led by the brothers Chen Li-fu and Chen Kuo-fu.