026 China/5–1749

Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Truman

Memorandum for the President

Subject: The Wedemeyer Report on China2

For some time there has been a very deep interest on the part of various members of the Congress in the Wedemeyer Report on China. This has recently increased to the point where a decision should be made regarding the release of this Report.

The Report contains an independent and, in many respects, a realistic appraisal of the situation in China at the time of its preparation which might be advantageously placed before the American public. However, there are statements in the Report which, if released at this time, might have an undesirable effect abroad and others which would provide domestic critics of the Administration’s policy toward China additional opportunities to attack that policy. The fact that most of the statements in the latter category are answerable probably would not prevent such attacks. Attached are (1) a copy of the Wedemeyer Report and (2) a memorandum analyzing the important portions of the Report.3

You will recall that the reason this Report was not released at the time of its submission to you was its recommendation that China request the United Nations to take immediate steps to bring about a [Page 1366]cessation of hostilities in Manchuria and request that Manchuria be placed under a Five Power Guardianship (including the USSR) or, failing that, under a Trusteeship in accordance with the United Nations Charter.4 It was the opinion of General Marshall5 that the assumption by the United Nations of responsibility at that time for the solution of the problem of Manchuria would probably have been fatal to that organization and that for the Chinese Government to take such action would have undermined its prestige in China, as an admission that it could not act as sovereign over one of its own most important areas. It is understood that General Marshall informed Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek,6 orally through one of the Generalissimo’s trusted subordinates, of these reasons and that the Generalissimo himself took no steps which would have constituted disapproval of the failure of the U.S. Government to suggest formally to the Chinese Government that it seek United Nations action regarding Manchuria.

There are set forth hereunder three possible courses of action under which the Wedemeyer Report might be released:

The Report could be made available on a confidential basis to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as to those members of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations who have been most insistent upon having the Report made available. This course has the disadvantage that those portions of the Report which would provide ammunition for attacks upon the Administration might well find their way into the press. The effect of the publication of such portions out of context would be most undesirable.
The Report could be made available to the above-named Committees and simultaneously released to the press by the Department of State. This would have the advantage of ensuring the availability of the entire Report to the public rather than only those portions which might be utilized to attack the Administration. However, the release of the Report at this time would give undue emphasis to the recommendations of the Report in its relation to the over-all problem of United States policy toward China and the Report itself would thus be taken out of the larger context of our relations with China.
The Report could be issued as a part of a White Paper on United States policy toward China, which is now in the process of preparation and is expected to be completed for publication sometime in June. This [Page 1367]would place the Wedemeyer Report in its proper place in the context of the over-all problem of our relations with China.

I suggest for your approval, therefore, that the Wedemeyer Report on China be released as a part of the Department of State’s White Paper on United States policy toward China and that I be authorized to inform the Senate Subcomittee on Appropriations, which is now pressing for the release of the Report, of the reasons why the Report was not previously published and to inform the Subcommittee also that the Department of State expects to release the Report as a part of a White Paper in the near future.

Due to the nature of the Report’s comments upon the situation in Korea and upon certain aspects of the Korean leaders’ activities, it is considered that the publication of those sections of the Report dealing with Korea would be harmful to the national interest and it is proposed, therefore, to release only the part of the Report relating to China.7

Dean Acheson
  1. For report dated September 19, 1947, by Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer to President Truman, see Department of State, United States Relations With China (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 764. For General Wedemeyer’s mission to China, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. vii, pp. 635 ff.
  2. Memorandum not printed.
  3. Signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945; 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031.
  4. Gen. George C. Marshall, Secretary of State, January 1947–January 1949.
  5. In 1947 he was President of the National Government of the Republic of China.
  6. Notation at end of memorandum: “Approved [.] Harry S. Truman”. For section on Korea, see General Wedemeyer’s report of September 19, 1947, to President Truman, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. vi, p. 796.