026 China/7–2549

Memorandum by the Acting Deputy Director of the Office of German and Austrian Affairs (Byroade 41) to the Secretary of State

At the suggestion of Mr. Humelsine, I have read the significant portions of the proposed white paper on China. It is my understanding that you desire my recommendations on the following two questions.

Question 1: Is publication of the proposed white paper in the national interest?

In considering this question, I believe account must be taken of the following:

(a) Timing of the Report.

By its very nature the white paper has a note of finality. It is an indication that the events to which it relates have reached the stage where nothing further can be accomplished and the facts can be exposed. While from a practical point of view this state of affairs may have been reached in China, nevertheless I feel the State Department is subject to justified criticism if the report is published at this time. While there can be no doubt that the National Government of China is on the way out, that government, with all of its inherent weaknesses and its present state of collapse, is still endeavoring to fight the spread of communism. Voluntary criticism of that government at this stage would undoubtedly hasten its final collapse and provide additional emotional reaction within this country. Such public criticism of a national government which this country still recognizes and which is at this time still a member of international organizations such as the UN and the FEC42 would be hard to justify.

I believe, therefore, that we should await a further development in the Chinese picture which would cause the general public to realize that the National Government of China was a government in name only and that as a de facto situation had completely lost its power to resist. Such a development would be the fall of Canton, which has become symbolic of the last stronghold of the National Government. I am no longer closely in touch with the situation, but understand the fall of Canton may be expected during the month of August. Unless we are irrevocably committed to publishing the white paper by a [Page 1384]certain specified date, I would strongly recommend withholding its publication until after the fall of that city.

(b) Effect of Release of the White Paper in the Far East Generally.

The appearance of finality of the white paper has been mentioned above. We must consider as a matter of national interest, the effect of the publication of the white paper upon countries other than China, whom we hope to bolster as effective instruments in the prevention of further spread of communism in the Far East. This applies particularly to the countries of Southeast Asia. I believe the effect of the white paper upon such countries would be one-of general discouragement, that we are now in effect “washing our hands” of our Far Eastern efforts. This might be coupled with the fear that we will measure the efficiency of their government (by the American standards) as a prerequisite to any moral or material aid from the United States for the suppression of communism. With this in mind, I believe it most desirable that the white paper be accompanied by a general statement by the Secretary to the effect that this Government is keenly aware of the dangers inherent in the further spread of communism in the Far East and will take such measures as are available to support those who are willing to help themselves in the effort to stop the move of communism in the Far East. This would of necessity have to be a general statement and would have to be very carefully phrased to prevent involving us immediately in the question of support for a possible future Pacific Pact.43 Nevertheless, I feel much good can be done in the Far East and a segment of public reaction in this country could be answered in advance, by some such public statement accompanying the white paper.

(c) Fairness of the Report.

I should like to express the fact that in my opinion this report is slanted in favor of the Chinese Communist Party. I believe this to be the case as the written record contains a greater proportion of dealings with the National Government. Consequently, a dominant portion of the white paper is dedicated to relations with the National Government. The paper leaves me with an impression of the equality of the two forces in China, whereas in reality one was an internationally recognized government while the other was an armed dissident political party. Also, in my opinion, it does not place enough stress upon the activities of the Chinese Communist representatives in their field armies and in the Truce Organization set up by General Marshall. Within the field organizations designed to carry out the truce agreements, I would estimate as much as 90 percent of the willful violations and disruptions were caused by representatives of the [Page 1385]Communist Party. I realize that I may be inclined to give undue weight to this factor as this was the part of the Marshall Mission with which I was connected. I know General Marshall, who saw the picture from the Chinese capital, does not agree with the large proportion of blame which I place on the Chinese Communists.

(d) Public Criticism of the White Paper.

I believe publication of the white paper will be followed by a storm of public criticism and recriminations. I believe this would be the case almost regardless of what was contained in the white paper as its publication will provide a focal point at which to direct the emotionally interested, as well as politically inspired opponents of our China policy. This will be balanced by the fact that the administration is willing to lay before the people such a complete and detailed record of its dealings in China. I believe the sincerity of an effort to place before the people all the facts of the case will outweigh the criticism and that it is to the long-run interest of the government to make such an attempt, I believe further that the American people are entitled to know the facts on the China question which has been the subject of so much misinformation.

In summation of the above, I believe the publication of the white paper to be in the national interest. In my opinion, however, it should be withheld until the fall of Canton or some other dramatic evidence of the final disintegration of the Chinese National Government, and should then be accompanied by a statement of our future intentions to oppose the spread of communism in the Far East.

Question 2: Would the publication of the white paper endanger the safety of American personnel in China?

I do not believe the contents of the white paper are such as to create conditions in China which would endanger the safety of American personnel in that country. While it undoubtedly would be preferable, for other reasons, to have Ambassador Stuart absent from the country at the time of its publication, I do not consider that either side would be incited to the point of physical violence against him.

  1. Col. Henry A. Byroade in January–June 1946, was Director of Executive Headquarters at Peiping, in furtherance of General Marshall’s Mission to China.
  2. United Nations and Far Eastern Commission.
  3. See also vol. vii, pp. 1 ff., passim.