Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth) to the Secretary of State

In view of the existing situation in China, it would be highly undesirable to have General Wedemeyer31 proceed to China or to Formosa. In his message of December 18, 1948,32 General Barr stated that unless the United States gave all-out aid to the Chinese Government, including the immediate employment of United States Armed Forces, which he emphatically did not recommend, the National Government could not maintain a foothold in south China against a determined Communist advance. General Wedemeyer’s visit to China would immediately lead the Generalissimo and his supporters to expect substantial United States aid which could not materialize under existing circumstances. Such a visit would be subject to strong criticism from non-Communist Chinese in many quarters who oppose United States military aid to the National Government and who would look upon the visit as indication that the United States was planning the extension of large-scale military aid. The Chinese people are almost unanimous in their desire for peace at any price and General Wedemeyer’s visit would be looked upon as dashing their hopes for peace. In brief, General Wedemeyer’s visit to China would inevitably be misleading, in the absence of any large-scale aid program, and would thus not only serve no useful purpose but on the contrary might do much harm.

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It is believed that his presence in Formosa at this time would be equally undesirable. The visit of General Wedemeyer to that island would at once arouse deep suspicion on the part of many Chinese that his visit was connected with United States plans to take over or establish bases on the island, thus playing into the hands of the Communists by providing them with ammunition for their propaganda attacks on “American imperialism”. It would serve to convince the Chinese of U.S. preoccupation with Formosa at a time when it is to the interest of this country to avoid drawing attention to the U.S. interest in the island. There is now under consideration by the National Security Council a paper regarding United States policy with respect to Formosa33 in which emphasis is placed upon the desirability of discouraging the influx of mainland Chinese to the island, both because the evacuees are likely to include the most undesirable elements of the Chinese Government and because the presence of these elements would add further fuel to the flame of Formosan discontent and resentment against the Chinese Government. General Wedemeyer’s visit, serving to confirm and increase Chinese suspicion of U.S. interest in Formosa, might increase the flood of Chinese Government refugees from the mainland and, in any event, such a visit would create the very impression which it is desirable to avoid to the greatest extent possible.

As exemplified by the attached telegram,34 U.S. Consul General in Formosa is in confidential and intimate touch with General Chen Cheng, the Governor of the island.35

W. W[alton] B[utterworth]
  1. Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Combat Operations, Department of the Army; Special Representative of President Truman in China, July–September 1947.
  2. See summary of telegram No. 871 OAGA, December 18, 1948, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. viii, p. 236.
  3. See NSC 37/2, February 3, p. 281.
  4. Telegram No. 27, February 2, from the Consul General at Taipei, p. 278.
  5. Brig. Gen. Marshall S. Carter, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, in a memorandum of February 7 stated: “Mr. Forrestal called Mr. Acheson over the weekend to consider the invitation General Wedemeyer had received from the Chinese to visit China and Formosa. It was agreed that General Wedemeyer should not make the visit.”