The Acting President of China (Li) to President Truman 10

My Dear Mr. President: Throughout our war of resistance against Japanese aggression, the United States of America continuously extended to us her moral and material assistance, which enabled our country to carry on an arduous struggle of eight long years until final victory was achieved. The sincere friendship thus demonstrated by the United States has contributed not only to strengthen further the traditional ties between our two countries but to win the deep gratitude and unbounded goodwill of the people of China.

This policy of friendly assistance was continued when some years ago General George C. Marshall, under instructions from your good self, took up the difficult task of mediation in our conflict with the Chinese Communists,11 to which he devoted painstaking effort. All this work was unfortunately rendered fruitless by the lack of sincerity on the part of both the then Government and the Chinese Communists.

In spite of this, your country continued to extend its aid to our Government. It is regrettable that, owing to the failure of our then Government to make judicious use of this aid and to bring about appropriate political, economic and military reforms, your assistance [Page 700] has not produced the desired effect. To this failure is attributable the present predicament in which our country finds itself.

The situation in China has now entered a very critical phase indeed and has occasioned widespread anxiety among all classes of the Chinese people. I venture to think that it is also a matter of deep concern to Your Excellency.

If nothing were done to reinforce the position of the Chinese Government so as to enable it to stem the tide of communist infiltration, and if, in consequence, it should one day become necessary even to evacuate the Pearl River valley, the very last line of defence for the Nationalist cause, not only would the whole of China be subjected to Communist control but all the countries of East Asia would soon fall behind the Iron Curtain of the Cominform,12 a contingency fraught with grave consequences.

During the last three months when the country has come under my administration, I have spared no effort to seek peace with the Chinese Communists, but their persistent design to carry out their decision of communizing the whole of China has doomed this endeavor to failure.

For the safeguard of China’s democratic freedom and national independence, I feel that I am in duty bound to lead my Government in a defensive campaign of resistance against the tyrannical force of Communism. At the same time, I am convinced that fundamental reforms must speedily be introduced in the political, economic and military fields before the confidence of the people can be restored, the morale of the armed forces bolstered up, and the crisis facing us averted.

On the basis of this conviction, I have made up my mind to surmount every difficulty and remove every obstacle in the way of consummation of the policy just outlined. I firmly believe, however, that to the implementation of this policy the continued assistance of your country is still indispensable. In asking for your further aid, I can assure you that my Government will make the most careful and best use of whatever may be offered to us.

Dr. C. H. Kan is an old friend of mine, who possesses an accurate understanding of the traditional relations between our two countries and of the situation now prevailing in China. I have asked him to come and call on you in the capacity of my personal representative. I should appreciate it if you would receive him and feel free to discuss with him everything that relates to the subject matter of this letter.

With kindest personal regards [etc.]

Li Tsung-jen
  1. Presented to President Truman by Dr. Kan Chieh-hou on June 22. A letter along similar lines, dated May 5, was addressed to the Secretary of State and presented to Acting Secretary Webb by Dr. Kan on June 9. In telegram telCan No. 379, June 24, 2 p. m., the Secretary directed the Embassy Office in Canton to convey his acknowledgment and to express his “hope to have the opportunity of discussing the substance of your letter with Dr. Kan at an early date”.
  2. December 1945 to January 1947; for correspondence on his mission to China, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vii, pp. 745828, and ibid., 1946, vols, ix and x .
  3. Communist Information Bureau.