Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Protocol (Woodward)

Participants: The President
The Chinese Ambassador, Dr. Koo
The Personal Representative of the Acting President of China, Dr. Kan Chieh-Hou
The Chief of Protocol, Mr. Woodward

The Chinese Ambassador called upon the President at 12:15 p. m. today and brought with him Dr. Kan Chieh-Hou, Personal Representative of Acting President Li Tsung-Jen of China.

Dr. Kan presented a letter40 in Chinese from the Acting President and told the President that he had been sent by General Li to lay before the President the latest developments in China’s fight against the Communist forces. The President thanked Dr. Kan for the letter and said that he would send a reply.

Dr. Kan produced two small maps of China, the first one showing in red the territory occupied by the Communists, and the second one showing the same features but with the strategic lines upon which the Nationalist forces could fall back if necessary. Dr. Kan spoke of two recent victories of the Nationalist forces, victories which unfortunately had not been reported in the press, and victories which showed that the Nationalist forces had not lost their will to fight. The President [Page 709] said that he knew about these developments and realized that they had not been reported in our press.

Dr. Kan then explained the second map with particular reference to the lines of defense to be held by the Nationalist forces and stated that the Nationalist troops could fall back on these lines if necessary and hold them permanently against the Communists. He explained that even if this were necessary, there would still be more of China left in Nationalist hands than there was during the Japanese invasion. The President observed that the Nationalists would then be without seaports, to which Dr. Kan and the Ambassador replied that Kwang-chow, the small port on the southern coast formerly leased to the French and now returned to China, would remain in Nationalist hands. Dr. Kan continued that the Mohammedan troops and other Nationalist forces which had given such good account of themselves in recent fighting had fought without benefit of American arms or equipment. He knew, he said, from his visit to the United States and conversations with everyone here that America wished to be helpful and that the greatest need at present was not for arms but for silver with which to pay the Nationalist armies to keep them fighting.

To this the President replied that the greatest need in China was for the leaders of the Nationalists to get together and really do something. He said that he was interested in what Dr. Kan had told him but that he was from Missouri and that he would have to be shown that they meant business. Both Ambassador Koo and Dr. Kan said they understood. The President added that he had always hoped that China would be the greatest power in the Orient and that he had been terribly disappointed when the arms and equipment sent to China to help them in the struggle against the Communists had been surrendered to the enemy. Furthermore, General Marshall had gone to China and had tried to help them, had told them what to do and it had done no good. China would have to prove itself in deeds, not words, before it could regain our confidence. Afterwards we would see what could be done to help.

Thereupon the President arose and asked Dr. Kan to give his best regards and best wishes to Acting President Li when he returned to China.

The Ambassador asked if he could add one word before leaving. His Government, he said, wished to make three specific requests of the American Government. First, that China’s balance of $90,000,000 already authorized for the ECA be used for the coinage of silver money in the U.S. Mint for delivery to China. Second, that a small group of American military experts, perhaps three or four men, be sent to [Page 710] China to observe military developments41 in the light of what President Li had reported through Dr. Kan. And third, that Mr. Stuart, our Ambassador in Nanking, and therefore in Communist occupied territory, be instructed before returning to the United States to pass through Canton to get both sides of the story.

The President replied that he would discuss these points with the Secretaries of State and Treasury.

  1. May 5, p. 699.
  2. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 472 ff., passim.