THE CHINA STORY by Freda Utley
—Chapter 1 Milestones on the Road to Korea
Until 1945 America’s traditional Far Eastern policy for more than half a century had as its aim the preservation of the integrity and independence of China. The immediate, although not the basic, cause of our entry into World War II was our refusal to recognize Japanese conquests in China, as definitely stated in the Hull “ultimatum” of November 26, 1941.
At Yalta in February 1945 the United States reversed this policy. President Roosevelt agreed to let Russia acquire what was to be in effect a permanent position of power in China. The principal terms of that agreement included:
1. the “lease” of Port Arthur to Russia as a naval base;
2. the “internationalization” of Dairen with “pre-eminent rights”
for the Soviet Union in this largest of China’s northeastern ports;
3. the “joint operation” of the Manchurian railways by China and Russia,
with the “pre-eminent interests” of the Soviet Union safeguarded.
It was further agreed that Russia should acquire the Kurile Islands and that “the southern part of Sakhalin as well as all the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union.”
The text of this secret Yalta agreement is revealed in Roosevelt and the Russians, by Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., who attended the conference as Secretary of State. In the text (as given in this book) it was stated that:
1. the former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack in
1904 shall be restored;
2. the President will take measures in order to obtain [the concurrence
of Chiang Kai-shek] on advice from Marshall Stalin;
3. the heads of the three Great Powers have agreed that these claims of
the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been
This representation of the Russo-Japanese War as having originated in a “treacherous attach” on Russia by Japan was strange in view of the fact That at both President Theodore Roosevelt and the British had regarded Japan at the time as a young David challenging aggressive Russian imperialism. Nor does it seem to have entered the mind either of the President or his advisers that the “pre-eminent rights” in Manchuria promised to Russia were Chinese rights which were not ours to sign away.
To understand the import of the concessions made by Roosevelt to Russia at both China’s and America’s expense, one must appreciate the fact that history shows that whoever controls Manchuria controls North China, and that whoever dominates North china can conquer all of china. This was proved as early as the thirteenth century, when the Mongols conquered China, and again in 1644, when the Manchus became the emperors who ruled China from Peking. It was even more certain, in our industrial age, that the “pre-eminent rights” in Manchuria guaranteed by President Roosevelt to the Soviet dictator, would place Russia in a position to dominate China, since the only areas of China where iron and coal resources are to be found in proximity are Manchuria and North China.
It had been the refusal of the Chinese National Government to resign itself to Japanese control of Manchuria and North China that had caused the Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1937. Millions of Chinese had died in the struggle to deny Japan the “pre-eminent rights” on their soil awarded to Soviet Russia in 1945 at Yalta.
The argument has been put forward with general success that the Yalta concessions were necessary in order to secure Russia as our ally in the Pacific war. However, the fact is, America in February 1945 was at the height of her power, influence, and military strength, and it would have been to her advantage to prevent Russia’s entering the war against Japan in order to reap a harvest she had not sown. Furthermore, there is now ample evidence available showing that Japan was ready to surrender before the Yalta Conference met.1/ By February 1945 nothing but the inane demand for Japan’s “unconditional” surrender stood in the say of victory and a peace which would have ensured America’s lasting security in the Pacific.
Yalta was, however, neither the beginning nor the end of the story. As early as 1943 the Far Eastern Division of the State Department was pressing for aid to be given to the Chinese Communists, then “sitting out” the war in the North, secure in the knowledge that Russia’s treaties with Japan guaranteed them against attack.2/
The recall of General Joseph Stilwell from China in 1944, and the appointment, in his place, of General Albert C. Wedemeyer as Commander-in-Chief of American forces in the China Theater, had resulted by 1945 in a temporary setback for the influences which regarded the Chinese Communists as potential friends of America. General Wedemeyer’s successful co-operation with the National Government in stopping Japan’s last offensive had created such confidence and uplift in morale in China that on V-J Day the Communists were in a less favorable position than they had expected.
Immediately following Japan’s surrender, real assistance was given to the Chinese National Government forces, which were transported in American planes and ships to reoccupy the liberated territories ahead of the Communists. The Japanese were ordered to surrender themselves and their equipment only to the Nationalist forces.
For a brief time, therefore, American influence in China seemed secure. An effective pattern of Sino-American co-operation was established by General Wedemeyer, and we had the confidence not only of the government itself, but of all the real liberals3/ in China. If this situation had continued, it is entirely possible that the reformist elements would have gained the ascendancy in the government, and the Communists would have had no opportunity to force their way to power.
Soon, however, the policy of America toward China shifted. In the fall and winter of 1945 General Wedemeyer was restricted in the use of American sea and air transport by the officials in the Far Eastern Division of the State Department. This was the period when friendly relations with Russia took precedence over all other considerations. Thus, no effective protest was made when the Soviet Union broke the pledges it had given to China in the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 14, 1945.
This treaty was signed by the Chinese Government, under compulsion from the United States, immediately following the defeat of Japan. According to its terms, China gave Soviet Russia vital strategic and economic rights in Manchuria in exchange for a pledge that Russia would “render to China moral support and aid in military supplies and other material resources, such support and aid to be given entirely to the National Government as the Central Government of China” (that is, the government headed by Chiang Kai-shek).
This pledge was promptly ignored. As Japan was surrendering, the Red Army poured into Manchuria ahead of Nationalist forces. As a condition of allowing the latter to reenter Manchuria, Moscow tried to get the Chinese Government to agree to joint ownership of all Manchuria resources and industries. Failing in this, Russia looted the area of eight hundred million dollars’ worth of industrial equipment and handed over huge supplies of captured Japanese arms to the Chinese Communists, whom they had meanwhile allowed to enter Manchuria. By the time the Red Army withdrew, the Communists were in possession of Manchuria and the captured arms.
The United States accepted this violation by Russia of her treaty with China. On November 2, 1945, Vice Admiral Barbey, in command of the United States Navy ships transporting Nationalist troops to Manchuria, withdrew from the port of Yingkow after a conference with Soviet representatives ashore, and after viewing several thousand Chinese Communist troops digging trenches under Russian protection. Admiral Barbey was similarly forced to retreat from the Manchurian port of Hulutao, after Communist riflemen had fired at his launch. Manchuria’s two main ports, Dairen and Port Arthur, were in Russian possession, thanks to the Yalta agreement. The Red Army’s refusal to allow the Chinese Nationalists to use Dairen constituted another violation of the Sino-Soviet Treaty, according to which Dairen was supposed to be an international port. Thus Chinese Nationalist forces could not be transported by sea to Manchuria and were landed instead in North China. Thence they marched north, overland, being also denied the use of the railways by the Russians. And when they reached Manchuria, they were met by the Chinese Communist forces armed by Russia and in prepared positions.
The United States made no formal protest. Instead, in December 1945, our government sent a diplomatic mission to China, headed by General George C. Marshall, to mediate between the National Government and the Chinese Communists.
In both the personal letter and the public “Statement of United States Policy” which General Marshall carried with him from President Truman, he was specifically instructed to exert pressure on the National Government to come to terms with the Chinese Communists. In his letter, President Truman said:
In your conversations with Chiang Kai-shek and other Chinese leaders,
you are authorized to speak with the utmost frankness. Particularly
you may state in connection with the Chinese desire for credits,
technical assistance in the economic field, and military assistance,
that a China disunited and torn by civil strife could not be considered
realistically as a proper place for American assistance along the lines
In his statement of policy President Truman announced:
The United States. . . believes that peace, unity, and democratic reform in China will be furthered if the basis of this Government is broadened to include other political elements in the country.
(The “other political elements” in China meant the Communists.)
President Truman further stated his confident belief that “with the institution of a broadly representative government, autonomous armies should be eliminated as such and all armed forces in China integrated effectively into the Chinese National Army.” He specified, however, that: “United States support will not extend to United States military intervention to influence the course of any Chinese internal strife.”
Thus, in effect, President Truman barred China from American aid until the Chinese Communists should cease fighting the National Government. Since the Chinese Communist Party, like all other Communist parties, always and at all times, acted on Stalin’s instructions, the United States Government was in reality endeavoring to force the Chinese Government to submit to Moscow.
Secretary Byrnes, in a December 9 memorandum to the War Department, which President Truman told General Marshall to consider as part of his instructions, wrote:
The problem [of ‘broadening’ the Chinese Government to include the Communists and other minority parties] is not an easy one. It will not be solved by the Chinese leaders themselves. To the extent that our influence is a factor, success will depend upon our capacity to exercise that influence in the light of shifting conditions in such a way as to encourage concessions by the Central Government, by the so-called Communists, and by the other factions.
This reference to “so-called Communists” proves how completely Secretary of States Byrnes, together with President Truman, had been misled by their advisers in the State Department.
The most significant paragraph in Secretary Byrnes’ memorandum concerns the instructions given to the War Department to cease transporting the Nationalist forces to take over North China in advance of the Communists. He wrote:
Pending the outcome of General Marshall’s discussions with Chinese leaders in Chungking . . . further transportation of Chinese troops to North China, except as North China ports may be necessary for the movement of troops and supplies into Manchuria, will be held in abeyance.
In his public statement of December 15, 1945, President Truman made his intentions equally clear. He insisted upon “fair and effective representation” for the Chinese Communists in a coalition government. He expressed his confident belief that “with the institutions of a broadly representative government,” autonomous armies would be eliminated as such, and “all armed forces in China integrated effectively into the Chinese National Army.”
The State Department’s White Paper on China, published in 1949, states that General Marshall was instructed to give “each side impartially and confidentially the benefit of his analysis of the situation.”4/ The decisions General Marshall was to be called on to make in China were to affect vitally the future interests of the United States. But he was instructed to be “impartial.”
United States policy in China, as enunciated by President Truman and implemented by General Marshall, was based on the assumption that the civil war in China was strictly an internal matter and had no connection with Soviet Russia’s policy of expansion by revolution.
Thus, it was assumed that the promise of American economic aid to China the reward for “unity,” would act as a powerful inducement to both sides to come to an agreement. Actually, the United States had no means of exerting pressure on the Chinese Communists to come to an agreement with the National Government, or to honor their pledges if an agreement were worked out. Only Stalin was in a position to do this. America’s compulsions could be and were exerted only against the National Government. By withholding both economic and military aid from the National Government until it came to terms with those who wrought havoc in China for their own ultimate gains, it was we who put the Communists in a position in which they could blackmail the National Government.
Following President Truman’s statement of December 1945, the Chinese Communists welcomed General Marshall with open arms. They were particularly fortunate in that their leading representative in Chungking was the handsome, intelligent, and charming Chou En-lai, now Foreign Minister of the Peiping Government. Chou En-lai had for years shown a singular capacity for converting American journalists to the belief that the Chinese Communist Party was composed of liberal “agrarian reformers” who should be backed against the “despotic,” “reactionary” government of Chiang Kai-shek.
Soon it became apparent to those of us who were in Chungking at the time and were frequently invited to General Marshall’s residence, that Chou En-lai had succeeded in captivating him. Any doubts General Marshall may originally have had as to the truth of the State Department thesis about the “progressive” Communists and the “reactionary” Nationalist Government had obviously been dispelled. The fascinating Chou En-lai had evidently finally convinced General Marshall that the Chinese Communists were not “real” Communists, or that they could be “detached” from their Russian affiliation provided only they were helped by America to bring “democracy” to China. Marshall had long since come under the influence of his old friend, General Stilwell, who believed in the liberal professions of the Chinese Communist. Chou En-lai merely completed his conversion.
Shortly after his arrival in China General Marshall arranged a truce, effective January 13, 1946, whereby the existing positions of the Communist and Nationalist forces were “frozen.” However, this truce included a proviso that the Nationalist forces were to be permitted to move into Manchuria to take it over from the Russians. On January 9 a dispute arose over Jehol, the province adjoining Manchuria which had been administered by Japan as part of “Manchukuo.”
The Chinese Government insisted that since no Chinese, only Soviet, troops were in Chihfeng, a railway junction city in Jehol, it should be occupied by the Nationalist armies under the agreement covering Manchuria. The Communists insisted on a standstill agreement there as in North China, and claimed that their forces had already taken over Chihfeng from the Russians.
The Communist representative in Chungking, General Chou En-lai, was very depressed that evening, according to A.T. Steele of the New York Herald Tribune. He told the press that the government was insisting on its right to occupy both Chihfeng and Tolun–an important trading and communications center in Chahar, just outside Jehol’s western boundary. Occupation of these two strategic points by the Nationalist forces would throw a barrier across the middle of Jehol and effectively block Communist connections with the Red Army in Manchuria, threaten the Communist stronghold at Kalgan, and sandwich Communist-held Chengteh (capital of Jehol) between government armies north and south of the Great Wall. The Communists declared they would never agree.
At ten-thirty that night General Marshall visited Chiang Kai-shek at his home and stayed there until midnight. At twelve-thirty Chou En-lai had a telephone call telling him to come to Marshall’s house at eight o’clock the next morning. By tel o’clock that morning a truce draft had been worked out and given to the press. The Communists had won. Chihfeng, and with it control of Jehol, was theirs.
Soon afterward it was learned that the National Government’s contention had been correct/ Tje Red Armyunot the Chinese Communists, had been in Chihfeng when the truce was signed. But the Chinese Communists kept the town until driven out in the new phase of the civil war, which began the following summer. As an official of the Chinese Foreign Office said to me in Chungking in February 1946, “General Marshall need not have forced us to give Jehol to the Communists. It was not necessary as part of the appeasement of Russia, since it was covered by the Sino-Soviet agreement.”
The tentative political and military agreements sponsored by General Marshall in January and February were broken almost before the ink on the documents was dry. The civil war began again, primarily because of the refusal of the Chinese Communists to honor their promise not to oppose the Nationalists taking over Manchuria. But as Russia’s armies retreated from the Chinese territory they had ravaged, they handed over towns and military supplies to the Chinese Communists.
A captured document obtained by George Weller, correspondent of the Chicago Daily News.5/ revealed a secret agreement between the Soviet High Command and the Chinese Communists pledging 5,000 Russian men and officers to help the Communists fight the Nationalists, and obligating the Chinese Communists to subordinate their army to the Russian command. The date on this document was January 19, 1946, just nine days after the Communists had signed the truce agreement in Chungking which persuaded General Marshall of their sincere desire to help establish a united “democratic” China.
Despite the help they received from Russia in arms and expert military advice and training, the Chinese Communists were soon in full retreat before the Nationalist forces. They appealed to General Marshall to persuade Chiang Kai-shek to another truce: “It is up to Chiang Kai-shek to yield to Marshall and negotiate.” General Marshall, on his return in May from a visit to Washington, exerted the necessary pressure on Chiang to cease fire and let the Communists keep the parts of Manchuria they then occupied. The victorious offensive of the Nationalist forces was halted.
In the interval that followed General Marshall and President Truman took steps to prevent the Nationalist forces from obtaining arms and ammunition. At the end of July 1946 General Marshall clamped an embargo on the sale of arms and ammunition to China. For almost a year thereafter the Chinese Government was prevented from buying, and was definitely not given, a single round of ammunition. On August 18, 1946, President Truman issued an executive order saying that China was not to be allowed to acquire any “surplus” American weapons “which could be used in fighting a civil war,” meaning a way with the Communists.
Thus when, in the summer of 1946, the Chinese Government endeavored to buy one-and-a-half billion rounds of small-arms ammunition in the United States, it was informed by the State Department that export licenses would be refused. England followed suit, and there was no other country available as a source of supply.
Thus the anti-Communist forces were thrown back on their reserves, and the limited supply of their own arsenals. These were soon to prove wholly inadequate to match the vast quantities of Japanese munitions handed over to the Chinese Communists by Russia, and later supplemented by the Mukden arsenals now working day and night to supply our Korean and Chinese enemies. For, once sure of control of Manchuria, Moscow restored some of the machinery she had moved as “war booty.”
During World War II we had agreed with the Chinese Nationalist Government to train and equip a force of thirty-nine divisions. That promise was broken after General Marshall arrived in China. The few divisions that had already been trained and equipped were not permitted to acquire ammunition from the United States. In that same summer of 1946 General Marshall acceded to a Communist request to assign American officers to train the Chinese Communist armies. Sixty-nine United States officers were detailed for this task, and four hundred tons of American equipment were earmarked for the training program. It was to this Dean Acheson, then Under Secretary of State, referred when on June 19, 1946 he told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:
The Communist leaders have asked, and General Marshall has agreed, that integration with the other forces be preceded by a brief period of United States training and by the supply of minimum quantities of equipment.
As it turned out, these officers were unable to proceed from Shanghai to their task of training the Communists on account of the civil war, which prevented their getting to their stations.
This projected aid to the Chinese Communists was the more difficult to explain at this date, since Chinese Communist hostility to America was by now being openly proclaimed. Once it became clear that the United States had been unable to exert sufficient pressure on Chiang Kai-shek to force him to become a President Benes, the Communists had started large-scale anti-American demonstrations. They had also refused the National Government’s proposal to let General Marshall have supreme arbitration powers to settle all issues in dispute. It being Moscow’s policy to arouse hatred of America everywhere in the world, the Chinese Communists had started a violent anti-American campaign. They were proclaiming on the radio that “the only difference between American and Japanese imperialism is that American imperialism is stronger, and its aggressive methods appear civilized and legal on the surface.”
This was also the period when there were a number of incidents in which United States Marines were shot at, killed, wounded, and imprisoned in North China.
Nevertheless, General Marshall continued to urge Chiang Kai-shek to come to some agreement with the Chinese Communists. Acheson stated the policy of the United States even more exactly when he said in a speech on June 28, 1946, in New York:
Too much stress cannot be laid on the hope that our economic assistance be carried out in China through the medium of a government fully and fairly representative of all important Chinese political elements, including the Chinese Communists.
In June 1946 General Marshall had arranged the second “truce” between Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Communists. At this time the Nationalist forces had succeeded in forcing the Chinese Communists to retreat as far as Harbin, which some Russian forces had not yet evacuated. The Communists having acquired the breathing space they required to rally their forces, fighting broke out again and continued through the summer and fall. The Nationalists still had some ammunition, and the Communists had not yet had time to train enough men in the use of arms supplied to them by Russia, or to benefit, as they did later, from Russian military instruction and advice. So the Nationalists continued to win battles and regain territory. They captured Kalgan and other strategic points in North China, and seemed well on their way to win the war. By November 1946, the White Paper on China states, “the Government’s forces had occupied most of the areas covered by its demands to the Chinese Communists in June and during later negotiations and had reached what turned out to be the highest point of its military position after V-J Day.”
Throughout this period General Marshall kept promising for yet another truce. So in October 1946 Chiang Kai-shek welcomed the Communist representative, Chou En-lai, in Nanking for peace negotiations. On November 8, following two days in conference with General Marshall, Chiang ordered all his troops to cease fire. The Communists were invited to attend an All-China National Assembly and offered positions in a coalition government. They refused. Meanwhile, they continued to harass communications, wage guerrilla warfare, perpetuating ruin and chaos throughout the country. In this way they could gain time while preparing with Russian aide, to mount a military offensive.
Chiang Kai-shek again offered peace, but not only on condition that the Communists evacuate the railway lines and strategic centers. He had not completely given way to those members of his government who had all along advocated solution of the Communist problem by force. But he was determined to clear the railways and make possible some economic rehabilitation. The economic situation had become so desperate that it was clear to him his government would lose all authority unless some order were restored. Moreover, he was no longer entirely without hope that America would again grant aid to China. For by now the conflict between America and Russia was openly displayed before the eyes of the world at the Paris Conferences and in the United Nations meetings. Chiang Kai-shek was encouraged to believe, therefore, that the United States might in the near future give aid to resist Russian domination in Asia.
But on December 18, 1946, President Truman issued another statement on China almost identical with that of the previous year (December 1945). He still insisted on “peace” and “unity” as a condition of American financial aid. He declared that “China has a clear responsibility to the other United Nations to eliminate armed conflict within its territory.” There was one substantial difference between the December 1945 and the December 1946 statements, however. In the latter the United States joined with Great Britain and the Soviet Union in insisting on a “coalition” government in China.
The President stated:
It was made clear at Moscow last year that these views are shared by our Allies, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. On December 27th, Mr. Byrnes, Mr. Molotov, and Mr. Bevin issued a statement which said, in part:
“The three Foreign Secretaries exchanged views with regard to the situation in China. They were in agreement as to the need for a unified and democratic China under the National Government for broad participation by democratic elements in all branches of the National Government, and for a cessation of civil strife. They affirmed their adherence to the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of China.”
It is somewhat difficult to imagine that as late as December 1946 the President of the United States was still sincerely convinced that Moscow’s conception of what constituted “democratic elements” was the same as ours. It is also puzzling to understand why, though in Europe we had begun to say “thus far and no farther” to the further spread of Communist power, in the Far East, the old self-defeating policy was not only continued, but intensified.
In Europe we had learned that coalitions which include Communists can never establish democratic government. In China the Administration continued to look upon the Communists as “liberals” who owed no allegiance to Moscow, but were anxious only to reform China along democratic lines.
General Marshall seems to have seconded these views in every respect. In his 1946 statement the President reported:
I asked General Marshall to go to China as my representative. We had agreed upon my statement of the United States Government’s views and policies regarding China as his directive. He knew full well in undertaking the mission that halting civil strife, broadening the base of the Chinese Government, and bringing about a united, democratic China were tasks for the Chinese themselves. He went as a great American to make his outstanding abilities available to the Chinese. . . .
It is a matter of deep regret that China has not yet been able to achieve unity by peaceful methods. Because he knows how serious the problem is, and how important it is to reach a solution, General Marshall has remained at his post even though active negotiations have been broken off by the Communist Party. We are ready to help China as she moves toward peace and genuine democratic government.
If one reads the White Paper on China, issued by the State Department in 1949, one is struck in particular with the fact that General Marshall apparently never conceived of the outcome of his thirteen-months’ mission to China as momentous to the future of the United States. There is no indication that he realized that he was not an enlightened missionary endeavoring, out of sheer benevolence, to bring peace to a benighted country, but a representative of the United States whose security would largely depend upon the outcome of the “civil war” between a friendly government and Stalin’s satellites.
Thus we read on pages 186-87 of the White Paper how, in September 1946,
General Marshall made it very clear to the Communist Party representative at Nanking at this time that in view of the vicious Communist propaganda attacks directed against his personal integrity and honesty of purpose, which were being paralleled by repeated private requests from the Communists that he continue his mediation efforts, he wished to emphasize that such a procedure would no longer be tolerated–if the Communists doubted his impartiality as a mediator, they needed only to notify him accordingly and he would immediately withdraw from the negotiations (italics added).
On numerous occasions, he threatened the National Government that he would go home if it didn’t take his advice, and stop fighting the Communists. This threat of complete withdrawal of American interest in the outcome of the conflict usually forced the Generalissimo to give way and halt his victorious offensives to the benefit of the Communists.
The following passages from the White Paper illustrate General Marshall’s failure to understand what was at stake for America, and his “plague on both your houses” attitude:
He felt that he could not put himself in the position of mediating during a continued series of military campaigns and that he must have positive assurances from the National Government that there was a reasonable basis for compromise which offered possibility of success.
On October 1, he wrote the Generalissimo:
I wish merely to state that unless a basis for agreement is found to terminate the fighting without further delays of proposals and counter-proposals, I will recommend to the President that I be recalled and that the United States Government terminate its efforts of mediation.
Following such communiques, the National Government made yet further concessions to the Communists, and as might naturally have been expected, they were of no avail.
The Communists merely became more intransigent. In order to understand clearly what follows it must be emphasized at this point that all the National Government’s concessions and continued halts in its offensives at Marshall’s requests were designed only to get the Communists to agree to participate in a coalition government. And this the Communists refused to do. On page 203 of the White Paper we read:
The arguments of the Communist Party at this time were not consistent. They had insisted that the Government military leaders were determined to settle the issues by force, yet the Communists were apparently risking the continuation and expansion of the fighting in the hope that the Government would make concessions in order to obtain the list of Communist delegates to the National Assembly.
And on page 209, we read that the Communists had rejected “every overture General Marshall and Dr. Stuart had persuaded the Government to make.” Yet on the same page the White Paper says:
It seemed apparent to General Marshall that the Government military leaders were in the saddle and were thoroughly convinced that the Communists would not carry out any agreement reached. The strong political clique in the Kuomintang was firmly convinced that the Communists would merely disrupt any government in which they participated.
The National Government was arraigned for having discovered, like all European governments, that “the Communists would merely disrupt any government in which they participated.” On page 210 of the White Paper it is stated:
At this time a high-ranking Government official was urging upon General Marshall the need for American financial assistance to meet the serious economic situation. General Marshall was very emphatic in stating to him that it was useless to expect the United States to pour money into the vacuum being created by the Government military leaders in their determination to settle matters by force and that it was also useless to expect the United States to pour money into a government dominated by a completely reactionary clique bent on exclusive control of governmental power.
General Marshall’s definition of a “reactionary” was similar to that used by the Communists and their “liberal” supporters, for in his farewell statement of January 7, 1947 (see Appendix A), he identified reaction with anti-Communism.
On the side of the National Government, which is in effect the Kuomintang, there is a dominant group of reactionaries who have been opposed, in my opinion, to almost every effort I have made to influence the formation of genuine coalition government. . . . They were quite frank in publicly stating that their belief that cooperation by the Chinese Communist Party in the government was inconceivable and that only a policy of force could settle the issue.
Although when he became Secretary of State, General Marshall learned in his negotiations with Molotov that it was impossible for even a democratic statesman like himself to collaborate with Communists, he has never repudiated or retracted his January 7, 1947, statement.
For on pages 211-12 of the White Paper we read that “it appeared that the Communist Party had, in effect, rejected American mediation,” but are also told how General Marshall continued to insist on a “peaceful settlement.” In December 1946 General Marshall had a long conference with Chiang Kai-shek in which he advocated appeasement at any price. The Communists, General Marshall insisted, were too strong a military and civil force to be eliminated by military campaigning, and ” he believed, therefore, that it was imperative that efforts be made to bring them into the Government.”
Chiang Kai-shek replied “that he was firmly convinced that the Communists never intended to cooperate with the National Government, and that, acting under Russian influence, their purpose was to disrupt the National Government.”
The Generalissimo added that “it was necessary to destroy the Communist military forces and that he believed if this were done, there would be no difficulty in handling the Communist question.”
General Marshall replied “briefly but firmly” that the National Government was not capable of destroying the Communist armed forces “before the country would be faced with a complete economic collapse.”
In the State Department’s account it is not mentioned here that General Marshall himself and the United States Administration could have prevented such an “economic collapse” had he not embargoed arms to China. To the end of his mission General Marshall continued to ignore Russia’s backing of the Chinese Communists, and continued to believe, or spoke as if he believed, that he was mediating between two Chinese “factions.” The crux of the whole conflict in his eyes was the question of “reform.” The White Paper (p. 210) describes his views as follows:
The best defense against Communism in his opinion was for the existing Government in China to carry out reforms which would gain for it the support of the people. He was concerned over the destructive influence of the reactionaries in the Government and felt that the Generalissimo’s own feelings were so deep and his associations of such long standing that it was most difficult to separate him from the reactionary group.
General MacArthur succintly expressed the fallacy upon which such views are based when he said: “We confused the paramount strategic interests of the United States with an internal purification problem in China.”
It seems clear that General Marshall never understood that neither agrarian reform, nor reconstruction and expansion of industries to alleviate Chinese poverty, were possible in conditions of civil war with the Communists doing their best to destroy the productive capacity within the domain of the National Government, thereby following the well-known Communist device of preventing any regime except their own from functioning. He also does not seem to have realized that a democratic government cannot be established overnight by drawing up a paper constitution.
In his January 7, 1947, statement when he left China to become Secretary of State, General Marshall admitted that “the National Assembly has adopted a democratic constitution,” and he further stated that it was “unfortunate that the Communists did not see fit to participate in the Assembly, since the constitution that has been adopted seems to include every major point that they wanted.” He declared:
The dyed-in-the-wool Communists do not hesitate at the most drastic measures to gain their end as, for instance, the destruction of communications in order to wreck the economy of China and produce a situation that would facilitate the overthrow or collapse of the Government, without any regard to the immediate suffering of the people involved.
But Marshall added that the Communists had “good excuse” for their distrust of the Kuomintang leaders. And in the following passage he showed that he still thought of the Chinese Communist Party as an ordinary political party, composed of men of varying views, with a goodly percentage of sincere “liberals” among them.
On the side of the Chinese Communist Party are, I believe, liberals as well as radicals, though this view is vigorously opposed by many who believe that the Chinese Communist Party discipline is too rigidly enforced to admit of such differences of viewpoint. Nevertheless, it has appeared to me that there is a definite liberal group among the Communists, especially of young men who have turned to the Communists in disgust at the corruption evident in the local governments–men who would put the interest of the Chinese people above ruthless measures to establish a Communist ideology in the immediate future.
Evidently General Marshall would not listen to those whose experiences and study had taught them that Communist parties allow no opposition, or liberal backsliding. He ended his statement with the suggestion that the “liberals” should be given the leadership in the Government and with the hope that “the door will remain open for Communists or other groups to participate.”
General Marshall’s refusal of aid to the National Government of China unless and until it came to terms with the Communists is inconsistent with the policy he maintained toward Greece when he became Secretary of State. Soon after taking office he recommended that $400,000,000 of aid should be given to Greece to keep the Communists out, while he continued to deny any help to the Chinese National Government unless it would take the Communists in!
Moreover, before going to the Moscow Conference in the spring of 1947, Marshall ordered the withdrawal of the United States Marines from North China, thus depriving the National Governemnt of the limited backing which their presence had constituted. On April 2, he assured Molotov that American forces were being removed from China “as rapidly as shipping becomes available,” without extracting any quid pro quo from Russia in Europe.
More than two years after he left China, on March 10, 1948, General Marshall, then still Secretary of State, “replied in the affirmative” to the question whether President Truman’s December 15, 1945, statement, demanding inclusion of the Communists in the Chinese National Government, was “still our policy.” This was naturally assumed by the press to mean that a coalition government including the Communists was still favored by the United States. Next day the State Department issued a statement which made confusion worse confounded:
In view of misunderstandings that have arisen concerning the Secretary’s statements about China at his March 10 press conference, it is pointed out that the Secretary referred to President Truman’s statement of December 15, 1945. That statement expressed the belief of the United States “that peace, unity and democratic reform in China will be furthered if the basis of this Government [China’s] is broadened to include other political elements in the country.” The Secretary said that this statement still stands. When asked specifically whether broadening the base of the Chinese Government meant we favored the inclusion of the Chinese Communist Party, he reported that the Communists were now in open rebellion against the Government and that this mater [the determination of whether the Communists should be included in the Chinese Government] was for the Chinese Government to decide, not for the United States Government to dictate.
On the same day (March 11, 1948) President Truman, at his press conference, in answer to questions “concerning the inclusion of Chinese Communists in the Chinese Government,” said this his December 15, 1945, statement of policy “still stood.” However, the President, like the Statement Department, wanted to have it both ways. So he finally contradicted himself by also stating that “we did not want any Communists in the Government of China or anywhere else if we could help it.”
No American who knows the facts can read without embarrassment President Truman’s ambiguous reply at this time to the appeal address to him by Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang had written:
The general deterioration of the military situation in China may be attributed to a number of factors. But the most fundamental is the non-observance by the Soviet Government of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, which, as Your Excellency will doubtless recall, the Chinese Government signed as a result of the well-intentioned advice from the United States Government. I need hardly point out that, but for persistent Soviet aid, the Chinese Communists would not have been able to occupy Manchuria and develop into such a menace.
As a co-defender of democracy against the onrush and infiltration of communism throughout the world, I appeal to you for speedy and increased military assistance and for a firm statement of American policy in support of the cause for which my Government is fighting. Such a statement would serve to bolster up the morale of the armed forces and the civilian population and would strengthen the Government’s position in the momentous battle now unfolding in North and Central China.6/
President Truman replied that he had stated at his March 11, 1948, press conference that he “did not desire Communists in the Chinese Government,” that General Marshall had stated that the inclusion of the Communists in the Government was a matter for the Chinese Government to decide, not for the United States Government to dictate, and that he, Truman, believed that these statements and the China Aid Act “have made the position of the United States Government clear.”
“Clarity” was about the last thing which could be claimed for these ambiguous and contradictory statements. From the Chinese point of view, they meant either that the United States Government did not know what its own policy was or that it still favored China’s submission to Soviet domination, but was endeavoring to hide this fact from the American voters. Certainly Chiang Kai-shek and his armies, nowengaged in a final desperate battle against Soviet Russia’s satellite forces, could derive little comfort from the clever double talk of President Truman and Secretary of State Marshall. Nor was the promised aid, voted by Congress in April 1948 and referred to in President Truman’s letter forthcoming in time to save China. The State Department, as will be revealed subsequently, succeeded in thwarting the intent of the China Aid Act passed by the Republican 80th Congress in April 1948, by delaying the shipment of munitions to China until the end of that fateful year.
In September 1950, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was to confirm his appointment as Secretary of Defense, General Marshall “disclaimed any personal responsibility for the policy he had sought to carry out in his 1946 mission to China.” Specifically, he stated that “the policy of the United States was. . . issued while I was on the ocean, going over there.”
There is considerable doubt placed on this disavowal, however, by both Admiral Leahy and former Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. According to the authorized biography of Harry Truman (The Man of Independence, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1950), Admiral Leahy told the author, Jonathan Daniels:
I was present when Marshall was going to China. He said he was going to tell Chiang that he had to get on with the Communists, or without help from us. He said the same thing when he got back. I thought he was wrong then, both times.
Former Secretary of State Byrnes writes (in his memoirs, Speaking Frankly, New York, Harper’s, 1947):
Before Ambassador Hurley’s resignation, the State Department had prepared a statement of policy on China, the first draft of which I showed the Ambassador a few days before he resigned. As soon as President Truman appointed General Marshall his personal representative in China, I asked the General to study the draft so that he could help prepare the final statement for presentation to the President.
The Sunday before I left for Moscow, Under Secretary Acheson, General Marshall and members of his staff met in my office. By the end of the morning’s discussion, we had agreed upon the statement of policy that subsequently was approved by the President and released to the public on December 15. Thereafter————————
the President made no change in that policy except upon the recommendation of General Marshall or with his approval.
The Washington Post, a warm admirer of General Marshall and advocate of the State Department’s China policy, supports Mr. Byrnes’ testimony.
In an editorial headed, “Marshall on the Spot,” published on September 1, 1950, the Washington Post said:
General Marshall was less than candid in his testimony about China in the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee–so much so that in the early editions of the New York Times the report was captioned: Marshall Disavows China Policy. . . . He added that the policy had been proclaimed in Washington when he was en route to China. . . .
General Marshall gave the Senators the impression that he simply carried out instructions without having discussed those instructions beforehand–let alone having agreed to them. Let us look at the record. General Marshall . . . carried with him not only the . . . personal letter from the President which epitomized the policy in these words:
“Specifically, I desire that you endeavor to persuade the Chinese
Government to call a national conference of representatives of the
major political elements to bring about the unification of China, and,
concurrently, to effect a cessation of hostilities, particularly in
Elsewhere in the letter the President said: “I understand that these documents have been shown to you and received your approval.” The President restated this policy the following year, on December 18, 1946. In the course of it, he said, “I asked General Marshall to go to China as my representative. We had agreed upon my statement of the United States Government’s views and policies regarding China as his directive.”
If all this does not mean what it says, then the President owes the public an explanation. He cannot but be embarrassed by General Marshall’s incomplete statement–if not disavowal of the President’s policy. What General Marshall said will be picked up, as it should be, by his Republican critics as proving that General Marshall was merely a tool–or, as Representative Judd once put it, a “dupe.” The facts are that the Marshall assignment was, in Mr. Byrnes’ words when he was Secretary of State, to bring Chungking [the Nationalists] and Yenan [the Communists] together, and that, on the President’s showing, General Marshall had his eyes open and his mind receptive when he accepted it.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that General Marshall must have been fully in agreement with the Administration’s policy. And while in his eyes that policy envisaged the formation of a government for China after the model of a Western coalition cabinet, its outcome could only shove China straight into the lap of Moscow.