The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

Note: This is a work in progress, and one I am not likely to finish (short of receiving a grant or an offer from a larger publisher) for some time. Everything posted here should be considered a draft. [Main Page, U.S. War Against Asia]

Notes from Chiang Kai-Shek by Hollington K. Tong. China Publishing Company. Taipei. Copyright 1953.

These notes were taken for my work in progress, The U.S. War Against Asia, for the China chapter(s). They reflect my interest in U.S. - China relations and Chinese history that adds color to that relationship.

5. Born October 31, 1887 at Chikow, Chekiang Province [or Zhejiang]. China had fought a war with France in 1884 and lost.

7. When he was 7 China was defeated by Japan (1895).

10-13. In 1906 went to Japan to study military science, but he also joined a revolutionary organization there. Chiang was the only student who had shaved off his queue, indicating he refused the subjugation of the Manchus. He also met Sun Yat-sen, in exile in Japan at the time. He left military training only to fight in the revolution against the Manchus that started October 10, 1911.

17-19 Sun’s program

25. Manchu’s abdicated February 12, 1912.

26. 2nd revolution by Kuomintang began July, 1913, but failure led to Yuan declaring himself a new Emperor.

27-28 Chiang showed his military skill during the revolution (when most established military officers supported Yuan). He was assigned to training troops for the next stage of the revolution.

43-44 Sun sent Chiang to Moscow in 1923 to study the Soviet system. While in some ways favorably impressed, his overall report upon his return was negative.

45. In 1924 the communist party of China joined the Kuomintang.

46. In 1924 the Whampoa Acadamy for military training was established with Chiang in charge, but with Russian instructors.

49-50 Chiang became the effective commander of the Nationalist army in 1924, and a leader of the Kuomintang on Sun’s death on March 12, 1925. 

51-54. Fighting is required to keep order, and Chiang starts to be called Generalissimo.

54-55. Several massacres of Chinese civilians by the French and British took place in 1925.

100-102 Chiang married Mayling Soon, in December 1927, daughter of Charles Soon, a Christian, American-educated industrialist. Mayling’s oldest sister was married to a banker and the second sister was married to Sun Yat-Sen. Her brother T. V. later beame the Minister of Finance of the Nationalist Government; other brothers were bankers and industrialists. Chiang and Mayling made working for the good of the Chinese people part of their wedding vows.

102-103 Chiang baptized in 1928, claiming a miraculous conversion when a snowstorm rescued a military situation after he promised to convert if given aid by God.

188-190 In 1931 the Japanese seized Mukden and then much of the rest of Manchuria. Chiang decided to an international appeal, rather than a fight. Japan forced Chiang to retire. The League of Nations appointed the Lytton Commission to investigate. The U.S. was not a member of the League, but declared the Japanese presence in Manchuria to be a violation of the Open Door Policy.

191. After boycotts of Japan by the Chinese, the Japanese Navy attacked Shanghai in January 1932.

195-196. Since there would be no aid from Europe or the U.S. against the Japanese, Chiang signed the Tangku Agreement on May 31, 1933, which called for Chinese troop withdrawals, then limited Japanese troop withdrawals and an armistice. The Japanese set up puppet states, notably Manchukuo, in the conquered territories.

208-209. The Chinese economy, under pressure in the 1930’s, had to abandon the silver standard for its currency. This was partly the result of passage of a silver purchase law in the United States on June 20, 1934, which resulted in $200 million in silver leaving China between June and October. In October 1934 silver exports from China were banned, then in November 1935 silver coins were nationalized.

212-213. The Anti-Comintern pact of November 26, 1936 gave Chiang a chance to get Japanese and fascist aid against the communists, but he declined to join, preferring to side with the United States and Britain.

214-231 Sian incident, in which Chiang is captured by the generals who want to fight the Japanese, not the communists.

233-234. In 1936, following the Sian coup, the communist party agreed to enter the Chinese government.

238. China’s military forces in 1937 described.

239. Open war between China and Japan began after an incident in July, 1937 and Japan quickly occupied Tientsin and Peiping.

243. W.H. Donald was an advisor (British?) to Madame and General Chiang, at least during the battle of Shanghai in 1937.

244. The Japanese lost 60,000 soldiers in the battle of Shanghai.

245-246. The United States and the European powers did nothing about Japan’s attack on China.

248. Panay incident: Intoxicated with success and anti-Euro propaganda, Japanese pilots attacked the British steamers Tuckwo and Tatung at Wuhu, singling the Tuckwo. HMS Ladybird was hit by Japanese artillery. The U.S gunboat Panay was sunk by the Japanese airforce on December 12, 1937 and some survivors were strafed, about 30 miles above Nanking. The Japanese government apologized and paid $2 million for the Panay sinking.

248-249. Not only did the British and U.S. not help, they even refused to sell airplanes to China. But the Soviet government sold armaments to Chiang, including tanks and planes.

255-256. In the northwest the Chinese communist army, at that time under Chiang’s ultimate command, fought the Japanese, who were confined to railways.

262. In the fall of 1937 the Russians sent four manned fighter and two bomber squadrons to China. They were withdrawn after the Hitler-Stalin pact.

263. Chiang believed Russian aid was meant to keep Japan and China in a protracted war that would weaken them both.

273. Not only did the U.S. not give military aid to China, it continued to trade valuable materials to Japan, notably scrap iron. But in 1940 scrap metals were put under export license and in 1941 the U.S. embargoed steel and oil for Japan and froze Japanese assets. America had lent $25 million to China in December 1938. In 1941 the U.S. lent China another $150 million.

275-276. Wang Ching-wei became leader of a Japanese puppet government in occupied China (south of Manchuko).

279. Japan frequently sought peace. Chiang said in 1941, “They have offered better and better terms, and they express even their readiness to withdraw their troops from North China. We have refused to consider any such offers.” Tong says “As late as July 4, 1941, only five months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a very generous Japanese peace proposal was offered for the Generalissimo’s consideration,” and was rejected.

279-280. In July 1940 the British and Japan signed a pact closing the Burma Road, China’s only source of outside supplies.

280-281. In November 1940 the Nationalist Government announced at Chunking that it would refuse a separate peace with Japan on any terms and would stand with the democracies. On April 13, 1941 Russia signed a neutrality pact with Japan.

282. The nationalists held elections in 1938.

284. “Two months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt sent a military mission of forty officers [to China], headed by Brigadier-General John Magruder.” Members of the mission remained in China after Pearl Harbor.

284. “Winston Churchill’s speech delivered at the Mansion House on Nvoember 10 [1941] was regarded in Chungking as a forthright and blunt warning to Japan.”

284. “When Colonel Knox spoke on Armistice Day, November 11, declaring the hour of decision had come and that further American forbearance towards Japan would be misunderstood abroad,it was clear that American patience was approaching the snapping point. Tension in the Far East reached a new height when President Roosevelt’s announcement of a withdrawal of American Marines in Shanghai, Peiping, and Tientsin became known on November 15, 1941.”

285. On November 17, 1941 “Chiang delivered a powerful speech before the Chinese People’s Political Council, while Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister, announced three points in the Japanese Diet, purporting to be Japan’s peace aims. In Washington, Kurusu and Hull inaugurated what has been called the Japanese-American “peace or war” conversations.”

286-287. The United States expressed to Chiang the belief he should work closely with the Chinese communists.

290. December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor. On December 8 China declared war on Germany and Italy.

291. Joint Military Conference for East Asia met in Chunking December 23, with China, Britain, and the U.S represented, but Russia and Holland absent.

292. Instead of aiding China, the Brits and U.S. asked for Chinese aid to defend Burma.

292-293 Roosevelt appointed Chiang Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in the China Theater.

293. 1943 Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell sent to China. Chiang named him his chief of staff.

293. The American Volunteer Group, or “Flying Tigers,” was created before Pearl Harbor, on August 1, 1941, led by Claire Chennault, who was also chief instructor of the Chinese Air Force Cadet School. When the U.S. declared war the Tigers were integrated back into the U.S. armed forces.

294. A $500 million loan from the U.S. was arranged in 1942. [p. 295] The Brits followed with a 50 million pound loan. The Chinese Joint [Currency] Stabilization Board had British and American members on it.

295-296. However, the actual amount of military material received was small due to transportation difficulties. Only 5% of the toal lend-lease exports of the War were allocated to China, and those were often diverted in route to the British.

296. During the war China held down 72 Japanese Army divisions. [Casualties compared to U.S. island hopping campaign?]

296. Chiang offered to defend Hong Kong, but the British were worried they would lose the colony to China, so they handed it over to the Japanese instead on December 26, 1941.

297. The Fifth and Sixth Chinese armies were sent to fight the Japanese in Burma, with Stilwell in command.

299. On October 10, 1942, after Chiang negotiated with them through the United Nations, the U.S. and Great Britain gave up extraterratoriality. New treaties were signed on January 12, 1943.

306. China was not treated as an equal by the U.S. and Britain during war strategy negotiation. At the Yalta meeting (1945) Chinese territory was awarded to Russia without even consulting with Chiang.

306-307. The Casablanca meeting (January 1943) made the unconditional surrender policy, which prolonged Japan’s resistance and gave Russia the opportunity to join in the war in the East “with disastrous consequences to China,” [because the Soviets turned their territory over to the Chinese communists].

307-308 The Cairo conference (November, 1943) was attended by Chiang. Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores were to be returned to China. It also said “in due course Korea shall become free and independent.”

309 Also at Cairo FDR told Chiang to form a coalition with the communists. This was posed as a trade for getting the British to give back Hong Kong to China. “Chiang spent almost three years in negotiations with the Communists trying to comply with America’s request for a coalition.”

313 After the Molotov-Matsuoka neutrality pact of 1941, “the Chinese Communists, reflecting Russian policy, had exhibited little further interest in hostilities against the Japanese.” Allowing the Japanese to concentrate on attacking the Nationalists. In 1944 the Japanese were able to transfer 10 divisions from Manchuria to the Hunan front. But for the most part after America entered the war the Japanese did not attempt to expand their holdings in China.

324-325. The communist plan was to build strength to eliminate the influence of the nationalists north of the Yellow River. As early as 1938 the communists began absorbing (including eliminating) non-communist guerilla groups behind Japanese lines. In 1939 the communists attacked a nationalist army in Kiangsu. At the same time the communists ignored orders to move all their fighters north of the Yellow River.

326. Apparently starting in 1940 the nationalists and communists fought each other on a regular basis, while maintaining a fiction that all were under a unified command.

339-350. Chiang had a dispute with Stilwell in 1944. Stilwell had done well in the later Burma campaign and was a favorite of General George C. Marshal. Stilwell had many friends in China who were anti-Chiang and pro-communist. Stilwell wanted the supreme command of the Chinese nationalist army, which Chiang would not relinquish. Stilwell had considerable power because he controlled all American aid, including Lend-Lease. All other nations on Lend-Lease had their own control; only China was micromanaged. Stilwell frequently failed to consult Chiang on strategic decisions

349-350. In September 1944 FDR demanded that Stilwell become supreme commander of the Chinese army and be allowed to arm and deploy communists anywhere he liked. Chiang agreed to promote Stilwell if he (Chiang) was given control of Lend-Lease and if the communists accepted the authority of the national government. Then FDR, on September 19th, from the Quebec Conference, demanded that Chiang accede to American demands or suffer a cutoff of aid. Instead Chiang requested Stilwell’s recall. Stilwell was relieved of his command on October 18, 1944.

353 The Yalta agreement gave away Chinese territories to Russia, which had already grabbed outer Mongolia and Sinkiang.

354. (contradiction) for 3 years after Sian incident, Stalin ordered communist cooperation with Chiang.

357. The Japanese offered to surrender to McArthur before Yalta, according to Rear Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias. The author believes that if FDR had known this, he might not have agreed for Russia to invade Manchuria.

358. Russia denounced the Russo-Japanese Neutrality Treaty on April 5, 1945, but the Yalta Far East Agreement was kept secret until March 1946. Russia grabbed Chahar, Jehol and Manchuria after Hiroshima [later turning them, and Japanese arms captured, over to Mao].

359. “The whole policy of his [Chiang’s] government was built on cooperation with America.” Yalta ratified by Sino-Soviet pact of August 14, 1945.

362. In May 1945 Chinese armies won a series of battles including Nanning and Foochow. An American landing was planned on the South China coast for mid-August. Liuchow and Kweilin were captured. The A-bomb made a U.S. landing unnecessary as Japan capitulated on August 10, 1945.

363. The communist Chinese army had about 70,000 soldiers entering the war, but came out with 910,000, and controlled almost all the rural areas of north China. They were positioned to seize all of China north of the Yangtse.

364. Chiang, with U.S. agreement, said the Japanese could surrender only to the nationalist army. But General Chu Teh of the Communist 18th Group Army refused to follow orders, instructing his troops to accept surrenders and occupy surrendered cities.

365. However, U.S. General Wedermeyer ordered U.S. air and sea transport to move nationalist army troops to positions in North China to accept surrenders.

364-365 Chu The ordered the “Commanders o fthe Korean Volunteer Corp in North China to advance into Manchuria, together with the 18th Group Army, to aid Russian plans for Korea.”

380. Taiwan (or Formosa) had been ruled for half a century by Japan, and had been highly industrialized. Allied bombing had had an impact, but it had modern industries which were seized by the Chinese government, and economic recovery of the Island was rapid.

380-381. Post war Lend-Lease allocations of $513 million were made to China, but much of this money paid for the U.S. transporation of Chinese troops to north China. UNRRA contributions to China were about $0.5 million. An Import-Export Bank loan of $500 million was made contingent upon approval of individual projects and a coalition with the Communists, which of course failed. The currency lost value and the economy was weakened by the civil war.

381-382. China adopted a constitution and ended one-party rule in 1946. The National Assembly meeting in 1946 had seats for communists, the Democratic League, the Young China Party, and independents.

385-386. Reviews U.S. pressures to allow communists in the Chinese government.

387. General Patrick J. Hurley, U.S. ambassador to China, tried to get the U.S. to adopt an anti-communist strategy in China in 1945, but failed and resigned.

387-389. Truman appointed George Catlett Marshall to sort out the China problem. The idea that the communists would work in a peaceful, democratic manner was still current. Marshall’s proposals were wrecked by the communists but the blame was put on the nationalists. Aid was made contingent on this impossible program. Wedermeyer was proposed by Marshall as the new ambassador, but the reds sank that idea and  Dr. John Leighton Stuart was appointed.

393. Prior to 1946 the nationalists were better armed than the communists. But the Russians in Manchuria allowed the communists to take the stockpiles of the Kwantung Army, Japan’s best equipped. Included were 10 years of munitions, 151 planes and 155 tanks.

394. The communists also got a mixed Chinese-Korean army of 30,000 that had been in Siberia.

394-395. In late 1946 the Russian training and Japanese equipment had the effect of turning the civil war in the communists favor. Marshall kept interfering, allowing the reds to attack but threatening to cut off aid if the nationalists attacked. When Chiang defied him to attack Kalgan, Marshall cut off all aid in July 1946 (the embargo continued 8 months).

395-396. The U.S. even assigned 60 officers to train communists, before that [Truman Administration] idea was killed by Congress. The embargo was lifted in mid-1947, only a single shipment of ammunition was delivered.

401. The new constitution went into effect on December 25, 1947. It is described as being a good, modern, representative government with human rights type of constitution.

405 National Assembly elections were held in November 1947. The national assembly had 2050 members. 847 were non-partisan, 725 Kuomintang, 172 Young China or Social Democrat. The Communist Party and Democratic League boycotted the elections.

412. There was a revolt in Taiwan against the nationals in 1947. Chiang dismissed the nationalist General who was faulted with creating conditions that led to the revolt.

413. Wedermeyer was sent on a fact finding trip in July 1947. His report accused the nationalists of lethargy and corruption. But 4 years later at the MacArthur hearings Wedermeyer said it had been a mistake to emphasize the nationalist problems and that he had “played down their capabilities.” He did recommend a plan for generous economic aid to the nationalists.

417-418. Due largely to the civil war, the economy and Chinese dollar sank and it was blamed in China as well as the U.S. on Chiang.

418. “An American soldier was accused of raping a Chinese girl student in Peiping,” in December 1947, leading to anti-US rioting in Shanghai and Nanking with demands for U.S. troop withdrawals.

419. Despite all this, Chiang remained staunchly pro-U.S. in orientation. In 1948 communist confidence in a full victory was high and a peace faction emerged in the Kuomintang.

422. In February 1948 Congress voted $125 million in military aid and $388 million in economic aid to China. But the aid was delayed (by a possible American communist), and during the delay the communists won decisive battles in Manchuria, Shantung and Shansi. No aid arrived until 1949.

429. Summer of 1948 money crisis. Gold Yuan established as new currency. But the civil war was going badly, so people were wary of any paper money.

432. In November 1949 Truman refused to issue a statement pledging support to the Nationalist government. Madam Chiang visited Washington and found it cold or hostile.

436-437. A faction of the Kuomintang pushed for peace with the communists (which implied communist rule) in late 1948 and Chiang began preparing Taiwan as a final stronghold. Chiang made democracy a condition of a peace deal.

439 Chiang announced his retirement on January 21, 1949. Mao’s terms for peace had included abolishment of the Constitution and punishment of “war criminals” meaning most Kuomintang leaders. He specifically said “reactionary elements” would not be allowed to participate in the new government.

445. The nation’s gold was grabbed and transferred to Taiwan in February 1949.

446-447. Given the communists continued attacks on the nationalists and their negotiating positions, in April 1949 Chiang and others declared they would resume fighting.

464-465. On October 15, 1949 Canton was occupied by the communists. On October 1, 1949 they announced the establishment of “a Central People’s Government.”

467. Britain quickly recognized the communist party government as part of a deal to retain its Hong Kong colony. With the nationalist blockade in effect, Hong Kong boomed as the only point for foreign trade.

494-495. Truman stated a hands-off policy for China on January 5, 1950. The nationalists still controlled some parts of mainland China at that time.

495. After the new Communist government imprisoned consul Angus Ward for four weeks and seied the consular offices in Peiping on January 13, 1950, the U.S. withdrew its consular representatives from China.

497. There was a fight in the U.N. over recognition of the People’s Central Government. The Security Council voted to not even discuss a Russian proposal for recognition. The Russian rep walked out. Before he returned on August 1, 1950, the U.S. was able to get Security Council approval for military action against Korea (which Russia could have vetoed, if present.)

503-517. The Korean War from the nationalist Chinese perspective. 503 Russian forces were withdrawn from Korea before U.S. forces, but had trained a real army while there. As with China South Korea begged for armaments from the U.S. and was refused. 503-504. As long as Chiang had some armies in Manchuria, it was too dangerous for the North Koreans to attack. 504 Truman finally realized, with the invasion of South Korea, that the U.S. had to act or be swept out of Asia. Truman ordered the Seventh Fleet to protect Taiwan against invasion. 505. Believes Truman order saved Taiwan from major assault attempt. But Truman also said “I am calling upon the Chinese Government in Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland.” Which ended the blockade by nationalists.

507. Chiang offered the use of nationalist Chinese troops in Korea. Although MacArthur wanted to accept the offer, Truman declined it.

507. “The North Korean army which burst with such smashing vigor across the 38th Parallel on June 25 was a Chinese Communist-trained and equipped army. Its cre was the tough force of Manchurian Koreans which had received its training and blooding in Lin Piao’s ‘Peoples’ Liberation Army’ (The Chinese Communist Fourth Field Army) which conquered Manchuria in 1948. Its Commander in Chief was Choi Yng Kun.”

512. In May, 1951, a U.S. military assistance advisory group arrived in Taiwan. In August 1950 MacArthur had sent 6 jets and 22 military liaison offcers.

522-523. In 1951 nationalists troops continued to be transferred to the mainland to engage in guerilla warfare.

523. In March 1950 the U.S. a ban was placed on export of U.S. goods to red China.

527. Claims from August 17, 1949 to August 17, 1951 the Chinese communists killed about 15.7 million people for political purposes, based on reports in communist news media.

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