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 Memoirs by Harry S. Truman. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City N.Y. 1955. Copyright 1955.

[Truman 1] Memoirs, Volume One, Year of Decisions by Harry S. Truman. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City N.Y. 1955. Copyright 1955.

p. 251. Before the victory in Germany, mid-April 1945, Secretary of State E. R. Stettinius, Jr. sent a memorandum to Truman based on negotiations from Patrick J. Hurley, Ambasador to China. Winston Churchill “took the view that Britain is not bound by the principles of the Atlantic Charter,” and “declared in reference to Hong Kong that the British Empire would give up nothing.” But he agreed China should be united with a democratic form of government. Joseph Stalin and Molotov said “they do not desire civil war in China and that and that they are not supporting the Chinese Communist Party. They spoke favorably in favor of Chiang Kai-shek,” and favored the unification of Red and Nationalist armed forces.

273-274. It had been agreed by Roosevelt at Yalta that the U.N. security council permanent members were to be the U.S., Britain, Russia, China and France.

314-315. The military problem v. Japan. Over 4 million Japanese soldiers in arms in 1945. “There was no way for us to get troops into China to drive the Japanese from the Chinese mainland.” [me – despite the fact that the U.S. had taken the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.]. Hurley believed communists and nationalists had agreed to work together.

315-316. Chinese foreign minister Soong was negotiating with Stalin. The Chinese were not willing to give up Outer Mongolia or Tibet. Stalin also wanted soviet ownership of the Chinese Eastern and South Manchuria railroads. Stalin was willing to have Chinese control of Manchuria if the USSR received concessions.

317. Given Russia’s desire to control Outer Mongolia, the U.S. said it believed that area to be de jure part of China. The U.S. demanded that it have equal rights in Dairen and access to transportation on the railroads in dispute.

318-320. More Chinese-Russian negotiations with the U.S. in constant contact with the nationalist Chinese.

390. Chiang Kai-Shek was allowed to okay the Potsdam Declaration.

423-424. Soong and Stalin continued to wrestle over Manchuria. Truman says Manchuria was an industrial bonanza due to development by the Japanese. The U.S. urged China to Resist Stalin’s demand for “war booty.”

421. Hiromshima destroyed on August 6, 1945.

425. On August 8 Molotov announced that the Soviet Union would declare war on Japan on August 9.

426. Soviet invasion of Manchuria beginning on August 9 made rapid progress.

430. The Soviets decided to continue to advance into Manchuria even after the Japanese surrender offer came on August 10th.

434. Hurley reported that communist General Chu Teh had proclaimed that his troops could accept surrenders from Japanese troops and accept their arms. He recommended that only the Nationalist government be able to accept surrenders.

440. August 13th, General Order 1 transmitted, saying Chiang Kia-shek would accept Japanese surrenders In China, Formosa (a Japanese possession since WWI), and Indochina north of the 16th parallel. But Japanese in Manchuria would surrender to the USSR.

445. Chu Teh argues communists should be present at surrender ceremony with MacArthur and are best situated to accept Japanese surrenders. Nationalist troops would need American help to get to Japanese points of surrender.

444-445. Chiang did not want Jehol included in Manchuria for surrender purposes, but since the Russians occupied Jehol there was nothing to be done about it.

446-450. Chiang asserted (correctly) that Japanese troops in Hong Kong were to surrender to him per Order 1. The British objected, saying Hong Kong was not part of China. A British naval force was headed to Hong Kong to reestablish administration.  Truman instructed MacArthur to have the Japanese surrender to the British. Chiang objected, but was in no position to do anything about it, but offered to allow the British to be present at the surrender to China and to land troops on Hong Kong if they accepted surrender as his delegate. Of course the Brits objected even to that, though the plan had American support and represented a concession by China. Chiang told Hurley that the British had threatened to use force if necessary. The Brits reoccupied Hong Kong and accepted the Japanese surrender with no Chinese representative present.


[Truman 2] Memoirs, Volume Two, Years of Trial and Hope by Harry S. Truman. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City N.Y. 1955. Copyright 1955.

Chapter 6, p. 61-92, all on China.

p. 61. Truman believed (perhaps in retrospect) that in 1945 there was a “lack of popular participation in the country’s government.” “[I]n 1945 China was only a geographic expression… Chiang Kai-shek’s authority was confined to the southwest corner, with the rest of South China and East China occupied by the Japanese. North China was controlled by the Communists and Manchuria by the Russians.”

62. “It was perfectly clear to us that if we told the Japanese to lay down their arms immediately and march to the seaboard the entire country would be taken over by the Communists. We therefore had to take the step of using the enemy as a garrison until we could airlift Chinese National troops to South China and send marines to guard the seaports.” “This operation of using the Japanese to hold off the Communists was a joint decision of the State and Defense Departments of which I approved.”

62-63. Hurley in the fall of 1945 claimed that Vice President Wallace in 1944 told President Roosevelt that “nothing short of a miracle could prevent the collapse of the government of China,” [quoting Hurley].

63. “There were nearly three million Japanese in China, over one million of them military.  Unless we made certain that this force was eliminated, the Japanese, even in defeat, might gain control of China simply by their ability to tip the scales in the contest for power.”

63-64. Wedermeyer was not for a democratic China, writing to Truman, “Conditions here could best be handled by a benevolent despot or a military dictator, whether the dictator be a Communist or a Kuomintang matters very little.”

64. During the war appropriations for military and economic aid to China “had exceeded one and a half billion dollars.” [compare Tong reporting little of that aid reached China, with much of it diverted by the British]

64. American policy was for the Nationalists and Communists to work together in a unified government. Responding to Hurley, in October of 1945 Truman “made it clear to them that it would be our policy to support Chiang Kai-shek but that we would not be driven into fighting Chiang’s battles him.”

65. A large part of Chiang’s troops were “ferried north by our Air Force transports. We had also landed fifty thousand of our marines at several important ports so that, through these ports, the removal of the Japanese could be carried on.” The Communists believed the U.S. was giving Chiang aid in the struggle for power and responded by cutting rail lines and moving into Manchuria. Armed clashes began in earnest in November 1945.

66. Hurley dismissed after attacking the administration. General Marshall chosen as special envoy.

67-68 Truman to Marshall memo states goal is “unification of China by peaceful, democratic methods.”

73-74. Marshall managed to negotiate a cease-fire between Reds and Nationals that went into effect January 10, 1946. Marshall believed “that the Communists felt that they could win their battle on political grounds more easily than on tactical fighting grounds because they had a more tightly held organization, whereas on the Nationalist side there were many contentious elements.” “The Nationalists, so it seemed to Marshall, appeared to be determined to pursue a policy of force which he believed would be their undoing.”

79-80. Cease fire started breaking down in April 1946. On April 18 the communists charged that “American planes had strafed their units in Szepingkai. Marshall’s headquarters was able to prove that the plan involved, though of American make, belonged to the National Government.” Manchuria had been left out of the truce, and the Communists captured Changchun and Harbin. But in May the cease fire seemed to be back on, as Chiang had accepted the loss of most of Manchuria.

80-81. In June 1946 “There were a number of Central Government leaders who felt confident that the Communists could be defeated in battle, an estimate that Marshall, from his observations on the ground, considered highly erroneous.”

81. Chiang’s supporters in Congress wanted to give aid not tied to working with the Communists, which made Chiang more willing to ignore Marshall and fight the Communists. This also made the Communists distrust America.

81. Dr. J. Leighton Stuart appointed ambassador to China in July 1946, but widespread fighting resumed.

82. On July 29, 1946 “a group of armed Communists attacked a small element of American marines, killing three and wounding several others.”

84. Chiang blamed the Communists for escalating violence in August 1946.

86. In October 1946 “Marshall sent three messages, the substance of which was that he considered his mission at a complete impasse.” Chiang’s advance on Kalgan was considered by both sides to signal open civil war.

88. In November 1946 the National Assembly was convened without the formation of the State Council, in which the reds were to be represented, which the reds considered  to be “the final destruction of the January agreements.” “The Communists had thus turned their backs on the negotiations. Chiang Kai-shek seemed confident that his forces could subdue them. In this Marshall disagreed, and he did not hesitate to point out to the Generalissimo that the Communists could fight a war of attrition.”

89. January 3, 1947 Marshall recalled to become the new Secretary of State.

89. “We furnished him [Chiang] equipment, money, and a water-lift to Manchuria, and he sent the best divisions he had, well trained and well armed, to Mukden. They stayed there until the whole thing disintegrated, and they surrendered.”

90. “The Marshall mission had been unable to produce results because the government of Chiang Kai-shek did not command the respect and support of the Chinese people.”

90-92 Truman explains how China was “lost” to the Communists, defending his actions. “Chiang was defeated by loss of support among his own people and by American arms, as many of his own generals took their armies, equipped through our aid, into the enemy camp. It was when that sort of surrender began to occur on a large scale that I decided to cut off further shipments to China.”

343. Consideration of Chiang’s offer to send Nationalist Chinese troops to Korea.

352. Harriman memorandum of August 1950: MacArthur did not want to recognize the Chinese Communist government and believed it was still possible to defeat it. But was against using Chiang’s troops.

354. “General MacArthur’s visit to Formosa on July 31 [1950] had raised much speculation in the world press. Chiang Kai-shek’s aides let it be known that the Far East commander was in fullest agreement with their chief on the course of action to be taken. The implication was … MacArthur rejected my policy of neutralizing Formosa and that he favored a more aggressive method.” Truman clarified his position to MacArthur: “the intent of the directive to him to defend Formosa was to limit United States action there to such support operations as would be practicable without committing any forces to the island itself.”

361. October 2, 1950: “Republic of Korea Army units were operating north of the 38th parallel.” And on October 3 the Chinese threatened to enter the conflict.

373. Chinese troops first reported in Korea on October 26, 1950; prisoners reported their units had crossed the Yalu on October 16. U.S. Congress elections occurred on November 7.

375. MacArthur on November 6, 1950 informed Truman that large Chinese units had entered Korea. He wanted to bomb the bridges.

377. MacArthur is concerned with Chinese planes attacking his troops.

380. The U.S. at the time “lacked any direct contacts with the Peiping regime through diplomatic channels.”

380. “Also, in the last days of October, Communist China had moved against the ancient theocracy of Tibet.”

381. Despite prior setbacks, MacArthur launched a major attack with the Eighth Army on November 24, 2008.

385. Due to Chinese intervention, by November 28 “the bad news from Korea had changed from rumors of resistance into the certainty of defeat.”

386. Because of commitments in Europe, the U.S. had little in the way of further troops to send to Korea.

388-389. Truman November 30, 1950 statement: “because of the historic friendship between the people of the United States and China, it is particularly shocking to us to think that Chinese are being forced into battle against our troops.”

399. [also on other pages] Chinese are a Russian satellite.

400-401. Truman memo offering cease fire at 38th parallel.

400-413 long discussion of general strategy for dealing with Russia, China, Korea and U.S. allies

417. December 14, 1950. U.N. resolution for a cease fire. Chinese “were unwilling to consider truce talks except on their own terms.”

424-425. Discussion of recruiting Indian and Japanese soldiers to fight in Korea.

436-437. January 1951, Chinese advance ground to a halt in Korea.

440-443. MacArthur’s public threat against China and insubordination results in Truman firing him.

355-360 Discussion of Korean armistice, with Chinese agreeing to talks on July 1, 1951.

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.


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