Divided Counsel

Divided Counsel: The Anglo-American Response to Communist Victory in China

Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Divided Counsel
    Book Description:

    In the long controversy over the failure of the United States to extend early recognition to the People's Republic of China, the story of American efforts to maintain an official presence in the Communist-controlled areas of China until 1950 has been largely neglected. Moreover, the often bitter partisan strife over Sino-American relations during this period has obscured important facts or so distorted them that making an independent judgment is difficult indeed. In this book, Edwin Martin seeks to set the confused record straight by providing a well-documented, detailed account of American responses to the policies and actions of the victorious Chinese Communists from their capture of Mukden in November 1948 to their intervention in the Korean War and rejection of U.N. cease-fire offers.

    Uniquely, Martin provides also a parallel account, based on recently released Foreign Office documents, of Sino-British relations during this period, shedding useful light on the course of American policy. Significantly neither the British nor the American approaches were successful; both governments overestimated their power to influence events in China and the vulnerability of the Sino-Soviet relationship. Only at the Geneva meetings in 1954 did the Chinese Communists reverse policy positions they had steadfastly maintained during 1949-1950.

    This corrective view of early American relations with the People's Republic of China will be welcomed by all concerned with Asian history and diplomacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4971-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Note on Romanization
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Part I. STAYING PUT
    • 1 Responses to a Parade of Victories
      (pp. 3-5)

      The closing weeks of the year 1948 saw a series of stunning Communist military triumphs in China. Completing their conquest of Manchuria in November, Communist armies swept south to threaten the great cities of Tientsin and Peiping on the north China plain, both of which they took early in the new year. Meanwhile, in the battles of the HuaiHai campaign in east China, Communist forces “600,000 strong,” according to their own account, “wiped out” more than half a million Chinese government troops, subjecting China’s capital, Nanking, to a “direct threat by the People’s Liberation Army.”¹ In the midst of this...

    • 2 Consulates Carry On
      (pp. 6-14)

      A key element in the American and British response to the Communist triumph in Manchuria and north China was to stay put. To this end, the United States kept its consulate open in Mukden when the People’s Liberation Army captured that industrially important Manchurian city on November I, 1948, and it followed the same policy in Tientsin and Peiping when those cities fell to the Communist armies. The Department of State assumed that American business and philanthropic organizations would stay on in China under the Communists. It even encouraged their key personnel to remain, assuring them that in case of...

    • 3 The Soviet Union and the CCP
      (pp. 14-17)

      In sharp contrast to Britain and the United States, the Soviet Union espoused the Chinese Communist view of the status of consuls. It closed its consulates in cities taken by the PLA on the ground that no diplomatic relations existed with the Chinese Communists.¹ Presumably for the same reason, the Soviet ambassador did not remain in Nanking when the Chinese Communists occupied the erstwhile capital. These Soviet moves, far from displaying coolness toward the Chinese Communists, as some have supposed,² manifested a common view with them as to proper diplomatic conduct—a view that probably derived from the Soviet Union...

    • 4 British and American Policies
      (pp. 18-23)

      While the CCP and the USSR drew closer, British and American policies toward China began to diverge. Initially, the United States and the United Kingdom had adopted policies on trade with the Chinese Communists that were quite compatible. In Washington the National Security Council had examined the alternatives of imposing sanctions on trade with the Chinese Communists or allowing such trade. The first alternative called for the mobilization of the “political and economic power of the western world to combat openly, through intimidation and direct pressure, a Chinese Communist regime.” Such a policy would have been designed “either (a) to...

    • 5 Ambassador Stuart’s Initiative
      (pp. 23-26)

      Emerging Anglo-American differences on Formosa did not prevent the United States and Britain, and other members of the Atlantic Group, from reaffirming in April their common decision of the previous January to keep their ambassadors in Nanking after Communist occupation. Although Chinese government ministries, including the Foreign Ministry, had moved to Canton in February, Acting President Li Tsung-jen had remained in Nanking to pursue peace negotiations with the Communists. By early April, however, hope seemed dimmer than ever that these negotiations would bear fruit or that the Communists, poised on the northern banks of the Yangtze River, would refrain much...

    • 6 The Stuart-Huang Discussions
      (pp. 27-31)

      It was not long before Ambassador Stuart had the opportunity to hold talks, if not with the “top Communist leaders,” at least with a Communist official who had direct access to Chou En-lai. The opportunity was brought about by the PLA’s conquest of Nanking the latter part of April. On April 16 the Communist negotiators had given the Nationalist government delegation in Peiping a draft peace agreement, setting a deadline of midnight April 20 for its acceptance. The Nationalists did not accept the draft agreement, describing it as “tantamount to disposal of conquered by conqueror,” but they requested a cease-fire...

    • 7 The Chou Demarche
      (pp. 32-39)

      Several days before the second Stuart-Huang meeting took place, U.S. officials in Peiping had received a signal from the Communist leadership quite different from the negative one Huang had conveyed—or so it seemed at least. On May 31 Michael Keon, an Australian correspondent, had relayed to Colonel David Barrett, an American assistant military attaché with long experience in China, a remarkable message purporting to be from Chou En-Iai to the American and British governments. The thrust of Chou’s message, which Barrett gave to Consul General Clubb for transmission to the Department of State, was that the leadership of the...

    • 8 The Shanghai Blues
      (pp. 39-43)

      The capture by the Communists on May 26 of Shanghai, China’s largest city and largest port, multiplied the opportunities for frictionand misunderstanding between the Communists and British and American officials. From the standpoint of the Communists, and probably of most Chinese, Shanghai epitomized what was undesirable in he Western presence in China. In a vivid portrayal of the origins of the city, veteran journalist and observer of China Richard Hughes suggests why.

      Shanghai was born in Chinese mud—the muddy shore of the Whangpoo River, on which the British intruders, their visas granted by Jardine, Matheson and Palmerston and validated...

    • 9 An Invitation from Mao
      (pp. 43-48)

      On June 28 Ambassador Stuart received through Huang Hua what he called “almost an invitation” from Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-Iai to “talk with them while ostensibly visiting Yenching.” In reporting “the background of this suggestion” to the State Department, Stuart indicated that early in June Fugh, without instructions from Stuart, had “casually” asked Huang if it would be possible for Stuart to travel to Peiping on his birthday (June 24) to visit his old university as he had been in the habit of doing in previous years. Huang made no comment at the time, but on June 18 he...

    • 10 Fewer Stay Put
      (pp. 48-54)

      The month of July, which had opened inauspiciously from the Anglo-American point of view with Mao’s public reiteration of the lean-toone-side policy, brought more frustrations and irritations for British and American officials, especially the latter. The cumulative effect of these troubles was to bring about a modification of American policy. In his autobiography, Ambassador Stuart recalls: “The trends in Communist policy led me to recommend to the Department that plans be made to evacuate Americans from Communist-controlled areas, especially Shanghai. The anti-American propaganda was becoming more vitriolic, the allegiance to the Soviet Union more frank, the discrimination against foreign and...

    • 11 Blockade
      (pp. 54-63)

      The Nationalist blockade referred to in Dening’s memorandum had been inaugurated by the Chinese government toward the end of June, when it had taken action to close ports no longer under its control along with adjacent territorial waters.¹ Both the British and U.S. governments called the Chinese action illegal, but the tenor of their protests foreshadowed a marked difference in their ultimate reactions to the new Nationalist policy. A note to the Nationalist Foreign Ministry delivered by the U.S. embassy office in Canton June 28 stated, “Despite the friendliest feelings,” the U.S. government could not “admit the legality of any...

    • 12 Anglo-American Policy Differences
      (pp. 63-70)

      The need for closer British-American consultation on China had been recognized for some time in both Washington and London. On July 20 Secretary of State Acheson had instructed U.S. Ambassador Lewis Douglas to see Foreign Secretary Bevin for a frank exchange of views on the Far East, referring to attitudes toward the Chinese Communists as among the “most immediate problems” to be taken up. Acheson specifically mentioned the question of continued recognition of the Nationalist government and the corollary question of nonrecognition of the Communist government, “especially as it may spread its control and, possibly with Soviet backing, assert that...

    • 13 The People’s Republic Proclaimed
      (pp. 73-78)

      On October I, Chou En-Iai sent a public statement by Mao Tse-tung to the foreign consuls in Peiping and asked them to transmit it to their governments. The statement announced, among other things, the establishment of the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China, the election of Mao as chairman of the CPG, the appointment of Chou En-Iai as premier of its Administrative Council and concurrently minister of foreign affairs, and the shifting of the capital of China to Peiping, now to be called Peking once again. Of particular interest to the various consuls in Peking and to...

    • 14 The Mukden Ordeal
      (pp. 79-86)

      On October 24 Consul General Ward and four members of the consulate staff in Mukden—two Americans, Ralph C. Rehberg and Shiro Tatsumi, an Italian, Frank Cicogna, and a German, Alfred Kristanwere taken away from the consulate compound by police and jailed on charges of assault brought by Chi Yu-heng, a Chinese laborer employed by the consulate. The first word the State Department had of this incident came in a telegram from Consul General Clubb in Peking reporting a radio news broadcast from Mukden on October 25. The following excerpts from Clubb’s telegraphic report give the flavor of the broadcast:...

    • 15 Britain Ponders Recognition
      (pp. 86-93)

      The British were reluctant to risk offending the Chinese over the Ward case partly because the Foreign Office had already decided to lose no time in recognizing the People’s Republic of China. On October 22 Assistant Undersecretary Esler Dening had submitted a draft cabinet paper to Foreign Secretary Bevin setting forth the opinion of the Foreign Office’s legal adviser that recognition of the Chinese Communist government as the de jure government of China “cannot be said to be contrary to the principles and practices of international law.” Bevin approved the paper, noting that he considered that the resistance of the...

    • 16 The United States Ponders Formosa Policy
      (pp. 94-99)

      Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the fortunes of the Nationalist government continued their rapid decline. After the government had moved its temporary capital from Canton to Chungking in mid-October, the division between Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, whose headquarters had been formally set up in Taipei on August 1, and President Li Tsung-jen seemed to grow deeper than ever, and the United States, disinclined to throw good money after bad, turned a deaf ear to Nationalist pleas for military assistance.¹ The following extracts from a telegram of November 15 to the Department of State...

    • 17 Britain Recognizes the People’s Republic
      (pp. 100-105)

      The British Government announced its recognition of the People’s Republic of China the day after Truman announced the hands-off-Formosa policy, and the coincidence, in the opinion of the British embassy in Washington, “drew the fire away from the recognition announcement.” Moreover, the embassy found the U.S. press and radio reaction to the British announcement “surprisingly favourable,” partly because of “some excellent educational work on the part of the State Department.”¹ Before the Truman announcement, Ambassador Franks had been somewhat worried about reaction in the United States to British recognition, though not about that of the Truman administration. In a telegram...

    • 18 American Consular Properties Seized
      (pp. 106-114)

      The day the British government announced its recognition of the CPG, January 6, the Peking Municipal Military Control Commission made a move that squelched any hope of early U.S. recognition. It proclaimed that within seven days land acquired by “certain foreign countries” under “unequal treaties,” on which military barracks had been built, would be requisitioned.¹ During the night, copies of the proclamation were posted on the walls of the American, British, French, and Dutch consular compounds. By the next morning posters on the walls of the British compound had been removed, but the property of the other three countries was...

    • 19 Sino-Soviet Accord
      (pp. 114-118)

      Just when Chinese actions affecting British, French, and American interests were causing the Foreign Office to ask whether the People’s Republic had “any real disposition” to establish diplomatic relations with the West, Chinese leaders were negotiating a defense treaty and other agreements with the Soviet Union. These negotiations culminated on February 14 when Premier Chou En-Iai and Soviet Foreign Minister A.Y. Vyshinsky signed, in the presence of Mao and Stalin in the Kremlin, a thirty-year Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance, together with an agreement dealing with the eventual restoration to full Chinese control of the Chinese Changchun Railway,...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 20 British Frustrations
      (pp. 119-126)

      By an odd coincidence, the representative the United Kingdom had sent to Peking to negotiate the establishment of diplomatic relations made his initial call at the Foreign Ministry on February 14, the day the Sino-Soviet Friendship Treaty and other agreements were signed in Moscow in the presence of Stalin and Mao. During the course of this call, John Hutchison restated the British position that the exchange of notes between Bevin and Chou “constituted establishment of diplomatic relations.” He also said it had become clear that the Chinese government believed that “preliminary and procedural questions must first be discussed.” He wanted...

    • 21 The Hazards of Departure
      (pp. 126-135)

      While the British government was seeking through negotiations with the CPG to maintain a diplomatic and commercial foothold in China, the U.S. government was trying to arrange for the departure from China of all its officials and of those American and British private citizens who wished to leave. The problem centered on Shanghai, where foreigners were trapped by the continuing Nationalist-Communist conflict.

      When in mid-January the United States announced its decision to withdraw all official personnel from Communist China, the situation in Shanghai was already serious. The Nationalist blockade was preventing all but a few ships, among them vessels of...

    • 22 An American Probe
      (pp. 135-139)

      In an effort to ensure that the CPG understood the reasons the United States was pulling its officials out of China, and to probe Peking’s attitude toward the United States, the State Department instructed Consul General Clubb on March 22 to endeavor to arrange an “informal interview with Chou En-Iai” or with the highest available official, making sure that the Chinese did not construe his request as a preliminary move toward recognition or a sign of U.S. weakness under pressure. Clubb was to point out that the U.S. public could not understand such measures as the Communists’ refusal to permit...

    • 23 Mutual Sino-British Dissatisfaction
      (pp. 139-145)

      Just before the opening of “ministerial conversations” between Acheson and Bevin in London on May 9, the British received the Chinese reply to the statements of British policy Hutchison had conveyed to Chang Han-fu on March 17. It was an unhappy one and may have influenced the gloomy assessment of Sino-British relations Bevin gave Acheson. According to an American report, Bevin expressed “strong doubts about value of present U.K. position, both from general political standpoint, commercial standpoint, and effect on Southeast Asia”; but he emphasized that British policy was “not reversible,” and he thought the future might prove it to...

    • 24 Foreign Business in a Squeeze
      (pp. 145-150)

      Pursuant to a cabinet decision, the Foreign Office instructed Hutchison on May 18 to take up the plight of British business in China with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to do so before an upcoming foreign affairs debate in the House of Commons.¹ The Foreign Office wanted not only to call attention to the hardships of the British community but also to point out the mutual advantage to China and Britain of British firms’ remaining in China. Accordingly, Hutchison was instructed to warn that many firms had reached the end of their resources “both inside and outside of China”...

    • 25 The Neutralization of Formosa
      (pp. 153-158)

      On April 27, 1950, the Nationalists abandoned the large island of Hainan off the south coast of China, after battling local and invading Communist forces for about ten days. On May 16 they completed the evacuation of the Chusan Islands, which had been an important base for their sea and air blockade of the coast around Shanghai.¹ These events plunged Nationalist morale to a new low, and made the fall of Formosa itself seem imminent. From Taipei, U.S. Charge Robert Strong reported May 17: “In opinion of attaches and myself fate of Taiwan sealed, Communist attack can occur between June...

    • 26 Reactions to Neutralization
      (pp. 158-165)

      Peking reacted strongly to Truman’s announcement that he had ordered the Seventh Fleet to prevent an attack on Formosa. In an official statement, Chou En-Iai described this move as a “violent, predatory action by the United States Government” but claimed that it came “as no surprise to the Chinese people.”¹ Indeed it should not have come as a surprise to the Chinese people, since the CPG through its controlled press had been telling them for months that the United States was plotting to seize Formosa. President Truman’s January 5 announcement that the United States would not intervene in case of...

    • 27 The Effect on Trade
      (pp. 166-170)

      At the outbreak of the Korean War, U.S. policy on trade with China was governed, as it had been since February 1949, by NSC 41. Approval by the National Security Council on December 29,1949, of NSC 48/2, “The Position of the United States with Respect to Asia,” reaffirmed the policy set forth in NSC 41 and, according to Secretary of State Acheson, did away with “considerable uncertainty that had arisen regarding the implementation of NSC 41.”¹ The export of so-called 1A items, materials and supplies of direct military utility, was banned to China as well as to the Soviet Union,...

    • 28 British Foothold Survives
      (pp. 170-176)

      The Sino-British preliminary and procedural discussions on the establishment of diplomatic relations were not resumed after the outbreak of the Korean War. The People’s Republic had never seemed to be particularly interested in them anyway, and the United Kingdom had gone about as far as it could in meeting Chinese demands. In response to a letter from Assistant Undersecretary R.H. Scott in the Foreign Office asking whether the Chinese really wanted to have diplomatic relations, Hutchison wrote on September 11 that he did not believe “the Chinese think us so desperately keen that we will pay any price for diplomatic...

    • 29 Focus on the United Nations
      (pp. 176-183)

      Shortly before the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States and the United Kingdom had drifted farther apart on the issue of Chinese representation in the United Nations. The British had decided in mid-June to vote for seating the People’s Republic in UNICEF, and the decision had drawn sharp criticism from Secretary of State Acheson. Acheson was particularly disturbed, according to a British embassy report, that the United Kingdom had made such a decision just when, as a result of much administration effort, there were signs of securing a bipartisan approach in Congress on Chinese matters.¹

      Commenting on this...

    • 30 Chinese Intervention in Korea
      (pp. 183-191)

      The apparent miscalculation by Moscow and Peking in the late spring of 1950 of the probable U.S. response to a North Korean attack on South Korea was matched in the early fall by a U.S. miscalculation of PRC intentions and capabilities. In ordering U.S. troops north of the 38th parallel, President Truman ignored clear warnings from Peking, trans mitted via Indian Ambassador Panikkar, that such action would bring Chinese intervention in the war. As Richard Neustadt, a former Truman White House staff member, explains the decision, Truman’s advisers did not take the Chinese warnings seriously, and it probably would have...

    • 31 The End of Flexibility
      (pp. 191-202)

      Not long after his return to London from his meetings with President Truman, Prime Minister Attlee became concerned about what U.S. intentions toward China really were. In a letter of January 8, 1951, he told Truman that he had been “left with the impression, particularly from Secretary Acheson’s message to Mr. Bevin of the 5th January, that the United States Government may wish to substitute for a policy of localising the conflict in Korea, a policy aimed at developing limited action against China.”¹ In this connection he mentioned his fears that the United States might be intending to urge on...

    • 32 The Imprisoned and the Detained
      (pp. 202-215)

      The Chinese intervention in the Korean War had much greater consequences for westerners, especially Americans, in China that the outbreak of the war itself had had. Despite an intensification of anti-American propaganda after the outbreak of the war and the neutralization of Formosa, the situation of westerners in China did not change markedly. Most who wanted exit permits were able to get them and depart.¹ Those who chose to stay were able to continue with their activities more or less as before the war. The situation of businessmen who had been denied exit permits remained much the same; they could...

    • 33 An Aftermath of Bitterness
      (pp. 215-221)

      The Korean War left a legacy of bitterness in Sino-American relations that affected them, especially on the American side, for years to come. As Roderick MacFarquhar sums it up in his documentary study of Sino-American relations: “By the time the armistice agreement was signed on July 27, the United States had suffered more than 142,000 casualties, including 33,629 dead. The Chinese casualties were never disclosed but were estimated by the United Nations at 900,000. Mao Tse-tung’s son was among those killed. The memory of all that bloodshed was another bitter barrier between China and America in the years ahead.”¹ This...

    • 34 A PRC Policy Reversal
      (pp. 221-228)

      The armistice in Korea did not result in any significant improvement in U.K.-PRC relations. The Chinese did nothing to revive negotiations on the establishment of diplomatic relations, which they had allowed to die following the Hutchison-Chang meeting of June 17, 1950; the British charge was still called by the CPG the “head of the British delegation for negotiation of the establishment of diplomatic relations.” In his memoirs Humphrey Trevelyan, who took over as charge shortly after the armistice agreement was signed, describes his relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thus: U After my first formal call, I could get...

  9. Part IV. SUMMING UP
    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 229-237)

      The NSC characterized U.S. policy toward China in early 1949 as flexible. On the one hand, the Nationalist cause seemed doomed; on the other, the Communist cause was hostile. In this situation the United States would avoid commitment to either side but would stay put in China and hope to develop some kind of working relationship with China’s new masters. The British posture toward China at this period was very much the same. Moreover, both the United States and the United Kingdom had a common purpose of trying to keep China from becoming an adjunct of Soviet power. It soon...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 238-257)
  11. Index
    (pp. 258-265)