At noon Tokyo time on August 15, 1945, a brief radio address by the Japanese emperor announced the end of the war to millions of astounded Japanese in the Home Islands and all across Japan's still-vast empire, from the rolling plains of Manchuria to the jungles of Southeast Asia.
The Japanese had "lost"; the British, Chinese, French, Dutch, and Americans had "won." Yet there were still four million Japanese, many of them armed, on the mainland of Asia, and the Europeans remained shut out of most of their former colonies for the time being. All along the vast arc of countries stretching from Manchuria to Burma that constituted the ruins of the Japanese Empire, new ideas and ambitions were stirring, while old feuds were renewed with greater vigor. "I view Asia as an enormous pot, seething and boiling," wrote General Wedemeyer on the day after Japan's surrender. In this great drama now commencing, the Americans were not simply bit players. They were more like wealthy producers or prominent drama critics, often influential but with little control over how the play was performed or the actors behaved.
That was the end of the war so far as most Americans were concerned. Yet on the mainland of Asia, in the vast arc of countries and territories stretching from Manchuria to Burma, peace was at best a brief interlude. In some parts of Asia, such as Java and southern Indochina, peace lasted less than two months. In China, a fragile and incomplete peace lasted less than a year. In northern Indochina, peace lasted about fifteen months, and in Korea, about three years. Indeed, 1945-46 in Asia may have appeared to many not as a time when war ended, but as a time when the various protagonists switched sides.
Why did peace in Asia prove so elusive? What were the elements that contributed to the long postwar years of grim struggle during which many suffered far more than they had during World War II itself? This bo attempts to address these questions through an examination of events in various countries that previously formed a part of the Japanese Empire. With one exception, India, as we have seen in the introduction where things went disastrously wrong – but also in the other places that we will next look at in detail starting with china, the situation gave birth to long-term problems that sometimes outlived the Cold War.
The war had been won in the Pacific. In Asia, Japan's army however was largely intact. It had large numbers of troops in northern and western China and, until August 9, Manchuria and Korea as well. Japanese armies had been badly mauled in Burma, but all of lndochina, Malaya, and the Netherlands Indies were still under Japanese control. At the moment of surrender there were approximately six and a half million Japanese soldiers and civilians-about one in every twenty Japanese in the western Pacific and on the mainland of Asia. They included about 1,200,000 in Manchuria, 750,000 in Korea, 1,500,000 in China proper, and at least 700,000 in various parts of Southeast Asia. (Quoted from Reports of General MacArthur: MacArthur in japan, the Occupation: Military Phase, vol.l supplement, pp. 170, 176).
In fact no one expected the war to end when it did. Even after the two atomic bombs and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war on August 9, the Japanese, though doomed, were expected to fight OJ for some considerable time. Suddenly, on August 10, the Domei New Agency broadcast a statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry tha Japan was ready to accept the surrender terms presented by the Allie in the so-called Potsdam Declaration on July 26, "provided that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler." The announcemen surprised even top officials in Washington.Allied policy was that all these Japanese were to be returned to Japan. (Ouoted form Message, War Department to MacArthur and Wedemeyer, 17 August 1945, WARX 50537, ABC 387, 15 February 1945, National Archives Record Group 165, Records of General and Special Staffs).
In principle, Allied forces would occupy the whole of Japan's former empire, where they would receive formal surrenders from various commands and disarm and repatriate the Japanese. The basic surrender document, General Order No. 1, hastily drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon during the night of August 10, provided that Japanese forces in China, Taiwan, and northern Indochina, but not Manchuria, were to surrender to Chiang Kai-shek. All Japanese forces in Manchuria and in Korea north of the 38th parallel were to surrender to the commander in chief of Soviet forces in the Far East. Japanese forces in Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific were instructed to surrender to the Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, and those in other parts of the Pacific to Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese government and all forces in the Home Islands were to surrender to General Douglas MacArthur, designated the Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. Japanese forces in Korea south of the 38th parallel and in the Philippines would also surrender to MacArthur.
Yet it would be some time before the forces of the victorious powers could arrive in all the various quarters of former Greater East Asia. In fact the Soviets were the first to arrive. They had entered the war on August 9, when more than a million and a half Soviet troops, accompanied by 3,700 tanks and 1,900 self-propelled guns, swept into Manchuria from the north, east, and west.
Settlers near the Soviet border learned of the Russian attack only when they were suddenly ordered to evacuate.or by accident through encountering other settlers fleeing south. The residents of Fukushima Yoshi's settlement "had no idea which way to escape. Everyone just wanted to go whatever way the Soviets weren't said to be coming ....
Soviet soldiers swiftly took up where the local residents had left off, cheerfully robbing both Chinese and Japanese houses. In the opinion of the OSS team, "The Russians excelled the Chinese in large scale housebreaking, looting and, in numerous cases, rape." The Japanese consulate reported that women were raped at bus stops, in railroad stations, and simply by Russians passing on the roads. (Japanese Embassy, Mukden, Report, [no date] August 1945, microfilm reel A-0116, frames 733-34, Japanese Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo).
Disease ravaged the refugee camps during the winter and spring of 1945-46. In one camp near Harbin all 1,020 people contracted typhus. One makeshift graveyard on the grounds of an old school was at one point adding a hundred graves a day. (Consular Report, 15 May 1946, Japanese Foreign Office Records, reel A-0116, frame 739, Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo.) In all, about 15 percent of the Japanese in the Harbin area died between August 1945 and March 1946. (Idem, frame 742, Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo.)
To the Soviets, recently arrived from a country that had long lacked consumer goods of all kinds, Manchuria appeared far more opulent than Russia. They set out immediately to right this imbalance. Russian soldiers "burst into private homes and ransacked the house, removing everything of value except the furniture. Then a military truck would come and haul away the furniture. Soviet officers seldom attempted to restrain their men from looting and indeed often joined in.” (Umemoto Sutezo, Kantogun Shimatsuki (Story of the End of the Kwantung Army), Tokyo: Hara Shobo, 1967, p. 157.)
"All they do is loot and kill," declared Hal Leith, "and they don't stick to looting from the Japanese. Some soldiers wear as many as ten watches .... I have met some very nice Soviet military in Mukden but they are about 1 in 10." (US. Naval Attache, Nanking, US.S.R.: Soviet Army of Occupation in Manchuria, 18 June 1946, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 108, box 378.)
The Japanese vice-consul in Port Arthur (Lunchun) reported that Chinese citizens had stolen arms from the naval base in order to arm themselves as a militia to stop Russian looting. (1945-1946 microfilm records, microfilm reel A-0116, frame 774, Japanese Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo.)
Even the Chinese Communists protested to the Soviets that Red Army troops "were engaging in activities inconsistent with the practices of a proletarian army, in particular raping women and depriving peasants of their livelihood." The secretary of the Party's Northeast Committee, Hu Fujia (Hu Fuchia), urged the Red Army commanders to issue orders promising strict punishment for violations of discipline. Hu believed it would require a massive propaganda campaign to win back the goodwill of the Chinese toward the Soviets.( Brian Murray, "Stalin, the Cold War and the Division of China: A Multiarchival Mystery," Cold War International History Project.)
As the Soviet advance continued into J ehol and Hopeh, the Rus sians repeated their performances farther north. The city of Pingchuan in Jehol Province had been expecting the arrival of Chiang Kai-shek's troops and were surprised to find their town occupied instead by the Red Army. Former members of the puppet army and police were rounded up and imprisoned without adequate food while the Russians ransacked every house and carried away all the livestock. Local residents reported that Soviet soldiers "forcibly took people's wristwatches. If they refused to give them up, they were sentenced to be shot .... The Russian Army forced the farmers to find women for them. When some failed to produce the women, the Russians, unable to satisfy their desires, shot two laborers and one farmer." (Military Information: Account of the Situation in Pingchuan Mter Soviet Invasion, Strategic Services Unit Report A-67256, 14 March 1946. National Archives Record Group 59.)
The devastating Soviet sojourn in northern China was only one of the unintended consequences of the U.S. and British invitation to the Russians to enter the war against Japan. When Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin had met at Yalta in February 1945, Soviet help to subdue Japan still appeared very important. The Japanese were on their last legs in the Pacific with American forces preparing to land on Okinawa, but Tokyo still had large armies on the continent who might have to be engaged at some point to prevent their participation in the battle for the Japanese Home Islands. Sta1in's price was the restoration of all the special privileges that Czarist Russia had held in Manchuria before she had been deprived of them "by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904." This included control of Dairen and Port Arthur and joint operation of the Manchurian railroads. The Soviets would recognize China's "full sovereignty" in Manchuria, but China would have to accept the continued existence of the Soviet-sponsored regime in Outer Mongolia, the Mongolian People's Republic. This agreement on the Far East was reached without any consultation with the Chinese government ..
Roosevelt promised to obtain Chiang Kai-shek's consent to the agreement, and the Soviets promised to sign a "treaty of friendship and alliance" with China. Such a treaty would explicitly recognize Chiang's Kuomintang regime as the only legitimate government of China and, in effect, abandon the Chinese Communists. Negotiations over the treaty in Moscow dragged on from June through August. The Soviets were alternately contemptuous and wheedling, the Chinese worried but unflappable. Finally on August 10 Stalin warned Chiang's representatives that they had better sign the treaty quickly because the Chinese Communist armies were moving into Manchuria in the wake of the Soviet invasion. (Sergei N. Goncharov et al., Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War, Stanford University Press, 1993, p. 5.)
On August 14, the day of Japan's final surrender announcement, the Chinese and Soviet foreign ministers signed the treaty. The price to Chiang was high: everything agreed at Yalta and then some; but the Chinese Communists had been isolated, and the world's two strongest powers were now formally tied to Chungking. In the reoccupation of China, Chiang was, as one American of put it, "starting from the flat of his back." (George V. Underwood oral history interview, 1984, George V. Underwood Papers, box 1, pp. 14-15, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pa.)
The Generalissimo's armies were more than a thousand miles from the great cities in the north east. His forces were very large on paper, with a total of four million men, but General Wedemeyer estimated that only about twenty devisions had been properly, trained and equipped. After eight years of war, Chiang's Nationalist government was weary, ill organized, and corrupt. "If peace comes suddenly, it is reasonable expect widespread confusion and disorder' declared General Wedemeyer at the beginning of August. "The Chinese have no plans for rehabilitation, prevention of epidemics, restoration of utilities.” (Letter, Wedemeyer to Marshall, 1 August 1945,ABC 336 (26 January 1942) China, National Archives Record Group 218, section 1-B-4, box 243.)
Meanwhile in the north, Mao Tse-tung did not even know of the Sino-Soviet treaty, but he wasted no time. Even before General Order No. 1 had been issued, General Chu Teh (Zhu De), commander of the Communist forces in the north, had announced that "any anti-Japanese armed forces can take the surrender of the Japanese." In notes to the Allied embassies in Chungking, the Communists claimed that it was they who had done all the fighting in the war against Japan. Their radio broadcasts declared that "the Fascist chieftain," Chiang Kai-shek, "cannot represent the Chinese people and Chinese troops which really oppose the J apanese." (Herbert Feis, The China Tangle: The American Efforts in China from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Mission, New York: Atheneum, 1965, pp. 356-57.)
Troops of Mao's Eighth Route Army moved forward to disarm the Japanese and north to meet the victorious Russians. Communist forces also occupied, or threatened to occupy, some of the large cities and seized even more of the railroads.
Chiang in the mean time, reminded the Japanese to surrender only to him. The Communists ignored these instructions and were soon fighting those Japanese who refused to yield to them, while confiscating the weapons and equipment of those who did. Some of the latter were soon recruited into the Eighth Route Army. Alarmed at these developments, Wedemeyer urged Washington to give China first priority in allocation of US. occupation forces. After describing the advances of Communist troops, he also raised the possibility that some of the Japanese troops might continue to fight. In any case, former enemy forces and civilians would have to be concentrated in the major port areas for shipment back to Japan. Wedemeyer wanted seven American divisions sent to China and requested, as "an absolute minimum," that two American divisions be sent to Taku (Dagu), a port near Peiping, one to Shanghai, and elements of a fourth to Canton. (Wedemeyer to War Department, CM-IN 12388, 12 August 1945, National Archives Record Group 218.)
Marshall promptly advised Wedemeyer that "your proposal that we give China first priority over Japan and Korea will not be acceptable" and that the most he could expect would be two U.S. divisions, whose arrival would be dependent on the availability of shipping. (Marshall to Wedemeyer, WAR 49550,14 August 1945, National Archives Record Group 165.)
Most of the Japanese generals in China viewed the Communists with distaste and the Nationalists with disdain. In fact they felt no sense of having been defeated by Chiang or by the Communist guerrillas. An American general concluded that "the Japanese officers that he met are representative of a Japanese Army that has not been defeated.” (Message, Indiv to Davis, 25 August 1945, entry 148, box 7, National Archives Record Group 226.)
Every mannerism indicates that they were obediently attending to a conference, and formally surrendering but that's all."( Donald G. Gillin and Charles Etter, "Staying On: Japanese Soldiers and Civilians in China, 1945-1949," Journal of Asian Studies 42, May 1983, pp. 497-99.)
For weeks in Shanghai and Peiping, Japanese troops with polished bayonets continued to patrol the streets and Japanese officers still drove about in their staff cars. 86 As late as September 4, an OSS officer reported from Shanghai that "to date the Japs have not in any way relinquished control of the city." (Message CHAFX, Kunming to ass, 4 September 1945, IN 23381, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 53, box 4.)
Before the Japanese surrender, rumors had been flying concerning secret understandings between Chiang, the puppet, regimes, and the Japanese to form a common front against the Comumunists. "In China," observed one Chinese journalist, "no matter what happens there is always the same set of career bureaucrats." (Suzanne Pepper, Civil War in China: The Political Struggle, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978, p. 12.)
With the Allied victory, high officials who had collaborated with the Japanese now proclaimed themselves advance agents charged to "maintain order" by the Nationalist government. In Hopeh Province, the former Japanese-controlled puppet army now became the Kuomintang's "Hopeh Advance Army," commanded by a former collaborationist official. (Odd Arne Westad, Cold War and Revolution: Soviet-American Rivalry and the Origins of the Chinese Civil War, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 104.)
Japanese messages decrypted by American intelligence revealed that the Nanking puppet government and a Nationalist government representative, Ku Chu-tung, "had been in contact for over a year." Ku and General Ho Ying-chin had reportedly "secretly proposed to the puppet government a joint defense against the Communists." In Peiping, "the local puppet government, with full knowledge (indeed under the direction) of Chungking, is taking steps to cooperate with the Japanese to keep the Chinese [Communists] from gaining control of the area." ("China's Position Today," 19 August 1945, SRH-114, National Archives Record Group 457.)
In Shanghai, the mayor, Chou Fo-hai, a former high-ranking minister in the collaborationist Wang Ching-wei regime,. had run the city for the Japanese. He now announced that he had been instructed by Chiang to maintain public order, in cooperation-- with the Japanese. (Pepper, Civil War in China, p. 12.) The tacit Japanese realignment with Chiang can also be explained by the fact that several of Chiang's top generals had attended military schools in Japan during the 1920’s and early 1930’s and retained a deep respect for their erstwhile mentors. When Major General Imai Takeo, Okamura's deputy chief of staff, arrived at Chekiang to arrange the formal surrender of Japanese forces, he found that three officers of the Chinese delegation were his former pupils at the Japanese military academy. According to Imai, the head of the Chinese delegation had provided a round table for the surrender conference to imply that the Japanese were to be treated as equals. The Americans, however, had insisted on two long tables facing each other. The American representative at the surrender ceremony was also concerned that the Chinese seemed inclined to allow the Japanese officers to retain their personal swords as they were "family heirlooms." He reminded the Chinese of the "Potsdam declaration that the Jap military caste must be destroyed." (Message CCC FWD ECH to CCC Kunming, 23 August 1945, National Archives Record Group 493.)
"There is nothing in Nanking that indicates its liberation," wrote a Chinese journalist at the end of August. "Okamura is still enthroned in the Foreign Ministry building. Japanese gendarmes still occupy the former premises of the Judicial Yuan. Japanese sentries are posted everywhere." ( Pepper, Civil War in China, p. 11.)
In the area of Kaifeng, the OSS reported that about 130 troops of the Japanese Twelfth Army had been killed in fighting with the Communists between the Japanese surrender and late November 1945. Though the Japanese fought well, "they have nothing but contempt for Chinese inefficiently and only desire to go home.” (Message, Redford to Indiv, 18 December 1945, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 210, box 156.)
Then on August 25 a new problem arose; an American OSS officer, Captain John Birch, was murdered by Communist soldiers near Suchow (Suzhou). Birch had been on his way to the Shantung Peninsula to survey the area's former Japanese airfields for possible use in POW operations and to establish radio communications for OSS in the region. (Malcolm Rosholt to Paul Frillman, 4 January 1967, Paul W. Frillman Papers, box 3, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University.)
In the town of Hwang Ko (Hankuo), Birch's small detachment was stopped by Communist soldiers, who demanded that the OSS party surrender its arms. Birch, who spoke fluent Chinese, refused, and demanded to speak to the officer in charge. An angry altercation followed. Birch and his deputy, Lieutenant Tung Chin-seng, a Nationalist officer, were shot by the Communists and their bodies dumped in a pit. Birch's body was later mutilated by the Communists, probably in an effort to make identification impossible. Lieutenant Tung survived, however, and, helped by local people, made his way to a nearby Nationalist unit. (Memo for Major GustaveJ. Krause, subject: Account of the Death of Captain John Birch, ass Field Station Files, Chungking, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 14B, box 6.)
The news of Birch's death sent shock waves through American headquarters in Chungking. General Chu Teh explained to an infuriated Wedemeyer that he had alerted the Communist New Fourth Army command to Birch's expected arrival at the town of Ninchuan (Nanchang), but Birch showed up at Hwang-ko station, 250 miles north of Ninchua, in an area still under the control of Chinese puppet troops. A likely explanation for the Eighth Route Army's behaviour was that Birch was scheduled to meet with General Hu Peng-chu, the commander of the former puppet Sixth Army. The Communists were at the time in the midst of delicate maneuvers to subvert the Sixth Army headquarters and bring the former puppet troops over to the Eighth Route, Army.
Wedemeyer confronted Mao and Chou En-lai directly at Hurley's quarters in Chungking five days after Birch's murder. The two professed to have no knowledge of the incident. Wedemeyer told the Communist leaders that "I am going to use whatever force is necessary to protect American lives." He warned that there would be grave consequence if the American public were to learn of Birch's death at the hands of the Communists. Mao replied in a conciliatory tone, reminding the Americans that the Communists had helped to rescue downed flyers and had welcomed an American observer group to Yenan. He suggested that the shooting may have been by "local guerillas who were fighting the Japanese and during the fighting some misunderstanding may have happened." (Yu, oss in China, p.237.) Angry as he was, Wedemeyer was not inclined to force a showdown with Mao over the incident, especially since he privately believed that Birch "actually provoked the unfortunate altercation with the Chinese Communists which resulted in his death." (Untitled Comment on Kahn, The China Hands, Albert C. Wedemeyer Papers, box 6, folder 6.24, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, Calif.)Years later some hard-line anti communists in the United States would come to regard Birch as the first casualty of the Cold War, and the extremist right-wing John Birch Society was named in his honor.
Chungking, Mao recognized that he was temporarily in a tight position. He had
little doubt about the long-term outcome of a contest with the Nationalists.
His movement was dynamic, growing, and highly motivated, with good leaders and
a proven strategy, while Chiang's was increasingly isolated, corrupt,
reactionary, and incompetent. Yet for the moment, with the Americans backing
Chiang and Russian attitudes uncertain, he was prepared to make concessions.
The Communists dropped their earlier demand to share power with Chiang in a
coalition government and agreed to give up a few of their base areas in some
provinces. The Nationalists recognized the Communists as a legal and equal
political party and promised democratization of their government and a
political consultative assembly to draft a new constitution. Hurley urged the
two sides to agree on basic principles and leave the details for later.
Then in early September, Moscow directed Marshal Vasilevskii to send a delegate to Yenan to try to set the ground rules for Chinese Communist-Soviet military relations in Manchuria. Vasilevskii's representative told Yenan leaders that the Soviets were obliged to observe the terms of the Sino-Soviet Treaty and hold the large cities of Mukden, Changchun, and Harbin plus the railroads for the Nationalists. Elsewhere the Communists were free to move and receive Soviet help if they agreed to avoid the large cities, not to openly carry on their activities in Sovietoccupied areas, and not to allow their forces to operate under the name of the Eighth Route Army. (Goncharov et al., Uncertain Partners, p. 10. Murray, "Stalin, the Cold War and the Division of China," p. 3.)
On the first night after their meeting with the Soviet representative, the Party Politburo agreed to gamble on an all-out effort to gain control of Manchuria. From Shantung, from the Yangtze and central China, thousands of soldiers and party cadres converged on the northeast. "So long as we place the Northeast and Jehol and Chahar [Changsha] provinces under our control," wrote Liu Shao-chi (Liu Shaoqi), who had chaired the Politburo meeting, "we will ensure the victory of the Chinese people." By December there were four hundred thousand soldiers and cadres in Manchuria ready to try.
But while Mao's forces were converging on Manchuria, other forces were also preparing to move north. On Guam and Okinawa, U.S. Marines of the III Amphibious Corps were packing their gear and receiving a new round of inoculations. The III Amphibious Corps was all that Wedemeyer had received in response to his request for seven American divisions in China. To be sure, this was no small force. It consisted of two Marine divisions, veterans of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, with their air wing and various logistical and support units. But it was far less than seven divisions, and the Marines were not expected to reach north China until the end of September.
In mid-September, ships of Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey's Seventh Amphibious Force returned from carrying American occupation forces to Korea and began loading the 1st Marine Division on Okinawa and Guam. Brigadier General William A. Worton, the III Amphibious Corps chief of staff, was already in Tientsin with an advance party to reconnoiter and select buildings and barracks for the Marines. Several dozen former Japanese barracks, schools, hospitals, hotels, and cinemas were taken over by the Americans, and the entire Japanese garrison at Taku was withdrawn. (The Consul General at Tientsin (Mr. Ota) to the Foreign Minister (Yoshida), 25 August 1945, file A-0116, 532 (0198-0199), Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo.)
As part of his building requisitions for III Corps, Worton, a veteran of twelve years' service in China and the only member of the Tientsin Race Club not in a Japanese internment camp, voted unanimous approval of his own action in taking over the club's building and racetrack. (Benis Frank and Henry Shaw, Victory and OccupationVol.5,Washington D.C.1968,, p. 553.)
It was quickly apparent to Worton that the single primitive airfield at Tientsin would not be adequate to support the large number of fighters and transport aircraft that the Marines would bring to China. Peiping, with its two large military air bases, would also have to be occupied. Wedemeyer's headquarters promptly authorized General Rockey to "occupy such intermediate and adjacent areas as he deems necessary." (Ibid., p. 546.) Much of the countryside surrounding Tientsin and Peiping was held by the Communists, who were unhappy to see the Marines and aware that they would probably be followed by Nationalist troops. During his visit, Worton held ,a heated meeting with Communist representatives, who warned of trouble if the Marines tried to occupy Peiping. Worton responded that III Corps "was combat experienced and ready and would have overwhelming aerial support, and that it was quite capable of driving straight on through any force that the Communists mustered in its path. (Ibid., p. 548.) On September 26, landing craft carrying the first battalions of the 1st Marine Division crossed the shallow Taku bar at the mouth of the Hai River headed for the town of Tangku, where the Marines boarded trains for Tientsin. Disembarking from their trains, they were greeted by cheering crowds waving small American flags. "It seemed that each one of Tientsin's two million people turned out for the parade," wrote an American correspondent. "Bottles of Vodka, Chinese lanterns, flags and stray pieces of women's clothing were handed up to men on the tanks." (George Moorad, Lost Peace in China (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1949), pp. 77-78. )
On their way to their billets in the old British barracks of Tientsin, the 1st Marines encountered "huge masses of people lining the streets rows and rows deep. Cheering, crying, mothers and fathers thrusting their babies into our arms .... The number of Chinese people was so great they managed to infiltrate our ranks in the parade and some of the Marine units towards the end of the parade got lost," recalled Pfc. Leo Bouchard, "and once we arrived at the old British Barracks [my section] was sent out to retrace the parade route and find the lost units." Watching the tumultuous welcome as American landing craft sailed up the Hai River, Sergeant Earle wondered whether the Chinese "had done the same thing with all their many conquerors.” (R.Spencer, In The Ruins Of Empire, 2007, p. 51.)
A few days after the Tangku landings, a battalion of the 7th Marines came ashore at Chinwangtao, and on the eleventh of October the 6th Marine Division began unloading from transports in the harbor of Tsingtao. Mao's confusion by now was understandable. The United States was demobilizing its forces worldwide at a pace that Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson said "amounted almost to disintegration." In China, the Pentagon was rapidly disbanding Wedemeyer's Chinese Combat Command, the primary organization for providing American military advice and training to Chiang's officers. (Letter, Acheson to Averell Harriman, 9 November 1945, W. Averell Harriman Papers, box 184, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington,D.C.)
The Americans opted to avoid any actions that might involve American forces in Chinese internal war. At the even smaller port of Yingkou, the American task force again found Chinese Communist forces in control, contrary to assurances from the Soviets. Admiral Barbey believed that his task force could land the Nationalists with only slight resistance but saw that such an action "would cause intense resentment in all Communist areas and definitely identify us as active military participants in the trouble now brewing." (Message, CTG 7 to Corn. 7th Flt., 6 November 1945, TS files, China Theater, National Archives Record Group 493.)
China Theater headquarters, anxious to free up the Seventh Fleet's shipping, had earlier suggested that Nationalist forces land at Chinwangtao, already held by the Marines. Chiang reluctantly agreed, and the Thirteenth and Thirty-second Chinese Armies arrived there at the end of October. The Chinese Nationalist forces would now be obliged to fight their way overland into Manchuria through mountain passes and by way of the long and insecure rail lines between Tientsin and Mukden.
Soviet actions at the Manchurian ports were a result of a shift in Stalin's China policy, a policy that changed almost monthly. By the beginning of October, Stalin was frustrated by British and American opposition to his demands in Europe and the exclusion of the Russians from the occupation of Japan. He was also worried by the presertce of sizable American forces in northern China. So in October he allowed the Chinese Communists to set up regimes in some Manchurian towns and cities and continued to exclude the Nationalists from Soviet-held areas of Manchuria. At the same time, Red Army generals withheld any cooperation with an advance Nationalist delegation in Changchun that was charged with preparations for the return of Manchuria to Chinese control and administration.
To focus attention on Soviet obstructionism in the northeast, Chiang angrily withdrew his delegation from Changchun in early November, but by then Stalin had flip-flopped once again and now opened secret talks with Chiang to set the withdrawal of Soviet troops and discuss future economic cooperation between China and the Soviets.
Yet the United States was far from disengagement in China. General suspicion and fear of the Soviets had been growing in Washington during the spring and summer of 1945, primarily in reaction to Russian actions in Eastern Europe. This had spilled over into misgivings by some about Russian actions in China and Manchuria as well. In the final stages of the negotiations for the Sino-Soviet Treaty in Moscow, Truman and Secretary of State Byrnes had become convinced that the Russians were attempting to squeeze additional concessions out of Chiang beyond anything contemplated in the original agreement at Yalta. In a meeting on the day the Soviets entered the war, U.S. ambassador to the USSR Averell Harriman told Stalin that the United States supported the Chinese position and would insist on the observance of the Open Door policy in Manchuria. Following the conclusion of the treaty, Harriman warned that the United States must take steps to prevent Soviet dominance of northeast Asia.
In Washington, Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy and Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal shared Harriman's concerns. Truman and his advisers had already decided to have U.S. troops occupy the southern half of Korea in order to prevent Soviet dominance of the peninsula. Byrnes and McCloy had also planned to have American troops land at the key port of Dairen on the Liaotung (Liaodong) Peninsula of Manchuria, but it soon became clear that the Soviets would get there first. (Marc Gallicchio, Cold War Begins in Asia, Columbia Univerity Press, 1988, pp. 76, 81, 84-87.)
Concern about Soviet expansion in East Asia thus made it easy for some in Washington to see the Marines' presence in northern China not simply as a necessary measure for handling the Japanese surrender but as a positive move to shore up Chiang and counter the Soviet presence in Manchuria. (Odd Arrne Westad, Cold War and Revolution,Columbia University Press,1993, p. 102.)
At the port of Yantai, then called Chefoo, on the north coast of Shantung, across the Gulf of Chili from Dairen. At Chefoo, unlike other cities in northern China, the Japanese garrison did not continue to hold the town, but withdrew one week after the surrender, leaving Chefoo in the hands of the puppet troops, who quickly capitulated to the Communists. From Chefoo, the Communists could ferry troops across the gulf into Manchuria. The local Communist commander was instructed to resist an American landing at all costs. "Only when not able to hinder or beat back their advance should you retreat." When the American convoy carrying the 29th Marines and escorted by cruisers and destroyers appeared on October 4, however, the local Party leaders opted to negotiate. (Message, Corn. 7th FIt. To 'Chungking, enclosing CTG 71 message, 5 October 1945, TS messages, China Theater, National Archives Record Group 493.)
days of negotiations convinced Admiral Barbey that "any landing of the
Marines with or without Chinese Nationalist troops, would be I opposed."
(Barbey to Major General S. S. Wade, 8 November 1961, copy in Daniel E. Barbey
Papers, box 32, subject file "1961-62," Naval Historical Center,
The Chefoo incident thus was an early illustration of the mutually contradictory aspects of American policy in China: to help Chiang while remaining neutral in the civil war, to thwart the Communists but not to fight them, to confront the f50viets militarily in northern China while carrying out worldwide demobilization.
Finally on October 6, General Rockey, representing Chiang Kai-shek and the Allied powers, received the swords of Lieutenant General Uchida l Ginnosuke and his staff in a formal ceremony marking the surrender of all Japanese troops in the Tientsin area. The surrender touched off a series of riots aimed at the former Japanese concession in the city. Bands of Chinese roamed the Japanese quarter attacking Japanese nationals on sight. The worst incidents occurred on the thirteenth of October, when Chinese thugs set up roadblocks, claiming to be acting for the Americans, and relieved Japanese and other citizens of their valuables. The Marines responded with motorized patrols and ordered Chinese , police to protect the Japanese residents. The Japanese consul reported that two to three thousand people suffered losses of property in the riots, and forty or fifty were seriously injured. (Klein, "Situation in North China," pp. 2-3. The Consul General in Tientsin (Mr. Ota) to the Foreign Minister (Yoshida), 15 October 1945, file A-0116 532 (0207-0209), Foreign Ministry Archives, Tokyo.)
As the leathernecks settled into their ambiguous mission, Chiang's V troops, many airlifted in by American transport planes, began to return to the cities of central China and the north. With them came officials of the Chungking government eager to reassert control over areas long held by the Japanese.
Chieh-shou (jieshu), the process whereby the Kuomintang carried out the takeover of government in the former Japanese-occupied regions as well as the property and other assets of the Japanese and their collaborators, was, in principle, to be managed by a collection of ad hoc agencies governed by elaborate and complex decrees issued by Chungking. (The best discussion of Chieu-shou and its consequences may be found in Pepper, Civil War in China, pp. 16-28. ) In practice, "it was turned into a racket with official position treated as an opportunity rather than a responsibility." (Paul Frillman and Graham Peck, China: The Remembered Lift (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968), p. 655.)
Those appointed to supervise chieh-shou were favorites, relatives, or close political allies of the Generalissimo. If they possessed any managerial or political abilities, that was pure coincidence.
"To describe the liberation of Shanghai," wrote one American correspondent, "is to strain the English language. . .. For weeks the money-changers flew a circle of roundtrips exchanging bales of American dollars, each one worth 1,500 Chinese dollars in Chungking but only $700 in Shanghai .... The prosperous Japanese community in Shanghai was systematically stripped. American Lend-Lease trucks rumbled through the streets carrying loot from one place to another." (George Moorad, Lost Peace in China, New York,1949, pp. 55-56.)
Any building or property that had been occupied by the Japanese or by a "collaborator" was fair game for the acquisitive managers of chieh-shou."It was common for individuals to take advantage of their official position first to occupy a building and then to manipulate things in such a way as to have the building sold to them," recalled one of Chiang's advisers. Even the Americans and British had to take action to prevent their consulates from being requisitioned as former enemy property.
Throughout the newly "liberated" parts of China the story was much the same. "When the people in the recovered areas ... saw the flag of the motherland they were frantically overjoyed," observed a Chinese newspaper editorial. "But after several nights of sleep they discovered that most of them had lost their home and property .... Wealth which had taken generations to accumulate was transferred in a twinkling to those who held gold dollars and Nationalist dollars in their hands." In Hankow, captured Japanese property including sizable stocks of cigarettes and cloth were "auctioned off in such large quantities that the only people who have capital to bid are those in official positions who can use civil and military funds long enough to purchase and dispose of the goods and have military vehicles at their disposal." (Message, West Va. to Indiv, 19 March 1946, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 210, box 156.)
From Kaifeng in north-central China, an OSS officer reported that "every building of any size that is repaired by the local businessmen is taken over by Nationalist troops; thus killing any desire upon the part of business people to repair property destroyed in the war." (Message, Redfern to Indiv, 20 December 1945, National Archives Record Group 226, entry 210, box 156.) An investigating committee headed by Shao Tsung-en, leader of a small independent party, concluded, "Officials down to the soldiers are using the resources of the country as their personal property." (Quoted in Li Huang oral history, p. 832, Chinese Oral History Collection, Columbia University, New York.)
Chiang's officials believed that "as public functionaries they hhd suffered so much hardship and privation in the interior during the seven years of war that they had a right to indulge themselves ... but actually they behaved like conquerors to their own people." (Wu Kuo-chen memoirs, box 20, Chinese Oral History Collection, Columbia University, New York.)
officials often came from parts of China distant from those they now governed
and spoke different dialects. They treated the locals with disdain and
suspicion, frequently reminding them that it was they who had saved them from
the Japanese. Nationalist officials in Jinzhou referred to the Chinese of
Manchuria as wang-guo-nu (slaves without a country of their own).The locals
returned these feelings, referring to the Kuomintang officials as
"Chungking Man," a biting reference to "Peking Man," the
famous archaeological find of a primitive ape-like creature near Peiping.
(Wu Kuo-chen memoirs, box 20, p. 4.)
As Chiang's officials settled in to make their fortunes in the cities of the east and north, American ships took aboard the first of the Chinese armies bound for Manchuria. In mid-October, transports of Admiral Barbey's Seventh Amphibious Force began loading troops of the Thirteenth and Fifty-second Chinese Armies at I)pwloon and at Haiphong in former French Indochina.
While Chiang's armies sailed north to Manchuria, the Communists walked. The orders from the Central Committee to move to the northeast came as a surprise to many Communist units in central and northern China. With the news of Japan's surrender, Communist guerrilla soldiers, like most of the war's other combatants, desired most of all to go home.( Wang Zifeng, Zhanzheng Niandi de Riji, pp. 171-72. ) This desire was perhaps even stronger among Chinese soldiers who had a special attachment to their region and their families' ancestral land. As for Manchuria, most Chinese from south of the Great Wall regarded that remote northeastern region in much the same way as American GIs from New York regarded the rural South. Communist officers and cadres found it expedient not to mention Manchuria, but to tell the troops that they were moving to a nearby province or city to receive new modern weapons captured from the Japanese or that they were going to a place where they would enjoy better food for their rations. (Zhang Zenglong, Xie Bai Xue Hong [Blood and Snow] (Hong Kong: Dadi Chu-banshe, 1991), pp. 33-34.)
Despite such blandishments, officers soon found that soldiers were deserting in large numbers. In one case, the sight of a large banner reading "Welcome to the 77th Regiment on its march to the Northeast" revealed to the surprised troops their true destination and set off a wave of desertions from that unit. "Most of those who ran away did so after camp was pitched," wrote one cadre. "So as well as normal sentries we placed secret sentries .... Some of us were so desperate we adopted the Japanese method used with their day 1aborers and collected the men's trousers and stowed them in the company HQ at night." (Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (New York: Knopf, 2005), p. 288.)
One Communist division departed Jiangsu on its trip to the northeast with 32,500 troops but arrived with only 28,000. The remainder were reported by the division commander as "either escaped or dead." Many deserters, however, soon returned to their units, prompted by second thoughts about taking their chances in an unfamiliar region where they were liable to be killed or captured by bandits or troops of the Nationalist Army. (Zhang Zenglong, Xie Bai Xue Hong, pp.35-36.)
Arriving in Manchuria, some Communist soldiers were unhappy to find that the local people, whom they had come to liberate, in fact lived far better than they did. Industrial workers, for example, appeared to enjoy limitless access to cigarettes. Troops of the former puppet army newly recruited to the Communist cause-often with encouragement from the Soviets-had uniforms and weapons far superior to their own. Political officers reported complaints that "these former collaborators are better off than we who have been fighting for eight years." Nor were the promised Japanese weapons always available. Soviet helpfulness in gaining access to weapons and equipment varied from place to place and according to the twists and turns of Moscow's approach to China. On the whole, however, the Communists did benefit from the acquisition of Japanese arms, which even included heavy artillery and aircraft. (Harold M. Tanner, "Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947," Journal of Military History 67, October 2003, pp. 1196-97.)
In Washington, among the handful of men who were privy to the secret cables from China, there was a lack of consensus concerning the purpose of the Marines and their relation to larger policy issues-about which there was also disagreement. There were those who accepted the public explanation, that the Marines were there primarily to manage the surrender and repatriation of the Japanese, of whom there were a large number in northern China, many fully armed. There were those who, like Wedemeyer, saw American forces as indispensable in shoring up the Generalissimo against the Reds and preserving order in Chin4 " and there were others, including McCloy and Forrestal, who saw the Marines as a way to keep the Russians in Manchuria from becoming too ambitious. In the State Department, the assistant secretary of state '" for East Asia, John Carter Vincent, saw the employment of the Marines as a likely path leading the United States deep into the tar pit of China's internal wars.
Patrick J. Hurley was the first to make a final (erratic) contribution to America's China policy. He was frustrated and worn out by his efforts in China and angered by what he saw as the maneuvers of the career men in the State Department to undermine him. In Washington for consultations, Hurley had announced his resignation at a news conference only a few hours after an amicable conversation with the president. In his resignation letter and statement to the press, Hurley warned that certain professional diplomats in the State Department "continued to side with the Communist armed party and at times with the imperialist bloc against American policy."
was stunned. The event would probably make the front pages and focus attention
on the administration's murky China policy. Hurley had many friends, especially
among Republicans on the Hill. In the Cabinet discussion, Secretary of
Agriculture Clinton Anderson suggested that the president immediately announce
the appointment of General George C. Marshall as the new ambassador to China.
Marshall had just retired as chief of staff of the army.
Soon after Marshall left Washington on the first stage of his long trip to China, Truman released a statement on United States China policy. Peace in China, the president declared, was essential to the peace of the world. Consequently, it was "in the most vital interest of the United States and all the United Nations that the people of China overlook no opportunity to adjust their internal differences promptly by means of peaceful negotiations." He called for a national conference of the major political elements to bring about the unification of China. If China showed progress toward peace and unity, the United States was ready to provide economic assistance and other aid. The United States continued to recognize and cooperate with the Nationalist government and to aid it in repatriating the Japanese. "This is the purpose of the maintenance, for the time being, of United States military and naval forces in China."