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During World War II, U.S. policy makers realizedthat the Chinese Communist Party posed a chal-lenge to the U.S.-backed Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. To achieve its goal of a strong, uni-fied, and pro-Western China, the United States, frommid-1944 to the end of 1946, attempted to mediatea political settlement between the Nationalist andCommunist Chinese in hope of averting a full-scalecivil war and a possible Communist victory. Theseefforts failed, and as 1947 began, the United Statesfound itself in the position of supporting a reaction-ary and corrupt regime being successfully chal-lenged by a popular and growing Communist-ledinsurgency.By the end of 1944, Mao Tse-tung’s ChineseCommunist forces controlled one-fourth of China,governed more than ninety million people, and wereable to field a well-disciplined army of almost onemillion men. Although still vastly outnumbered byChiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces, Chinese Com-munist strength had increased dramatically since1935, when 30,000 diseased and hungry troops hadstraggled into Yenan, in China’s remote northwest-ern Shensi province, after a year-long, 6,000 mileretreat to escape annihilation at the hands of theNationalist armies.Mao’s Communists represented an obstacle notonly to Chiang Kai-shek’s efforts to unify all of Chinaunder the Nationalist government but also to therealization of U.S. postwar aims for China. As envi-sioned by U.S. policy makers, a strong, unified, andpro-Western China was needed to act as a stabilizingforce in East Asia following Japan’s defeat. A strongand independent China would also serve as a bufferagainst possible Soviet expansion in northeast Asia.Committed to that end, U.S. policy in 1945 aimed tostrengthen the Nationalist government while at-tempting to avert a Chinese civil war by securingCommunist participation in a coalition governmentheaded by Chiang Kai-shek.
MEDIATION: HURLEY’S NEGOTIATIONS
Efforts to unify the Nationalists and the Communistsbegan in August 1944, with General Patrick J. Hur-ley, U.S. Ambassador to China, acting as mediator.Hurley faced the formidable task of overcomingtwenty years of violent political struggle betweenthe two factions. Formed in the early 1920s underthe sponsorship of the Soviet-dominated Commu-nist International (Comintern), the Chinese Commu-nist Party (CCP), at Soviet urging, entered a workingalliance with Sun Yat-sen’s Soviet-backed Kuom-intang (National People’s Party or KMT) in 1924. InApril 1927, Chiang Kai-shek, who had assumed theleadership of the KMT following Sun Yat-sen’s deathin 1925, broke with the CCP. In the “White Terror”
Case 345, Part A
THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA, 1944–1946
James R. Howard and David S. Painter
Copyright 1995, 1989 by Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.ISBN: 1-56927-345-6Publications, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.20057–1025http://data.georgetown.edu/sfs/programs/isd/