After the war, in addition to the Soviet occupation of Northeast China, the attitude of the United States also affected China’s political situation. The US policy towards China before and after the end of the war showed two attitudes: in February 1945, it sacrificed China’s sovereignty and offered benefits to the Soviet Union at the Yalta Conference in hope to reduce the casualties of the US forces in the war against Japan; after the war, it sent important personnel to China to promote peace talks between the Kuomintang of China (KMT, 中國國民黨) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, 中國共產黨) to prevent the situation in China from deteriorating but also supported the KMT troops in terms of military expenditure and equipment.
Although the United States had supported the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China since the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941, some US officials as observed from the wartime showed dissatisfaction with the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石). The US attitude towards the Nationalist Government changed when Harry S. Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt as US President since April 1945. Before and after the KMT-CCP conflict, the military embargo once imposed by the United States forced the Nationalist Government to buy armaments from American private enterprises. In the US presidential election in November 1948, Chiang’s government supported Thomas E. Dewey, a Republican. Unexpectedly, Truman of the Democratic Party won the election as a dark horse. After that, Truman became even more dissatisfied with Chiang, exacerbating the heavy defeats of the Nationalist Government in the civil war.
Joseph W. Stilwell, the then Commander of the US military in China, Deputy Commander of the Southeast Asia War Zone, and Chief-of-Staff to the China War Zone of the Allied forces enjoying Christmas breakfast on the front line of Myanmar on 25 December 1943. Although the United States and China were allies during the Pacific War, Stilwell was on bad terms with Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang was particularly dissatisfied with Stilwell’s favour for the CCP.
In July 1944, the United States sent a military observation team to Yan’an (延安) to seek cooperation with the CCP. Stilwell was a huge supporter of the visit. The photo shows Zhu De (朱德, left) and Mao Zedong (毛澤東, right) receiving the US representatives.
The US Navy officers reading the news of President Roosevelt’s death. Truman, the successor of Roosevelt who passed away on 12 April 1945, changed the attitude towards the Nationalist Government.
Patrick J. Hurley (left), the US Ambassador to China from 1944 to 1945, and George C. Marshall (right), the Special Envoy to China sent by the US President Truman from the late 1945 to the early 1947 spared no effort in mediating the KMT-CCP conflict.
John L. Stuart, the US Ambassador to China during the Chinese Civil War, and the main entrance of the US Embassy in Nanjing (南京). Stuart’s terms of office spanned the whole Chinese Civil War. He tried his best to promote the cooperation and peace building between the KMT and CCP, but his efforts, without the actual support from the US government, were not accepted by the two Chinese parties.
With the coordination of the United States, the Executive Headquarters, an organisation formed by representatives of the Nationalist Government, the CCP, and the US government for mediating the KMT-CCP military conflicts was established in Beiping (北平, now Beijing﹝北京﹞) in early December 1945. However, the organisation failed to prevent the civil war. The photos show the US personnel posing for photos at the main entrance and in the office of the Executive Headquarters Peiping.
After the war, the corruption within the Nationalist Government caused widespread public dissatisfaction. The United States was accused of supporting the Nationalist Government, coupled with the misconduct of some US troops in China, provoking continuous anti-US demonstrations in China. These increasingly discouraged some US politicians from participating China’s affairs. Left: Shanghai (上海) students posting an English slogan “U.S. Made Bomb Are Now Killing Chinese” on a train during an anti-US demonstration in July 1946. Right: triggered by the news that a US soldier raped a female student from Peking University (北京大學), anti-US movements led by students broke out in various big cities in December 1946.
As the situation in China deteriorated, the US Truman Administration was also dissatisfied with the Nationalist Government. It thus reduced its support for the Nationalist Government and withdrew some of its personnel in China. The photos show some US personnel boarding the ship to leave China in 1947.
The photo shows Truman of the Democratic Party holding up the pro-Republican Chicago Daily Tribune printed with an erroneous headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” due to a premature release to celebrate his victory after winning the presidential election on 4 November 1948. Truman’s re-election served as a big blow to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government.
Left: the “General of Flying Tigers” Claire L. Chennault, who had a good relationship with the Nationalist Government, submitting a proposal to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives in 1948. The proposal opposed the Truman Administration’s cessation of aid to the Republic of China but with little effect. Right: Soong Mei-ling (宋美齡, right), Chiang Kai-shek’s wife, leaving after a talk with the US President Truman in December 1948. Soong visited the United States in the hope of seeking more assistance, but she was given the cold shoulder. In the late 1948, the United States adopted a negative attitude towards Chiang, exacerbating the situation of the Nationalist Government that suffered repeated defeats in the civil war.
Source of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe, misc. photo sources.