Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


 

Oral History Interview with
O. Edmund Clubb

United States Foreign Service officer, 1928-52. Served in China, 1929-43, and 1946-50, including duty as Consul General, Mukden, Manchuria, 1946; assigned Consul General, Harbin, 1946; Consul General, Changchun, 1946-47; and Peiping, 1947-50. Also served as Consul General, Vladivostok, U.S.S.R., 1944-46 and as Director, Office of Chinese Affairs, Dept. of State, 1950-51.

New York, New York
June 26, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie

O. Edmund Clubb

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


NOTICE
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened January, 1976
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
O. Edmund Clubb

New York, New York
June 26, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie

[1]

MCKINZIE: Mr. Clubb, could you begin with an explanation of how you happened to go into the Foreign Service?

CLUBB: I developed my interest in the Foreign Service largely out of an application of my student time and energies to international law. In connection with my studies I also learned a little bit about Asia, particularly about China, because there was at the University of Minnesota a Professor Harold Quigley, who taught those subjects. I took what courses he offered. So, I had a particular facility,

[2]

in professional terms, in international law, for which there is not much outlet. And then I had this very special interest in China, which seemed to be an area promising much in the way of change, therefore in the way of interest. And it was far away -- foreign. International law having driven me in the direction of the Foreign Service, and my interest in China turning me toward the East, I took the exams for the Foreign Service and passed them. And when the Department offered the opportunity of opting for some strange language like Turkish or Russian, Japanese or Chinese, I chose to study Chinese. In those days at the end of the twenties one ordinarily studied his foreign language in the area of specialization, excepting Russian, which was studied in Paris. But Chinese was studied in Peking. And I, after a period of training in the Department, was sent to Peking, where I arrived in 1929. For practically all of my

[3]

foreign service I was in the Far East, excepting one brief period in 1944, and the years 1950-52, when I served in the Department. In the Far East, I served most of the time in China, and a little time in Indochina, where however, I operated the office at Hanoi only one half day before the war broke out and I was interned by the Japanese. And then I served in Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East. It was actually there that the beginning of the Truman administration in 1945 found me.

During the war, I had been sent back to China after my internment at Hanoi and Haiphong, and served in Central Asia. But I also spoke, besides Chinese, Russian. They naturally wanted somebody at the post of Vladivostok who spoke Russian, and they wanted a person who was besides a Far Eastern specialist if they could find him. I seemed to fit the bill. And so, despite the circumstance that I had had a long and somewhat arduous period of time overseas and had been

[4]

assigned back to the Department, shortly after that assignment -- a few months afterwards actually -- they sent me to Vladivostok.

Now, of course, at the beginning of 1945 you had other developments which are relevant to the situation. One such development took place in China. There were developments in the Far East generally. I should like to suggest that my experience, and what Im going to tell you, was indicative of certain impending events. Events that were taking shape during wartime, but would be discovered in their full shape only after the war was over.

One such event was in China. Patrick J. Hurley had become a Republican Ambassador for a Democratic administration. He had been a Secretary of War under a Republican administration, but President Roosevelt sent him out largely, I assume, for political reasons. We have many strange appointments to ambassadorships. This was strange, because Hurley was no expert with

[5]

respect to the Far East. He had an overweening confidence in his ability of interpretation and his judgment. But this brought him chockablock in confrontation with some of the experts who were in the field. It was about the time of Roosevelt's death that Hurley, back in the United States, caused the removal from China, from the staff of General [Albert C.] Wedemeyer, who was acting as Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, of the four Foreign Service officers who were there on station, and also the removal of his Counselor of Embassy, George Atcheson, because these people during his absence had sent in a long report analyzing the situation and disagreeing fundamentally with the Ambassador's optimistic position and his optimistic interpretation of events. The Ambassador was primarily, fundamentally, pro-Nationalist and was committed entirely to the idea of support of the Chiang Kai-shek regime. The others, the professionals, felt that there

[6]

should be more flexibility in the position, this being a carryover from the [Gen. Joseph W.] Stilwell proposition that if we were fighting Japan we should employ the Communist forces as well as the Nationalist forces. I give this as a bit of background, because it's pertinent to my later tale.

In Vladivostok we saw the potential for troubles too. The first Consul General at Valdivostok after the Revolution, the man I replaced (he had not been there long; we had reopened Vladivostok not long before), was Angus Ward. Ward was not a political observer so much as an administrative man. I was a political observer. My Foreign Service career was largely devoted to political reporting, economic reporting, interpretation of events. When we arrived we came to a town that was almost under siege in a certain respect. It was at the far end, of course, of the Soviet Union. But it suffered effects of the war,

[7]

because Siberia before the war, had been dependent in large measure upon Western Soviet Union for food supplies. And when the Germans occupied the grainlands, then the West of the Soviet Union said to the East, in essence, "You have to get on by yourself." So the living conditions were bad -- the fare was very sparse. We Americans of the consular staff did not go hungry, because Lend-Lease supplies were at that time being sent to the Soviet Union. Some of the Lend-Lease supplies were going Trans-Pacific, because the Soviet Union was at peace still, of course, with Japan. They therefore used Soviet vessels, naturally; not American, but these ships carrying Soviet Lend-Lease supplies also carried certain commissary supplies for us. So we got along much better than the local population, but we saw what happened to the population. And so while we were eating canned Spam and things like that, they were short of potatoes and cabbage and what not. This was a harsh place

[8]

in which to live; there is no doubt about that. It was harsh and it was isolated, because Vladivostok was part of a military zone. All during the war there were people who endeavored to get there -- newspapermen and others -- from the Western part of the Soviet Union, to see what "Vladi" was like, but there was no newspaperman ever made it. The only people who got there were the officials of the three countries that maintained consular offices there. They were the Americans, having recently opened an office; the Chinese, who had interest in the Soviet Far East; and the Japanese. We naturally had no dealings with the Japanese, because we were at war with them although the Soviets were not. And be it remarked that when, for instance, we went on those rare occasions to the theater, the Japanese were seated on one side of the hall, and we on the other, by the Soviets when they dealt out the tickets. I said we went to the theater, and we did; but there was a very little

[9]

theater. We Americans were a little better off under my administration than the Chinese, because the Chinese were occupying a strained position already with the Soviets by reason of strained relations in China where the Chinese Nationalists, having won the support, they thought, of the Americans for their conflict with the Soviet Union and with the Chinese Communists, caused the ousting of the Soviet from Sinkiang, where I was stationed in 1943. When I was there I saw the Soviets leaving. They had come in with quantities of equipment as well as some troops, which were stationed to prevent any advance of the Japanese into Central Asia -- any sudden strike or that sort of thing. But this strain between the Chinese and the Russians was reflected at Vladivostok. There was reflected there also what you might say was the "past." There was the immediate reflection of the existing difficulties of the Soviet Union, as I suggested, but also of the "past" in terms of the feeling on the part of the Russians -- a

[10]

feeling built up particularly after the revolution in 1917 -- that the capitalist powers were their natural enemies. There was less of this in Moscow. There was a larger residue of it, I would say, in Vladivostok. And so, where in Moscow one occupied the position, essentially, of an ally of the Soviet Union, in Vladivostok we were much more restricted. There was not by any manner of means the suggestion, let it be said, that we were enemies, but we were very closely watched, and there were, if you will, only "correct relations" between us and the diplomatic agent -- the Dipagent, they called him. The first Dipagent was a man named Dyukarev, and he was a very amiable young chap and got along with us very well. And we got on with him. There was however, a successor to Dyukarev,a man named Rychkov, who was a much more sour personality. And even with Dyukarev, when first I and my colleagues met him on two or three occasions alone, he was apparently ticked off in regard to this. Generally

[11]

speaking, when we met Soviet officials in Vladivostok, they sat in pairs. They did not want to meet with an American alone for fear of being compromised. Well, that was one of the situations.

This being a military zone, be it remarked, there were limitations with respect to our movement. We were able to leave the center of the town for only nineteen kilometers by one road, and when we were in town the office and the residence of the Consul General and of the others were kept under constant surveillance by the NKVD, that is, the secret police. We got on well enough with other officials besides the diplomatic agent. There was the port authority; there were the people connected with Lend-Lease, that sort of thing. And we, be it said, had on our staff an Assistant Naval Attaché, one George Roullard, who was charged with following Lend-Lease developments, Lend-Lease cargo and that sort of thing. He was not officially there as an Assistant Naval Attaché,

[12]

but they knew that he was a naval man. But, as I say, they kept close watch over us all the time.

There were on our staff various Soviet citizens -- clerks, messengers and so forth in the office. And then, of course, maids, cooks and so forth in the households. And they, we always assumed, were always caused to report to the NVKD, and we naturally acted accordingly. Our official relations and our relations with the staff were almost all that we had. We had very little in the way of social relations. We knew that there was a potential in that regard, because of the circumstance, that every once in a while we would establish brief contact with a Soviet citizen, but there was always shortly brought down upon him the knowledge that he should not have close relationships with foreigners in Vladivostok, and particularly with Americans. I don't say "especially." I think that we were in a better position, as I suggested, than the

[13]

the Chinese. The Japanese led a very isolated life indeed from our rather general observation of them. But we were never able to develop with more than a handful of people, whom we always assumed had somehow been okayed, such close social relations that we were able to go and have dinner with them or have them in for dinner with us. When we had Soviet officials for dinner, ordinarily we always had to give a reason for having the dinner. It had to be a national holiday or something like that, otherwise they would not necessarily even answer. They wouldn't refuse, but they just didn't appear.

So that was our situation in Vladivostok. We were viewed there as having that function with respect to Lend-Lease, if you will, but we were also a listening post. We naturally were supposed to report anything that came to our attention. Now be it said that, with the limitations upon our movements, we very naturally had relatively

[14]

little of prime importance to report; but we did see some things, We did do reporting. We were able to get some provincial newspapers that they couldn't even get in Moscow. And after having gleaned what we could from the newspapers and made reports about it, we would send them on to Moscow, and Moscow would devour them and then send them to the Library of Congress, which seized upon them with great avidity. We, upon occasion, were able to make short trips to Nakhodka, the port which now serves Japan, and to Khabarovsk up the river, places like that. And we were likewise able to give the reactions of Soviets and the others to things that we might say, or give their questions, and report on developments. We earned our salt; there is no doubt about that. The reasons for the strained or limited relationship with the Soviets there were to be found, I think, largely in the political and police setup of the Soviet Union. They were so bureaucratic

[15]

in their approach to the question of relations with foreigners, and particularly with people whom they had designated before as imperialists. In that distant region of the Soviet Union -- the Soviet Far East -- so far from the throne, so to speak, the police acted as they had in the earlier days. The new idea of an easier relationship with allies, it just hadn't seeped down. But, of course, this was to be deemed a threat, an ominous sign, of the possibility of bad relations in future or worse relations after the war was over. Now, I don't say that our people in Moscow were ignorant of that, but we had more signs of it in Vladivostok, perhaps, than they did in Moscow.

MCKINZIE: Did you have frequent contacts with Averell Harriman in Moscow?

CLUBB: We had only contact by the post, and then upon occasion, when we had something that had to go safe hand, we sent a courier. We, of course, had our

[16]

cabled messages in code, and so we could contact. I made only one trip to Moscow. I'll relate that a little later in place, and on that occasion I did see Harriman, but only very briefly.

There is one thing to be remarked and that is that some of the reporting we did was on Siberia, its resources, its potential and so forth and so on. And as you will appreciate from reading the press, there is now considerable development of Siberian resources, some of them of very great interest to the United States -- natural gas, the oil of Western Siberia, the coal of Yakutia, of great interest to Japan (it's good coking coal), the oil of the Island of Sakhalin and the rest of it. Siberia is an important part of the economic world. We had, besides the Consulate General in Vladivostok, two weather stations which had been set up in Petropavlovsk, and at Khabarovsk up on the Amur. Of course, we weren't interested only in whether it rained or didn't rain, but this was in anticipation, rather naturally,

[17]

of the Soviet Union's coming into the war against Japan. I remind you that we are now talking about April 1945, which was after the Yalta Conference, the Yalta agreements, and of course those of Tehran before. But these weather stations were very limited in terms of contact just like we were. They were more or less seated there and they had to keep to themselves. They were not even permitted code communication between each other. Of course there was indirect communication with them, no doubt, from Washington and what not. But when they communicated by air -- when they talked by radio -- my understanding was that there always had to be a Soviet observer present and that sort of thing. This, then, was looking forward to the war situation, but looking forward also to the postwar situation. I remarked the situation earlier between the Soviet Union and China, and now we have the picture of the potential in the relationship between United States and the Soviet Union.

[18]

In early August 1945 I did make a trip to Moscow. I had thought to go at that time and get a little bit of a vacation away from the Soviet Union. I and my wife were headed for Stockholm. The Embassy at Moscow had approved our travel, and we started early in the month. We viewed it as a little bit suspicious that some of our fellow travelers became rather chummy with us and upon occasion would come into our coupe (this was the international car where one has his individual coupe, you know), and start a conversation, but pull down the curtains so that we travelers could not see what was outside. Well, subsequently one might guess that there were troop movements and fortifications, and what not that we were not supposed to see, and naturally with the curtains down we could not see them. But we got to Moscow after this long and arduous trip. It took roughly 12 days in wartime to go from Vladivostok to Moscow by the express. And after

[19]

we had been there only a couple of days and were preparing ourselves to carry on and go to Stockholm -- I had not had the opportunity of seeing the Ambassador and I was told nothing -- we learned suddenly of the outbreak of war between the Soviet Union and Japan. I recall standing on the balcony of the Embassy and viewing the lights of Moscow as we heard the news of the outbreak of war. Here I was caught several thousand miles away from my post. The Embassy had let me come on, I think in part so as to make sure that my wife was out. This was obviously only a part of it, another part might have been that they did not want to indicate even to me that Id better stay there because war was about to break out, for fear of security and that sort of thing. So they probably said to themselves, "Better let him come. Then he can go back."

My wife did go on to Stockholm, and I did turn around and go back. And so I was 24 days of

[20]

that one month on rail transportation, which is a little more than one wants -- particularly of trans-Siberian travel. The trip back was, of course, of some interest, because with the war on, one had conversations, as we did regularly, on the train with others who were passengers.

I remember a Soviet major, who said that the war with Japan would soon be over, but there would be more wars to come. And he said that for one thing the Soviet Union was going to return to Manchuria, it was going to get back Port Arthur and the Chinese Eastern Railway and Karafuto, that is, Southern Sakhalin, which had been ceded to Japan long before. Now, these were the provisions of the Yalta Pact. He knew about it, but I didn't know it. And, of course, Hurley didn't know it in China. There was another general aboard, and he speaking on a different occasion said that there should be no more wars, saying that mankind had had enough of war, and the time had come for universal peace. So you

[21]

had these two military points of view, held by the major and the general. Well, of course, we are still discussing that subject, and President Nixon will be discussing it in Moscow this week.

In any event, Vladivostok had only one military engagement, so I didn't miss much by not being present. I heard after I got back that on one day there was a lone plane came speeding in at low level, and somebody asked is that theirs or ours, and the reply (this was a Russian who was replying), was "nash," ours. But then the thing opened fire. It was a Japanese plane coming in for an attack. It was shot down, if I remember rightly, by antiaircraft aboard some of the naval vessels there, not by the ground forces at all, which didn't even open up fire apparently. So it caught them rather by surprise. But it was a minor incident and when I got back, why, the war was very effectively over.

I referred to the bad relations between China

[22]

and the Soviet Union. It was quite obvious that there was two areas of possibly worsening relations. One area would be Sinkiang -- that is, Chinese Turkestan -- where I had served for a time in 1943, and the other area was the Northeast, Manchuria, enveloped effectively by the Soviet Union. This particular place has been called in the past by authors the "tinder box of Asia" and "cradle of conflict." It really was. There was, one has to note, that trouble within China, which Hurley was sent out to assist with in the first instance -- the trouble between the Communists and the Nationalists. The Communists being the revolutionary challengers to the Nationalist regime -- the people in power. The two were at the time collaborating indeed against the Japanese, but the collaboration had been less than wholehearted. And the Hurley mission failed effectively to achieve that reconciliation that he was charged with striving to nail down. This particular alliance

[23]

between the Communists and the Nationalists almost certainly was destined to fail when V-J Day came, and it did fail.

The trip home of Hurley in October of 1945 led in November, as you know, to his resignation -- to the great surprise apparently of President Truman. President Truman, if caught by surprise, nevertheless turned around and named George C. Marshall to be the new mediator, with ambassadorial status, between the Chinese Communists and the Nationalists. We could see the growing conflict even from Vladivostok, because, of course, we did have our radio. We got our news. We did have later papers and what not. And then, I continued still this abiding interest of my spirit in China, and followed developments very closely.

The end of the war meant something immediately for Vladivostok. I have remarked how it had been viewed as a listening post. The Soviets had three listening posts, if I remember rightly, at that time

[24]

in the United States. We had only the one. It was my position that Vladivostok should be maintained and built up for the postwar period. I thought it made sense. One didn't see quite what the consular office would do. There would be no great amount of shipping traffic, in all probability. There would be nothing much in the way of cargo to replace the Lend-Lease in the early days, although it was to be remembered that the American business had been quite interested in the Siberia and its riches at one time. But in any event it could be a listening post still. However, the position of the Embassy was effectively that Vladivostok should be sort of toned down and downgraded a bit with V-J Day, that it was no longer as important as it had been before. We indeed had poor communications with the local authorities there, but we had some communications. We had poor service by telephone, poor service in regard to other things, but those services could have been expected

[25]

to get better. And if there had been the maintenance of Vladivostok in being, it could perhaps have performed a more valuable function in the postwar period than it did even during the war period. However, this was not of great importance to me personally because in mid-October...

MCKINZIE: Excuse me, sir, were you still on the train when the atomic bombs were exploded over Japan -- and what reaction did you note on the part of the Russians?

CLUBB: No. I was in Moscow, you see. The explosion of the atomic bombs occurred immediately before and then immediately after the Soviet declaration of war. So when I was on the train going back, that event was behind me. There was some discussion of the explosion by some of the passengers, but nobody knew details, and I didn't know anything more than the rest of them. And there was some discussion after we got back to Vladivostok. A Soviet official would bring up the subject, "What about the atomic

[26]

bomb?" Well, I didn't know anything about the atomic bomb, It was a known fact, that's about all you could say of it, you see.

But in mid-October, given the developing situation in Manchuria, where the Soviet troops had entered and the Mongols had joined the Soviet effort and had then entered the war too, I was ordered to proceed to Manchuria to make a survey of the United States Government property at Harbin, Mukden and Dairen, three posts where we had kept consular offices before. I was to discover the state of consular property, the whereabouts of archives, et cetera. I was also directed to go any place else that I thought useful, and to remain in Manchuria pending further orders. Well, of course, you see this was a very open-ended assignment giving me all the authority that I needed to observe all Soviet military movements and everything else. Now, of course, when I asked for my visa to leave Vladivostok and to proceed by rail --

[27]

and there is the Chinese Eastern Railway, you see, that then ran directly across Northern Manchuria -- to proceed by rail to Harbin in accordance with the orders of my Government, I received no exit visa. I took the matter up at Moscow -- had the Embassy take it up, of course -- but no visas were forthcoming, and that situation continued right down through December. At the beginning of December, the Soviets demanded that the weather stations at Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk be closed within ten days, that is by December the 15th. This, of course, was a very short period of time, and it was practically impossible to meet the schedule, particularly given the circumstance that we didn't have transportation out for them. But, of course, the jobs were undertaken and people got ready, and in December of that year there was an American naval vessel that came to evacuate the people from Khabarovsk. We, be it said, had made a trip before the arrival of this naval vessel ourselves to

[28]

Khabarovsk and were able to see the conditions under which they lived there, and we appreciated how restricted it was. But then, of course, we ourselves were used to restrictions too. In due course of time the Khabarovsk station was evacuated, and I don't remember now whether the Petropavlovsk station was evacuated before or after that at Khabarovsk. And I'm not sure whether it was the U.S.S. Starr that picked them up or some other vessel. But we closed down these stations, their functions having been primarily the military. But had the Soviets granted the permission, we doubtless would have carried on for a time, because we still had forces in the Far East and all the rest. But this was an example of the lack of generosity on the part of the more police-minded or military-minded of the Soviet bureaucracy at that particular juncture. In mid-December, not having been able to take up my first roving assignment, I got a new assignment. I was assigned

[29]

Consul General to Harbin; and I made a new request of the Soviet authorities, naturally, to be permitted to take up my post. I still got no acquiescence to this request for exit visas for myself and wife. (Be it remarked that women were not supposed to be permitted to go to such posts as Vladivostok when I was assigned, but I had just come back from a long period overseas with internment in Indochina, a post in Chungking, a post in Lanchow and then service in Central Asia -- four years away from my family. And when they asked me to take up the Vladivostok post I said, well, I would if they would permit my wife to go with me. And so she was there with me.) But we didn't get our authority to go to Harbin. But at the end of the month the Edwin J. Berwind -- an American merchant vessel -- arrived in port, and I asked for permission to board the merchant vessel and to proceed to my post, via Shanghai, which was its next port of call. And within days I got my exit

[30]

visa and in January we -- I and my wife -- got aboard and left the Golden Horn, the Zolotoi Rog, of Vladivostok and sailed out of the harbor, and out of the Soviet Union. We were back in China at the port of Woosung three days later, after that long period of waiting for an exit visa, and then dropped anchor at the mouth of the Woosung River, the Woosung being the river on which Shanghai is located. A small tributary of the Yangtze. But there were many ships in port at that time, American ships coming in with all sorts of supplies and everything else, you know, and there was no sign of movement up the river.

I sent telegrams to the consulate and told them I was there and said, "Please send a boat down and pick us up," that sort of thing. I sent more telegrams and finally telegraphed the Department. Then I got word from Shanghai, if I remember rightly, that they were sending a boat. But by this time we had already sailed

[31]

up the Woosung, and we were in the harbor of Shanghai eight days after arrival at Woosung. So it was a three-day trip down, but eight days waiting in Shanghai by reason of -- I call it bureaucratic incompetency of the person who happened to be in charge of the matter in the consulate general.

But ashore I was hospitalized, and so was my wife. We needed some patching up after our service in Vladivostok. And so, instead of proceeding immediately to Harbin we remained in the hospital, and there various people came to see us -- people who were headed for Manchuria. There Sabe [Augustus S.] Chase, who had been assigned as consul in Mukden, and Bob Rigg, an Assistant Military Attaché, who had been told to go to Manchuria -- others. They got as far as North China and then they were stopped and not able to proceed.

We got ourselves patched up, but the transportation

[32]

was "on the slow side," if you will, by reason of the worsening conditions in the Northeast. This, of course, was at the time of the Marshall Mission, which I've mentioned before. Here was a situation in which the American mission had good intent to mediate between the two warring sides, but was awfully late. Late because of the incompatibility of the objectives of the two sides. One has to recognize the changed Communist position, changed Communist position in military terms as well as in political terms. The changed position of the Nationalists in both terms too, because where the Communists had been bringing better discipline and experience to their armed forces, the Nationalist forces had been permitted to rot in certain respects. Then you had the political position of the Nationalists changed for the worse, because the Chinese were beginning to choose sides and more were going to the Communist side. There were the unsolved agrarian problem,

[33]

the matter of land tenure, the matter of land rents, the economic problem where there was growing inflation. You had a reactionary regime in a situation that, in short, demanded change. The American policy at that time was the one inherited not from Stilwell and [Clarence E.] Gauss, the former Ambassador, but inherited effectively from the Hurley period, when he had come out in favor of working entirely for the one side -- for the Nationalists -- thus causing the United States to abandon neutrality to a degree. And that abandonment of neutrality rather naturally was the first count against the Marshall Mission, because one of the first requirements of a mediator is neutrality, if he is to be effective. Of course, Hurley had also planted other seeds, because when he suddenly retired in November of 1945 he let out a blast against the Foreign Service charging effectively that the China policy of the United States was being molded by people who had Communist

[34]

inclinations and all the rest of it. And he suggested likewise that there was a Communist conspiracy that had infected, if you will, the State Department. It was long afterwards that Joe [Senator Joseph R.] McCarthy got into the act. It was Hurley -- Patrick J. Hurley -- really, who planted the seed of McCarthyism.

Well, in any event, in due course of time I was let out of the hospital, and my wife too was rehabilitated, and we arrived in Mukden on March the 20th. I now had a new assignment, because Sabe Chase had been -- let's say immobile. When I was immobilized in Shanghai, he had been given the Harbin assignment, and had gone North ahead of me. But, as I say, he was stopped in North China, and as I passed Tientsin I dropped off to see him in the hospital -- because he had been in turn hospitalized. I went on to open up the first Consulate General in postwar Manchuria, that at Mukden.

[35]

Mukden conditions at that particular juncture were very difficult indeed. We found rather sparse habitation in the sometime Yamamoto but now Intourist Hotel, under Soviet control. The situation was such that although we were only a few miles from the biggest open coal pit in the world they were burning soybean cake in their furnaces for want of coal. Manchuria, of course, being the home of the soybean. Their burning of soybean cakes didn't prevent UNRRA from sending soybean meal and so forth to Manchuria. But that was another bureaucratic mix-up, of course. But there was a shortage of coal because the Soviets were in control of Fushun, where the big open-pit coal mine was, and communications had effectively broken down. The Soviet troops had withdrawn from Mukden, but they had not yet withdrawn from all of Manchuria. They were to withdraw a couple of months later.

I was charged, as I had been charged originally, with ascertaining the condition of the old Consul-

[36]

ate General. I looked it up, and it was in terrible shape. I was supposed to look up the archives and American property. I never found the archives or American property. The problem was to find a new residence. The search, however, was rendered very difficult, in part because of the corruption that attended the Chinese Nationalists' return to authority and power in other parts of China and in Manchuria. There was a great deal of carpet bagging, looting, taking over of desirable residences, and all that sort of thing. And so, although there were on the part of Chinese officials various expressions of sympathy and desire to help, we got very little more than sympathy. The lodgings that we found eventually were found through our own efforts.

The Chinese Communists were present in Manchuria at that time, with their armed forces. The Nationalists were also present. There were no truce teams there. One of the early accomplish-

[37]

ments of General Marshall was, of course, to bring about signature of a truce on January 10 of 1946. But, the Nationalists desired to keep the truce teams out of Manchuria until they had a chance -- it was with the desire clearly to clobber the Communists -- to get full control of this rich area that had been developed very substantially by the Japanese, who had been there not since the beginning of the war in 1937 with China, but since 1931 when they had taken Manchuria over. And they had developed its rich resources, including the coal, iron and all the rest of it, and it was something to be desired. And then besides, Manchuria did occupy that strategic position which had caused it to be called earlier "the cradle of conflict," if you will. The Nationalists' position was in part further crystallized, let us say, or made stronger -- more determined -- by their feeling sure that the United States was on their side, not on the Communist side. The traditional Nationalist tactic,

[38]

and the traditional Chinese tactic, is to use one force against another, particularly in international plays. And there was a common Nationalist expectation at that time, which was as a matter fact rather frequently voiced, that in due course, and it wouldn't be long, there would be war between the United States and the Soviet Union, and that China would profit from that war, that it would profit in international terms, but likewise in national terms. And that consequently there was no need, whatsoever, for anything in the nature of compromise with their Chinese Communist antagonists. Well, in due course of time this Intourist Hotel became the Shenyang Railway Hotel. The Chinese went in and almost forcibly took it back from the Soviets. For a time the Soviet flag was left flying, but the Soviet personnel were all ousted. And in the same way they recovered certain other industrial and other enterprises that the Soviets had latched onto and were trying to use as a bargaining weapon in the negotiations with the

[39]

Chinese Nationalists. The Soviets, given their renewed position in Manchuria (renewed by reason of the Yalta Agreement), were endeavoring to get a share in the further development of and the operation of the ex-Japanese enterprises there. The Chinese were proving very obdurate: they wanted full control for themselves, saying that they were the proper inheritors of anything that was Japanese. In fact, what happened was that the Chinese recovered most of the industrial plants, but the Soviets had taken out a large amount of the equipment and removed it to the Soviet Union. And be it said, that even on the way back from Moscow on my trip in August, I saw on sidings and elsewhere various trainloads and dumps of material that was obviously German in manufacture, which had already been taken from Germany by the Soviets, and was being taken to the Far East for installation in new plants. So, they were, if you will, working both ends.

[40]

Well, in Mukden we didn't have the old Manchurian people -- the people who had come from the Northeast in the first instance -- but people who were from the Nationalist regime. You will of course recall that Nationalists were of various cliques, and the Northeasterners were largely pushed into the background by the Nationalists upon the recovery (they called it the "takeover"), of the Northeastern property from the Japanese, because the Nationalists wished to monopolize the whole for themselves. So the people who were in authority there -- people like Mayor Tung Wen-ch'i of Mukden, Chang Kia-ngau the financial and economic man, Tu Y-ming the military man in charge of the Nationalist army forces, were all Nationalist, and all strong supporters, of course, of the Chiang Kai-shek clique. There was one other man there whose name I might mention, the commander of the First Army, Sun Li-jen, a very able general. They

[41]

had able generals, but he was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and consequently he was viewed by the others as an outsider. And although he was one of the more effective military men, he was given a lesser part to play than his real capabilities entitled him to. This too is something in the nature of a sign of the times because personal loyalty was counted by the Nationalist regime as being more important than competence, and when you establish a standard like that you run into danger. In any event the situation in the Northeast, as far as the military position was concerned, was one of considerable brashness on the part of the Nationalists. They, as I suggested, thought only of the military conquest of the Communists after the Russians were out of the way. And the position of Tu Y-ming was effectively that the Communists should surrender to the Nationalists in the Northeast and get out of the way. But the Communists were taking over some

[42]

of the military establishment of the puppet Manchoukuo regime that had been set up by the Japanese, enlisting some of those people into their armies. Moreover, there was a Mongolian autonomist movement in Western Manchuria where there are certain Mongols, and this group was looking for autonomy and, being promised a degree of autonomy by the Communists, began to side with the Communists. There were also some Korean elements that had come in, presumably either from Korea or they might have served in earlier days in the Russian forces. They entered the scene too, and were used by the Chinese Communists. So the Communists were not in any frame of mind whatsoever to just disappear from the scene and let the Nationalist military take over. In short, there was a lot of military movement going on., and, of course, right after V-J Day clashes had begun to occur even in China proper, and they were destined to occur in Manchuria.

[43]

And then you have besides the military movement the economic situation. Carpet bagging was naturally given priority over rehabilitation of plants, from which much of the equipment had already been taken. The extent of that looting was determined fairly exactly by the Pauley mission, which came while I was there in Mukden. This was Edwin J. Pauley. The mission measured the actual value of the equipment taken by the Soviets as "war booty" as coming to nearly nine hundred million U.S. dollars. The industry, in short, was at a near standstill, and it was of course in Manchuria that you had much of the good Japanese heavy industry that had been established, in the period from 1931 on, at Mukden and Anshan, where they had the big smelter works, and then of course at Fushun with its coal -- places like that.

MCKINZIE: What assistance were you able to give the

[44]

Pauley mission?

CLUBB: Only in making arrangements for their travel, effectively, and viewing those places. And they went to many of these places and brought out a big report, with pictures, of the arsenal at Mukden, of the ironworks at Anshan, and the rest of it. I did not accompany their observers, but I went to some of the same places that they did at different times and so forth. I was charged with liaison with the local Chinese authorities, and with reporting developments. Given this deteriorating economic situation one could expect that unless there were a quick military victory you would have deterioration of the political situation as well. The American position was now being set forth effectively by the new regular Ambassador, J. Leighton Stuart. Stuart was there at the same time, of course, as Marshall. Marshall was engaged with this special mediation mission. Stuart was

[45]

an old time Christian educator in China and knew China well, knew it extraordinarily well, and had a great belief in the capacity of the Chinese to compromise, and a great belief in his capacity to help the Chinese compromise, if you will. The judgment of other Americans was along a different line. Some felt that there would be no compromise after the main reason for coalition -- the war against Japan -- had passed. I happened to be one of those, and the people who were ousted by virtue of Hurley's action in 1945 had likewise held that particular conviction. There were other Americans who believed that a Chinese Communist victory over the Nationalists would strengthen the Soviet position in all Asia. The more military-minded -- I won't say all of the military-minded, but some -- thought that, therefore, it was essential to support the Nationalists as a bulwark against the Chinese Communists. So, you had a difference in the American camp as well, and some of this is brought forth by the Herbert Feis work which he

[46]

wrote on the general subject, The China Tangle. There was in China a difference of opinion also, naturally, between the Communists and the Nationalists, but you had at that time what they called the Chinese Third Force -- the Democratic League -- Democratic League and associates, if you will, others of the intellectual group, who felt the desirability of stopping moves toward civil war, reaching a compromise, who felt that all Chinese as good Hans should work together. This "third force" being purely political, not having arms of their own, was really no force at all, although it was a group to which General Marshall himself looked for aid and assistance in bringing about any resolution of difficulties. As indicative of the position of the third force we also might take Hu Shih, who was a wartime Ambassador to the United States, old time educator, philosopher, writer, a very likeable man. But he told me at Peking at that time that he had sent a

[47]

recommendation to Mao Tse-tung to disband the Red Army and to become China's opposition party. Well, given the history of the Nationalists -- their treatment of opposition parties -- one could only view that particular recommendation to Mao Tse-tung, at a time when Mao had been able to build up his armed forces to over a million men, as being extremely naive. Of course, Mao Tse-tung, in any event, did not follow that advice.

Well, we come down to approximately October of that year 1946, this was one year to the day after I had been ordered to the Northeast of China, I went to Changchun -- I now had a renewed assignment: I was again assigned to be Consul General in Harbin. But at that particular juncture, although the Soviet troops had withdrawn from Manchuria long before, the Chinese Communists occupied all of Manchuria north of the Sungari River and that meant that they occupied Harbin. There were others who were able to go there. The mediation mission was still active. The American

[48]

planes that flew for the executive headquarters, which was located at Peking, flew between Changchun and Harbin and carried journalists -- American journalists, other journalists, French, Soviet journalists and the rest -- carried other people, but in the existing circumstances they would not carry me. This was a logical position, according to the colonel in charge of the executive headquarters team at Changchun. They could not take me without the consent of the Chinese Communists at the other end, although I was prepared to go without that consent, be it remarked. But they were not prepared to take me without that consent for fear that it would damage their mission, which was the mission of mediating between the Communists and the Nationalists. And these teams were in the field to stop hostilities if they started, to keep forces apart and that sort of thing, and to continue so that the truce period that had been introduced on January the 10th (it

[49]

became effective on the 13th) could become a real peace. However, by that particular time, October of 1946, mediation was failing. One can say that the mediation really ended on June the 30th, 1946, because that's when the truce technically broke down. General Marshall remained on, particularly at the urging of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who saw him as being somebody whose presence would help the Nationalists more than it would help the Communists. But the fighting was spreading and the chances of mediating a settlement -- a political settlement -- were failing. Well, in Changchun you had not only the executive headquarters branch charged with trying to keep the peace, but you had representatives of UNRRA, and likewise what we called CNRRA. In China as distinct from all other countries in which UNRRA operated, UNRRA did not distribute the food supplies. It handed them over to a new organization, the Chinese Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

[50]

And be it said, there was a great deal of corruption in connection with that particular administration. And all UNRRA could do was to try to supervise to a degree and report on what was happening. It was a very general oversight that they applied. In theory, of course, the UNRRA supplies were to go to Communist controlled territory as well as Nationalist controlled territory. In actual fact, however, almost all of the supplies went to Nationalist controlled territory, and there was very little that ever got to the Communists. In part this was due, let us say, to the refusal of the Communists to give much in the way of facilities for travel into areas under their control. But, of course, it was due in main, let us deduce, to the desire of the Nationalists to have most of the supplies for themselves.

Now, I should have remarked that in due course of time I found quarters in Mukden, and the man who was appointed to take over was A. Sabin

[51]

Chase, whose appointment to Harbin had followed mine in the first instance. He was holding the fort for the time being for the arrival of Angus Ward, who would succeed me in Mukden, as I had succeeded him in Vladivostok,as Consul General. But I was charged now in Changchun, which was the old Hsinking of Manchoukuo, the capital under the Japanese. Again we worked at house hunting. This should have been an easy job in Changchun for the very simple reason that, its having been the capital, the Japanese had built some very pleasant structures there indeed. But the same situation prevailed as had prevailed at Mukden. Where there was a desirable piece of real estate that seemed to be lying loose the Chinese rather naturally grabbed it for themselves. And where there was not the grabbing, there was frequently looting by the Chinese population, stripping even from the houses the woodwork and the rest for burning in the fireplaces, because

[52]

they lacked the coal of Fushun. And consequently sometimes you would run into a very pleasant looking shell, but that's all it was -- a shell. There was still the matter of Harbin before me, of course, so we resided (my wife was still with me), in only temporary quarters for the time being. The Embassy itself was unwilling to press very hard the matter of my getting to Harbin, presumably feeling, as indicated by the colonel, that if they pressed too hard this might interfere with their mediation effort. It was my own contention that this really would not make an essential difference, that it was desirable that we get a man to Harbin in accordance with my instructions. But the fact was that I had to remain there for the time being. Now, be it said that since the executive headquarters tears were made up of three parties, the two warring parties, the Nationalists and the Communists, and then the Americans, I saw on occasion in Mukden and in Changchun, Communist

[53]

representatives whose names have subsequently become rather prominent. Two that I saw there in Changchun were Jao Shu-shih, who was purged in the 1950s, be it said by the Communists, and Wu Hsiu-ch'uan, who was one of the first delegates of the Chinese Communists to come to the United Nations to present the Chinese Communist case in December of '49. Very able, and they were both rather agreeable men; but they would not agree to my proceeding to Harbin. And through them I got the word that had been decided upon by Chou En-lai effectively -- definitely no American representative to go for the present. They suggested that it was desirable to wait until such time as there might be an overall settlement between them and Nationalists. Well, of course, my position was that that might take some time and in the meantime I'd like to be in Harbin, but they didn't listen to my argumentation. Be it remarked that the British had also assigned a representative,

[54]

a Colonel Eric Jacobs-Larkcom, to be their consular representative at Harbin, He was at Changchun; but he didn't get any closer to Harbin than I did. We now had in Changchun the military men I mentioned before, Major Robert Rigg, and his aide Jack Collins. I mention them, because they'll come into the story later. They were charged with performing the usual work of military attachs in China, which was to observe the military situation. Naturally they were on the side that we recognized -- the Nationalists. I made from Changchun, as I had made from Mukden, various visits. I went to Kirin, where there was a tremendous hydraulic power project. And there too I saw what had happened to the plant. The Soviets had taken six of the eight turbines -- there were only two left. This was suggestive of the way that they acted in Manchuria with respect to undertakings that had been originally, probably, for the most part Japanese. They said this was war loot, and "as we have taken from the Germans we will take from

[55]

the Japanese." They did not consider it being taken from their allies the Chinese. Of course, they were never allies to the Chinese -- the Chinese were our allies, if you will, but the Chinese were on the same side against the Japanese, anyway.

In June of 1946 Mao Tse-tung had made a speech which was fairly anti-American, and this was followed up in July by an even stronger statement, by the Chinese Communist Party. And from that time on Chinese Communist anti-Americanism became more pronounced. They explained that this anti-Americanism was limited. It was directed against the American Government policies, it wasn't anti-American people. Of course, they have never indicated they are against any people, they are only against the peoples' policies sometimes or the peoples' policies as announced and carried out by the peoples' governments. But, in any event, this anti-Americanism was growing, and there

[56]

was growing military action and a worsening economic situation at the same time -- this was in 1946.

On December the 1st, 1946, this man that I mentioned, Wu Hsiu-ch'uan, suggested to me that the United States should change its support of the Nationalists to a position of neutrality -- drop all military support to the Nationalists particularly. And he suggested that in the event that we did this there was more chance of having relatively good relations between the two people, if not the two governments. Well, of course, the mediation mission was effectively over by that time, but this was a sign, and you remember that other people reported signs as well of approaches by the Chinese Communists looking toward at least the maintenance of some ties with the Americans -- maintenance of contact anyway.

At the beginning of January 1947, however, Marshall went back to the United States to become Secretary of State, and to become subjected to the attacks of McCarthy at a little later date.

[57]

The mediation was effectively over. In the Northeast (it's a term the Chinese use for Manchuria), beginning in January, there were Communist offensives launched against the Nationalists who had thought it would be so easy to wipe the enemy out. These offensives continued in February and March. The Nationalists were suffering something in the nature of setbacks, and they began to build pillbox defenses around the towns that they controlled. They were overextended. They had gone too brashly into the Northeast, feeling that the matter would be relatively simple for them to resolve with their superior weapons. But they had consequently extended their communications lines, and once those communications lines were severed they might be isolated.

Besides developing the pillboxes proper, they developed something in the nature of the pillbox mentality. They thought of sitting there in the towns and waiting for the Chinese Communists

[58]

to come on and sort of annihilating them as they came. Be it said, that Sun Li-jen, this VMI general I mentioned, was not of that mentality; but that was the position taken by Tu Y-ming when he got into some difficulty. I mentioned the dates January, February and March and the fighting going on. Well, Rigg and Collins were out one day, I think it was March the 1st, 1947, trying to check on the status of the fighting and so on and so forth, and lost their way to some extent, and were captured by the Communists. This was almost accidental, because as they were standing under challenge, when they might have had a chance to argue their way out, their chauffeur and their interpreter suddenly dashed off with the jeep and left them standing there without either transportation or interpreter. And so, rather naturally , they were kept prisoner by the Chinese Communists, and we at Changchun were charged with the duty of trying to get them out. Well, I might say, to shorten this

[59]

particular story, that we did negotiate by all means possible. One had his radio station, you see, and you could broadcast statements and then you could talk to people who seemed to be possible intermediaries, and you could make statements to the press. And in due course of time -- if I remember rightly it was nearly two months later -- there was a Chinese Communist broadcast indicating that these people would be released into our custody on the other side of the Sungari River at a certain hour on a certain date. Well, we got into our jeep, went up to the Sungari and I and a Colonel Collins went across the Sungari. We went alone because we were to carry a truce flag and all that sort of thing, and after having signed a receipt took custody of Jack Collins and Bob Rigg, and brought them back to Changchun.

Well, now not being able to get any farther, I was made Consul General at Changchun and was directed to set up a new office there. I found quarters at a very respectable residence in due

[60]

course of time, and set up that new office. This was the second postwar office I had put into operation. I had opened the consulate in Sinkiang in 1943. And in April of 1947 I received our household effects, which had been stored before the war in Shanghai, and we were at least able to sort of settle down. But in April of 1947 the situation in Manchuria was getting distinctly worse and it wasn't certain how long we would be able to stay and carry on.

I might remark one little incident which was indicative of the position of the Nationalists. There had been a number of White Russians who came down from Harbin, getting out from under Communist control. Chinese Communist control, but also with what you might call Soviet Communist influence. Thirty-five such White Russians had reached Changchun, and then in mid-July the local Nationalists authorities ordered that they be sent back to Harbin. This would have meant very hard going indeed for those thirty-five White Russians, be-

[61]

cause they had lost any credentials that they might have desired to have for pro-Soviet sympathies or anything like that. In the postwar period, be it remarked, the Soviets had given something of a blanket approval for White Russians who might so desire to return to the Soviet Union; but these people obviously hadn't wanted to return, so they'd of had tough going. Well, I made representations to the mayor, Chao Chun-mai his name was.

And he said, "Oh, it's too late to do anything. They are en route. We have no communication," and that sort of thing.

I said, "It's not too late."

And I got authority from the Department to intervene, and made further representations to the mayor. Then I set off in my jeep, with the mayor's sanction to bring them back in the event I could catch them. And we caught them on the right side of the Sungari and brought them back to Changchun. I don't know where all these

[62]

people are at the present time, but they are not in the Soviet Union and not in Communist China I'm pretty sure.

But in August I went to Peking, first for a little vacation, and then also for the briefing of the [General Albert C.] Wedemeyer mission. You will remember that Wedemeyer was the man who replaced Stilwell when Stilwell was ousted by the joint efforts of Hurley and Chiang Kai-shek. There was more of Chiang Kai-shek than of Hurley in the affair, of course, but Hurley approved the removal of Stilwell, effectively, in his own representations to President Roosevelt, and Wedemeyer was Stilwell's successor.

Now, Wedemeyer had been sent out by President Truman to consider the state of affairs in China -- the military, the political, and the economic state of affairs. There was a whole series of briefings in, of course, various towns -- more particularly Nanking and Peking. I participated

[63]

in the briefing of Wedemeyer at Peking, giving reports on four aspects of the situation in Manchuria. I should assume that the Wedemeyer Report reflected to a degree my briefing as well as that of other people. But in that same August I was assigned to Peking. (I keep saying Peking, which is what it is now. At that particular juncture it was, of course, still Peiping, which it had become when the Nationalists removed the old capital to Nanking in 1928.) But I did not immediately take over in Peking. I remained in Changchun until October and then, in about the middle of the month, I turned over authority to Vice Consul Allen Siebens and on October 31st I took over charge in Peiping from Fulton Freeman (regularly called "Tony" Freeman).

This was 1947, and again we have to think of another area. In the United States, by this time, the Cold War had come into being, or shall we say been brought into sight. It had been building up for some time, one needn't date it definitely

[64]

from 1947. It had its germs earlier, as I remarked in commenting on wartime Vladivostok, but it was being whipped up, to a certain degree, in the American domestic scene for reasons of domestic politics. It is generally recognized, I think, that President Truman felt it necessary to mollify the opposition to some extent by adopting a cold war stand, thus to enable him to put across the Marshall Plan for Europe and that sort of thing.

In short, there were certain political and economic programs that he desired to further, and he had recourse to a certain amount of beating of the drums to further his overall program.

It was in 1947 likewise, that there was launched what I think Truman himself later recognized to be a mistake in that form -- the Loyalty Security Program. This, again, was something in the nature of an intended sop to domestic critics of the Truman administration. The seeds that had been planted by Hurley, and the results

[65]

of certain scares -- Communist scares, allegations of spies in government and that sort of thing, the discovery that certain people in the British scene had perhaps been responsible for leaking of some secrets to the Russians -- Allen May wasn't it? And the disclosures of other spy rings tended to create in the American domestic scene the demand that there be tighter security, and so he set up this Loyalty Security Program. But this was to have a very serious effect -- particularly when it was linked to the China question, because some people in due course of time thought they discovered, or alleged that they discovered, links between communism and the Foreign Service in China.

In 1948 I took home leave and saw the beginnings of some of these developments. But, I had no full appreciation. There wasn't, if you will, "McCarthyism" yet. McCarthy hadn't yet made his famous speech. There was at the same time the continua-

[66]

tion of the political and economic deterioration in China, particularly in Manchuria, but now also in North China too. It was in 1948, you will remember, that Manchuria was lost to the Communists. The loss of Manchuria was more than a loss of territory, it was a loss actually of four hundred thousand troops and all their equipment. It was thus a serious loss of the power of the military establishment. The loss likewise resulted in a severe political shock, rather naturally. And right after the end of that particular development, there was the beginning of the so-called Hwai-Hai battle, which was in Eastern Central China. The Hwai-Hai battle brought about the loss of five hundred fifty thousand Nationalist troops. The victory was going definitely to the Communists, and all of this time you had an inflation that now was truly galloping, it wasn't merely advancing. It was a tremendous inflation.

In the North, General Fu Tso-yi was in charge

[67]

of the situation in Peking. I knew him rather well (he died not so very long ago). I also knew Li Tsung-jan, who had been there in the earlier period of the Marshall mission. He would before long succeed to Chiang Kai-shek. I'll mention him again shortly.

Fu Tso-yi was in charge of all the troops in North China, but he was not supported by Chiang Kai-shek, by Chiang's planes and the rest, in the way he should have been. So on the 15th of January of 1949 there was the surrender of Tientsin. On the 21st, Peking surrendered.

The Communist troops did not immediately come in, but they entered and took over the town on January the 31st. And a couple of days later they staged a parade past the Consulate General, going down Legation Street, which formerly, that is, before the expiry of extraterritoriality in 1943, was never trod by Chinese troops because it possessed extraterritorial status. The

[68]

foreign delegations had their own legation guards and all the rest -- this having been instituted after the Boxer Rebellion. But now the Communist troops paraded past the Consulate General, and it was notable that they were pretty well equipped with guns and trucks and things, much of which was American. They had taken it from the Nationalists, and we had supplied enough in the way of munitions and equipment for both sides, and the other side had won.

Well, this was the conquest of North China. South and Central China weren't yet completely conquered. The Embassy was still at Nanking. The Chinese Government was preparing to remove shortly to Canton.

The traditional policy of consulates in China was always to carry on in times of changes of government. They didn't close up and go home. They didn't cease functioning to wait upon recognition of the new government that might come into power.

[69]

And on this particular occasion we continued in the tradition; the consular establishments remained open. In Peking, in those difficult conditions that were shortly ours in that military situation, there was close collaboration of all elements of the consular corps, excepting interestingly enough the Soviet Consulate General. Quite obviously under direction from Moscow, the Soviets formally ceased functioning upon the takeover of Peking. The British, the French, the Dutch, the Italians, the Americans did not. We carried on, and there was close collaboration under circumstances where we had very limited contact with the new authorities.

The Chinese Communists said in effect, "You haven't recognized us, therefore, we can't recognize you."

We were non-consular persons, if you will. They had not set up a government to recognize, and upon occasion I pointed this out to them. You can't recognize a government that is only in potential being, if you will. But they had set up

[70]

an alien affairs office, and they ruled that anything we had to say should be said to that particular agency, which was charged with handling the affairs of civilian aliens who had no official status.

They said, "You're bereft of your status, and therefore you talk with them," and on occasion we did.

But on occasion, too, we would address communications to the mayor, who interestingly enough was a man whose name is still in the press -- Yeh Chien-ying. He was an old military man, and at the present time is the Acting Minister of Defense, since they don't have a new Defense Minister after Lin Piao went out of the picture.

Yeh Chien-ying has always been a rather important person. On February 4, 1949, on his taking up his position as mayor, he made rather an interesting statement, something in the nature of a little promise. He said that there should

[71]

be coexistence (and one could infer that he meant of capitalism and socialism), and that China was ready to enter upon new treaties with capitalist countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, which is a phrase that they have continued to use subsequent to that time. In short, there was something in the nature of a mild promise being held out by this new mayor. But the promise wasn't given what you might call "practical social effect," because we were very closely restricted by the local police. We were not permitted to travel by rail as far away as Tientsin, in the beginning. In due course, we were able to go that far. We were not given cable facilities. When mail was addressed to the Consulate General they would return it to the sender with a note on it, "No such addressee." We, of course, protested as vigorously as possible, but they were being sticky in regard to this sort of thing. And there is one thing to

[72]

be remarked, and that is that we at Peking kept our radio -- our official radio, quite apart from desk sets and that sort of thing. So we were able to maintain our direct communications with the Department of State. We were the only office in North China that was able to do that. We consequently acted as something in the nature of a message center for these other American offices insofar as we are able to get messages from them. We, in due course, got our messengers to go to Tientsin -- so, we sent them there and back. Tientsin for a long time was not able to send anybody to Peking. Well, that is the kind of situation in which we found ourselves.

Now, the war was not yet over. This was only the takeover of North China after the Northeast. The war was continuing down in the Yangtze Valley, and, of course, in the South. There had been no turnover in either Tibet or in Sinkiang. In those circumstances, peace talks were undertaken between representatives of the

[73]

Nationalists and Communists.

I should have remarked that, seeing the handwriting on the wall, Chiang Kai-shek in January retired from his position as the leader of the Nationalists. He had been elected President in 1948. And the presidency went to Li Tsung-jen, who was Vice President. He now became the provisional President and it was under his administration that the Nationalist Government sent a delegation to Peking for peace talks with the Communists. But the peace talks in due course broke down, and one could see that the political situation was not being repaired in circumstances where the economic situation was getting ever more difficult. That economic situation now was looming up larger for the Communists. When they were out of power they were not responsible -- now they were going to be responsible for the feeding of the people. The crop prospects were bad; the industrial output was at a very low level due to the impact of the war; communications were disrupted in good part by reason of the

[74]

Communist tactic of tearing up railway tracks in order to interrupt communications and all the rest of it. By our advice, which had been given to the American citizens in 1948 as the war approached Peking, but now was reiterated on various occasions in 1949, American citizens began to depart from China in large numbers, where they might not have departed before. Of course, there was not in China, in the postwar period, nearly the American population you'd had before the Sino-Japanese war, because many Americans had made their departure in the course of that war. Some had been caught by the Pacific War and had been put in internment camps, but were repatriated after the war was over. So there was not the same number of Americans that you'd had in earlier days. But of those who were there, most got out. Journalists, of course, tended to remain for the time being. But they met continuing difficulties, because they did not enjoy facilities for reporting

[75]

and for getting their stories out. They were only hoping that in due course of time they would be permitted to function further as journalists.

Well, in this situation Ambassador Stuart looked now to Peking. He had long been located, you see, at Yenching University in Peking, which was a Christian college. He had had many students graduate from that college, and many of them had gone over to the Communist side. So, he looked upon various of the Chinese Communist leaders as being old students of his. In his general approach to Chinese questions, he would feel that a compromise solution is always possible. And so he looked to the personalities there, and said, "Surely I can talk to them." He had likewise his aide, a Chinese, Philip Fugh on whom he depended a great deal. Fugh was a great manipulator -- a political manipulator. And between the two of them there was still this feeling that they would be able to work something out. There was probably some shock to that feeling in April of 1949, when

[76]

the Communist military forces crossed the Yangtze and took Nanking and a squad of those Communist troops invaded the Ambassadors bedroom. We protested the occurrence at Peking. Peking was in actuality the Communist headquarters, and the American consulate there now became more of a mission in a certain sense -- an ambassadorial mission or a negotiating mission -- than the Embassy itself in Nanking. Nanking was only a town under occupation, because the Communists obviously were going to make Peking, not Nanking, their new capital. And so when developments occurred that affected American interests, we were the ones who were the channel for communication with the authorities. So it was that we did this particular bit of protesting.

Now, I would like to turn to the economic situation a little more fully. I remarked how bad it was getting. There was the simple question of food supply. The Chinese Communists

[77]

confiscated outright and with practically no ceremony the ECA (that is the U.S, Economic Cooperation Administration) stocks of rice and other supplies in North China. This was in 1949, when they took over the area, and particularly Peking, Tientsin and Tsingtao. But, of course, it's the old question of the goose's golden eggs. If you kill the goose, then what about the golden eggs? You may get a certain number of golden eggs, but you don't get more. There was a suggestion that came to us at this particular time, not directly, but through intermediaries, if you will, because that was our channel sometimes when we didn't send a letter. We would sometimes get a message, or send a message, through academicians or somebody who was known to have contacts with the Communists. And there was one man there who subsequently was disgraced -- I suppose he was purged -- an academician named Chang Tung-sun and there was another, Lo Lung-chi, both being liberals, both of them having contacts with the Communists,

[78]

neither being Communists at that particular time but both being in a mediating position. Both of them indicated to me that it would be advisable to carry on with ECA and its activities. There was the parallel suggestion, however, that in that event it was not to be expected that there would be any diminution of anti-American propaganda or anything like that, or any change in the Communist political position. We would be just carrying on an economic function, which of course, was the giving of aid gratis -- ECA aid was gratis aid -- to the Chinese. Well, this would have helped the Communists, indeed, because they were faced with the arduous problem of feeding the population. But there was no imaginable way that this could have helped us. I very naturally expressed very little sympathy with that particular point of view, either to them or to the Department of State.

Then in 1949 there was the "leaning to one

[79]

side" statement of Mao Tse-tung. Be it remarked, that you had had that earlier statement of Mao's in 1946. Now, it looked like he'd made up his mind, and Mao seemed to be vetoing the earlier moves. He said that China would expect no economic aid from the capitalist powers, from the imperialists, and so forth. China was going to be called to lean to one side -- lean to the side of the Soviet Union. That was his very important "leaning to one side" speech.

This was on June the 30th, but we carried on our July 4th celebration as usual. No Soviets attended, because they had for the time being dropped their official status. They said, "We no longer function as consular officers." They didn't go home, they remained there, but they theoretically were not functioning. And this was an official function of the Consulate General. We sent out invitations to all the consulates, and to various others in town -- foreign friends, but also, of course, a number of Chinese friends.

[80]

Fewer Chinese came than ever before, be it said. Here I want to point up a parallel -- the growing isolation of consular establishments that were not in good odor, and likewise the growing isolation of the government officials, from the local people and from foreigners, in both Vladivostok and in Peking. You had something of that same provincialism expressed in relationships with the foreign establishments and foreign citizens. Now this in China's case was to a certain degree a return to the past as well as being a reflection of Russian practice, because in the old days it was effectively something in the nature of a grant of considerable moment when a foreign envoy was permitted to come to Peking to pay tribute to the emperor, and then he'd be loaded down with gifts and would go away again. There was that exclusionism, and there were very few people who were ever permitted to travel to China in those early days, before the Opium War

[81]

broke down the walls of Chinese exclusionism. And you've had in the case of Communist China, for all of the fanfare that they give to visiting dignitaries, something in the nature of a return to the exclusionism of the early 19th century and of the Ch'ien Lung period. Well, this is an aside, where I want to draw a parallel between conditions, shall I say "enjoyed" or "suffered," by us in Peking and Vladivostok in circumstances where there was less than full understanding and easy relations between us and the local authorities.

MCKINZIE: You never felt fear for your personal well-being at this point?

CLUBB: No. There was no -- say -- threat of bodily injury or anything like that. However, I might remark that other consular establishments than ours were afflicted by difficulties. We never got into any physical trouble -- physical in terms of bodily harm. We had physical restrictions placed upon us in terms of our movements, but that's all.

[82]

Well, anyway, there's Mao leaning to one side, and the question: can we carry on with our celebration? We did. Of course, no Chinese officials came, nothing like that, there were also fewer Chinese academicians than used to come. You had the beginning there, on the part of the Chinese, of something like a driving out of the foreigners. Now some of this was done with calculation, that is they -- carrying on in the national tradition -- now went through with getting rid of foreign missions, foreign religious missions. However, there was also the driving out of consular offices. They didn't want them scattered all around the country. We had consular offices at many points. As I say, I opened one in Sinkiang. We had offices in Yunnan and Szechwan and various other places. They began to close -- unable to function. The Communists were also driving out foreign business, because this was representative of capitalism. They proposed to have an early

[83]

return first to Chinese capitalism, but then after Chinese capitalism would come Chinese socialism. And in my opinion they really did themselves substantial harm by working so hard so soon to get rid of foreign enterprise -- which would have been profitable for them to continue on with for some time. Instead of which, they created labor troubles and all the rest for those enterprises, and so restricted their activities, their commercial activities and the rest, and imposed such heavy burdens on them, that they were no longer able to function. They closed up, paid off their employees -- sometimes paid them really unfair sums, you see, to settle -- and got up and left. Well, this was slowing down the Chinese economic process and progress, instead of furthering it. They'd better have done as Yeh Chien-ying suggested, collaborate or coexist for a time with capitalism, and get the benefit of the residual efforts of the capitalist establishment in

[84]

China. However, in July of '49 there was the closing down of the USIS -- the information service -- in Tientsin and in Peking. And we experienced our own labor troubles in Peking. Be it remarked, that there had still been fairly heavy patronage of the USIS establishment in Peking. We had thirty thousand visitors in the library of the USIS in the three months April to June of 1949 -- not bad. But when these people or when the USIS establishment was closed down and they said, "You can't function any more. Your library can't function," we discharged the Chinese personnel, rather naturally.

Well, our labor troubles began -- and they began in Tientsin. Tientsin, be it said, paid off rather quickly. I took my troubles to the Labor Bureau, saying that the demands of the personnel were unfair. They demanded big terminal settlements, you see, and I said, "Nothing doing. What are the regulations?" And I argued it a long time

[85]

back and forth with the Labor Bureau and finally had a formal session with the head of the Labor Bureau and others present, each side presented its case, and all the rest of it. We got a settlement, which was a distinct compromise, and, of course, much less costly for the United States Government.

I had one other case where I was called to court as a result of a labor dispute -- with Chinese employees, of course. There too I got a compromise settlement. However, I did not on those occasions have benefit of representation by lawyer, because first, they had done away with all of the old Nationalist codes, and second, they had done away with the function of the lawyers. So, I had to argue my own case on the basis of any regulations of their own that they might produce, and using a Chinese interpreter. I speak Chinese, but the old tactic, if one is in official negotiation, is always to talk through your interpreter. So you have your time to think and all that sort of

[86]

thing; and then, you can correct the interpreter if you want. Well, in any event at this time other places had their own labor troubles. In Shanghai, there was a Vice Consul who was thrown into jail for a time, and we at Peking again were caused to negotiate on his behalf.

I might remark that in Mukden, prior to this, Angus Ward and his staff had been effectively incarcerated nearly from the time when the Communists took over at the end of 1948. It was in November, I think, of 1948 that they were effectively confined to their compound. And then in the summer of 1949 Angus Ward and a couple of the others were actually arrested. We had been negotiating all the time and tried to get their release from their semi-confinement and to establish communications and all the rest, without any visible effect. Finally, I was even able to establish telephone contact with them, but not to do much for them. Finally, November or December of 1949, we were able to get the evacuation of the Mukden

[87]

personnel, but it was at the cost of closing the Consulate General. They had been held under those conditions, in short, for a full year.

In the meantime, on October 1, 1949 there was established a new government -- the Central Government of the People's Republic of China at Peking. And on October the 2nd the Soviet Union recognized. The United States, of course, was in rather a difficult position. We had had the position proposed by the pragmatists, like Stilwell and Gauss, that the United States endeavor to maintain a flexible position in the changing Chinese world, so that it would be able to retain contact with the future rulers of China, whosoever they might happen to be. And then you had had the positions put forward by the ideologues -- Hurley and Stuart effectively. Stuart, of course, was more flexible by far than Hurley, but was committed to a certain degree still to the fateful thought, if you will, that things were going to turn out the way that

[88]

he hoped that they would. We did not recognize immediately, and you will recall that by that time, October of '49, there was quite a bit of clamor in the United States in regard to the "China question." And although India and Indonesia and a couple of others recognized along toward the end of the year, the United States did not. However, on January 6th, the British recognized. On January 6th something else happened: the Communists put a placard on our gate stating that the former military barracks were going to be "requisitioned" -- that was the term they used, they didn't say "confiscated" -- for use of the local authorities. This was not a central government proclamation, it was a proclamation by the local, Peking authorities. The same sort of placard went up on the gates of the French, and the Dutch, and the British, all of whom had such "former barracks." The British recognized that day and the placard was taken down from their gate that evening. The French and the Dutch did not recognize and the placard was left up.

[89]

In our case, the military barracks happened to be the offices of our new Consulate General. So, they were proposing, in effect, the requisitioning of the premises of the Consulate General and of the Department of the Army Language School; and, of course, we had USIS and everything else in there. Well, I will just pull this story up rather short by saying that they gave us six days to get out, and I didn't make a move. Of course, I informed the Department, but I didn't make a move to remove. They came around on the stipulated date and asked whether we had removed. They knew we hadn't, of course, because they had all those contacts with the servants and the Chinese staff, and they had guards over the gates and everything else.

And they said, "Well, we'll give you twenty-four hours." And so, under instructions from the Department, we began to move.

And they came around in twenty-four hours and said, "Are you finished?"

And I said, "Not quite."

[90]

And they gave me till midnight of Sunday night, which was twenty-four hours more and we got everything out. In the meantime we'd moved the radio station and had it operating. You see, in moving we simply dumped everything into the adjoining compound, which was the old-time legation compound. But there were tons and tons of equipment, and, of course, beside the office equipment we had various residences in the compound as well. So, everything had to go. I'll show you a picture of it sometime if I can find it. In any event, at the same time that I had given the Communists the Department's reply, I also transmitted to them the Department's ultimatum that, in the event that they requisitioned the Consulate General, we would withdraw all consular and diplomatic personnel from China, and we did. And the Consulate General at Peking closed April 10th, 1950.

Now, I remind you of the book that has just

[91]

come out incorporating the dispatches of John S. Service, Lost Chance in China. One doesn't know, of course, what might have been, but on June the 23rd, 1950, you'll recall, there was the North Korean aggression. I simply suggest that, in the event that from the time of Stilwell on we had carried on a different policy, and not been committed by political inclination and the ignorance of the emissary to the Hurley policy, we might have had a different operating position, and there might have been a different outcome in China, a different outcome in terms of our relationship to China. Not that the anti-revolutionary forces would have won, because they had lost long before by losing the confidence of the people. But a different relationship between China and the United States, but also perhaps between China and the Soviet Union -- because the Chinese, as has been proved by later events, are Chinese first and Communists second. They are very nationalistic -- to the point of chauvinism.

[92]

And that has led to their break with the Soviet Union. It may be that, when Mao Tse-tung went to Moscow in December of 1949 and-stayed so long, he would have gone in a different spirit had it not been for the prior developments of the period from 1944 when Stilwell was discharged and Hurley went out to China as ambassador. One just doesn't know, of course, but there are always various potentials in a massive political situation such as you had in China. The ideal resolution would hardly have come about-- the ideal dreamed of by Americans or by any other group. But a different solution is ordinarily possible in so complicated a situation, particularly given the impact of the economic factor.

Well, upon closing the office I naturally left China. We carried with us some persona baggage, but we left our other effects behind. We got most of them, but as they passed through Chinese customs the Chinese "detained" -- I wouldn't

[93]

say "requisitioned" this time -- detained some fifty of our best objets d'art and rather a large number of my Chinese literary works -- some of them in many volumes, of course. And that was one loss that we suffered.

I'd been assigned to be Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs in the Department of State. I and my wife were the last of the official American personnel to leave Peking, and we left there in April, a couple of days after closing the office. We closed the office on April the 10th and we left on April the 12th. Others had departed after the word had gone out. We'd started to cut down our staff with the cutting down of our activities earlier. Then, after the decision of January, we began to send our people out, and by the time that we closed the office, as I say, everybody excepting my wife and myself had gone. We caught up to a couple of people in Tientsin, and went home that way.

[94]

MCKINZIE: Did this departure pass without note or comment on the part of the Chinese officials?

CLUBB: Well, in terms of anything directed to us, there was nothing. The Chinese presumably were content. And by that time, by my theory, they were embarked, by reason of the agreement at Moscow, on the Korean venture. We didn't know that at the time, but there were signs of impending trouble, and so they were committed to the "one side." All right, that was Mao's leaning to one side policy. Subsequent to that, Mao decided he would lean a little bit away from that side and toward another side, but he's doing it again for profit.

I was in the midst of what I thought was a well-earned vacation when the Korean war began. But I cut that vacation short, went to the Department immediately, and took up my post there at the beginning of July instead of finishing my vacation. And so that was the end of my

[95]

China experience as a U.S. Foreign Service officer,

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


List of Subjects Discussed

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]