The Cairo Declaration
Filling the Empty Files at Washington, 1942
As FAR As FORMOSA was concerned, Washington was sound asleep on December 6, 1941.
The rain of bombs on Luzon and the rattle of gunfire about Manila brought a rude awakening. Waves of Japanese bombers and fighters flew down from Formosan airfields, striking here and there along the way. Baguio was bombed at 9:30 A.M. All but two American planes were caught on the ground at Clark Field and destroyed at 12:45 P.M. On the next day the great Cavite Naval Base was put out of action. The Grand Marshal of the Philippines Armed Forces, General Douglas MacArthur, had lost his principal shield.
The Japanese military leaders had often called Formosa a "stepping stone to the south" or a "stationary aircraft carrier," and after fifty years of development, it was at last fulfilling its role. General MacArthur on his part, had one radar station at Aparri on the northern tip of Luzon, facing Formosa, and on that fatal day it was not working .
At Washington our Far Eastern military intelligence files concerning Formosa matched the "temporary" buildings in which they were housed, and like them were leftovers from World War I. This was also true of the white-haired Civil Service secretary who had been custodian of the files since 1918.
10 THE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON, 1941-1945
She had cared for her secrets tenderly, but the files concerning Formosa had not prospered. The "Taiwan Folders" in fact had scarcely been disturbed since the island was ceded to Japan in 1895.
There was a map of Keelung harbor, sent over from the Navy files, dated 1894, and a few photographs of Keelung taken before 1914. We had the standard hydrographic charts available to all navigators and a set of Japanese Imperial Land Survey maps which could be bought at any large stationers in Tokyo. We had a set of topographic maps prepared by the Imperial Japanese Army. The most interesting item in the Army's "Formosa File" was a report on Japan's alleged plan to use Formosa as a base for a push southward into Indochina. This was based on a newspaper series, in French, which had been published at Paris in 1905 .
With the strike at Pearl Harbor all this changed. At the Munitions Building in Washington the potted plants went out the door to make room for new files, pending transfer to the Pentagon. The Japan-Manchuria Branch of the Military Intelligence Services (G-2) established subsidiary "area desks" for Korea and Formosa. Area specialists were brought in, and from around the world to these desks came reports having anything to do with the Japanese Empire and its possessions.
The "shooting war" which involved men, ships, planes and guns had to be supported by economic, psychologic and diplomatic warfare requiring an immense range of intelligence data. A bewildering number of "alphabet agencies" sprang into being, each contributing raw data and research papers needed by the established intelligence divisions of the Army, Navy and State Departments.
Our most detailed current information came from British intelligence sources, and from Canadian and British missionaries - doctors, nurses, teachers and preachers - who had served many years in Formosa, knew the local languages and dialects, and had traveled extensively throughout the island. Members
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of the American Consular Service who had served at Taipei (then Taihoku) were scattered over the world in December, 1941, but their reports, accumulated through some forty years, were on file at the Department of State. They were principally concerned with problems of trade between Formosan ports and the United States. Few reported basic economic development and very few ventured to touch seriously on social and political conditions beyond the routine minimum required by the consular reporting regulations.
As the months passed after Pearl Harbor, Washington's elaborate research apparatus distilled an astonishing quantity of information from Japanese-language sources, from prisoner-of-war interrogation reports, and from documents picked up at every point of contact with the enemy.
Gradually we developed a picture of Formosa's total economic and military position within the Japanese Empire. We found that it was making a major contribution of metals (copper, aluminum and gold), coal, timber, pulp, industrial chemicals, foodstuffs and manpower. Formosan ports and airfields were important way- stations for the immense Japanese military drive into South Asia and Indonesia, toward India and toward Australia. An analysis of captured documents and diaries gave us records of troop movements through this staging area.
But we needed to know more - always more - of the social and political tensions within the island, and of new industrial activity, so that we could develop detailed bombing objective folders and a psychological warfare program. We wanted to know more of new sites, new factories, and the communications system. We needed to know more of production levels and techniques and of labor organization. We needed reports directly from within the island itself.
It was reasonable to look to our allies the Chinese to supply them just as our Western allies supplied us by maintaining a network of fearless agents behind enemy lines in Europe. From the Washington point of view, the rugged Fukien coast with its
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thousands of tiny islands and inlets, lightly patrolled, seemed an advantageous base-area from which to get agents into the big island across the Straits.
Intelligence Reports--Chinese Style
Our G-2 representatives at Chungking asked for intelligence of Formosa. In due course, back through channels came long reports purporting to tell of conditions within the island, observed by Chinese agents recently returned from hazardous intelligence missions. The papers were signed, endorsed and forwarded by one or more of the thousands of Generals on the Nationalist military payroll.
The reports revealed at once how very little the mainland Chinese knew about any aspect of Formosa, and it suggested how little they cared. It also suggested that high-ranking Chinese officers did not hesitate to misrepresent field conditions to "ignorant" Americans. Obviously we were being told what the Chinese thought we wanted to know; considerations of "face" made it impossible to admit that they had no genuine recent intelligence from the island.
Several Chinese field reports began with assurances that Formosa had been discovered by the Chinese in the year A.D. 607. (dated August 17, 1943), stated that in January, 1938, the mountain aborigines had swept through the lowlands of Formosa, that there had been strikes in the mines, and that Formosans everywhere had refused to pay taxes. All this anti-Japanese resistance, they said, had been organized by Chinese underground revolutionary agents. In March, 1938, said another report, mammoth oil reserves had been destroyed by Chinese agents - enough to meet Japan's fuel requirements for six years. In September that year Japan's plans to draft Formosans for military service had precipitated a great uprising in the southern part of the island during which twenty-seven Japanese
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had been killed. This had been followed by uprisings everywhere. Chinese Nationalist agents, guiding Formosan revolutionaries, had dynamited railroads and steelworks in November, after which the Japanese garrison had been trebled. Nine thousand Formosan troops had revolted after killing and wounding 1200 Japanese officers and men. The insurgents had taken to the hills, from which they were continuing to foment riots and strikes throughout the island, guided always by Chinese Nationalist agents.
At Washington I read these reports with fascination; if all this were true we should have little trouble in bringing about massive subversion of the Japanese war effort in the rich colony.
But there was a slight difficulty; I had been living on Formosa in these years (1937 to 1940) and had traveled in every part of the island. These marvelous Chinese tales were inventions, or fabrications based upon incidents - some of them twenty years in the past-which were well known and had been reported in detail before 1941. For example, the alleged destruction of a six-year oil reserve referred to the dropping of one bomb, far wide of the mark, in the Hsinchu oilfields of North Formosa on February 18, 1938. At Chungking old reports had been elaborated and twisted to serve the intelligence requirements of the American command. Chinese face had been saved.
From Washington we persisted in requests for current information.
Chiang's highest intelligence offices supplied us with a "complete list" of twenty-one airfields and temporary landing strips on Formosa. We knew that there were in fact more than seventy.
We were then provided with a report prepared by a reconnaissance mission "just returned from Taiwan." The Chinese agents had discovered that there were five key railway bridges on the main line linking Keelung and Kaohsiung ports, and that
14 THE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON, 1941-1945
each consisted of an upper vehicular span which concealed a lower railway deck. One steel and concrete bridge was camouflaged by having it "submerged from three inches to one foot under water." Another report from this reconnaissance mission told of an underground railway tunnel, some eighteen miles long, which linked Kaohsiung harbor with the airbase and factory town at Pingtung. The Japanese controlled only the Formosan lowlands, the report said, for they had been forced to leave the mountainous two-thirds of Formosa to the aborigines. High-ranking Allied prisoners of war (presumably General Jonathan Wainright) had been moved from Formosa to an (imaginary) island lying "one hundred miles east of Formosa."
These last two items read as if they had been reproduced from Chinese reports of the I870's, when the Chinese themselves garrisoned only the lowlands on the western coast and Chinese geographic information concerning Formosa and the adjacent islets was wildly inaccurate.
A Chinese report prepared in late 1943 stated that a "recent visitor to Taiwan" had seen the Keelung anchorage empty of ships. Our own shipping-intelligence data, analyzed at Washington, indicated that Keelung had an average of forty-eight ships in port per week at that time, traveling under great hazard in order to keep supplies moving southward to Japan's front lines, and foodstuffs moving northward to Japan proper. American photo reconnaissance in 1944 showed a crowded harbor.
In addition to these reports on subversion potential, and on specific communications and industrial objectives, we also received from Chungking a long report on Formosan-Chinese leaders, and on Formosans who were exiles in China. This was prepared by a Formosan "exile" named Hsieh Nan-kuang, whose name will appear again and again in this narrative. Hsieh had left Formosa in the I920's when police pressure became intolerable to many well- educated young Formosan men and women. Now - at Chungking - Hsieh was seeking favors from the Americans, maneuvering toward what be hoped
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would be a prominent role in Formosan affairs under a postwar Occupation. To this end he carefully named Formosans who had led in Home Rule Movement organizations after World War I and who were very well known and respected throughout Taiwan. He saw them as potential rivals. Some he smeared as "Pro-Japanese collaborationists," and some he labeled "communist." His analysis showed that there were thousands of Formosans-in-exile, prepared to organize for the invasion of Formosa and the post-surrender takeover. He sought large funds to support Formosan organizations then in China, but when pressed for details it became clear that most Formosans were in areas controlled by the Japanese. He was quite willing, however, to be custodian of the American dollar funds until the Formosans could be reached and made ready for post-surrender tasks.
The American research program, the published summaries of Formosa's wealth, and the preparation of more than two thousand American officers for Occupation duty on the island alerted and perhaps alarmed the ruling family and Party oligarchy at Chungking. T.V. Soong (Madame Chiang's brother) as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sun Fo (her sister's stepson) as President of the Legislative Yuan, began to put forward demands for an immediate reversion of Formosan sovereignty to China, and added claims upon the Ryukyu Islands as well.
Bombing Objective Folders and Propaganda
Chinese intelligence reports were often entertaining but generally useless. It was disturbing to know that our Chinese Allies thought we were so gullible - but we so often were. Nevertheless, our inquiries at Chungking and our reports prepared at Washington sometimes proved to have long-range postwar consequences.
The vast array of data prepared by the Board of Economic
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Warfare, the Office of Strategic Services and a host of other agencies enabled the Army and Navy to produce surveys and handbooks concerning Formosa which inevitably passed into Chinese hands at the highest levels. In 1942 the Army (G-2) produced a confidential Strategic Survey of the Island of Taiwan (Formosa). In 1943 the Army Air Force and the Navy began to produce bombing objective folders. In 1944 and early 1945 the Navy produced twelve elaborate Civil Affairs Handbooks for the guidance of military government personnel being trained then to follow through an invasion.
The bombing objective folders were of immediate, shortrange concern to the Army and Navy. Airfields, ammunition bunkers, and garrison encampments were obviously prime targets. So too were harbor works, industrial plants and rail junctions. But occasionally we had to give thought to bombing as an aspect of psychological warfare. To this end I once suggested preparation of a target folder for the Taiwan Grand Shrine.
The Rules of Ground Warfare (written long before the age of nuclear weapons) strictly forbade willful destruction of religious buildings. In this instance, however, I reasoned that the Shinto Grand Shrine in its elaborate gardens near Taipei was not a religious building but a political symbol of imperial Japanese rule. It was a State Shrine which had been constructed at grievous cost to the Formosan people, a "conqueror's shrine" which had no religious significance whatsoever beyond State ceremonial on Japanese festival occasions. In 1939 it had been greatly enlarged. Expansion of the grounds and gardens had required the destruction of one of Formosa's oldest and most revered temples, to the great sorrow and anger of the Formosans. I believed that destruction of the Grand Shrine would be a severe blow to Japanese military morale and would immensely please the Formosan people. The Japanese belief in "divine protection" and the god-emperor would be shaken and the Formosans would joke about it.
I was overruled, and the Shrine was left intact. Rather late
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in the war the Japanese let it be known that they had established a large prisoner of war camp adjacent to the Shrine, thus giving us a double reason (as they well knew) for not bombing the buildings. We did not discover until after the surrender that the "enlargement" of the Shrine in 1939 was in fact preparation of an elaborate underground headquarters for the Japanese military High Command.
In another bombing-objective folder, however, the responsible officers at Washington were willing to include a red-line overlay on the map of Taipei city showing a general division between the jonai or Japanese administrative center, and the Daitotei and Manka sectors, the crowded Formosan shopping and residential areas on the west. It was effective, for when we destroyed the jonai area in early 1945 we spared the Formosan quarters. This was noticed and much talked about and had something to do with the post- surrender popularity of Americans among Formosans living in Taipei.
Psychological warfare called for "black" or concealed propaganda designed to undermine morale and to weaken the Japanese will to resist, and for "white" propaganda, designed to appeal directly and openly to the Formosan people. We urged them to rebel, hoping to foster mistrust, uncertainty and fear among the Japanese. We planted misleading stories and rumors here and there around the world, to be picked up (we hoped) by Japan's allies or agents. We tried to suggest that there were elaborate anti-Japanese plots brewing within the island, and that these had secret Allied support. As a matter of fact these "plots" had no more substance than the plots reported to us by the Nationalist officers at Chungking. With such stories we hoped to discourage any move to arm and train Formosans as a Home Guard serving under Japanese officers to repel an Allied invasion. We also hoped to persuade the local government to divert large numbers of Japanese from sensitive labor posts to unproductive guard duty and internal security patrol.
With radio and pamphlet propaganda we attempted to play
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on well-known Formosan grievances and to appeal openly for an uprising at an opportune time. By giving the islanders a fairly accurate report on the progress of the war we sought to discredit Tokyo's boastful stories and to destroy confidence in the imperial government. We urged Formosans to be ready to come over to our side if an invasion took place. We hoped at least to secure Formosan neutrality and cooperation if a long military occupation became necessary before Japan surrendered the home islands.
Formosa's Future: The Battle of the Memoranda
Psychological warfare agencies were preparing to air-drop millions of leaflets over the Formosan countryside. The message content called for high-level policy decisions. What should we promise the Formosans? What could we imply?
The Armed Services were concerned principally with the neutralization of Formosa. Could it be knocked out of the war? Could we deny Japan the advantages of its wealth, its manpower and its military bases? Could we convert Formosa into a base for our own further attacks against Japan proper? We anticipated a very long push; would the Formosans cooperate or resist during a long occupation?
Beyond this, the Army and Navy were also concerned with the prospects of the postwar settlement. Could we make certain that Formosa would not again become a threat to American interests in the Western Pacific?
In early 1942 I prepared a memorandum which explored the possible alternatives for postwar settlements, advocating some form of international control, the creation of a policing base on the island at the south, and the use of Formosa's abundant resources in postwar reconstruction programs. I ventured to suggest that China would not be able to assume exclusive control of Formosa for two reasons; there were not enough Chinese administrators and technicians available to manage such a complex
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economy, and there were the ever-present dangers of an intolerable exploitation by the Soongs, the Kungs, the Chiangs and other families, and Army and Party cliques who were a curse to China. I had visited China in 1940. It was evident that Formosa was many years in advance of mainland China in terms of technological organization. Certainly general standards of living for townsman and peasant alike were superior on Formosa. China had no surplus of trained manpower to spare for the job which would have to be done in Formosa.
In July, 1942, the Chief of the Far Eastern Division of the Military Intelligence Service was asked to state the Division's views concerning an occupation of Formosa as part of general strategy, together with comment upon propaganda required in advance to secure conditions of least local resistance to an Allied invasion.
A memorandum dated July 31 was the first in a series prepared for use within the Division. Discussions took place intermittently until October, 1944. In sum, it was assumed by the military offices that Washington's decisions on postwar policy would be guided by "enlightened self-interest." America's long range interests should have priority, but sympathetic consideration should be given to China's claims, and to the interests, rights and welfare of the Formosan people. Plans for Formosa's ultimate disposition should condition all propaganda addressed to the Formosan people before surrender.
Three alternatives were evident. In theory the island might be made independent and given self-government, but in practice this would be difficult to bring about, even if the Formosans wanted it and the Allies agreed. (Surely China would object.) A second course would ensure the prompt transfer of Formosa to China, to satisfy loud Chinese claims that it was a "lost province." A third program would provide for a temporary Allied trusteeship, during which the Formosans themselves would prepare for a plebiscite to determine their ultimate political fate.
As a "Formosa specialist" I urged the need at Washington for
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a recognized "Formosa policy." The island was potentially too important to be treated merely as an ordinary Chinese province, only lately overrun by Japanese troops. History had long since demonstrated its military importance at a strategic point on the Western Pacific rim and its wealth and technological development placed it too far ahead of the mainland Chinese provinces to permit an easy return to Chinese control.
Formosa was an island, a maritime area which had always been agitated by separatist sentiment, and for half a century it had been entirely cut off from the Chinese mainland and the Chinese civil wars. It was not Japanized but modernized.
A Formosa policy, as such, should be worked out after careful consideration of the historical, social and economic developments of the 20th century. When a policy had been devised, it should be agreed upon by our principal allies in Asia (China, Great Britain, and the Philippines Government-in-exile), well in advance of invasion and occupation. Pending final decisions and commitments, it was suggested that all propaganda directed to Formosa should make a geographical rather than a political or racial distinction in all references to island people.
I record these views here at some length, because there has been a tendency in recent years to present the "Formosa Question" publicly as something new, an embarrassing recent development rising out of changed military and political circumstances on the mainland.
These memoranda setting forth the "enlightened self-interest" proposal that Formosa be given special consideration, and be held under a temporary trust arrangement, carefully noted that any postwar arrangement would have to provide for China's participation so long as we proclaimed Chiang Kai-shek to be
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the great Leader of Democracy in Asia, and China to be a "Great Power." But most Far Eastern specialists in wartime Washington were under no illusion concerning Chiang's capacities and strengths. He was a "Leader of Democracy" and China was a "Great Power" only because the Washington Administration said so, and gave him money and arms to keep him in the field against the Japanese.
China was an enormous problem. Nothing in the Nationalist record as Of 1942 would support a belief that Chiang Kai-shek's Party bosses could assume control of the government of Formosa without massive aid, or that American interests there could rest secure in Chinese hands.
This was well known in the Department of State, but even so early as 1943 the policy lines were set; Formosa would be returned to China, with no reservations of American or Allied interest whatsoever. Although enlightened self-interest required some guarantee that all of Formosa's human and material assets should be conserved for Allied use pending a general and satisfactory settlement in Asia, suggestions to this effect evoked cries of "imperialism!" "What would our Chinese friends think?"
Prominent officers in the State Department assumed (with much justification) that the outstanding issues affecting Sino-American relations in Asia could not be solved until China achieved unity under a strong central government, whatever political complexion that government might have. Arguing from this, they held that no central government could survive which failed to recover Formosa. Nationalist and Communist Party propaganda alike held that it was a "lost province," stolen by the Japanese. They conveniently forgot that China had ceded Formosa to Japan in 1895 "in perpetuity," and that only a postwar treaty of peace could effect a legal retrocession.
But, alas, there was more to State Department opposition than this reasonable analysis.
Some opposition came from the standard bureaucrat who
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wanted to avoid all bothersome problems, and saw in the Formosa Question just one more (and a minor one) in a vast array of emergent problems for which the book of regulations had no index entry. My wartime experience in Washington -in the office, in the conference rooms, and in the cocktail hours about town - soon made clear that an important number of China specialists in the State Department were incurably "missionary" in their approach to Chinese problems. The Chinese could do no wrong (at least outsiders were not allowed to say they could or did) and the Japanese could do no right. The more I stressed the modernizing progress made on Formosa under Japanese rule and the need to preserve the benefits of it, the more vindictive grew the condemnation of such "imperialism." Proposals to delay or qualify the return of Formosa to full Chinese control evoked astonishingly sharp criticism. It was as if I had suggested withholding food from starving children. The ultimate argument turned on the point of population statistics. The Formosans were of Chinese descent. There were only five million of them. Therefore, no matter what their views might be, they were a very small minority among the total hundreds of millions of Chinese on the mainland.
I found it useless to point out that the Formosans' ancestors had left the mainland centuries ago in an attempt to escape from intolerable conditions there.
The tragedy of the Formosans was that their island lay not far enough away from the continent to make the separation permanent and their frontier life secure from interference. The island was too small to be independent, and too big and too rich to be ignored.
As early as 1943 the State Department had adopted the "continental view" of Formosa. It was to be considered the easternmost area of Chinese interests, unfortunately but unimportantly cut off from the mainland by the Straits of Taiwan. There could be no admission that it might also represent the westernmost point on the Western Pacific frontier.
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The Fateful Cairo Declaration
As of late 1943 no formal public commitments concerning Formosa had been made by the United States. There was then serious danger that Chiang Kai-shek might reach some sort of understanding with the Japanese. Or he might declare China neutral, ready to sit by while the United States brought about Japan's defeat from the sea. Admiral William D. Leahy must be presumed to have known what the situation was; as be put it "Chiang might drop out of the war ... if the Chinese quit, the tasks of MacArthur and Nimitz in the Pacific, already difficult, would be much harder." 
In late November, 1943, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and the two Chiangs met near the Sphinx at a moment when Allied fortunes were at low ebb. Tired England was entering the fifth year of war, and the Chinese had been more or less at war with Japan and among themselves since 1937. After the fateful blow at Pearl Harbor America was steadily building up its own forces while sending to the Western front all the arms and equipment we could spare. We were rebuilding our naval forces in the Pacific. There was little to spare for the land war in Asia. The Burma front was very far indeed from the heart of the Japanese Empire.
To the British Prime Minister's regret the American President insisted upon hailing China as a "Great Power" and Chiang as a great leader. At Cairo the Generalissimo demanded attention befitting his international status. He wanted more arms for his stockpiles in southwestern China. He wanted the back door to Chungking to be widened by an Allied campaign so that military supply would reach him in massive quantities and not in driblets. He would have had a better case to argue if he could have shown more efficient use of the supplies which had already reached him over the Hump at tremendous cost to
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the Allies. Neither of the Allies was much interested in Chinese demands.
The Cairo meeting was designed in fact to mask the impending first top-level conference with Russian leaders at Teheran, to which the Chiangs were not invited. Britain's delegation expected Cairo to be a major Anglo-American conference on the conduct of war in Europe, during which Prime Minister and President would prepare for the vital talks with Stalin. Over Churchill's vigorous objection, Roosevelt gave precedence to the problems of China in order to soothe the Chiangs and enable them to hurry back to Chungking. As a shrewd politician soon entering an election year, the President knew that an affront to the Chiangs would be taken to heart by every American missionary society in every parish in the United States, whereas a reward to China's Christian leaders would receive the widest possible publicity and everyone would be pleased. Unfortunately, the Chiangs, too, knew what pressures they could exert within the United States. We had encouraged Madame Chiang to appeal directly to the American people; she had been invited to address both houses of Congress, and now we were about to pay an installment on the price for Nationalist cooperation in the war against Japan.
The American delegation at Cairo included General George C. Marshall, Admiral William D. Leahy, Admiral Ernest J. King, and Mr. Willys Peck, a former YMCA worker, born in China, and now senior China-Specialist in the Department of State. Prime Minister Churchill's suite included Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, and Field Marshal Sir Allan Brooke. The Chiangs were accompanied by Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell and by Major General Patrick Hurley.
Something had to be done to soothe the Nationalist leaders at this time, something to give them face among their own restless countrymen and to stiffen their will-to-resist. Something must be done to assure Asians in occupied lands that they were not forgotten.
As we read now unofficial but authoritative accounts of the
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Cairo Meeting - the Stilwell Papers, for example, and Admiral Leahy's memoirs - we see that President Roosevelt's highest military aides were deeply concerned lest we lose China as a base from which to cover our seaborne attack upon Japan. At worst Chiang might be pushed aside; his restless subordinates, tired of privation, might be ready to come to terms with Tokyo, and join the puppets which Tokyo had already established in Manchuria, Peking, Nanking, Manila, Bangkok, and Indonesia. Or Chiang himself might declare a truce in order to conserve his weapons stockpiles for his own continuing civil war.
Roosevelt made little use of his State Department advisors at Cairo, and made no serious effort to examine the China problem with Lieutenant General Stilwell. He had jaunty self-confidence that he could manage men and affairs on an ad hoc basis.
On December 1, 1943, the President, the Prime Minister, and the Generalissimo issued the Cairo Declaration, over their joint signature.
This was not a carefully prepared State Paper but rather a promise to divide the spoils, dangled before the wavering Chinese. It was a declaration of intent, promising a redistribution of territories held by the Japanese. None of the territories mentioned in the document were at that moment in Allied hands. The Allied leaders had to show a bold face before the world, but in truth no one then knew what ultimate course the war might take.
But once these Heads of State had committed themselves to paper, the damage was done, setting in train a long series of events which are now cause for deep regret. Upon the Cairo Declaration there soon rose a superstructure of reaffirmations, enlarged promises, and further commitments made at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. None could foresee that nine years would pass before the Cairo terms were fulfilled, in part, by the Treaty of San Francisco, and that twenty-two years later (1965) the Formosa sovereignty issue would still be in hot dispute.
It is difficult now to understand the offhand manner in which
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the Conference produced the document. Both Churchill and Roosevelt were sensitive students of Anglo-Saxon history. Both knew the force of precedent and the need for scrupulous legality to counterpoise the lawlessness of the Hitlers, the Tojos, and the Mussolinis. Perhaps Roosevelt was simply too eager to get on to the talks with Stalin. For whatever reason, the Cairo Declaration is as noteworthy for historical inaccuracies within the text as for its rhetorical flourishes. The latter made good propaganda, but the former set a dangerous trap. Some of the damage to American interests will never be repaired.
Korea, properly enough, was promised independence "in due time," but the text refers to the Kurile Islands as having been "taken by force." The sentence which lies at the heart of our postwar Formosa Problem reads as follows:
All territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.
Here expediency led the three Heads of State to ignore distasteful facts; treaties again had become "mere scraps of paper."
Japan acquired undisputed title to the Kuriles by a treaty carefully and peacefully negotiated with Russia in 1875, (In return Russia received undisputed title to the entire island of Saghalin, only to lose half of it, by treaty, at the close of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.) The Korean Kingdom had been simply expropriated in 1910, but at the time Great Britain, China, and the United States conceded Japan's sovereignty and gave it full legal recognition. Manchuria undoubtedly had been seized by aggression, but the Liaotung and Shantung Concessions held by Japan had been taken from Russia and Germany, respectively, in 1905 and 1914, and Japan's position in each of them was recognized and unchallenged by London and Washington in the intervening years. It was somewhat late to cry "thief."
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Peking ceded the Pescadores and Formosa to Japan in 1895 in the Treaty settlement made after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War.
Britain's Minister to China (Sir Thomas Wade) and a former Secretary of State for the United States (John Foster) were in effect "god-fathers" to the ceding treaty, and the first President Roosevelt presided at the cession of Russian territory to Japan in 1905, The Cairo Declaration therefore seems to imply that these three worthies were parties in grand larceny.
Japan acquired the Pescadores and Formosa as a "war-prize," stolen in precisely the way the United States acquired the Southwest Territory after the Mexican War, or the Philippines and Puerto Rico after the war with Spain. Above all in 1943 Formosa was not "just a province of China," lately overrun.
Did no one in the Department of State venture to call the
President's attention to the dangers inherent in such unqualified promises to alter boundaries and transfer millions of people from one sovereignty to another without due precaution and reserve? The published record suggests that neither the President nor the Prime Minister took Cairo very seriously, and as Robert Sherwood put it "The agreement . . . did not stick for more than ten days." Before the Chiangs had reached home Roosevelt and Churchill had changed their minds about some of the secret commitments made on the Generalissimo's demand . Unfortunately the mind- changing had to do only with active prosecution of the war. Nothing was done to modify the promises of postwar territorial transfers.
Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang had "divided up the bearskin before the bear was dead."