Snippets from 1945-50

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Frog in a Well, a group of collaborative Asian history blogs, has posted a fascinating series of U.S. State Department documents from 1945-50. The material, which was compiled by Harvard PhD student Konrad Lawson, includes a request by Communist general Zhu De for a $20 million wartime loan from the U.S., a series of U.S. propaganda directives in China, and a report on the 228 massacre in Taiwan.

The pains the U.S. took to urge “Chinese Unity” between Nationalist and Communist forces in 1945 are interesting, given both sides were preparing to resume their civil war. “The demand for democracy is the true basis for Chinese unity,” read one note, penciled in the margin of an April 12 report. Not a view I’d imagine was held by Mao or Chiang Kai-shek. The 23-page memo on the 228 incident, a 1947 revolt by native Taiwanese against the Kuomintang that led to a bloody crackdown, is noteworthy for its unvarnished look at how the KMT, an American ally, quickly burned through Taiwanese goodwill after the end of Japanese occupation. It includes a fair number of reports of Nationalist troops killing civilians. Grim stuff, but well worth a read.