Perspectives on the Iran crisis at the 1946 London peace conference: Ambassador Fu Bingchang's diary

Foo, Yee-Wah (2018) Perspectives on the Iran crisis at the 1946 London peace conference: Ambassador Fu Bingchang's diary. Annali di Ca'Foscari (Oriental Series), Spring (1). ISSN 2499-2232

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On 21 December 1945 General Chiang Kaishek authorised Fu Bingchang, his ambassador in Moscow, to go to the January 1946 United Nations Peace Conference in London as part of the Chinese delegation. Ambassador Wellington Koo (Gu Weujin), based in London, would head the team. Two weeks later, during a meeting with Stalin, Fu notified the Soviet leader of his forthcoming mission. Stalin told Fu he should liaise with the Soviet Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrei Vyshinsky, who would be his leading delegate at the conference, and stated further that if the Chinese team cooperated fully with Vyshinsky, it would be advantageous for both countries. To Ambassador Fu, the undertone was obvious. With thousands of Soviet soldiers still stationed in China’s northeast, and clear evidence from circles in Chongqing and Moscow that Stalin was giving support to the Chinese Communists, Fu took Stalin’s advice seriously.

The purpose of this paper is to offer a glimpse, from Fu Bingchang’s perspective at the conference, as to what it was like to be a diplomat abroad under Chiang’s regime. The Peace Conference is a good example, because the Chinese team there found themselves heavily involved in a key international issue, the so-called ‘Iran Crisis’- a crisis that historians have long viewed as a pivotal event in the Cold War. My key question regarding the role of the Chinese delegates is whether or not they felt (even in a small way) that they had had the capacity to make a meaningful or effective contribution to world events. This is a moot point in view of China’s international position as it was back then, in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. China, along with America, Soviet Russia and Britain, was officially one of the ‘Big Four’ nations, but in real terms China was the weakest player by far, and her diplomats understood this. In London, the moment Iran’s chief conference delegate, Ambassador Hassan Taqizadeh, asked Chinese delegates to support a complaint by Iran against the Soviet Union to the Security Council, Chinese diplomats found themselves treading a thin line. They realised that they would have to balance between supporting US aims to safeguard the integrity and success of the new peace-keeping organisation, along (more crucially) with keeping Soviet support for Chiang’s national government on the eve of China’s civil war.

Whatever Chiang expected his diplomats to achieve in London, he must have understood their limitations. He instructed them to negotiate as best they could behind the scenes, exactly the same instructions given to Chinese negotiators in Moscow, just months earlier, during the signing of the August 1945 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. My conclusion is that Chiang’s diplomats did help to bring about a positive result for the Chinese, and although it would be an exaggeration to suggest that the Chinese team did much more than smooth ruffled feathers, it would be true to say that in their eyes, Chiang’s diplomats felt sure that in their own, informal way, they had made a meaningful contribution to world events.

Additional Information:Journal is Open Access under CC BY 4.0. ( Not linked but a duplicate of
Keywords:Fu Bingchang, Iran Crisis, 1946 London Peace Conference, Wellington Koo, Foo Ping Sheung, Gu Weijun, Hassan Taqizadeh, United Nations, Second World War, WW2, Chinese wartime diplomacy, Cold War, Chiang Kai-shek, Jiang Jieshi, bmjgoldcheck
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V241 Chinese History
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:14443
Deposited On:07 Jul 2014 10:11

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