The use of two atomic bombs by the Americans against Japan in August 1945 ended the war sooner than anyone in China expected. Chiang Kaishek returned in triumph to Nanjing in the fall of 1945, but soon the ebullient mood in China was muted by what everyone knew was on the horizon: the final showdown between the Nationalists and the Communists.
For a time the Americans tried to mediate in China and prevent civil war. This, however, turned out to be an impossibility because each side was determined to defeat the other and was not sincerely interested in any sort of reconciliation. At the same time, however, both sides attempted to curry favor with the United States and tried to humor the idealistic American diplomats who sought to reconcile the Nationalists and the Communists. The U.S. government was sympathetic with the Nationalists for the simple reason that Chiang Kai-shek’s regime was almost universally recognized as China’s government at the time.
Immediately after Japan’s surrender, American diplomat Patrick Hurley, a cantankerous and apparently prematurely senile man, tried to get the two sides together to conduct discussions. Yielding to U.S. pressure,