The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Stevens) to the Ambassador in China (Hurley)19

No. 277

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Embassy of the revival here during the past few days of previous rumors to the effect that some rather sharp differences of opinion exist among Chinese Communist leaders at Yenan. My principal informant, who represents himself as being a mining engineer with Communist affiliations, spoke very positively of these differences in words substantially as follows:

Mao Tze-tung and Chu Teh20 have not seen eye to eye lately on several important political issues. Word has reached here from Yenan crediting Chu Teh with having told someone in authority that the Communist troops under his command would not tolerate any compromise made by Mao Tze-tung at Chungking which might challenge or impair Chu’s supreme command of 18th Army forces. Chu actually believes that he, personally, represents 200,000,000 people in this country, most of whom are farmers and laborers residing in areas formerly under Japanese control, and that Mao’s influence is primarily among several million party adherents in areas that have never been occupied by the Japanese. Although Chu gave his consent to Mao’s Chungking [Page 463] mission, he did so reluctantly and urged Mao to constantly bear in mind that, with or without Soviet backing, their 1,000,000 regulars and 2,000,000 guerrillas were more than a match for any force that the Central Government could muster against them. Moreover, the Communists could depend upon a huge army of underground workers in nearly every province north of the Yangtze, as well as in parts of Honan, Hunan, Chekiang, and Kiangsi.

Another point of difference between the two leaders concerns the time of effecting a coalition government. Chu desires that this be done at once, but Mao believes that the Communist cause will be materially strengthened if coalition is postponed until after the Kuomintang tries and fails to elect by democratic processes the People’s Congress in November this year.

Mao’s views in regard to the treatment of surrendering puppet troops are also not shared by Chu Teh. Chu desires that these troops be disarmed and their leaders punished, while Mao thinks that they might be useful to the Communists if dealt with leniently.

My informant said that he did not believe that these differences would lead to a split at Yenan because the two leaders solidly supported each other in carrying out nearly every other phase of their political program. He appeared anxious that I inform someone in authority that all Communist leaders now viewed with disfavor the American Army’s practice of transporting by air to Communist encircled cities of North and Central China large numbers of National Government officials whose object is to entrench themselves there and prevent Communist contact with the surrendering Japanese forces.

Respectfully yours,

Harry E. Stevens
  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Embassy in China on September 19 without covering despatch; received September 28.
  2. Latter was Chinese Communist military chief.