Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Held at Nanking, China, December 21, 1945, 9:15–11:30 p.m. 56

Present: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
General Marshall
Madame Chiang Kai-shek
Doctor Wang Shih-chieh (Foreign Minister)
Mr. Walter Robertson (American Minister)
General Wedemeyer

Generalissimo: Would like to know if there is anything you would like to ask or to tell regarding President Truman’s instructions.

General Marshall: I have no questions. I come initially to listen and inform myself. I do not wish to repeat President Truman’s statement with which the Generalissimo is familiar. Nothing I could [Page 795] say now would be supplemental to the President’s statement. The situation as I see it is about as follows. The American people are warmly disposed toward China and they are interested in maintaining good relations with China. There is extreme reluctance on the part of the people in the United States to take any action that could be interpreted as interference of local affairs of any other country. The feeling in this regard is intensely strong at this time and whatever the President may desire to do he is definitely affected by this public reaction. It would be more difficult to maintain American power of force including planes and ships and personnel in this area in the light of public feeling unless there is definite action being taken toward a peaceful solution of the problems presented. The President’s position and his own opinion with reference to what he can do would be affected by the rapidity of action giving definite evidence of a peaceful solution. The President is aware of the extreme difficulties in achieving successful negotiations. I have seen the memorandum that the Generalissimo gave Wedemeyer concerning the situation. It would appear that the President’s power to act, that is, to employ definite military assistance here for the rehabilitation of China, would be strongly influenced by public reaction to genuine concessions made by both the Kuomintang and Communists. In other words, his power would be definitely determined by events. I think that the President understands and it is apparent with my brief knowledge of the situation, the solution is probably involved in the problem of the Communist Army which would not surrender to relinquish autonomy. Whether or not the Communist leaders, after considering the President’s statement, will be genuine in their efforts, remains to be seen. If it becomes definitely evident that they have made no contribution towards concession or solution, they would lose very quickly any vestige of sympathy in the United States. Realizing the publicity power of the critical element, they would undoubtedly receive more publicity than the Central Government.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek: You mean to say that the American Press is more favorable to the Communists?

General Marshall: I don’t mean that. I mean the critic gets the publicity. There are many things, as the Generalissimo is probably aware, that President Truman would like to do to assist in the rehabilitation of China, including industry, imported cotton, shipping and things of that general nature. His action would be limited by Congress—meaning public opinion. By the crystallization in the United States of the degree of effort made to make satisfactory negotiations, the people of the United States at present respond very definitely to the desire to see the termination of hostilities. The more quickly satisfactory basis can be determined for settlement, therefore, [Page 796] the more quickly the President can do something for China. One of the most important points for the President is the time element because of the disposition of our people to term mate the employment of troops out here. I assume but I do not know that the Communists will endeavor to profit by that and they may adopt delaying procedure. This would add to the difficulties. The President has placed emphasis upon the evacuation of the Japanese. That of course is coupled with complications involved with the movement of troops into areas under dispute.

I might summarize all that I have said—that the position of the President depends in a sense almost entirely upon United States public appreciation of the reasonableness and determination on the part of both sides to reach satisfactory settlement. From one point of view that would apply more strongly to the Central Government for throughout the war the United States has supported and assisted the Central Government. I would like to repeat again that I arrive here with a great deal to learn also with genuine appreciation of the difficulties involved in successful negotiations. The Generalissimo of course commands the respect and admiration of the people not only in the United States but of the world for his leadership during the war. Our interest is predominant in relation to this fact. The President to repeat again can do and desires to do a great deal for China but he must have the support of the people. My own mission I feel is to listen and to learn much that I don’t know concerning the difficulties. I understand there is a meeting of the Political Consultative Council which will consider the problems. I come to China as the President’s personal envoy to the Generalissimo and to his Government. That defines my position. I will listen to such statements the various groups may make but any statement of my views and my suggestions will be confined strictly to the Generalissimo. It is not my purpose to make known such views to anyone else even in general to the American Group. So I will not commit my views to anyone, not to any of the Generalissimo’s assistants and certainly not to any among the opposing groups.

Generalissimo: I am very happy to hear what you have just said. I feel that the fact that the President has chosen General Marshall to come to China and the statement he recently made will be a great help to China. I feel strongly that if the statement the President made had been made a year earlier, the Communists would not have been so rambunctious. I quite realize that before the end of hostilities it would have been difficult for the American President to make such a statement. All along it has been the policy to be patient and to make peaceful settlement on the part of the Central Government. Now that you have come out and along with the statement of Mister [Page 797] Truman, we shall persist to seek a settlement in spite of the past experience in negotiations. Now that you have come to China, I would like to make it clear that if there are any questions, you will state them frankly. I should appreciate your advice and suggestions regarding what you see and hear so that we can use political means to reach a settlement with the Communists. I feel that the most important thing that the President said—is the existence of autonomous armies such as that of the Communist Army as inconsistent with and actually makes impossible political unity in China. I am sure you, General Marshall, fully recognize the importance of that statement as I do. We must exhaust every political means to settle this question. That is my conclusion that has been strengthened after I read the President’s statement.

General Marshall: It is understood in the United States that you can not have a unified country with two independent armies. I would like to ask the Generalissimo a question. What is the effect of the President’s statement upon the Communist leaders? What reaction can be expected of them?

Generalissimo: This is not a simple question. You must remember one thing. Their reaction would not be spontaneous. They would have to determine the reaction of the Russians. On the surface both Russian and Chinese Communists deny connection. But in all matters of broad policy, the Chinese Communists rely upon the Russians. Therefore you will please note that the result of the three Prime Ministers meeting in Moscow57 will have a great influence on the reaction of the Chinese Communists. The attitude of the Chinese Communists a month ago has now undergone a change. From the end of October to about the middle of November they were very active and appeared to have considerable support for example arms and equipment, and they were able to attack Central Government forces successfully. The Russians were helping them. Beginning November 15th after the Generalissimo’s Headquarters began to be withdrawn, the Russians realized they had failed in their motives and stopped helping the Chinese Communists. This resulted in the Chinese Communists suffering heavy losses in their actions against Central Government troops and now the Chinese Communists say they want to settle by political means for they want to gain time. When we say political means, we mean it. However, they want to play for time. How are we of the Central Government to face this question? First, we hope that there will be satisfactory agreements reached [Page 798] in Moscow by the three Prime Ministers so that the Russians will be compelled to honor their agreements. Second, we hope to occupy North China in order to make it possible to unify China. If we put enough Armies in that area, the Chinese Communists will be compelled to resort to political means in order to settle the problem. I should like to give you our experiences in the Northeast Provinces. The Generalissimo’s Headquarters sent a staff to Changchun on October 12th. The Russians’ attitude toward this staff and the Chinese Government were very unfriendly and uncooperative. We wanted to land troops at Dairen, however, Russians said we can not land there as Dairen is a commercial port; if military forces landed at Dairen this would be contrary to the Sino-Soviet Pact. We negotiated with them pointing out the unreasonableness of their attitude but they paid no attention to us. We continued to point out that we retain administrative integrity in Dairen even though it is an open port. The Russians suggested that we land at Hulutao and Yinkow. We informed them that we would land there in those two ports on October 26th and the Russians agreed to this and also guaranteed the security of our landing. On October 24th the Russians withdrew permitting the Chinese Communists to move into those two ports. Our attempts to land at Yinkow and Hulutao were opposed by Chinese Communists. We realized now that the Chinese Communists occupied those two ports by consent and assistance of the Russians. Therefore we debarked our troops at Chinwangtao and moved them north by rail. We started to move some troops to Changchun by air. The Russians said that Americans could fly the planes to Changchun but that no American ground crews could remain there. They also allowed Chinese Communist troops to move into Changchun and surround the Chinese staff and Headquarters located there. It is very apparent that their purpose is to create a Puppet Government under Chinese Communists. I saw the situation was getting tense and I wanted to send a representative to Stalin and notified him accordingly. A reply came back from Moscow stating that Stalin was not in Moscow and that my telegram would wait his return to that city. This was November 15th. In view of these facts and knowing that the Russian Army would withdraw from Changchun about November 17th, I notified the Russians that I would withdraw on the 15th of November and that they would be responsible for what happened. They thought we were making a gesture but when they learned that we were in earnest their attitude changed. On 21st of November, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Malevosky, stated that he was sorry that we were withdrawing and that he did not know [Page 799] that our Headquarters had been surrounded by Chinese Communists there. Finally a message was received from Stalin requesting a Chinese representative be sent to Moscow after December 15th. We now plan to send troops into Mukden by rail and into Changchun by air. Every day the Russians are asking us to move troops by air into Changchun. I have not made any definite moves because we have to see what action will be taken at the meeting of the three Prime Ministers in Moscow. Also the question of supplies must be considered if I move more troops into Manchuria. I sent my Son to Changchun as my representative and the Russians urged that Chinese troops be sent. They indicated that they would remain until February 1st. Malevosky made this statement voluntarily. We accepted his offer because we have not sufficient troops and thus gives us more time for preparation. During this whole procedure we never asked the Russians to stay on in Manchuria, they volunteered to do so. However, the Russians are stating publicly that we asked them to stay. What I have just told you is what we have gone through the past few weeks. The Russians attitude has been unfriendly throughout. Whether our armies should now go further into Manchuria, I should like to take up with you in Chungking. Since Stalin wants me to send a personal representative to Moscow, I have decided to send one about December 25th.58 What do you think about this?

General Marshall: I don’t know the details about it. This is the first time I have heard much of what the Generalissimo has stated. I don’t understand the logic to it however. Why should the Russians reverse themselves after November 15th when the Generalissimo removed his staff? There appears to be some other reason.

Generalissimo: The Russians did not want to appear to be unfriendly to the outside world or to have violated their agreement.

General Marshal: I am just learning many of these details for the first time. Mental processes of the Russians are different. Throughout the war we have had some difficulties with them. I must say however in justice to them that this was due to lack of faith on both sides. I found in my personal dealings with Stalin that he inspired me with confidence in contrast to his Foreign Office, however I felt this way in my contacts with the British Foreign Office. I dealt all right with the Prime Minister. Our own State Department might be considered in a similar manner—they use mysterious language.

  1. These minutes were prepared by General Wedemeyer on the basis of notes he jotted down while General Marshall talked with the Generalissimo (611.93/12–2145).
  2. Reference is to the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States at Moscow, December 16–26, 1945; see pp. 829 ff. and Department of State Bulletin, December 30, 1945, pp. 1027–1036, 1047–1054.
  3. In telegram No. 4325, December 31, 11 a.m., the Embassy in the Soviet Union reported the arrival at Moscow on December 30 of President Chiang’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, as the former’s personal representative; Marshal Stalin received him the same day (761.93/12–3145).