Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Notes on Conference of General Marshall and General Chou En-lai, January 5, 1946, 4:30 p.m.

C: General Chou says that on the day before yesterday after he left here he went straight from here to meet the Government representatives to present his counter-proposals and the Government representatives told him with regard to the first point, it was felt that maybe some adjustment on the wording to the first point was needed but with regard to the third point there may still be some contemplation, so they have to ask for instructions from the Generalissimo. Therefore, only a short communiqué has been published on that day saying that an agreement has been reached on principles. Today they will again meet at 6 o’clock and General Chou hopes that a solution may be found quickly, so that the committee of three may soon meet, and hostilities may be soon ceased. With regard to the committee of three, the Government representatives have not yet decided on the representative of the government and they will still consider that and General Chou guesses that you may not yet be informed of that.

M: I have not been informed on it.

C: As to the order of the cessation of hostilities, General Chou has made a study and as a result of his study he thinks of course the Manchurian problem should be an exception. As to how the government should take over Manchuria because related with regard to the transportation of troops with United States and it is also related to the Soviet Union. He thinks it is not necessary to put it in words in this statement. He would suggest that it should only be said that hostilities should be ceased in China and the movement of troops should cover China proper with nothing to be said of Manchuria. He suggested that this second point should only say that in China [Page 21]proper all movements of troops should be stopped and all the other sentences can be dropped.

M: Are you referring to the last sentence referring to local movements?

C: That can be retained.

Then in the third point it would add after the word blocks “and fortifications” because the Japanese have set up quite a few.

M: Blocks and fortifications.

C: Yes. That is what he would [like?] to modify.

M: What is his reason for making this omission in part on Manchuria?

C: Just as he has said before because the Chinese Communists recognized that the Chinese Government has the right to take over Manchuria, and right now the Chinese troops can move into Manchuria through many ways of transportation such as by direct boat, by air and by railways and they have the assistance of the United States direct and also by obligation with the Soviet Union by treaty and the Chinese Communists do not want to interfere with the Chinese obligation both toward the United States and the Soviet Union. It would also involve the Soviet Union in this matter if this is stated otherwise the Chinese Government can negotiate directly with the United States and with the Soviet Union in taking over Manchuria.

M: Suppose we strike out—we omit the portion General Chou desires omitted—then the written word would prohibit the movement of troops from Chinwangtao up the railway into Manchuria because that is in China proper. The written word would prohibit the movement of troops now marching into Shanghai which are to go to Manchuria. The written word would prohibit the movement of troops into Kowloon—troops that have marched all the way from Burma. They are assembling in Kowloon. That is part of the movement of troops into Manchuria and the written word would prohibit that. The Communists, I don’t mean General Chou, but other Communist individuals could say that the Central Government was breaking faith and that the American representative was agreeing with him in breaking faith.

We put those words in, the American officers, in order to avoid any indication of a breach of faith. It may be the National Government doesn’t want them, I don’t know.

C: First of all, General Chou wishes to say that he perfectly agrees that Manchuria should be excluded from the general declaration and if China and the Soviet Union and the United States agree that troops should be moved into Manchuria then of course there should [Page 22]be no limitation to this regulation, but he wants to think it over as to how it can be expressed. Whether it should be expressed in a separate regulation of [or] use a different warding.

M: We might omit it here and have it recorded in a very careful minute of the meeting. “It is understood that …”35 Quite a few things, I think we can draw out that way. We make these very concise, but we can have minutes carefully prepared. It is understood that this that [sic] and all sign the minutes so that is as binding as the issue here by the higher authorities. That is one way to do that. I expect he will be thinking it over, but I believe that is a very good way to clear up a great many points that we don’t want to be in these instructions we issue. They all can begin, “It is understood that, or it is agreed that.[”]

C: Yes, he does think this is a better way.

M: I see no objection to inclusion of the words “and fortifications” in paragraph c.

C: As to the radio, no settlement has yet been reached. They promised that part would be turned over to the Communists operators for four different times but up to now it has not been settled and we still cannot operate it. Apparently it is all red tape and General Chou hopes that this evening he will talk it over with them.

M: I will get word to Dr. Wang before the meeting to urge him to cut the red tape. I am sorry it hasn’t already been done.

C: General Chou hopes that agreement can be reached between the two parties and communiqué can be issued. When do you think will be the best time for the three sides, including you, to meet.

M: The very first hour they will meet with me.

Byroade: It should be before the release of the communiqué.

M: I think there should be no statement before we reach an agreement. The communiqué should be issued before the order to stop fighting because if one party says one thing and another party the other, then we have to start all over again. I think the publication of the order is the communiqué and I might say by way of illustration I don’t care what they say about me. I am quite sincere in that, if we reach a good result, but I care very much about what the two parties say about each other because that makes my task almost impossible. A real negotiation that is a military thing—not a political thing, is easily ruined by public statements. I have a responsibility, a very direct responsibility, to try to achieve a meeting of the minds—an agreement. That is my job. Therefore, I feel that I have a right, if the Communist party and if the Central Government use me, I have a right to insist that they do not make my position impossible, and [Page 23]the premature announcement can easily be fatal the It must be simultaneous and I should be allowed a voice in it. In respect to this particular question, I am not the negotiator, but, putting it very politely, I am the demander, because the job is hard enough without that and I think it would make for great confidence on all sides if there comes out a unified announcement that is businesslike and exact. I think everybody would respect the procedure. They probably will find much to criticize later which we cannot avoid, but we must make a clean start because it will affect all the troops and their commanders. General Chou and I can reach an understanding. Dr. Wang and the Governor36 and I can reach an understanding. Maybe all three of us can reach an understanding. But, it is a long distance down to the troops and they have very strong feelings undoubtedly. Many will be very resentful undoubtedly because they will have heard none of our discussion. All they will have is an order. Therefore it is very important to the success of our procedure that this matter be very carefully handled.

Now, yesterday evening Dr. Wang called on me. He had wished to discuss the probable government reply37 to General Chou’s statement. General Chou’s statement was short but it had several conditions. General Wang proposed several other conditions in reply. I told General Wang and I now tell General Chou that I thought it a mistake to exchange conditions in these papers. That could go on for weeks. The thing to do was to start the conference. Then most of these points could be settled then just as General Chou and I have reached agreement in our ideas on a number of points. The representatives can know all the views and they all can be discussed orally and a record kept. There are many complications but they cannot be solved by writing letters. Therefore, I hope that General Chou and Dr. Wang will decide on our recommendation that we start the conference and then we can find what the trouble is. That is what the conference is for. With only three of us there, with only two sides, it ought not to be difficult, it ought not to take much time to reach a decision in most points and to know where we have a serious difference. The serious differences will go higher. I hope we can perform a miracle and not have any. I gave Dr. Wang yesterday evening the same paper I gave you the day before. He did not have time to go over it here but he read it here, so both of you know what I was talking about.

C: General Chou agrees in line with you and in today’s meeting he will propose that a simple solution should be reached quickly and that the meeting of three should be initiated.

[Page 24]

M: I am ready any time.

C: Do you think the field headquarters should be established immediately?

M: Immediately. My idea is this. The moment we seem to agree, the moment the first point is agreed upon then I want Colonel Byroade to go to Peking or wherever it is you decide, and to take with him the assistants that he has here. The moment we think we are going to reach an agreement, a little earlier, I will want to send an officer from General Wedemeyer in Shanghai secretly to Peking, if that is the place, to see what accommodations we can get. They will start the lay out of how to set the headquarters up. The U. S. personnel will fly with the radio equipment, telephone equipment and other similar equipment from Shanghai. Then it would be my idea that about 36 hours later, maybe 48 hours later, the three commissioners with their immediate assistants, aides, interpreters should fly to Peking. When the[y] arrive, the accommodations will be ready, communications will be at least partly established, offices will be set up. Then the personnel from the Communist group, from the Central Government group should go in immediately. The staffs of the commissioners should arrive after the commissioners, so that the framework will all be established and there will be no confusion. I want to avoid a Communist officer and a Central Government officer all wanting in [waiting at?] the same time for rooms and beginning to fight right there. I think Colonel Byroade can make the thing go up evenly. That is how the headquarters is going to function. Once that is going to be approved then the commissioners should leave very soon, probably within the next twenty-four hours, Colonel Byroade having gone. The first thing would be to learn from the two Army commanders, the local Central Government commander, the nearest Communist commander if there was any trouble, where that trouble was and somebody immediately can make a start, At the same time, or a little later these small groups would start out with their radio communication centers—Kalgan, Tsinan, etc. During this time you are trying to get everything at peace. After that you start on how to organize railway police, by what method, by what people, by what commanders, and at the same time you start then the engineer problem of reconstruction of the railroad. After those things have been gotten under way, you then turn to the problem of first, Japanese surrenders and movements and what is to be done with their arms. That, I think, is about the order in which the headquarters should get going—get established. If there should be a very serious situation at some particular point, I should think the commissioners themselves would go there, but as a rule I should think most of the difficulties could be settled by representative groups of subordinate [Page 25]officers going to the place. Probably the headquarters should have representatives from each army in that region in the Peking headquarters to transmit the orders to the Army and to explain the situation of the Army. My instructions would be in so far as Americans are concerned they, as far as possible, particularly at headquarters, the Americans should be as inconspicuous as possible. At the same time, in the business of the headquarters, I feel that the Americans must take the lead, because we can’t rest on the Communist side and we can’t rest on the Central Government side, but we can rest the frame on the American personnel. For example, the MP’s of the central headquarters should be Communists and Central Government and not Americans, but when it comes to the machinery within the headquarters that will have to be Americans because they are in the middle. The more rapidly and smoothly the machine works the fewer Americans will be necessary. Does that give him an idea of what I think.

C: Yes. General Chou states that the Communist representative shall go to field headquarters first to proceed to Yenan and then to Peking because he has to get some equipment and material, communications lines and radio equipment, and in that respect he asks that he wonders if you will provide the necessary facilities with regard to airplanes.

M: Would it not be best for him to fly from here to Peking in my plane and then go to Yenan, so that they would arrive together. I propose to put my plane at their disposal so that they could all arrive together. We could have a plane there to take him right to Yenan. How far is Yenan from Peking.

C: About three hours flight.

M: From here to Peking is how much.

B: About six hours.

M: What do you think.

B: I hate to see the Communist member arrive later.

M: I hate to see the others arrive without him.

B: I think this is a question for the committee of three to answer because the Central Government may have some arrangements to consider and it could all be arranged at the same time.

M: We can provide the plane and we will work out the arrangements.

  1. Points appear in the original.
  2. General Chang Chun.
  3. See draft proposal of the Chinese Government, p. 18.