Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Memorandum by General Chou En-lai to General Marshall

My Dear General Marshall: According to reports I received from Yenan and the Headquarters of General Li Hsien-nien, commander of Communist forces in the Hankow area, Government troops under the command of the Hankow military authority and General Liu Chih of Honan, about nine armies strong, are being feverishly engaged in redeployment, with a view to tightening the belt around the Communist forces and to annihilating those 60,000 men. The present situation has become so critical, that the offensive against the Communist forces seems about to be unleashed at any hour. In addition to that, General Kuo Tsien, of the Hankow Generalissimo’s Headquarters, has denied the entry of UNRRA and CNRRA officials into the Communist area, while Communist personnel are prohibited to procure food from outside. Outgoing Communist personnel and demobilized wounded soldiers are either arrested, or mishandled or murdered. As to the 1,200 aged, young, sick and wounded, they are not permitted to evacuate despite previous agreement to the contrary. I wish to point out that all these instances show the deliberate design of the Government forces to instigate a new civil war in China proper and to wipe out the Communist forces referred to.

You may recall, that at the time when we were in Hankow while on our tour, General Li Hsien-nien by his conduct in preserving peace and complying with the truce terms has won your particular commendation. I may therefore presume that you are quite well aware of the predicament into which he is now placed.

While drawing your attention to this critical situation, I request you, as the chairman of the Committee of Three, to warn the Government representative, that in the event the pending offensive is launched, it will be viewed by the Chinese Communist Party as the signal given by the Nationalist forces for unleashing a nation-wide civil war, for which and its far-reaching aftermath the Government will be held responsible.

You are further requested that you would, in furthering your efforts toward bringing about peace and stability to China, extend your assistance toward giving protection to the security of those Communist personnel, making the Communist area accessible to the UNRRA and CNRRA officials, and allowing Communist personnel to procure food from outside, and the aged, young, sick and wounded to evacuate. In view of the seriousness of the situation and being [Page 649] aware of your immense concern over the Chinese people, I feel confident that you will exert the best efforts for the good of China.

Any reply you favour me would be appreciated.6

Faithfully yours,

[Signature in Chinese]
Chou En-lai
  1. A marginal notation reads: “Copy to Gen. Yu Ta-wei who said he’d see Gimo immediately—further said UNRRA proposition would be worked out immediately and aggression (1st par[agraph]) would be straightened out providing Com[munists] abided by Cease Fire.” General Yu, Chinese Minister of Communications, was acting representative of his Government on the Committee of Three.