Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270: Telegram

The Commanding Officer, Liaison Group (McKinley)7 to General Marshall, at Nanking

1210. The following is message from General Chou En-lai repeated to you in paraphrase. Original document follows by mail.

“The following information which is most reliable was sent to me from Yenan: Central Government forces are planning for the extermination of Communist troops stationed in the area North of Hankow under command of General Li Hsien-nien. Preparations are being made personally in Suchow and Kaifeng by General Pai Tsung-hsi8 to close in on and annihilate subject Communist forces. The offensive is scheduled to be launched, in the form of staged banditry and people uprisings, between May 5 and May 9. This information shows that, in the indefinite period prior to their wished-for occupation of Changchun, the Central Government is entertaining a strong design to renew large scale civil war in China proper. I have strong reason to believe, had on bitter personal experience 18 years ago when General Pai Tsung-hsi overnight blitzkrieged and disarmed Shanghai workers battalion under my command, that General Pai Tsung-hsi hatched the above plot and the plot was tacitly approved by Supreme Military Authority of National Government. A side-evidence of the authenticity of this information is that General Pai Tsung-hsi is now in Suchow in the event an all-out assault in this area is launched. Yenan wishes to tell you that the 60,000 Communist troops there will be forced to resist firmly. The National Government must assume complete responsibility for the total civil war and its serious results caused by this assault. I urge [you] to radio the Generalissimo to issue stop orders against such actions, as they are contrary to the truce agreement. I am unable to locate the Generalissimo and this needs his personal attention. Also I have recommended to General Hsu Yung-chang that he and I, together with Americans, tour places North of [Page 650] Hankow where close contact is being maintained by Government and Communist forces, so as to keep the situation under control. I hope that an American representative will be delegated by you to accompany us. All help given by you to forestall an incident of this type will be appreciated. Your kindness in arranging airlift for our headquarters is greatly appreciated. It worries me to find that your special airplane couldn’t land at Chungking this afternoon because of the weather. My associates firmly approved [have disapproved?], because of the weather, my leaving on a Navy airplane tomorrow. I plan to come in plane you have scheduled for me.”9

  1. Lt. Col. James F. McKinley, United States Army.
  2. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese National Military Council.
  3. A marginal notation reads: “Relayed to Peiping urgent”; sent on May 4. A memorandum repeating General Chou’s message was also sent to General Hsu Yung-chang on May 4, not printed.