121.893/1–2446: Telegram

General Marshall to President Truman


98. Dear Mr. President: …

. . . . . . .

On my return from Shanghai, the Generalissimo sent me that evening, Monday,98 a representative to convey his view of the situation regarding agreements to be reached, political as well as military, and requested me to see him Tuesday at 11 a.m. I did so. He first discussed the procedure regarding the nationalization of the army, which I have outlined above. He favored delaying meetings until completion of political discussions but accepted my suggestion that there should be no delay.

He then turned to the political situation, the progress of the work of the Political Consultative Conference now in session which is to reach agreements on the formation of a coalition government and the question of representatives to the Constitutional Convention on May 5. This conference was to have terminated its session today but he stated its committees had failed to reach agreements regarding very important points. He asked me if I would be willing to see the Communists and endeavor to persuade them to make the necessary concessions. I replied that informally I would be quite willing to do my best to bring about a solution, but that I myself was completely confused by the debates and that no one had as yet produced a definite program or proposed action in writing; that I must be better informed before taking any personal action, both regarding the Government’s proposals and the Communist proposals and by proposals I did not mean speeches. I meant written documents. In anticipation of some such situation, since the debates and exchanges of written stipulations or generalities seem to have made little headway in settling the “cease firing” problem in the past, and in the present struggles, I had prepared an extremely brief act99 to be promulgated by the Government, setting up an interim coalition government reposing in the Generalissimo power of control as President of all China rather than as at present as head of the Kuomintang Party, over the non-Communists-held portion of China, and including a brief Bill of Rights [Page 143] and a provision for the drafting of a constitution for submission to the Convention in May. This provided a definite basis for discussion and incidentally furnished at least one example of specifically how to go about the establishment of an interim coalition government preliminary to the formation of a constitutional government. The Generalissimo studied my paper overnight and discussed it with me for 2 hours this afternoon. Part he did not understand but does now. Part he thought it dangerous to concede to the Communists, etc., etc. The bulk of the document he agreed with. It did not change the governmental structure except on the highest level, but did set up a Bill of Rights. I characterized it as a dose of American medicine, to his amusement. Incidentally, he is much concerned to have the fact of my having submitted such a plan kept now and for the future completely secret. Therefore, please destroy the record of this radio, for a leak in the press would be disastrous to my mission.

The Generalissimo gave me several lengthy Government proposals1 to study and I am to meet him again tomorrow to see just what definite proposals he will actually make to the Communists and to what degree I would be willing informally to press them to accept. I have decided that even if I am formally requested, as has now been intimated in the China press, to act as a mediator in the political struggle regarding the formation of a coalition government, I will decline to accept. But I will personally or unofficially do my best to secure the necessary concessions by both sides in order to reach an agreement.

I have told the Generalissimo that two factors in my opinion make it imperative for him to find an agreement with the Communists for a unified government and army at an early date. First, that in the present situation China is very vulnerable to low level Russian infiltration methods to the strengthening of the Communist regime and the progressive weakening of the National Government’s position in Northwest China and Manchuria reference Russia, and secondly, that it is apparent that United States military and naval forces can not be continued for long in China. He is much disturbed by Russian actions the past week involving sporadic firing on Chinese troops, failure to evacuate localities and in some instances increasing local garrisons and heavy pressure to secure Chinese agreement to Russian joint participation in the operation of certain heavy industries.2

  1. For sections of telegram printed elsewhere in this volume, see pp. 193 and 373.
  2. January 21.
  3. Supra.
  4. Not found in Department files.
  5. For correspondence relating to the war booty question in Manchuria, see vol. x, pp. 1099 ff.