Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai2 at 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking, June 6, 1946, 8 p.m.

Also present: Colonel Caughey3
Mr. Chang Wen-chin4
Capt. Soong5

General Marshall discussed arrangements for General Chou’s trip to Yenan. He suggested that General Chou not take over 12 people, probably 10, because of landing conditions at Yenan.

Before departure, General Chou wanted to know General Marshall’s views on the overall situation. In the past, they had exchanged views, but because of the changed situation, General Chou desired to hear again General Marshall’s views. General Chou hoped that after the 15-day period, there would be an actual cease-fire arrangement. That would have a beneficial influence on the situation in China proper. It would reduce hostilities so that an amicable atmosphere would be created for the solution of other matters.

General Marshall said he would try to outline for General Chou, the general measures that would have the most influence towards securing a permanent peace. In those matters, there was definitely two sides and in most of them both sides were wrong to a certain extent. On the Government side, he had to continually fight the conviction on the part of old enemies of the Communist Party—political as well as military—the belief that Communists would not carry out agreements they enter into, but rather would employ delaying tactics invariably to prevent the implementation of the agreement. He also fought the belief that in dealing with the Communist Party, they were confronting Soviet Russia.

On the Communist side, it seemed to General Marshall that he had to fight suspicion of the Government’s intention in certain proposals—General Marshall emphasized proposals, not actions—suspicion of [Page 986]their purpose purporting it to be some object to crush or damage the Communist Party. The Communists believe the Government troop movements have taken place for a hostile purpose.

The Communists had encouraged the feeling he mentioned which was most unfortunate and made General Marshall’s task extraordinarily difficult. This was unfortunate. There was no genuine advantage to the Communists, just a profound irritation in the creation of suspicion.

On the Communist side, there are actions by the Government which might be characterized as threatening or maybe malicious. General Marshall would usually say they were stupid because there is no profit to the Government and only a great irritation to the Communists. General Marshall hoped that General Chou’s people during this period in particular, would avoid as far as possible, measures which had little effect and only did damage. On the other hand, wherever they can concede things to facilitate the rehabilitation of China—that would be very helpful towards securing agreements which he judged the Communist Party desired.

General Marshall had said much the same thing to the Government. He had talked about the suppression of newspapers utilizing a news agency in Peiping as an example. These were very harmful acts. They did no good whatsoever. He thought he had assurance that that sort of business would be stopped. There are many other things, of course, of the same general nature. General Marshall was aware of the reluctance of the Communist Party to put their best troops in a position where the actions of the secret police might put them at a great disadvantage. He would do his best to stop that. Those were all generalities but they had an important bearing on the general solution.

To deal in specific matters, General Marshall stated he thought it was of first importance to the Communist Party that General Chou be permitted to reach agreements as quickly as possible through Colonel Hill6 regarding the restoration of communications. There was no reason for the Communists to fear use of communications for hostile military concentrations against them. He did not think it would be at all difficult to arrange for troop movements in the restricted areas to be cleared through Executive Headquarters. Unfortunately it was easy to interrupt communications the second, third, fourth and fifth time as had been done frequently. That would go to make a continuous impression decidedly to the disadvantage of the Communist Party. The matter of communications was very important and [Page 987]should not be entered into on the basis of trading this for that. Dr. Lo Lung-chi7 talked about their trading aspect with General Marshall. General Marshall though did not agree with anything Dr. Lo said. That was the easiest way for him to state the case. In connection with communications, General Marshall thought that the Communist Party immediately should do whatever it could to facilitate increased production and distribution of coal which affects hundreds of thousands of people. The Communist Party should terminate as quickly as possible, repressive measures that affect entire populations of cities. Whatever the purpose, repressive measures were unjustifiable in the eyes of the world in China’s present state. Also, these repressions had the great disadvantage of stirring up violent opposition in various parts of the Government. General Marshall was trying to moderate the opposition to a point of proceeding with genuine sincerity towards a real effort, not only to promote a lasting peace, but particularly to establish a basis for a new type of Government on a two-party basis.

In Manchuria, General Marshall assumed fighting would continue at certain places, but he hoped that it would subside without too serious a result. He handed General Chou the letter8 he had just received that evening from the Generalissimo9 in which he said that if Communists continue to attack Government forces as they are now doing in places near Haicheng and places south of Changchun, the Government troops reserve for themselves the right to counter-attack. General Marshall said he spoke to the Generalissimo about the fighting which was going on around Anshan and Yingkow. He added that he told the Generalissimo that morning what he had said to General Chou. The situation was so indefinite that he could see no way to make any immediate settlement in that particular vicinity.

General Marshall said General Chou thought Communists controlled Anshan and the Generalissimo thought Nationalists controlled it. General Chou said Communists controlled Yingkow and the Generalissimo was not so certain about that. Anyway, it was a confused situation that could not be unravelled at that moment. General Marshall had been working on methods for terminating the fighting in Manchuria. There was not yet a satisfactory formula or series of regulations. However, he wished to have immediate agreement of the Committee of Three for the Advance Section in Changchun to survey the situation without taking action and to establish teams and communication facilities at various points so that they would be ready to act promptly and would be prepared to carry out efficiently [Page 988]the arrangements that would probably have to be made for termination of fighting.

General Marshall stated that the letter which had just come from the Generalissimo that evening made general statements. It also particularized regarding communications and emphasized the Generalissimo’s stand regarding the matter of sovereignty. Therefore, it was very important for General Chou at Yenan to be fully informed as to his authority to negotiate regarding that particular matter—the movements in connection with the question of sovereignty. The Generalissimo had not told General Marshall what he had in mind specifically. General Marshall recalled previous conversations, mainly with General Yu Ta Wei, and briefly with the Generalissimo, which referred to small Government commands characterized as symbolic in Harbin and Tsitsihar. He had nothing definite.

General Chou thanked General Marshall for the good points and the friendly suggestions expressed. The problem seemed to be how to find a way out regarding the specific problems. The most complicated problem with regard to Manchuria was the problem of sovereignty. General Chou had explained to General Marshall about that several times so he did not need to repeat it. At the time when the Soviet troops had not yet completed their withdrawal, General Chou said he had made efforts to try to get Government troops in contact with the Soviet troops. Later on that problem automatically went out of the picture, but still the fighting had been continued for another month. Now in talking about that question, it had to be lined up with the civil administration. Otherwise, if they proceeded along lines the Generalissimo stated, all places garrisoned by Soviet troops even when the Government had completed taking over and were forced to withdraw on account of continued warfare, all those places should be evacuated by Communist troops before a cessation of hostilities could be established. General Chou thought this point might well be very troublesome.

A second question that General Chou had previously discussed with General Marshall and which was also included in the proposal prepared on General Marshall’s second arrival in China, was that the status quo of the local civil administration should be retained. A solution was proposed through the reorganization of the Northeast council, but the Generalissimo did not subscribe to that idea. Now, the question remained of how to particularize. As General Marshall had said, the Generalissimo had not definitely stated his opinion on that point. It seemed that the Generalissimo did not have that question in mind, yet it was rather the key problem to Manchuria.

General Marshall agreed with General Chou that it was a very difficult side of the problem. He suggested that General Chou become [Page 989]well informed at Yenan as to just what lengths he could go in negotiations when he returned. He would, of course, do his very best to compose conflicting views. He would admit the entrance of political consideration into the 15-day period, though he wanted as little to do with it as possible.

General Marshall said General Chou did not mention the question of reconsidering the final strength of forces in Manchuria. He remembered General Chou’s statement some time ago regarding 5 divisions. General Chou would recall his reply to that. What worried General Marshall most regarding Manchuria, in relation to the short time available, was determining what sort of a plan they could have for the redistribution of troops during the first, second and third months following the cessation of hostilities—also every three-month period thereafter. The Generalissimo insisted on a definitive time schedule rather than just general terms of the original agreement. The Generalissimo was referring particularly to Manchuria, or the Northeast as he described it.

The trouble General Marshall saw involved not only the difficulty of finding a method for stating procedure to be followed in order that there be as few points as possible for field teams to have to decide, but also the difficulty of knowing dispositions of troops. It should not be so hard to get the deployment of Government forces, but they had no information at all as to dispositions of Communist forces. That added tremendously to the difficulty of stating an agreement. He would like very much for General Chou to think of a solution when he went to Yenan. As the matter now stood there was so little data available that General Marshall and his staff did not feel they could write the best draft agreement possible. That was one of the most difficult things to do from a planning basis. There would be possibilities of disagreement regarding various phases. General Marshall foresaw complications regarding redistribution of troops because the Communists were not on the principal roads and therefore their movements would be difficult and indefinite as to the time required. In North China, there was a more simple formula, but that would not apply so well in Manchuria. General Marshall said Colonel Caughey and Colonel Hutchin10 had been working very hard to get it on paper so that it would not result in new disputes on the ground.

General Marshall said they had in mind that paragraph a, which applied to the method of terminating hostilities, might be made fairly brief. He was not certain how they would manage the details involved in the first few months of troop redistribution in Manchuria. The redistribution plan should be a special part or amplification of [Page 990]the agreement of February 25th—something like an annex, as they had already made certain agreements on details subsequent to the general agreement of February 25th.

General Chou said that on the point of final comparative strengths, he had already suggested what General Marshall mentioned about preparing an annex.

General Marshall said then it was agreed that there would be a reconsideration.

General Chou said that was the reason he mentioned the point. Regarding the detailed plan for the army reorganization, he would obtain detailed data. As to the communications problem, he had talked to Colonel Hill that morning. Colonel Hill had only contemplated railway control. General Chou hoped within the next few days, Colonel Hill would also work on other aspects of reopening communications and present detailed proposals. General Chou thought that repair work on railways should be started before everything else, and that reopening of all kinds of communications should be started almost at the same time. Communists should participate in the administration and control of railways. Then, of course, they would have to reach some sort of agreement regarding destruction of fortifications and the abolition of inspection and censorship. General Chou thought it would not be difficult to reach a solution.

General Marshall thought the main thing was to get started promptly. He suggested that so far as possible, General Chou avoid the ordinary practice of negotiations of trading one point against the other in the matter of communications. If he would deal with it more on the basis of stating safeguards the Communist Party desired against misuse of the railways, General Marshall thought that was the quickest way to get settlement satisfactory to both sides. General Marshall felt in regard to that particular matter and the matter of coal, that a genuine effort to facilitate in every way (avoiding debates on this and that) reopening communications would do more than anything else to quiet the fears and unfortunate beliefs on both sides.

Everything in China was suffering acutely from the communications situation. China is fighting the most difficult problem conceivable in her effort to restore conditions to anything like normal. The resumption of normal communications is vital to a recovery of the situation, just as General Marshall felt the development of some degree of confidence in the good faith of both sides is vital to interests of both parties, unless the desire was to completely tear down the Government and that would be very easy to do. However, that would involve a world tragedy and a horror for the poorer people of China.

Thus on one side, they were struggling with difficult negotiations regarding sovereignty affairs in Manchuria, and on the other side a [Page 991]speedy solution regarding communications would help everything. Again General Marshall stated if General Chou would largely confine himself to specific safeguards the Communist Party desired against misuse of railroads by the Government rather than delay this and delay that, or to block action, he felt a satisfactory solution could be reached. He did not expect a miracle meaning he did not expect the policy of retaliation to be completely abandoned by either side. He would do his best to minimize it, but there wasn’t much he could do except tell General Chou when it involved his people and tell the Generalissimo when it involved the Government side. And he was getting tired of doing that. General Marshall said that whatever General Chou could agree to, he should agree to right away, for example the reconstruction of tracks which would take a long time at best. They could discuss other matters like the participation of Communists in the railway administration and censorship and other matters pertaining to communications in general.

General Chou said General Marshall made a very good point on the communications and he would take full consideration of that.

General Marshall told General Chou that instructions had been issued to the U. S. radio station at Yenan to stay on the air continuously from noon tomorrow until Sunday night except between 10 at night and 7 in the morning. Anything that General Chou wanted to use the facilities for that he could send in the clear or in his own code, he was welcome to it. He could use that channel as well as his own to speed up business. Meeting closed as General Marshall discussed airway facilities at Yenan with Colonel Caughey.

  1. Representative of the Chinese Communist Party on the Committee of Three at Nanking.
  2. J. Hart Caughey, Executive Officer on General Marshall’s staff.
  3. General Chou’s secretary.
  4. John L. Soong, U. S. Army language officer on General Marshall’s staff.
  5. Donald C. Hill, U. S. Army, Chairman of Executive Headquarters Communications Group.
  6. Of the Democratic League.
  7. Dated June 6, p. 984.
  8. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
  9. Claire E. Hutchin, U. S. Army, of General Marshall’s staff.