Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai at 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking. June 12, 1946, 10:10 a.m.

Also present: Colonel Caughey
Mr. Chang
Captain Soong

General Marshall opened the meeting by telling General Chou he would give him carbon copies of notes on these meetings with General Chou as soon as they were typed in final form. Several sets of minutes were still in the rough, though most of the notes had been checked. There was still one long one of a six-hour meeting to be checked.

General Marshall said he first wanted to speak to General Chou about certain aggressive actions in North China—Tehsien, Tsian, and Kaomi. An attack at Tehsien was launched on the 7th by the Communists. A United States officer endeavoring to control the fighting was fired upon vigorously at 500 yards and driven back into the compound, which at last report was under heavy mortar fire. The attack at Tsian was reported to a field team by the Communist commander and the team was forbidden radio communication. At Kaomi the American assistant member, the senior member of the team being in Peiping, reported heavy fighting—the Communists blowing up bridges and railroads both east and west of town. Another American officer attempting to leave the area was turned back by the Communist forces 12 miles east of Kaomi. The Communists now surround the village. The Communist commander would not guarantee safe passage.

The National Government reported to Mr. Robertson attacks along the rail line between Tsinan and Tsingtao, at Changtien, Wei Hsien and at Chiao Hsien. Americans have no confirmation of these reports. At the Tsaochuang coal mine the situation is serious. In Jehol and at Lingyuan, an American member of Team 11 while in town was attacked twice. He conferred with the Communist commander, Ta Chen Tze, who refused to recognize the application of General Directive #2.60 The Nationalist Government reported at Yung Nien on [Page 1026] 10 June that an attack was under way. That has not been confirmed by an American member of Team 31, though he has reported that for the last 10 days a preparation was being made for a Communist attack. A radio just received from Team 7 at Tsinan states that a message received from Chen Yi61 at Communist headquarters at Lin Yi, answering an inquiry of the team, states

“National Government since 10 May has concentrated large forces in the Winan District of Central China. Many big towns, including Tingyuan, Koskin[sic], and Tachiao Shung have been taken. The Nationalists are now planning mopping up drives. Many protests have proven unsuccessful. The Tsao Chuang incident, wherein a Communist team member and interpreter have been badly beaten by puppet troops is unsettled. The Communists are forced to take necessary action for self defense”.

General Marshall had also received a report from General Yu Ta Wei62 that a bridge over the Grand Canal had been blown out on the evening of the 8th. It will take 22 days to repair it. He received General Chou’s note63 regarding the statement of the Nationalist representative in the Operations Division of Peiping Headquarters regarding General Tu Li-ming’s intentions on June 10. General Marshall thought it referred to a telegram from General Tu Li-ming that he saw on the 8th, a telegram which reported fighting at Lafa and stating that if the Communist attacks did not cease, he would take retaliatory action. He took that up with the Generalissimo immediately through General Hsu and Dr. Soong and was assured that two messages had been sent to Tu Li-ming to calm him down. This morning, he sent another message to General Hsu and also a memorandum to Dr. Soong regarding the Peiping incident General Chou just reported.

General Marshall assumed that the attacks at Lafa and at the points in North China just mentioned, were ordered before the arrangement of 6 June had been agreed. What disturbs General Marshall greatly is what has occurred later on the 8th and on the 9th and even the 10th. When he endeavored to go over the outline of the Government’s proposals yesterday at Army Headquarters, he found himself in a meeting where the reports of fighting on the 9th and 10th, and particularly the destructions, had all but stopped him from any prospect of success in conducting negotiations. Especially was this true where he felt that the proposed terms by the Government had to be moderated. He had been very positive, or emphatic, regarding General Tu Li-ming [Page 1027] two days before and then lie was confronted with this series of events of Communist aggressive action two days later.

General Chou said that he had read about these incidents in the papers day before yesterday and yesterday. He wired Yenan on these matters and received reports on some of them. Events had happened in the following way: prior to the 6th and 7th the Government side had made certain preparations. Even on the 7th actions had been taken. For example, last night he sent General Marshall a note regarding the fighting North of Nanking. About 30 miles away, Government troops had taken aggressive action against the captured Laian city and on the 8th and 9th, with continued drives at Tienchang on the 8th and 9th and even the 10th. In the area in Kiangsu and Anhwei, both sides of the railroads are under control of the Communists’ New Fourth Army, which governs also the Tingyuan area. Part of the New Fourth Army had been driven back by the Nationalists. Fighting around Tingyuan had been going on for more than one month. The field team did not come to the spot to investigate. Following occupation of Tingyuan area by Kuomintang troops, there was a systematic purge conducted among the 600,000 village inhabitants. To the south of Hsuchow on the Lunghai railway, two towns were captured by Nationalists and no field team was sent to the area. In the Tsaochuang area, where a Communist representative and an interpreter were badly beaten, no settlement had yet been reached. All of these incidents led the New Fourth Army to take retaliatory action as previously explained. At the same time, puppet troops garrisoning various points where fighting is now taking place, are continuing provocative actions. This is a direct cause of retaliatory actions.

As to these retaliatory actions, General Chou sent several telegrams to stop them, even before his departure from Yenan. The incident which took place to the North of Nanking from the 7th to the 10th led directly to retaliation by Communist forces in Shantung. Conflicts have not yet been stopped in China proper. General Chou told General Yu Ta Wei he would not let conflicts influence their negotiations. Last night, General Hsu told General Chou that hostilities should be stopped but, at the same time, it was important to solve all the outstanding issues. In event these issues were solved, hostilities would be stopped almost automatically. Therefore, he wired Yenan to transmit orders to the New Fourth Army in Kiangsu, Shantung and Anhwei to stop all conflicts and to wait for a peaceful settlement. The Communist forces should, of course, obey such orders. The Nationalist side should take the same attitude, particularly with reference to the area north of Nanking and the area west of the Tientsin–Pukow railway, [Page 1028] the Tingyuan area and also to the south of the Lunghai. Puppet troops in Shantung should take no further provocative action. In the meantime, he was contemplating the proposal of General Yu Ta Wei that the eastern section of the Lunghai railway and the Tientsin-Pukow railway, and the Tsinan–Tsingtao railway be repaired in the initial stage of reopening communications.

General Marshall asked the meaning of the initial stage.

General Chou explained he meant in the first period. Those three railways run through areas where conflicts are now taking place. If arrangements can be worked out with reference to those railways, it would help toward minimizing conflicts. General Yu assured him that during the time of repair no attack will be made. General Chou had assured him he would like the railways to be repaired as quickly as possible. Regarding Colonel Hill’s draft, General Yu Ta Wei said they would take this as a reference. General Chou had found certain points which are very applicable—very suitable—and this evening he would present his final views to Colonel Hill. General Chou would like to see Colonel Hill at 8:00 o’clock. At the same time, he would work out a detailed plan with regard to General Yu Ta Wei’s suggestion concerning repair of the three railways.

General Chou explained the Northeast situation. On the day before his departure, General Marshall showed him the letter of the Generalissimo.64 He particularly noticed, and so told Yenan, that no action should be taken around Haicheng in South Manchuria which would cause new complications. On coming back to Nanking, General Chou sent a message to Manchuria through Peiping. According to the report he received from Peiping, Haicheng City itself was occupied by Government troops who were continuing to mop up neighboring areas. The attack on two nearby townlets lasted even to 10 June.

As to Lafa, some action might be underway because there is no radio communication with that point. It is probable that the order of 6 June had not reached them in time. There might be the possibility that Lafa had not been evacuated by the Communists and that Nationalists tried to take it. General Chou had read from a newspaper that yesterday General Tu Li Ming approached the Communist representatives of the Advance Section demanding Communist evacuation from Lafa at noon of 12 June or otherwise he would take retaliatory action.

Hostilities in Manchuria should be stopped. As to ways of stopping hostilities, General Chou agreed with General Marshall’s suggestion that the Advance Section in Changchun start operations immediately [Page 1029] and that teams be sent to Lafa, Harbin, Haicheng, Kirin and other places to implement the stipulations of the March 27th agreement. General Hsu agreed in principle with such a procedure and had also expressed a desire that instead of trying to reach an over-all solution on all the outstanding matters at one time, they should solve them one by one. As soon as he had worked out some arrangement with General Yu Ta Wei on the repair work of three railways, he may immediately send some official to Shantung to work out detailed arrangements with General Chen Yi. This task would not need to be delayed until the end of the 15-day cease fire.

The same procedure would apply to Manchuria. In the first place, they were working out an arrangement for the termination of hostilities and they would try to solve the matters one by one. In the second place, regarding the three proposals that would be taken up during the 15 days, they would try to solve first those problems that might be easy to solve. They would lay emphasis on military and communications problems rather than on political matters to be taken up at a later stage after the 15 days.

At this point General Marshall made some off-the-record comments.

General Marshall said he would do his best to influence the Government against retaliations, but he asked General Chou particularly to give an order to all of his people to stop destruction of railways and all other destructions unless they are absolutely forced to do so by circumstances, and by forced he meant that there was no other way out of the situation. He said he could not believe that the Communist Party got anywhere by destructions. The evil results generally fell on the people and brought little return except by way of retaliation.

General Marshall said Admiral Cooke65 had just stopped in and he had to see him for a few minutes.

General Chou said that, with regard to the Advance Section of Executive Headquarters operating in Changchun, he fully agreed with General Marshall’s suggestion. General Chou had brought from Yenan a man named Li who came from Mukden and who is prepared to go back to Changchun as soon as arrangements are made on General Marshall’s suggestion that that branch will work on the basis of the March 27th agreement. He would like Li to go through Peiping and Mukden and then to Changchun so that he could explain arrangements to their people. General Chou asked whether transportation would be available as soon as arrangements were agreed upon.

Regarding reported destruction, General Chou said it was entirely self defense. Of course the Government side would not try to destroy [Page 1030] the railways because they needed railways for troop movements. Government measures were different. They undertook to destroy rural areas and villages since communications between large cities would attract attention. Whenever destruction took place on railways, it would be immediately publicized; hence, from the propaganda point of view, it was disadvantageous to the Communists, yet destruction was done by both parties. General Chou said that he would arrange for restoration of communications to begin right away, particularly along the three lines he had referred to. This action benefits all negotiations.

General Marshall said a good bit of fighting was going on along the Tsinan–Tsingtao railroad.

General Chou stated that was reported in the newspaper.

General Marshall stated that Admiral Cooke had showed him some reports of fighting along that line. He asked what the prospects were of stopping the fighting.

General Chou said he had sent a message to Yenan to transmit to Shantung. It may take a little time to reach them, but he thought hostilities could be stopped very quickly.

General Marshall asked if his message was sent yesterday.

General Chou explained that on day before yesterday he learned about the blowing up of the bridge over the Grand Canal and the Lafa incident. He then contacted Yenan. Yesterday he learned from the papers about the fighting and had wired Yenan to stop the fighting.

General Marshall stated that the message Admiral Cooke had from Tsingtao reported fighting several miles north of the city and approaching the wells upon which the city was dependent for most of its water supply.

General Chou said that he learned from the papers that morning about the fighting near Chiahsien which was the nearest city to Tsingtao. The Central News Agency further reported that the city was retaken by Government troops. General Chou had received from Yenan the previous day a few replies to his inquiries. One reply said that actions were taken by Communists as a counter-measure to action of puppet troops. As far as General Chou knew, Tsingtao had no puppet troops so the city would not be taken by the Communists.

General Marshall said he was asking the question because it presented the probability of a very embarrassing problem for him, one made more embarrassing to him at this particular moment. He had heard nothing from the National Government on the subject of Tsingtao, but he anticipated that if there was an advance on the city, the Government would certainly insist on sending reinforcements there which would be a very unfortunate procedure right at this time. The 54th Army was in process of moving by ship from Canton to [Page 1031] Shanghai. General Marshall would assume, though he had heard nothing, that if Communists were advancing on Tsingtao, the Government would insist on continuing those ships on into Tsingtao instead of into Shanghai. He repeated that he had heard nothing to that effect, but he regarded it as a very probable line of action. Therefore, he was intensely interested in nothing occurring in Shantung to give rise to such action at this time.

General Chou said he could assure General Marshall definitely that the Communists would take no action against Tsingtao and Tsinan. While General Chou was in Yenan, he was emphatically assured of that decision because Tsinan is now the center of the Government forces in Shantung and the Government representative had recently worked out arrangements with General Chen Yi regarding transportation of food supplies into Tsingtao. Only in one case would anything occur. That was if Government troops were to take action to annihilate the 5th Division of the Communists in Hupeh. Since they now had an agreement regarding Tsinan, he felt pretty sure that nothing would happen to Tsinan or Tsingtao.

Regarding Tsingtao, that was not only a point where Government troops were staying, but was also a seaport with U. S. Marines. General Chou definitely knew that no incident would take place there. However, he would send another message to Yenan to send to Shantung. General Chou said he would appreciate General Marshall’s telling him or communicating to him any further information or reports regarding the Shantung situation.

General Marshall asked if General Chou had devoted any detailed consideration to the technique to be employed under paragraph a for the cessation of hostilities.66

General Chou said during the last two days, he had mainly devoted his time to the communications problem. As he understood it, Communists had in general concurred in the functioning of the Executive Headquarters branch in Changchun. He had informed his staff officers on that matter. Regarding the dispatch of field teams to outposts, and the procedure for separating lines of opposing troops, General Chou thought General Marshall was working out some proposal.

General Marshall said he was doing that but he wanted to see if General Chou had any ideas.

General Chou said what he had in mind was that a provisional demarkation of garrison lines for the two armies should be determined, and, secondly, the troops should be separated. General Chou had asked General Hsu whether he had made any preparations, and he replied that he had not.

[Page 1032]

General Marshall said he was working on it but the plan was not yet acceptable. He hoped soon to develop one he liked. He would talk with General Byroade tonight. He merely wanted to get a plan that was at least good enough to start with as a basis for discussion. The minute he got it in acceptable form, he said he would send General Chou a copy and also a copy to General Hsu.

General Chou did not quite understand the translation of the part about General Byroade’s coming. When it was made clear to him, General Chou asked whether a man he had down here could go back with General Byroade in case an agreement could be reached.

General Marshall said it was possible but that General Byroade might go to Changchun instead of Peiping.

General Chou said that would work also.

General Marshall agreed to see General Byroade about it.

General Marshall continued regarding the redistribution of troops in Manchuria. What he was mainly concerned about now was the readjustments in the first three months. He asked if General Chou had any ideas about that.

General Chou said the primary thing to be done during the first three months, it seemed to him, was to work out a detailed plan for demobilization and to locate the points or areas at which troops that are going to be reorganized should be concentrated, by both parties.

General Marshall asked what his idea was about the redeployment—his general idea.

General Chou asked if he meant the redistribution, and General Marshall answered yes.

General Marshall interrupted to explain that Admiral Cooke was going to Tsingtao at 4:00 o’clock this afternoon and that should General Chou wish to send one of his people up there, Admiral Cooke would be glad to take him.

General Chou said yes he would like to do that.

General Chou inquired whether the man he would send up with Admiral Cooke could bring a letter along addressed to the Communist Commander. If so, as soon as he got there, he could try to get a message to the Communist Commander to go to their own areas. Could Admiral Cooke be requested to ask the Nationalists to let him go and come back?

General Marshall explained he was just talking about that.

General Chou wanted to know if Admiral Cooke would allow him to use his signal system.

General Marshall explained he was just arranging a means to get this man to the Communist Commander and get him back, realizing the danger of approaching Communist lines and returning through Nationalist lines. His suggestion was that they send him in a jeep [Page 1033] with a Marine and with an American flag on it to the Communist Commander and bring him back.

General Chou stated that to make it safe it would be better to send over a letter first by a civilian, a local person, and to get a reply before this man went.

General Marshall said he thought they could work that out.

General Chou continued regarding the redeployment in Manchuria and said he had in mind two thoughts. One was to station Nationalist and Communist troops in key points which they now have in their hands as the present situation exists. This would be a simple procedure since the number of divisions is limited and only nine divisions would have to be deployed at one of the key points. The second was that his redeployment would be considered on the basis that some cities may be left ungarrisoned.

General Marshall said that even if a city was left ungarrisoned, there would be troops somewhere in that region which would in effect dominate that city. He asked General Chou what about that.

What General Chou had in mind regarding large cities was that, of course, they would have local police to garrison the city. Troops could be stationed perhaps not far away. Maybe the Government would not agree to this point of view because there are many big cities on the main lines. The main line is the Changchun railroad and, of course, there might be different arrangements with regard to cities on this railroad if they were left ungarrisoned.

General Marshall said he was not talking about local arrangements of security, but about disposition of troops, even though in the city.

General Marshall said to tell General Chou he caught Admiral Cooke’s staff officer before he left and arranged for him to provide the communication facilities.

General Chou said what he had in mind was that regular forces would not be a very large number. Thus, many towns would be left empty. Troops would be rather far away from some cities at least. He told him he was going ahead with that (the paper for the termination of hostilities).

  1. January 20, issued by Executive Headquarters, Peiping, not printed.
  2. Chinese Communist commanding area in Shantung.
  3. Chinese Minister of Communications.
  4. Not printed.
  5. June 6, p. 984.
  6. Adm. Charles M. Cooke, Jr., Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
  7. General Marshall’s draft of June 8, not printed.