Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Notes on Conference Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai, January 3, 1946, 3:30 p.m.

C[hou]: The Chinese Communist Party welcomes General Marshall’s participation in matters pertaining to cessation of hostilities, announcing of surrender and opening up of communications, because Yenan20 feels that armed hostilities might be effectively stopped. In order to accomplish this, General Marshall’s participation in this matter is in the interest of the Chinese people. Further, Yenan telegram says that in order to achieve this aim, it is necessary that orders should be immediately issued for the cessation of hostilities on a nation-wide scale. The same telegram calls attention to the fact that right now serious armed hostilities are taking place in province of Jehol and along the Tientsin–Pukow railway and these hostilities must immediately be stopped and General Chou En-lai is very pleased to receive such a reply from Yenan and, therefore, he calls on you first to inform you about this reply. General Chou, based upon the instructions from Yenan and the last talk he had with you, has now made a draft21 on the cessation of armed hostilities and he will then [Page 12]take this directive to National Government in order to reach a decision, but he wishes first to show you this draft.

General Marshall read General Chou’s draft.

M[arshall]: I take it that this part I just read that the conference be immediately declared stopped, you are referring to the group here of your representative, the Central Government’s and myself. Now I outlined to you what I thought had to be done on the ground. If such a headquarters as that was created are you referring to that being wiped out right away too? I asked that question because as I see it, the work of the group here will be over long before the work of the group there. The group here will be probably very quickly done, so it will then go to the Consultative Group.

C: General Chou agrees with your idea that the headquarters on the ground may continue to work even if this group of three has been closed out.

M: That is as I see it. This group here sets the stage and the work goes on in the field, then we don’t continue.

Shepley:22 PCC itself would replace the committee here.

M: You relieve me—that is very encouraging to me.

What my staff and I are arguing about is whether I could properly read to you the idea I had for the cessation of hostilities or whether I must wait until you and the other representatives are together. I have decided that I will read it to you, but I will ask you to keep it to yourself. The basic difference between the draft I had made and your paper is only in one thing and that is regarding the number of troops now in progress to Manchuria. The U.S. Government is committed to the movement of troops into Manchuria. What I had done was to have Colonel Byroade and the staff officers I brought up from Shanghai, thresh out the practical procedure so far as they could guess and so far as I could foresee, so that if a meeting was agreed to I would be prepared mentally to put forward what seemed to me a practical procedure. Therefore, they had made drafts as I told General Chou the other day, first of the initiation of the immediate order for the cessation of hostilities.23 Their draft, which seemed to me a good one, I wish to read to General Chou. It was proposed to send a memorandum such as this to Mao Tse-tung through General Chou En-lai and a similar memorandum to the Generalissimo. Now this I am assuming would be the agreement of the three.

General Marshall started to read until a translation was brought in which General Chou read.

M: Now that is merely what I would propose to the conference [Page 13]itself, if there was an agreement to the conference. Here is an agreement (referring to General Chou’s memorandum). I don’t know whether the Central Government people would accept that (General Marshall’s memo) just as I do not know whether you, General Chou, would accept it. Nobody has seen that except you, and that is something for debate later. The reason I wanted you to see it now was all of this seems perfectly all right to me with the exception of movements into Manchuria. So I wanted you to see what I said there. The main thing, as I see it, is this is an agreement to the conference and this is the first statement of Communists’ views and I am perfectly gratified that there should be this indication of general understanding and I will ask General Chou just to assume he has not seen that, but whoever comes to the conference can expect that I will make some such proposal. I will say again I am very much pleased and gratified to see this long step towards bringing about a cessation of hostilities, because that clearly is essential before there is any discussion and I am in thorough agreement with General Chou that this preliminary committee should pass out of the picture just as soon as it has performed its initial functions of this order and the directive to the local headquarters. My concern is with the first two parts rather than the third. If that is to be brought up in this meeting of the three I will do my best, but that isn’t what I am concerned about. That introduces political factors (the selection of representatives) and purely Chinese affairs. Now whether that is brought up to the committee of three I don’t know, but I don’t feel that I should be the person in there. I will be willing to help, but I would be very much dismayed if it got in the way of the first two. Will you state to General Chou that I appreciate his coming here this afternoon in all frankness.

C: General Chou wishes to call your attention to two points. The first point is about the restoration of communications. In his draft it is proposed that all means of transportation should be restored instead of saying railway communications only. All types of communications. He indicates it in this way because it is not only railway bit [but] air traffic, sea traffic, telegraph, post.

M: We are in agreement. We agree to that.

C: It is not only incoming by the Chinese but also for the foreign correspondents and the missionaries restoring all the others.

Byroade: Will you read part C to see if it is correct.

Interpreter: “All kinds of actions pertaining to the destruction and obstruction of all communication lines should be stopped and all kinds of barriers to the land communications lines should be immediately removed.”24

[Page 14]

B: That is all right.

C: Only the land mines have barriers.

And the second point is on the Manchuria problem. General Chou understands that there is some exception on this Manchurian problem and he recognizes this exception because it not only affects China and the U.S. for the communications, or to application to certain Chinese troops in Manchuria, but it also affects Sino-Soviet Pact.25 But how it should be set forward on this point, General Chou wants to contemplate on this matter.

M: He wants to think it over.

Interpreter: That is it. Please correct me if I am wrong.

M: Contemplate is all right.

C: General Chou wants to make certain the proposal to be submitted to the Generalissimo is just the same.

M: Identical.

You say, “Both sides should immediately …”.26 That is all right as a basis of our agreement, but you have got to be very precise as to time and date. Going back to paragraph D [B], last line. “There also may be the purely local movements necessary for supply, administration and housekeeping.” You may have troops deployed. That sentence does not apply to Manchuria. It applies everywhere.

C: I understand.

M: This is merely the first draft. We have tried to find out how much you could say at the state [start?] and just use as precise terms as you could in covering the various points.

C: General Chou said he has something to say about your idea on the field headquarters on the ground. He desired to say that it may work quicker and more effectively if there are more than one headquarters, but many headquarters in different places and therefore we would like to suggest that it would be better to have many sub-quarters under this main one. Main headquarters will be under the committee of three.

M: I feel there should only be one directing headquarters, but our plans that I was preparing to submit to this group of three of which I would be one contemplated four radio communication centers which means four smaller headquarters and eight little stations in various places in the field as a beginning but only one central headquarters. Equipment for four communications sub-headquarters and eight little groups, combined headquarters to look out from place to place as a beginning.

C: What is your idea of the site of your field headquarters.

M: They have been studying the map and they have looked at three [Page 15]or four proposed places. The most central one seems to be, considering airfields which are very important, at Tsinan. However, the difficulty of communication there and all seemed so great that for the time being it appeared that the headquarters should be started at some point that had more facilities. It seemed to us that communications, air, radio, roads, telephone and accommodations were very important for the beginning. The nearest place we could find that has all the accommodations and communications to permit a rapid establishment and the quick transaction of business was Peking. Whether that could be considered for any length of time I don’t know. You certainly could start more quickly there. I thought of complications that might arise because of the presence in the Peking area of a regiment of Marines and if there was, I would consider taking up with General Wedemeyer the removal of those Marines. I do not know the conditions, but I do not imagine there would be any difficulty about my having them moved out of Peking if that was going to be an objection. Peking naturally has more communications and resources than anywhere else. I would be much interested in having General Chou’s suggestions.

C: I think it is very good to have Peking as a center of the field headquarters, but it may be necessary to move it from time to time.

M: I think so too.

C: With regard to the subsidiary field headquarters, he suggests they should be set up in places where fighting is taking place or is most imminent and he suggests the following places for consideration:

One at Jehol, Province of Jehol at Changteh,

One in Province of Chahar at Kalgan,

One on Tientsin–Pukow railway at Tsinan or Hsu Chow,

One on the Peking–Hankow railway at Hsin Hsiang,

and one on Tatung–Tunkow railway at Tatung.

M: He might like to hear the leading paragraph in the proposal I was prepared to make for the organization of the executive headquarters. (General Marshall read part on Executive Headquarters).27 I will not go into the details of various staffs and that of what we arrived at here, except to say here: “An Executive Section will be composed of number of officers and men required to supervise adequately in the field the various agreements and to render the required reports. Chinese representatives shall be equally divided between the National Government and the Chinese Communist Party.” That is just a rough outline, that is one way of agreeing on the thing. They tried to prepare for me what I might have to say and I will have whatever that is translated like that so that I have it when the meeting of three is held. I think that that arrangement permits them to work [Page 16]out on the local situations with a fair degree of understanding on all sides and I would see that the American officers, all of them, were absolutely neutral. Their views would only relate to the thing they saw on the ground, as to the necessary military arrangements.

C: General Chou is very much gratified that you have told him beforehand about your idea and he will first think it over.

M: I didn’t have any idea that he could tell me now but I wanted him to know. I would like to say now, that to repeat again, that this statement of my views I would like him to regard that as confidential—the fact that I have given them all. If the representatives of the Central Government called on me as he has done, I would do the same thing, but I will not go to them nor will I discuss this paper he has given to me. I leave that entirely to him to announce. I will have nothing to say about that or will any of my officers. Now I would like to ask him whether Dr. Wang communicated to him as to communications—radios?

C: Dr. Wang sent somebody over to General Chou on this matter. He sent them today, and this man told General Chou that it has not been possible yet to install this radio station, but radio stations of the National Military Council would provide a part of the station for the Chinese Communist Party and asked General Chou to send his own personnel to operate it.

M: Is that satisfactory?

C: General Chou is going to see Dr. Wang this evening and I will talk it over with him.

M: If he does not reach a satisfactory agreement I would like to know. It is this three [way] communication under your own control I regard as very important to successful negotiations. [At?] This executive headquarters I regard [it?] as very important that the Communist Party representative, the Central Government representative and the U.S. representative each have his own channel and the same here during this conference. So I hope the proposal to turn over to your operators a part of the plant will prove satisfactory.

C: General Chou doesn’t know yet how it is going to be operated and whether it will be satisfactory. If he finds anything wrong he will let you know immediately. Right now General Chou is going to meet the Government representatives and he will submit the same directive he has shown to you and he will let you know about the results.

M: Let me make one suggestion. In his talks to the Government representatives I think he (General Chou) should propose that they have a mutual understanding that no press release of any kind be made until a formal agreement was reached. The exact wording of [Page 17]which is decided upon and then they agree on what is to be said to the world. This is not a political consultations [sic] which you mur th the press sometimes if you can. This is a military matter for ace of China, rather for the cessation of hostilities and it would st unfortunate if the negotiation was disrupted by some outside press business, so I think it is very important to have an immediate understanding that nothing comes out until we get together, until we decide—until Mao Tse-tung and the Generalissimo approve it and then, not until then, then the statement is agreed upon.

C: General Chou says it is most unfortunate that Government proposal was immediately published by the Government so I was forced to announce the first Communist proposal.

M: I hope that is water over the dam because I have a new dam.

C: Thank you very much.

M: I think we understand each other.

  1. Chinese Communist “capital” in Shensi Province.
  2. See counterproposal of the Chinese Communist Party, p. 10.
  3. James R. Shepley, member of General Marshall’s staff and Attaché of Embassy in China.
  4. Draft memorandum prepared by the staff of General Marshall, p. 6.
  5. The interpreters’ translation of part C is not identical with text but substance is the same.
  6. Signed August 14, 1945, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. x, p. 300.
  7. Points appear in the original.
  8. See draft plan prepared by the staff of General Marshall, p. 9.