Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Conference Between General Marshall and General Jao,26 at General Marshall’s Residence, Peiping, July 1, 1946, 5:30 p.m.

Also present: Mr. Chang27
Lt. Col. Hutchin28

General Marshall was informed by Gen. Jao of the latter’s position as the political adviser to Gen. Yeh29 in the Executive Headquarters at Peiping. General Jao stated that he was going to Yenan before returning to Changchun to become the Communist Representative in the Advance Section of Executive Headquarters. Gen. Jao stated that he had visited Gen. Lin Piao30 twice at Harbin. Gen. Lin Piao wanted to convey his deep thanks and appreciation through Gen. Jao to Gen. Marshall for his tireless effort in obtaining peace for China. Gen. Marshall’s effort was also appreciated by everyone in the Executive Headquarters, particularly his efforts in extending the truce. He also stated that he had gone to Manchuria twice with Gen. Byroade31 and that they had planned to go to Harbin together where Gen. Lin Piao had prepared an elaborate reception. However, unfortunately, Gen. Byroade took ill, and the trip was made with Col. Tourtillott,32 with whom Gen. Lin Piao had a successful conversation. Gen. Jao expressed that the Communist troops in Manchuria were hopeful of a peaceful settlement. This hope was diminished somewhat when it was found that the field teams sent there were unable to carry out their mission. However, this hope was again brightened by the 15 days’ truce and the subsequent extension.

Gen. Marshall stated that he was very glad to meet Gen. Jao and to talk with someone who had come directly from Changchun and Harbin. He appreciated Gen. Jao’s courteous expressions of good will and hope for peace. In fact, his hope for peaceful settlement was even greater than that of Gen. Jao. Gen. Marshall regretted that Gen. Byroade was ill, but expressed his great confidence in Gen. Timberman33 to carry on the work successfully. He assumed that Gen. Jao [Page 1275] was completely informed on the general situation by Gen. Chou. He could not estimate what all the aspects of the situation were. However, the basic trouble was the fears of the two parties and their intense suspicion of each other. The problem would be very simple to solve if each side could be more careful in estimating what the fear was on the other side with regard to some particular matter under discussion. As a rule, General Marshall felt, each side only had in mind its own fears which greatly influenced its action and decision. He was probably more aware of the fears on both sides than any one else. In attempting to analyze the situation, it seemed that the greatest difficulties had this background of uncertainty. The Communist Party had a theory of government which was related to individuals and to the economy of the country. Since that theory of government had its chance to be tried out during the past 25 or 30 years, the party has struggled for its place in the sun and has involved itself more in methods of the struggle and technique. In order to survive and get ahead, it had completely concentrated on methods of operation rather than the objective of its ideology. Criticism of the Communist Party, Gen. Marshall believed, was more frequently directed at the technique of operation or methods in the struggle than against the ultimate principle; and mistakes were very common in characterizing technique as Communistic when it was merely a method to gain the end. On the other hand the Kuomintang had never experienced anything but the procedure of concentrated control. There was the initial necessity for one party rule. Consequently, it was difficult to convince Kuomintang people after a long [lease?] of power to relinquish such undivided authority.

Gen. Marshall then expressed the opinion that the Government’s fears at this moment were not so much regarding the ideology as of the methods, and the future possibility of autocratic control. He then cited Soviet Russia as example where there was little freedom of press or freedom for the individual as we understand it in America. Whenever the issue of Chinese Communist Party arose, it was inevitably compared with Russia which greatly confused the issue.

To put it briefly, Gen. Marshall said that he found himself considering a certain issue one week in which he was warmly and aggressively in support of one party: then the next week, on another issue, he would be just as warmly and aggressively in support of the other party. He emphasized that the policy of retaliation on both sides did more harm than anything else. As a rule, it did no good and only caused trouble. It almost defeated General Marshall in his negotiations. He then cited the retaliatory acts on both sides which greatly hindered his efforts in trying to obtain compromise. He further stated that [Page 1276] the most serious difficulty he had to deal with regarding the Government and the Communist Party in North China was the continued advance of Government troops after their occupation of Changchun and the continuous attacks by Communist troops in Shantung during the truce period after June 8th. Gen. Marshall then expressed his hope in Gen. Jao to use his influence to stop retaliatory acts while we tried to settle things by negotiation. He explained that in English, the word “retaliation” had almost the opposite implication of the word “negotiation”. He wanted Gen. Jao to express Gen. Marshall’s feeling in this matter when Gen. Jao returned to Yenan and Manchuria.

Gen. Jao replied that he would express General Marshall’s statement to Chairman Mao Tse-tung at Yenan and Gen. Lin Piao in Manchuria. He explained historically why there was great suspicion and bitterness between the Kuomintang and Communist Parties. He stated that when Doctor Sun Yat-sen was still alive,34 Communist Party and Kuomintang were in close cooperation and that the armed forces of Kuomintang was built up with the great assistance of the Communist Party. When Dr. Sun died, the Republic was filled with war lords. The Communist members did not wish to be involved in this situation, consequently, they only took up work in the fields of politics and education. In 1927, the split between the two parties took place. The Kuomintang capitalized on the weakness of the Communist Party in that the latter did not have control or command over the army. Consequently, an overwhelming number of Communist Party members were arrested and killed. Very few survived such as Chairman Mao. They had no place to go and were cornered to fight for their lives. So they stood together with the people and took up arms for the first time to fight their life and death struggle. They survived on account of the support from the people. Now, the people in the Communist areas can express themselves freely due to this fact. This great lesson of the past led the Communist Party to be suspicious. They could not help but recall their past bitter experience. In order to wipe out such deep suspicion now, the Government must take practical action to prove that such suspicion was now out of place. Although the military strength of the Government was far superior, the Communist Party was much more influential with the people. Therefore, the two parties were of equal strength when taking both political and military considerations into account. Gen. Jao further stated that it would be easy to persuade the people in Communist areas not to take any aggressive actions if the Government would not take any aggressive actions themselves. Hostile [Page 1277] actions on part of Communists were caused by self defense and by the bitterness of past experience. They had to protect themselves if they were to have a future. Also, the Communist Party was obligated to fulfill the wishes of the people. These were the reasons which had a bearing on the present situation. He emphasized one point, that whenever instructions were issued by Chairman Mao or the Central Committee, they enjoyed high prestige among the lower echelons of the Communist Party. This indicated factual support. Geo. Jao further stressed that the Kuomintang is the largest political party in China and it will play the leading role in the Government. He wanted General Marshall to persuade the Generalissimo to moderate his position actively and on his own initiative.

General Marshall replied that he would give Gen. Jao’s statement sincere thought. He clarified that, when he spoke of retaliation, he was referring to the hostile operations during the critical hours of the negotiation.

  1. General Jao Su-shih, member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Vice Commander of the New Fourth Army.
  2. Chang Wen-chin, personal secretary to General Chou En-lai.
  3. Claire E. Hutchin, member of General Marshall’s staff.
  4. General Yeh Chien-ying, Chinese Communist Commissioner of Executive Headquarters at Peiping.
  5. Commander in Chief of Chinese Communist armies in Manchuria.
  6. Brig. Gen. Henry A. Byroade, U. S. Army, head of the Advance Section of Executive Headquarters at Changchun, though absent from duty because of illness.
  7. Col. Raymond R. Tourtillott, American member of the Advance Section of Executive Headquarters at Changchun.
  8. Brig. Gen. Thomas S. Timberman, Acting Director of Operations of Executive Headquarters at Peiping.
  9. Sun Yat-sen died March 12, 1925.