Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai at No. 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking, July 3, 1946, 10:30 a.m.

Also present: Mr. Chang
Colonel Caughey48
Captain Soong

General Marshall: I have not discussed negotiations with anyone since I last saw General Chou. I thought it was the proper time for me to step aside and let the Chinese handle their own negotiations.

General Chou: I saw the Generalissimo yesterday morning. The Generalissimo talked on four topics. I requested Captain Soong to give you a summary of the conversation.

General Marshall: He gave me the summary.49

General Chou: At the beginning of the conversation, the Generalissimo asked me to comment. I first expressed the view that military matters should continue to be handled by the Committee of Three so that the three subjects pertaining to the cessation of hostilities could be speedily resolved. So far, a resolution has been [Page 1284] reached for the termination of hostilities in Manchuria and the restoration of communications. Some understanding has also been reached on the authority of American members within the field teams and Executive Headquarters. The remaining problem now pertains to the army reorganization, such as the disposition of troops, the period for complete concentration of troops and the army strength ratio. However, the Committee of Three did reach a partial understanding on the period for concentration of troops and the army strength ratio.

I told the Generalissimo that an understanding has almost been reached on the disposition of troops too. The remaining problem is now civil administration. I believe that insofar as the cessation of hostilities is concerned, the present documents we have at our disposal would be sufficient to secure a complete cessation of hostilities. It is hoped that the field teams will strictly carry out pertinent instructions and that the American member shall have the right to make decisions concerning cessation of hostilities.

Since civil administration involves political matters, it seems difficult for the Committee of Three to reach a decision. Therefore, I suggested to the Generalissimo that previous principles laid down by the PCC50 should be applied here. I suggest further that the PCC be reconvened and that the problem of civil administration be solved through the reorganization of the Government. After my comment, the Generalissimo said that it seemed to him advisable first to solve the remaining problems which are not yet solved so that hostilities could be completely stopped. Then through consultation, the National Assembly could be convened and the Central Government reorganized.

Then the Generalissimo came to the 4 main topics:

Regarding North Kiangsu. He said North Kiangsu is too near to Nanking and Shanghai, and consequently a threat to those big cities. If Communists placed an armed force in this area, it would arouse suspicion among others as to Communist motives. Therefore, Communists should evacuate North Kiangsu. By that, he implied that Communist forces should withdraw to the north of Lunghai RR line, and that the whole area should be taken over by the Government.
Regarding the Tsingtao–Tsinan RR. He did not elucidate on civil administration along the railroad line being taken over by the Government. He only talked about it in general terms.
Regarding Chengte. The Generalissimo stipulated that within one month, Communists should evacuate the area south of Chengte. The evacuation of Chengte itself should be effected later after the first month period. He explained that without Chengte in Government hands, Peiping would never feel safe. If the Government would [Page 1285] abandon Peiping, then it could also abandon Chengte; but since the Government must keep Peiping, it has to control Chengte also. The Generalissimo did not disclose whether or not civil administration should be taken over also.
Regarding Antung, he did not elucidate his exact terms.

Finally, he expressed the view that those four problems should be settled, and he assigned Dr. Wang Shih Chieh, Mr. Shao Li Tze and General Chen Cheng to converse with me on this matter.

After the Generalissimo spoke on the four points, I commented on the problem of civil administration. In this connection, I explained to him fully my discussion with General Marshall regarding the disposition of the troops. Briefly speaking, we plan to station only two divisions in North Kiangsu, with no forces to the south of Huai-an.

During the second phase of army reorganization, only one division will be stationed in this area. On the other hand, the February 25 Agreement51 authorized the Communist[s] to station one army there during the first phase and two divisions in the second phase.

As regards the Tsingtao–Tsinan RR, I committed myself not to station troops along the entire railroad line. This permits the Government to station three divisions in each of three places: Tsingtao, Tsinan and Weihsien.

As regards Jehol and Chahar, we committed ourselves to station no troops south of Chengte and to station in those two provinces only two divisions—one at Chengte and the other at Kalgan. In Hopeh province only one division will be stationed at Hantan.

On the other hand, the Government may have at least two armies in the aforementioned areas. This proves that there will be no threat to Government forces.

I explained that I was still in the midst of discussion on Antung with General Marshall. In connection with civil administration in North Kiangsu, I think it affects a population of over 20 million. The Communists have been working for six or seven years in that area. I personally know that agriculture reforms conducted in that area have been satisfactory to an overwhelming part of the population. Of course, there is some dissatisfaction among a handful of people.

As regards the so-called refugees, we would welcome them to go back. We would accede to popular reelection held in accordance with the provisions of the PCC agreements and hope in this way to solve the matter of civil administration.

In his reply, the Generalissimo did not refer to the point of the TsingtaoTsinan RR again. Nor to Antung. However, he again spoke on Chengte. He related that to his discussion with General [Page 1286] Marshall, as you had told me some time ago. The problem of Chengte was brought up in connection with Manchuria. The Generalissimo repeated almost everything you had told me. Some time ago, the Generalissimo mentioned the Hei Lung Kiang province as a garrison area for Communist troops. When you asked that a larger area be assigned to Communist troops, the Generalissimo mentioned Hokiang and a part of Nunkiang, plus Tsitsihar, but in return, the Generalissimo demanded Jehol and Chahar provinces. Finally he conceded that Communist troops need only evacuate the part south of Kalgan. However, Communists should also withdraw from Chengte and the part south of it. The evacuation of the region south of Chengte should be completed within one month, but the evacuation of Chengte itself may take place later. However, the Generalissimo comment was rather lengthy on the North Kiangsu province. He repeated again and again that the presence of Communists in North Kiangsu constitutes a threat to the capitol. He stated that the Communists should give ground on this matter because the other concern is rather small and the Communist[s] would not suffer under such evacuation. He explained that after taking over, the Government would certainly take care of the agriculture reforms.

In connection with my comment that the civil administration matter should be solved by the PCC, he said that once the North Kiangsu province is settled, we may continue discussions in the form of consultation. He also mentioned that by that time, the National Assembly would be convened.

The Generalissimo thinks those four points constitute the crucial issues. No agreement could be reached at the moment, so I did not continue to comment, nor did the Generalissimo. So we parted.

In the evening, I met as prearranged with Dr. Wang, General Chen and Mr. Shao. We still dwelled on those four topics. Dr. Wang spoke at length during the discussion. Apart from reiterating the four points mentioned by the Generalissimo, he further commented on Manchuria. He also mentioned the railroad problem as well as what arrangement should be made regarding the taking over of certain places in Manchuria.

Regarding the regions in the southern part of Jehol, he did not express himself very clearly. He merely reiterated what the Generalissimo said in the morning with some additional comments. But he made a comparatively lengthy explanation as to why the Government demands that Communists withdraw from North Kiangsu and other places. The reason he gave was that the Government had been given one concession on the subject of taking over sovereignty in Manchuria and that the Government had recognized the Communist legal status in Heilungkiang, Hsingan and a part of Nunkiang. [Page 1287] Hence, Communists should in turn give up North Kiangsu and other places to the Government.

Dr. Wang admitted that a principle has been laid down in the PCC agreements to the effect that, in the first place, the Government would be reorganized, the joint platform would be implemented before the problem of disputed areas was solved, and popular election would be held. Therefore, the procedure did not call for an initial settlement of the local administration. He further admitted that the proposition of the Government constitutes a change in procedure laid down by the PCC but there is a reason. The Government is asking the Communist Party to make concessions, because the Government has changed its procedure with regard to Manchuria. The Government abandoned its original procedure of taking over first. It now recognizes that Communists may maintain certain places in Manchuria. This is a concession on the Government’s part. I argued with them on the point of taking over. I explained that the matter of taking over is a problem of the past. It is out of existence. I emphasized that everything in the Manchurian situation should be equal along the line of the PCC agreements. A settlement in North Kiangsu can only be reached along the line of the PCC agreements. That arrangement should not constitute such an independent procedure as to ask Communists to give up 20 million population, which actually amounts to ⅔ of the Manchurian population. Mr. Shao admitted that if right after the PCC, the reorganization of the Government had been carried out, then we would have been very successful in carrying out all these methods. Unfortunately, the reorganization of the Government was not effected. This resulted in a deterioration of the situation during the last six months. The mistrust between the two parties is growing in proportion. Therefore, he demands that the Communist Party make a concession for the settlement of the North Kiangsu problem.

Dr. Wang said that each party must perceive the difficulties of the other party. He admits that the North Kiangsu problem is a difficult one to the Communist Party but the Communist Party should also think of the difficulties of the Government.

General Chen Cheng expressed yesterday that he is not for war but for peace. In his capacity as the General Chief of Staff, he has to keep in mind the best interests of the troops throughout the country and has to understand their difficulties. He further explained that at the time when the Army Reorganization Plan was signed last February, the Government side had more difficulty in implementing that agreement than the Communist Party. Now, its implementation will be more difficult for the Communists than the Government. Therefore, he is far from ignoring the difficulties of the Communist [Page 1288] Party. But the best way to straighten out the matter is to make it as simple as possible. He thinks the best procedure is to reach a settlement on the North Kiangsu problem first, before touching other questions. He spoke particularly of the conversation between General Marshall and the Generalissimo and of how the Generalissimo had asked the leading Government members to dinner and requested them to talk with General Chou today. The Generalissimo emphasized the importance that Government representatives take into consideration the difficulties of the Communist Party. General Chen said that other people may not agree with the Generalissimo’s idea, but he fully agrees with it because he wants peace. He is inclined to think that if the problem can be settled through political and diplomatic channels so that war can be avoided, that would be better for all.

In that connection, I pointed out in a frank manner that we suspect the Government’s tactics. While on one hand, the Government is negotiating with us, on the other they are trying to capture disputed places by force. I pointed out that Government forces have entered the Communist area in North Hupeh from the East and North and captured four or five places in the proximity of Hsuan Hua Tien, the Communist headquarters of that area. I will send to General Marshall a memorandum on this matter this afternoon.52 The Government is compelling Communist forces to go away. Their motive is quite evident in that they want to destroy Communist forces and to occupy the area. I further pointed out that in North Kiangsu, General Tang En Po’s forces have captured a big townlet called Huang Chiao Chen to the south of Tung-tai city. This report was published by the Kuomintang papers yesterday. The information I have, shows that the Government is making preparations for aggressive action. As regards the Lunghai railroad, I learned that a unit of tanks is being moved east from Hsu-chow to Haichow.

Fourth, major military actions are taking place against the Tsingtao–Tsinan railroad. I already told you day before yesterday that the 8th Army had made a thrust to the west from Wei-hsien and occupied two cities, I-tu and Tsang-lo. The latest information showed that Government troops in Tsinan are also opening attacks against Communists. They have already occupied the Ming-Kwan station and two other cities in the vicinity, one of which is called Chang-chiu. Now, Government forces are converging on Tse-Chin and Lin-tse, thus making an attempt to open up the whole railroad line.

Yesterday, the only place from which I have not received a report of military action is Jehol. Reports so far received testify to the fact that the Government is intending to start a war.

[Page 1289]

To my assertions, General Chen Cheng first discussed the Hopeh incident. He said according to his information, the Communist force in that area is only 30,000 strong. It would be easy for him to crush that force, still he has not issued any order to that effect. What now happened is that Communist forces have sallied out to the vicinity of the railroad line and occupy one railroad station so far. He made no reply to my assertions in regard to Lunghai railroad line and Pukou railroad line. He merely made a general statement that he has been sick for two weeks and does not know details but can assure me that no attack is contemplated. He did not go into details regarding various issues raised.

Mr. Tang Pu Wu,53 who was my associate and who went with me to the conference, then put this situation before Dr. Wang: “The Government first made Changchun an issue for stopping the fighting, then it again raised the issue of Harbin, and now China Proper itself is involved. The question of civil administration is also brought into discussion. In connection with the talks, the Government has brought up many questions. As soon as one question is settled, a second one is brought up and new questions are being formed. This, therefore, leaves one to think the Government is deliberately complicating the issue.” General Chen reported that their intention is to make the matter simple and, therefore, they want only to discuss North Kiangsu. Dr. Wang made no reply at all and then Mr. Shao suggested that negotiations be completed before July 7 so as to create a good impression to the people.

From their expressions, I have the impression the Government is still sticking to the four points with particular emphasis on North Kiangsu. Maybe when the discussion is completed on those four points, they will bring up other issues as Dr. Wang inferred. As to the length of the discussion, Mr. Shao may have hinted rightly that they cannot be completed before July 7. On military matters, General Chen confined himself to a general statement that there is no contemplated attack but he declined to elaborate on this point. From their comments, it seems that they did not speak in concrete terms and, therefore, I have the impression that the Government is actually making military preparations. But, at the same time, they will not completely give up negotiations because if the Communists accept their terms on the peace table, it would suit public reaction. Suppose we do not agree with their propositions or that our concessions do not meet their desires, then I feel that military operations will be augmented.

[Page 1290]

When leaving the conference, I suggested that we meet again tomorrow. I specifically asked the Government representatives to lay down all the cards so that we will know what is their ultimate goal at this moment. We want to know the over-all demands and not different issues one at a time. Secondly, I asked them to settle incidents now occurring in disputed areas; for, should the incidents be aggravated, that would amount to a settlement by force and negotiations would become superfluous. The fighting along the Tsinan–Tsingtao railroad just raised evidence of the Government’s intention to fight. On my part, I would ask that no attack be made on Tatung, despite the fact that the Kuomintang press is now making propaganda to the contrary. As to the duration of our discussion, it is of course my hope that it can be completed as early as possible but I think the Government will raise more and more issues as they are now doing. In view of the foregoing, I wish to make this proposal to you: that you by all means endeavor to stop the enlargement of the present hostilities.

Incidentally, the situation in Manchuria at this moment is not so bad because of the efforts of Generals Byroade and Timberman; and also through the recent moderate expression of General Tu Li-ming.54 The situation in Manchuria possibly will not get out of control, but in China Proper the situation is getting more and more serious.

I am inclined to think that the Committee of Three should try as much as possible to get the four documents completed. Three have already been passed by the Committee of Three. The fourth one is the one you suggested regarding cessation of hostilities in China Proper. We should endeavor to get those four documents published first so that the public will have a true comprehension of the present situation and may feel assured. As the matter now stands, Dr. Peng’s55 statement is most disturbing to the public because it can be interpreted in numerous ways. It may be construed that hostilities are stopped or they are not stopped, or that the truce is lengthened with a time limit or without a time limit. It can also be interpreted to mean that the Government will launch attacks under such pretense as for self defense, for the maintenance of peace and order, for the protection of people’s lives and property and for the restoration of communications. Particularly, in that statement he used the phrase “resist and oust the Communists,” which actually implies that the Government’s aggressive action can go beyond any limit.

General Yao, who came to see you day before yesterday, told me [Page 1291] about the comments you made to him and particularly about the points of retaliation. As suggested by you, he will transmit your comments to the generals in Manchuria. I feel sure that he will do that but, because of the weather, he could not go today.

General Marshall: I will start with the latter part of General Chou’s discussion. In the first place, I think he has drawn a wrong conclusion as to the Government’s procedure at this particular time. It was very difficult for me to bring about this present procedure for meetings on the problem of local governments. That is quite inconsistent with the view that they are utilizing this time for a particular military advantage. I believe it is probable that the military officials actually feel that this delay is a disadvantage to them. I agree with General Chou as to the perils of the present situation in North China and the great importance of restraining commanders from any aggressive action. I ask General Chou to keep carefully in mind what great provocation the Communists in Shantung gave to the Government by their operations 9–14 June. This provocation brought about the inevitable retaliations.

I am familiar with the situation north of Hankow and with the situation along the railroad concerned with Tatung. There is no profit in going over that again at this time. I merely wish to say this, that judging from what General Chou told me of his two conferences and judging from my own discussions with Government officials, for the first time in weeks I am greatly encouraged, more so probably than General Chou is. I say that because of my comparison of the views expressed with the determined stand by some of the Government officials and because of the fact that they have gone into these negotiations in the manner General Chou describes to me. I believe I am even more concerned than General Chou to reach a basis which will permit the issuance of instructions for cessation of hostilities. Therefore, I am very anxious to see an agreement reached on this special paper. But I think it will be almost impossible to reach that agreement unless General Chou in these conferences with the Government officials can find some compromise basis for handling the local civil government refugee problem, some basis more explicit than a mere statement. I think that is our greatest trouble. I do not see at the moment any way to reach an agreement on these purely minor phases until that particular adjustment is handled by civil negotiation.

Therefore, I think it is urgently important for General Chou to press on that particular point with a view to establishing some reasonable balance of interest. If that basis can be developed, I believe we can go ahead quickly.

[Page 1292]

At this time there was off the record discussion.

General Chou: Regarding your evaluation of the present negotiations between me and the Government representatives, my survey is somewhat different from yours. I am rather afraid that the Government representatives are not thinking along the line you have suggested in connection with North Kiangsu. Anyhow, I will try my best to work out some sort of arrangement as you have suggested and try to have a discussion with the Government representatives. I anticipate that no result can be obtained because the Government is thinking only of a complete Communist withdrawal and nothing less. There remains the possibility that in the event of a failure in the negotiations, fighting will be resumed. The Government has completed their preparation for military attacks around disputed areas. You just mentioned the fighting that took place in Shantung between June 9 and June 17, but these actions have a great bearing on the fighting that took place in the earlier two months along the Lunghai line, the Tsingtao–Pukou line and to the north of Nanking. I do not see why the Government should at this moment launch any further aggressive action, particularly along the Tsingtao–Tsinan RR. I have already promised the status quo will be restored. General Chou has made this promise in a very ready manner and therefore the Government’s present aggressive actions are in fact going beyond retaliation and is pursuing for other purposes. But in spite of all that, I will try to spare no effort in my further negotiations with them, in trying to clear these things, etc.

General Marshall: I want General Chou always to know what I think. Therefore I must say now I don’t quite agree with him about the Shantung matter when he relates the events of June 9 to 14 or 17th with matters of two months before. To me they relate directly to the negotiations we are endeavoring to hold here. I accepted the actions of June 7th and 8th as being the result of orders which were issued prior to the so-called truce announcement or even before it was proposed, and I also partly excused in my own mind aggressive actions after June 8th because of probable difficulty of Communist communications. However, I could find no excuse at all for the Communist attacks of the 12th, 13th and 14th. At the time I characterized that as provocation which would inevitably result in Government reenforcement and retaliation. I don’t completely excuse the Government, but also I don’t excuse the Communists. I state this now, in the hope that General Chou will not pursue the negotiations with too much of a feeling of resentment against the situation that has more recently developed in Shantung. I hope he can reach a better understanding of Government reactions.

[Page 1293]

General Chou: At the present moment we are not so much concerned as to what side started the attack, and I am not so much concerned about the incident in one or two particular places, but I have the overall picture of the hostilities in view. Referring to the hostilities which now are taking place along the Tsingtao–Tsinan RR line, the attack is being made in accordance with pre-conceived plan which is aimed to open up the whole railroad line, and this therefore constitutes a big scale operation because originally many places along the railroad line were not in the hands of the Government but in the hands of the Communists, and therefore these actions far exceed the scope of that at the time around June 9th. Furthermore, this action is still continuing. This situation exploits that the new plan is still in the process of development. Nor is it confined to the Tsingtao–Tsinan RR alone. Other incidents are cropping up in North Hopeh around the Tung-pu line, in North Kiangsu and along the Lunghai line. What I am particularly concerned with is the overall plan and not one or two particular places.

General Marshall: I think I understand.

General Chou: Tomorrow I will continue my discussions with the Government representatives and I will try by all means to work out some new arrangements and try to settle the issue.

  1. J. Hart Caughey, Executive Officer on General Marshall’s staff.
  2. See memorandum of July 2 by Lieutenant Colonel Hutchin, p. 1278.
  3. Political Consultative Conference.
  4. Ante, p. 295.
  5. Memorandum by Chou En-lai, July 4, not printed.
  6. Member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and of the Communist delegation at Nanking.
  7. Also known as General Tu Yu-ming, Chinese Government Commander in Chief in Manchuria.
  8. Peng Hsueh-pei, Chinese Minister of Information.