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 8, 1946, 4 p.m.

Also present: Mr. Chang
Colonel Caughey
Captain Soong

General Marshall: I was told by way of telephone that very little had been accomplished in the conference designed to resolve the local civil government question. Is that correct?

General Chou: I feel a bit sorry for the last week since little was accomplished and time is lost, but the only good thing is that both sides have a better understanding of each other’s points.

General Marshall: I was hopeful that was the case. Direct negotiations do have that effect, which maybe in the long run is the most important factor. My concern is the situation north of Hankow and around Tatung. Since it has grown so serious I have been fearful it would lead to a complete rupture and thus defeat any results [Page 1318]we might obtain by these negotiations. I wrote a letter80 (attached) to General Hsu today regarding the situation north of Hankow in which I referred to a report from General Yu Ta Wei and a statement from General Chou.

(A portion of the letter was translated to General Chou.)

General Chou produced a map showing the areas now occupied by the Nationalist troops.

General Chou: The 9th field team is now completely guarded by the Government side. Earlier the three commissioners in Peiping issued a notification to General Chen Chien, the Government Commanding General in Hankow, and General Liu Chili in Honan and at the same time to General Li Sen-nien that both sides cease attacks and troop movements. A copy of the notification also was issued to field team No. 9. On account of that the Communist member of the team suggested a survey be conducted because both No. 9 field team and No. 32 field team are now in Hankow. The Government rejected the proposal and then the signal communications of the Communist branch were closed down by the Government and the secret code taken away. Only through the American branch could the Communist representative send a letter to Peiping to inform them about the situation. Therefore it seems that the local Government military authorities do not look toward a peaceful settlement of the incident.

With regard to Tatung, I have wired General Yeh in Peiping suggesting that a special team be sent similar to the one sent to Shantung to investigate the situation. The Communist side is prepared to give assurance on two things: First, no attack on Tatung; Second, to send in food supplies to Tatung. If the Government has other terms to put forward with regard to Tatung, I am ready to consider them. It seems to me that possibly the Government may connect the Tatung affair with the incident in Hopeh and make the Tatung affair a pretext for attacking in Hopeh.

Now, there are two alternatives with regard to Hopeh—either an area should be assigned temporarily for Communist troops where they can stay in present locations, or they should be permitted to move northward. Otherwise hostilities will only ensue.

General Marshall: May I interrupt. I think I will send a plane up tomorow and bring down the senior American member of Team No. 9 and Team No. 32. I will tell the National Government what I am going to see if they wish to bring one of their men down at the same time. Does General Chou wish a Communist member brought down?

General Chou: I would appreciate it.

[Page 1319]

General Marshall: I will send General Chou’s message for his man to come down. I think that is the quickest way.

General Chou: Coming to the question of the Tsingtao-Tsinan RR, the situation is very clear. As it was when the agreement could be signed, not only the railroad traffic was to be resumed but also there was to be no threat of Communist forces against the Government forces. The Government still persists however in the idea of fighting through the whole line. I mentioned last time that the Government was attacking westward from Weihsien and eastward fron. Tsinan, and that they were also driving toward the north for Tsingtao. They captured five cities and over ten railroad stations. The attack is still continuing. On our part we do not see why such a war should be waged because after all it could be settled by peaceful means. Once the status of January 13 or June 7 is restored all those disputed areas will be vacated by Communist forces. Also General Clement is trying to arrange a meeting between General Wong and General Chen. If the fighting is going on the meeting cannot be brought about. In my message to General Chen Yi I said that once hostilities are stopped and the agreements are signed then the meeting can immediately take place. As long as the fighting is going on that plan will not materialize. I asked General Chen Cheng during the last direct conference with the Government representatives what was the motive of this attack. General Chen explained that because of the Government’s fear of a Communist threat on Tsinan they are therefore enlarging the area for safety. Right now the Government troops also took possession of some coal mine areas. Such interpretations tend to increase the military hostilities. In view of the flaring up of the hostilities in the various places it has delayed the securing of formal acceptance of the four agreements by the Committee of Three. Therefore local compromises cannot be secured despite efforts of General Timberman and General Clement. It has been our idea when asking General Timberman and General Clement to first attempt to reach local compromises. We could then enlarge the compromises to facilitate the reaching of a nation-wide compromise. But now that endeavor also met obstruction and we have to refer back to the four documents.81 I would like to discuss those four documents further.

General Marshall: I would like first to comment on General Chou’s remarks. In order to make my position clear I wish General Chou to know this. I received a letter from General Chou recently with regard to the fighting along the railroad. Colonel Caughey wanted me to take up that issue with the Generalissimo immediately, [Page 1320]or with General Hsu. I declined to do so for this reason. I felt, as I stated before to General Chou, that the Communist operations in Shantung between June 9 and June 14 were wholly inexcusable and made it exceedingly difficult for me to do anything in the way of influencing the Government. I have used my influence to the limit. Now, at this time of which I speak I was unwilling to step in again and protest to the Government because of the embarrassment the Communist operations had previously caused me. I, however, compromised by having Colonel Caughey ostensibly on his own initiative go to see General Hsu, but I personally would not do it. Then a little later General Yu Ta Wei came to me with a message from the Generalissimo protesting vigorously against the operations in the Tatung region, asking me to see General Chou to remonstrate. In this case I declined and for an identical reason—that was the operation of the Government along the Tsingtao-Tsinan RR. So my reaction was the same in both cases. I thought both military actions were wrong. While I am trying every way I can think of to bring a cessation of hostilities, nevertheless I felt that I would fatally weaken my position if I stepped in under the circumstances I have just related. As to the situation north of Hankow, that critical situation had gotten so confused that I was too greatly puzzled to reach a clear conclusion. Regarding the other operations to which I have referred, I had a fixed opinion.

General Chou: With regard to the situation in Hopeh, it is better to wait for the arrival of the field team members. I received a rather detailed report but it is in no way complete and I think a clearer picture can be obtained when they arrive tomorrow.

Now, referring to the four documents. During the past week in my negotiations with the Government representatives, I tried to work along the same line as I worked with you during earlier negotiations. I am trying to do my best to reach a compromise.

The Government’s position is that the Communists evacuate completely North Kiangsu to the north of the Lunghai railroad, without conditions. Our stand is that the local administration cannot be destroyed; that is our fundamental attitude. Therefore each party is standing firmly against the other and no settlement could be reached. “Negotiations” essentially implies a compromise, otherwise we would only reach a deadlock. We are afraid that after straightening out the North Kiangsu bitterness, we would again have to go over the Tsingtao-Tsinan railroad situation, local administrative affairs and, therefore, political affairs. For these reasons, we think they should be settled along the line of the PCC conditions; that is, after the reorganization of the Government. They should not be settled piece-meal but as a whole.

[Page 1321]

I therefore suggest that, certainly on the military questions, we try to work out some measures to assist the final settlement by the Committee of Three. The Generalissimo would not feel that the Communist force in North Kiangsu threatens Nanking and Shanghai, since I already made the concession that the Communist forces will be reduced to two divisions in the first stage and one division in the second stage, and I further stated we could possibly make further concessions with regard to reduction of army strengths. But I must state clearly that that does not constitute a complete withdrawal, but merely a reduction.

The Government representatives also feel that any reductions involved lie within the scope of military affairs and therefore not within their authority. They declined to make a reply. For that reason we failed to reach some temporary arrangement.

The Government representatives made it clear that they have no formula. As to the formulas that I have suggested, they find it again unacceptable. My proposition was that first, the Communist army strength be reduced; second, with regard to the refugees, committees will be organized in hsiens to deal with this matter; third, the local administrative question will be straightened out either after the formal truce or after the reorganization of the government into a coalition government. If straightened out after the reorganization the over-all situation first will be discussed, not by piecemeal. Or, a transitional arrangement can be worked out in some way. The Government rejected all these proposals. They offered no counter proposal. Their stand is adamant that we have to accept their only proposition; that is, the complete withdrawal to the north of the Lunghai railroad. Then they will be willing to discuss the technical procedure of the withdrawal. Such a proposition appears to be an order rather than a proposal and, therefore, we find no way to continue the discussion. At the end we agreed that the Government representatives would refer the question back to the Generalissimo and I would refer it to Yenan. We also discussed the idea of referring the whole question back to the Committee of Three for a settlement.

General Marshall: Do I understand that those negotiations have terminated?

General Chou: That is my understanding. After the last conference on Saturday evening, Mr. Shao and Dr. Wang were going to see the Generalissimo in the evening to give a lengthy report on the proceedings. After that interview, Mr. Shao told the Democratic Leaguers that the Generalissimo left them with no definite instructions whatsoever.

General Marshall: It would seem the situation is back in my lap.

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General Chou: At the last meeting, General Chen Cheng casually mentioned that in case no agreement could be reached on the negotiations, the whole matter will be referred back to the Committee of Three. Then Dr. Wang said he would first consult the Generalissimo.

On the Communist side we feel that there are two ways to settle this situation. First that some compromise plan has to be developed. Second, that we drop the whole matter for the time being; that is in paragraph 7 of the special paper82 we might delete everything pertaining to local administration and leave it for future discussion. If some arrangement can be worked out, then the four papers are ready for signature and that would be most beneficial to the situation. I believe the only way to reach such a solution is to refer the whole matter to the Committee of Three.

General Marshall: It seems to me that if we don’t touch on the question of the local government, we would immediately be confronted with the situation where the Government would replace the local governments as soon as the Communists withdraw. A serious rupture could result out of that, thus not making for peace but rather creating a new cause of conflict.

General Chou: That is right. Should the Government interpret the agreement in this way, it would be quite dangerous. My idea is rather that during the first few months after the army reorganization plan is implemented, the Communist troops would evacuate the Tsingtao–Tsinan railroad and that no troops would be stationed along that line or in the area south of Huai-an. The Communist troops would do this merely in conformity with the army reorganization plan without connection with the political affairs. On the other hand, the Government side would also concentrate their troops at such points, leaving other places vacated; for example, not along the whole railway line in North China or North Anhwei. Those places vacated by the Government would not be occupied by any Communist troops or Communist local civil administration, because the principal objective at the moment is to implement the reorganization plan.

Political matters will be settled within the scope of political discussion in accordance with the provisions of the PCC. Dr. Wang admits that there is such a provision in the PCC, therefore the administrative affairs can be left for over-all settlement prior to or after the reorganization of the government into a coalition government. Dr. Wang also said that he would think about whether it will be advisable or not to solve the local administration of all the different areas throughout China, in all the Communist areas, at one time instead of involving only North Kiangsu or Shantung. He is afraid that [Page 1323]solving the over-all problem will take too much time, and when the time comes for such a discussion, the Government will prepare some proposals. I must agree that these questions can be discussed after the signing of the four documents, either between the two parties themselves or in the PCC. The two alternatives I suggested bear only this difference: the first alternative, that is, the compromise solution would have to be mentioned in the agreement which we sign: and the second, that is, omitting any reference to local administration, would not have to be mentioned.

  1. OSE 274, July 8, not printed.
  2. Ante, pp. 11801190.
  3. See draft of June 29, p. 1246.