Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chow En-lai at No. 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking, July 26, 1946, 10:15 a.m.

Also present: Colonel Caughey
Mr. Chang80
Captain Soong81

General Chou: I wish to thank you very much for the transportation facilities you have provided.

Regarding the relief work on the Yellow River project, I was delayed in coming back because I wanted to read the minutes and sign the agreements of the talks. The agreement was delayed on Dr. T. F. Tsiang’s82 part.

General Marshall: My messages of inquiries were sent because I was anxious to have you come back in order that we might discuss this situation with Dr. Stuart. Then I could go to the Generalissimo, without any loss of time. That was my reason for frequent inquiries. I thought the situation was growing very much worse and so rapidly that we did not have very much time to lose. Therefore, I am very glad that you are back.

General Chou: Because I have been away for a week or so, I am not well informed about the details, only having an overall picture. I learned that the field teams in Hupeh Province had dropped letters to the Communist troops requesting arrangements be made for a meeting place. But because the Communist troops are hotly pursued, though they express the wish to meet the field teams, they are anxious to know how the pursuit and attack by other Government forces can be stopped so as to provide a chance for them to meet the field teams.

As regards North Kiangsu I learned the Government troops in the southern front are continuing their drive and that the attack at Haichow (at eastern terminus of the Lunghai Railroad) is also opened [Page 1405] and that General Pai Chung Hsi83 is taking personal command there. Furthermore, the fighting along the Tsingtao–Tsinan Railroad is still continuing. In Shansi the Government troops under General Hu Cheng Nan84 are driving beyond Houms. According to my original evaluation the situation in Jehol Province might be considered more or less stable, however recently I received information saying that General Tu Li-ming’s85 headquarters is contemplating an attack in Jehol too. Now all these facts show that the war is spreading.

The political situation also has not been clarified. The Democratic League has requested permission to participate in the investigation of the Kunming assassination but the Government rejected their request. It will only allow the Democratic League to conduct a personal informal investigation. They are not permitted to join the Government investigation party. I further learned that the Government is now trying to fabricate evidence so as to place the blame on the Kunming local military people. Under such circumstances 11 Kunming professors again came back to the American Consulate for shelter. This situation indicates that the Government is not trying to reach a genuine settlement on this matter but is actually plotting further designs.

When I went to Shanghai, Mr. Chen Li Fu86 was at the height of his activities. He authored a blacklist in preparation for violent actions against the liberal minded people. I therefore felt compelled to reveal his designs publicly. Though he denied my charges, saying that he is not plotting any secret service activities, I have evidence which shows that he has held a meeting of all Kunming Party administrative and military agencies in the Ministry at Shanghai. At that conference he said that not only the secret police but everybody within the party in the San Ming Chu, (Kuomintang Youth Group) was to conduct such activities. He issued 200 pistols to those secret police so that they could start trouble, to intimidate the liberal minded people and to make arrests. He also publicly declared that the Chinese Communist Party is an appendix and has to be cut off through an operation. This was published by the Central Daily News. This means that he is publicly advocating civil war and it therefore can be concluded that since the Generalissimo went to Lushan the situation in the lower level is getting worse and worse.

Take the case of Professor Tao Hsing Chi, who died yesterday. He was a leading member of the Democratic League and had a Ph. D. from Columbia University. He was a student of Professor Tu and [Page 1406] an intimate friend and classmate of Hu Shih.87 He was on the top of the blacklist prepared by the secret police. He is a very well known man among the students and liberals in Shanghai and a very well known public social educator. His residence was watched day and night by the secret police who were shadowing his activities. Therefore his friends persuaded him to hide himself for a few days in a friend’s house because they were afraid something might happen to him. Even his wife could not attend him. Yesterday morning he suddenly fell down in the lavatory and according to the doctor’s diagnosis he was suffering from apoplexy. So far, no indication shows anything else. We do not want to think anything else is the cause, but this shows how he suffered from the activities of the secret police.

General Marshall: I am very grateful to hear that, since I thought something else might have contributed to his death.

Referring first to Kunming, I have naturally been in touch with that situation through the American Consul in Kunming. I have been informed that Government assurances of protection were given by Dr. Wang,88 Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Mr. Butterworth personally and in writing. Last night I saw the Governor of Yunnan.89 Specific instructions were given him by Dr. Soong making the governor personally responsible for whatever has happened there and whatever might happen. Dr. Soong stated that he (Dr. Soong) was personally responsible behind the governor. This morning I had a further talk with Dr. Soong on the subject and gave him some additional information.

The military situation has gone from bad to worse with possibilities, I think probabilities, of quick development into a general civil war.

Has General Chou any specific suggestions he wishes to make to me?

General Chou: Before coming to the last point you mentioned, I would like first to speak on a few other things.

First, regarding the Kunming incident. As far as I know within the original Kunming local military clique there were small factions. The ex-governor90 represents one part. He was driven out by the Generalissimo in October of last year, Dr. Soong went there to mediate in this affair. The present governor differs from the ex-governor in certain respects, but still they are closely connected with each other. All these people originally have had contact with the democratic movement in Kunming. Politically they have had certain linkage with each other. It is rather incomprehensible that the Kunming local military clique would create such an incident. Now the Government [Page 1407] has arrested the Adjutant General of the ex-governor. This seems rather a plot because under the present circumstances the Yunnan troops have all been sent to Manchuria and a remaining division was demobilized. The present garrison commander of Kunming is a graduate of the Whampoa Military Academy. His troops are Central troops. The present chief of police is a Tai Li91 man. Originally he was assigned to keep watch on the Young Marshal92 in Kweichow province. He was mayor in the city where the Young Marshal is kept. The Minister of Civil Affairs in Yunnan is a man of the CC93 clique and the Kuomintang party administrative and military organizations are in the hands of the Central Government. It is therefore incomprehensible that anyone except them could take such action of terrorism in broad daylight. It is for this reason that the Democratic League requested that their own man join the investigation party. This request appears to be very reasonable. They further demanded that the investigation party should be composed of three sides—the Kuomintang, Democratic League and Americans—but the government rejected this proposal. Your decision to send your own man to make investigation in Kunming for yourself is a very timely one because this may provide you with the true information as to what is going on before the Government has fabricated a new plot—a false picture on the whole affair.

Now regarding Shanghai, I share your view in that I hope the Kunming incident might prevent any large provocation of the plot in Shanghai. That is why I not only publicly revealed the plot of Chen Li Fu, but also told Dr. K. C. Wu, the mayor, that he could guarantee that the Communists have no intention to start an uprising in Shanghai. I asked Dr. K. C. Wu if he would ever believe that such an uprising can take place in Shanghai. I find it particularly ridiculous about the allegation that the Communists are organizing armed peasants to infiltrate into the city. I told Dr. K. C. Wu he could visualize for himself that if those armed peasants would come to the metropolitan city they would immediately be discovered by the police, even without the help of the secret police, because the peasants are such plain country folks. Once dropped into such a big metropolitan city they would immediately get themselves lost. Even when we go to Shanghai we are apt to get lost. Dr. Wu replied that he did not believe such things and yesterday I again told the foreign correspondents, in response to their question as to whether the Communists would [Page 1408] attack Nanking or Shanghai, that he could assure them that the Communists have no such intention at all. On my part I am trying my best to clarify the situation. On the other hand, however, I am also aware that Mr. Chen Li Fu is engineering some incident and then he would shift the plan onto the shoulders of the Communist Party. Therefore, I told Dr. K. C. Wu that all my staff in Shanghai are made known to the Shanghai magistrate so Dr. K. C. Wu would know where they were staying. Anyway it is evident that Mr. Chen Li Fu’s power is getting greater and greater. Previously the Chinese secret police had three different cliques. The first one was under the Kuomintang party; the second one under the National Military Council; and the third one under the San Min Chu Yi Youth Corps. The secret police system in the Youth Corps was disbanded when Mr. Kang Tse left for abroad and General Chang Chih Chung, who then took command of the Youth Corps, dissolved that agency and also the concentration camps. This was done last year and is certainly to be lauded. Because of Tai Li’s death the supreme power over all the secret police has automatically fallen into the hands of Chen Li Fu. This is particularly so in Shanghai. This makes the situation very serious and gives rise to many plots. Chen Li Fu is not only against the Communist Party but is also against the peace minded elements within the Kuomintang itself. Therefore he is not only against Dr. Soong, but also against General Chen Cheng,94 Dr. Wang and others who participate in the PCC,95 though he himself is a member of the PCC.

Now coming to the last question, I have not yet thought of any new ideas during the last week. I do not know whether while in Kuling you had some new information which you have brought back. My idea is mainly the same as I told you about a week ago. It seems to me that there are only two ways out of the present dilemma. The first one is immediately to effect the unconditional cease fire. At the same time the arrangements which we have worked out in the month of June can be put into effect; particularly the formal termination of hostilities in Manchuria and the reiteration of the cease fire in China proper. If agreement can be effected on those two documents then we can also work out and publish the other documents. Such as the restoration of communications, the power of the field teams and Executive Headquarters and the supplementary arrangement on the army reorganization plan, without touching the local administration question in this connection. We can then go on to discuss the reorganization of the Government in accordance with the PCC principles, and subsequently we can discuss the question of local administration. This seems to me the most lucrative procedure and, as I understand, [Page 1409] is also the fundamental mission for your coming to China. In this way we can also calm the international controversy and the confusion in the public opinion in the United States, and soothe the anxiety of the Chinese people. I will be glad to discuss with you or with Dr. Stuart the detailed procedure along this line. I think that if we proceed with this procedure I can also give help to conceive all kinds of measures.

General Marshall: You just stated, “We can then go on to discuss the reorganization of the Government in accordance with the PCC principles, and subsequently we can discuss the question of local administration.” Who is to do the discussing?

General Chou: It is rather immaterial as far as the formality is concerned. I think Dr. Stuart has participated in some discussion on the political question. I also think it might be helpful if the Kuomintang, the Communist Party and Dr. Stuart meet on preliminary discussion on the reorganization of the Government and the civil administration question. Of course, it implies that you will also participate in this discussion.

General Marshall: I had turned over in my mind the basis for a possible discussion. The Generalissimo seemed to be opposed to a general meeting of the PCC at this time, it being such a large body that there would be much difficulty in arriving at agreement in time to meet the situation. Of course the steering committee can only deal with an agreed upon policy in working out the methods of its implementation. I was wondering if there was any possibility of handling this matter by creating the State Council at this time for the conduct of such discussion.

General Chou: What you have just said with respect to the State Council also constitutes a reorganization of the Government itself. The PCC has already passed certain procedures designed to create the State Council and to reorganize the Government. But the State Council is not yet in being and that is why I say we should still use the procedure of first having preliminary discussion among the Kuomintang, the Communist Party and Dr. Stuart. Then when agreement has been reached by all sides it would be easy for the Steering Committee to pass resolutions since the reorganization of the Government was decided by the PCC. Merely as a matter of formality we would secure the approval of at least the Steering Committee. Certainly many matters can be brought before the State Council for discussion once that is created. Therefore I thought that we could do it in parallel while on the one hand you deal with the cessation of hostilities and on the other we can discuss the reorganization of the government through political consultation. In this way we may stabilize the whole situation. Otherwise the other alternative out of this dilemma would be a general civil war which would bring China [Page 1410] into complete chaos. Once China is thrown into such a chaos, America could not help but reconsider her policy toward China because after a full fledged civil war in China has broken out, how can we expect that the American Government will continue assistance to such a war-torn country? The prospect would certainly be very dark. I don’t believe there is any other approach under these conditions. I don’t think that stalling is permissible. Any continuation of the present war, even for another fortnight, would cause immense concern in the whole world. Nor can the Chinese people afford the continuation of the war. Under the present circumstances, stalling is not permissible and the road before us is getting narrower and narrower. It is imperative that we take decisive action at this moment. It appears to me that you represent the American Government and also have the responsibility to take decisive action with regard to the present situation.

It appears to me the Generalissimo has in mind, after consulting the various parties with regard to the reorganization of the Government, that he would make an announcement in his own name about it. Of course I have no objection to preliminary consultations about the distribution of seats and the nominees to be elected by their own parties, but, as a matter of formality, it has to get the approval of all the parties concerned. Therefore the convening of the steering committee is necessary for that purpose because any reorganization is done on the basis of the PCC decisions. Therefore we should secure the approval of the various parties in the matter, otherwise it would mean that we are dropping the PCC resolutions piecemeal. Eventually we may reach a point where the resolutions are discarded entirely. While the Generalissimo is thinking of his side, I hope he will also think of the others.

Everything else I will discuss with Dr. Stuart. If I have any military questions with regard to military headquarters, can I talk with Colonel Caughey in your absence?

General Marshall: Colonel Caughey is going up to Kuling with me. Colonel Hutchin will remain.

After a few off-the-record remarks, the meeting was adjourned.

  1. Chang Wen-chin, personal secretary to General Chou.
  2. Capt. John L. Soong, U. S. Army interpreter.
  3. Director General of the Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (CNRRA).
  4. Chinese Minister of National Defense.
  5. Gen. Hu Tsung-nan was “Pacification Commissioner” for Shensi.
  6. Also known as Tu Yu-ming, Chinese Government commander in Manchuria.
  7. Chinese Minister of Organization.
  8. Formerly Chinese Ambassador in the United States.
  9. Wang Shih-chieh.
  10. General Lu Han.
  11. General Lung Yun.
  12. General Tai Li, late deputy director of the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, Chinese National Commission of Military Affairs.
  13. Chang Hsueh-liang, formerly of Manchuria and detained since the end of 1936 for his part in kidnapping Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek at Sian, Shensi.
  14. The Chen brothers, Li-fu and Kuo-fu, prominent Kuomintang members.
  15. Chief of the Chinese General Staff.
  16. Political Consultative Conference.