Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai at No. 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking, August 9, 1946, 4:30 p.m.

Also present: Colonel Caughey
Captain Soong
Mister Chang

General Marshall: I talked to Doctor Stuart this morning and I also read the minutes of your conference with Doctor Stuart. Doctor Stuart also told me something of his conversations day before yesterday with representatives from your headquarters. So I have that much information.

Now, before discussing general matters, I would like to discuss the investigation of the contact between the Marines and the Communists at An-ping. The last hour yesterday before leaving Kuling, I talked to the Generalissimo. It was one of the most difficult or embarrassing discussions I have had, not because of what the Generalissimo had to say but entirely because of the extreme frankness that I thought was necessary on my part. On my arrival here a few hours later, I found this message from Mister Robertson,60 of which I wish to read several extracts. “Yenan and Communist branch Executive Headquarters are apparently making every effort to color and confuse the An-ping issue. The press release in Yenan and the Communist branch press interviews here (that is, Peiping) are stating that Communists are pressing for prompt team investigation while National Government and American representative Executive Headquarters are delaying such investigation. The truth is exactly the reverse. The Communists have been employing every conceivable tactic to delay and obstruct the investigation.” There follows two pages of description of what has been said and one in an effort to get started. Almost all of it dealing with the delaying action and the demands of the Communist member of the team. The message concludes with this statement: “The deadlock being considered at a Commissioners’ meeting [Page 1475] today (that is, yesterday), the result of which you will be advised later.” I have not yet been advised. It appears that the Communist representatives are under orders from higher level to delay and obstruct the investigation as long as possible, at the same time throwing the responsibility for delay upon the National Government and the American representative. You will recall that I declined at the start to authorize the Americans to go ahead with a team for such an investigation and it was only when the Communist Commissioner, as well as the Government Commissioner and you personally, pressed for such action that I agreed. Now what has happened is even much worse than I anticipated and it would seem to indicate that what might possibly occur once the investigation starts would be still worse than I anticipated. I do not feel that, representing the United States Government, I can accept that situation in silence, and therefore I am considering now withdrawing the American member and making my statement public as to what I consider are the facts in the matter. I would not hesitate an hour to do that were it not for the fact that such action on my part will have a tremendous and almost determining effect on the possibility of reaching a successful conclusion of the negotiations we have been struggling with so long. The worst aspect of the matter as I see it, but solely with regard to peace in China, is the fact that my action would tend to confirm the contention, or claim, of those members of the Government that I have been struggling with for the past six months. They have always insisted that a negotiation with the Communists was not a practical proposition, that inevitably obstructional tactics would be employed to defeat the purpose of the negotiation. Well, here, in this instance, they would convict me of agreement with them by virtue of my own statement. I regard this matter now as extremely serious and I am unwilling to commit the United States any further in such a futile procedure, realizing how serious the consequences and after discussing the matter with Doctor Stuart. I am willing to wait 24 hours to receive an assurance, not a discussion, that this matter will be handled in an ordinary every-day straight-forward manner. I regret very much having to make this statement here even in the privacy of this meeting but I will not go along further with any procedure such as that now being employed in Peiping by the Communist representative with respect to this investigation. And I will add this, that it is hard for me to comprehend just what profit they thought was to be gained in the first place. And it is even harder for me to comprehend why they hazard the great disadvantage they are inviting at the present time.

General Chou: There is one sentence which is not very clear to me. You stated, “I am willing to wait 24 hours to receive an assurance and not a discussion.”

[Page 1476]

General Marshall: I do not want to resume a debate on the question again after 24 hours. I want to receive a flat assurance that the investigation is to go ahead without debates. It must be positive action. I will not wait any longer. I see only one argument that they list here that I thought was sound. The Communist representative objected to the American acting as chairman. He wanted to rotate. I think he is perfectly right, but that is the only thing I saw in the whole procedure that is justified. The Committee should be able to call in any and all the witnesses. However according to the Communist stand the Committee won’t use any of them until this or that technicality is discussed. I will not wait.

General Chou: Regarding the An-ping incident, the first minute that I heard about it I formed an opinion of making investigation and I am still of this opinion today. From the information I have received, the circumstances are not exactly as you have just said. My report is almost the complete reverse of the one received by you. This is also rather surprising to me because this indicates that the incident is going to be complicated. Still I think if we would treat those matters reasonably, then we may still reach certain conclusions within certain limits.

I read from several newspapers this morning that the team has been dispatched yesterday, or at the latest, today. I think this is true because it is reported by the Central News. As to the reason for the delay of dispatch of the team, from the reports I received from Peiping, I do not gather that the Communist branch is unwilling to see the team dispatched. Instead, all the messages shown me state that they are eager to get the team dispatched, and in my message to them I also pressed for this dispatch. Now, viewing the matter objectively, we may also either reach the conclusion that the later the team is dispatched the more disadvantageous it would be to the Communist branch because An-ping lies on the highway and is a part of the Hsiang-ho county, which Government troops are right now attacking. We may expect a change of the situation at any minute. Once that change is effected, the situation confronting the investigating team would become even more complicated and make the investigation the more difficult. That is also why I am eager to press for the early dispatch of the team. The messages I received from Peiping told me that it is the Nationalist branch which is delaying the dispatch so as to facilitate their military attack. They also informed me of the procedures the Nationalists adopted to delay action. For example, they did not approve the Communist representative and argued on this point a whole day. The Nationalists have done this before. Later they concluded to send the team out on August 8. The Communist branch, in a memorandum to Mr. Robertson, however requested the [Page 1477] team be dispatched on the 7th. From this information it is difficult for me to see any trace of a Communist unwillingness for an early dispatch of the team, unless I, myself, am also deceived by my representatives. I do not see any necessity for them to deceive me because after all the incident was not directly connected with the Executive Headquarters. It was caused in connection with the local forces.

Yesterday I read the newspapers from Shanghai carrying an AP dispatch in which it is said that the American spokesman in Peiping charged the Communists for delaying the dispatch of the team. I was quite surprised reading that article and immediately wired Peiping, asking them to furnish an early explanation because they never mentioned any clash with the American side over this question. Though it is somewhat surprising to me I do not feel it is difficult to comprehend for I see that the Nationalist side would certainly try to sow dissension and to complicate the matters. Evidently, before the team has been dispatched, they would try every means to complicate the matter and to sow dissension between the Communist and American branch. Even now that the team has been dispatched, as I presume it has, new complications will almost certainly arise as a result of this action. As far as I know the only proposition the Communist side has put out to the team was a change of the Communist representative. The change of the Communist representative was due to this fact: You recall that when we were discussing the dispatch of such a team, you were of the opinion that the members should be very carefully selected and, if such a team should ever be dispatched, this would be particularly so with the American member. The Communist branch of the Executive Headquarters originally chose a rather junior staff member as representative. Later on, due to my instruction, they changed and appointed General Huang Yi-feng, the Communist representative of the Communications Group, because he used to get along well with American friends and he has an objective view, and is also broad-minded. Therefore I thought he would be more cooperative toward the American members. As to the American representative, Colonel Davis, it has been reported to me that people have some complaints because, in the past when Colonel Davis was in Tsinan, he did not get along very well with the Communists. However, because his appointment had already been made by the American branch, they refrained from making any comment on that.

I fully realize that the situation is very complicated and that the reports after fact finding may augment the complications in connection with the relations of the Communist and the American branches. But, in order to straighten out the whole matter, we have to clarify the situation and determine the true responsibility. From the reports so far we have received there are many points which do confirm each [Page 1478] other but still the outstanding question is the cause of this incident and as to who is the attacker. On this point, both sides have different versions. On my part I am waiting for the result of the fact finding so that the truth can be determined, despite the fact that up to now the reports of both sides are complicated, as are also the statements so far published. But, as a member of the Committee of Three, I would like to wait for the result of that investigation. I quite share your view that if we let ourselves be over-ruled by our sentiments the matter will only become more complicated and will have a tremendous and determining effect on the successful conclusion of the negotiation.

General Marshall: For your information I will read the outline of events as given me by Mr. Robertson.

On the morning of August 2 the Commissioners signed an order directing team 25 to make an investigation. At the same time General Yeh was requested to obtain assurance of the safe conduct for the team and to “determine the place, date and hour, but not later than noon Monday, August 5th, most suitable to local Communist Party field commanders for the team to establish contact with them.” It was not until the morning of August 6th (or 4 days later) that a message guaranteeing safe conduct of the team was delivered by the Communist commissioner and no reply has yet been made to our request to name the place, date and hour for the team to make contact with the Communist field commanders. In the meantime (that is August 2nd to August 6th or 8th) Colonel Davis attempted to proceed with an examination of those eye witnesses to the event who were still in Peiping. This procedure was blocked by the Communist member, General Huang. On Sunday, August 4, General Huang did not appear, but sent a subordinate with no credentials, consequently no action could be taken. The next morning, Monday, General Huang did appear but he took up the entire day from 9:15 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon arguing as to procedure. He demanded that the team first proceed to Tientsin to interview General Rockey, then returning to Peiping to interview General Sun, Commander 11th War Zone Headquarters, then proceed to the field to interview an unnamed commander of an unidentified Communist unit. He stated he would not agree to the examination of any witnesses until these interviews had been accomplished. He further stated that he would not officially accept as credible (that is acceptable) evidence the testimony of any American eye witness who was present in the convoy. He also questioned the propriety of an American acting as team chairman and suggested instead the chairmanship be rotated. In his long speech he was often near insulting to the American member and appeared to be trying to arouse his anger. Now the remainder of the afternoon (Monday, August 5th) was [Page 1479] occupied in a debate between the Communists and the National Government member on the Government’s challenge for General Huang’s eligibility (which you referred to). On the morning of August 6th, Colonel Davis called as witnesses Major Freese and Mister Duke of the Executive Headquarters who were present as passengers in the convoy at the time of the attack, whereupon the Communist member took the floor and for two hours insisted that the procedure he formerly recommended be adopted. When Colonel Davis reminded him that the witnesses had long been kept waiting and asked for permission to examine them, General Huang flatly refused and the meeting was adjourned. On the morning of August 7th, the team met at 9 o’clock and Colonel Davis reported the entire morning until 11:30 was occupied by General Huang in reiterating his demands that before the team could visit the scene of conflict, interviews must be held in the order previously outlined by him, and further that following these interviews the teams must decide unanimously on witnesses before they could be called to witness or be interviewed. Witnesses standing by or waiting in Peiping, having been brought there from Tientsin, were not allowed to be examined. I previously read the remainder of the message.

General Chou: I appreciate your conveying to me the foregoing information. I had read a part of it from the newspapers, but some of it did not appear in the newspapers.

General Marshall: I accept the fact that the investigating committee must have an agreed procedure and I cannot imagine that there has been any American objection to deciding on a procedure. I will, of course, wait until I can confirm your information that the committee left either yesterday or today. I had gotten no information here to that effect. I suggest that we drop the matter of this incident for the time being and I would like to hear your comments regarding the present situation.

General Chou: After learning from Doctor Stuart about the last terms the Generalissimo had prepared at Kuling, I cannot help but to make a review of the negotiations during the last three months—ever since we moved to Nanking. In making this review I come to the feeling that the Government and the Generalissimo have adopted their own line and no matter how the situation may change he would not alter his own course. His line has been developing ever since April 24th when the Steering Committee of the PCC had its last meeting. In that meeting it was decided to postpone the National Assembly. I think it can be said that from the time of General Marshall’s arrival in China until the last meeting of the PCC Steering Committee on April 24th, we have proceeded along the road toward causing a cessation of hostilities and reorganizing the Army. Such a [Page 1480] procedure it can be said, was brought to China by you and it is in line with the desire of the Chinese people for peace. During this period, though the Kuomintang did not feel satisfied with the PCC resolutions and part of its members were attempting to over-throw those decisions, the Generalissimo was more or less inclined to make some amendments at that time. We, of course, were against such amendments and so the controversy has continued ever since.

As regards the Manchurian problem, our contention was first to effect the cease fire and then to talk about the “taking over” procedure, but the Generalissimo was not in favor of cessation of hostilities in Manchuria. He rather preferred to regard Manchuria as an exception to the general cease fire order and he therefore was only willing to talk about the “taking over”. Despite the existence of such disputes there still existed at that time a possibility of reconciliation. However, as I see it, after April 24th when we moved to Nanking, the Generalissimo changed his view on the whole matter. He did not talk any more about the line stipulated by the PCC. Militarily speaking, he is extending the civil war step by step. He is unwaveringly pursuing his purpose either by way of negotiation or by way of force. If we would yield to his demands in negotiations then he would stop the military operations. Thus, when we conceded on the question of Harbin, he then suspended the attack, while in the case of Changchun when we refused to accept his terms he launched an attack as was the case with North Kiangsu. Whenever he could not occupy a place he would carry on the negotiations simultaneously with the fighting. Regardless of whether he would get hold of that place by fighting or by negotiations, he would strive for the realization of his purpose.

Now another aspect is that his objective is growing more extensive day by day. At the time when you were discussing with me the settlement of the Changchun question, you had the impression that it was not so difficult to straighten out. I had this conviction as well as you, but when eventually the Communist troops did evacuate Changchun, the Generalissimo was not satisfied with that alone. He is demanding Harbin again. Of course he has one protest; that is, that Changchun was taken by them by force and not entirely through political negotiation. So I made further effort with regard to Harbin. Now the Harbin affair can be regarded as settled during the negotiation but then he brought up the issue of North Kiangsu and this time he again expanded his terms from North Kiangsu alone to 5 points. Also, with regard to the restoration of the status as of June 7th, he is also making an amendment that instead of both parties restoring that position, he now demands only the Communists withdraw to such a status. Should we pursue this procedure we would get [Page 1481] nowhere and at the same time the civil war will spread to the whole country.

Now, speaking on the political affairs, the Government’s attitude as it appears to me is directed toward a reorganization of the Government without consulting the other parties. The Government would make its own decision as to who should be invited into the Government. The Generalissimo may reserve some seats for the Communists but he would pay no attention whether we would join them or not. The Government is also prepared to effect this reorganization even if the Communist Party would not accept its terms. So far as I could learn they have already secured the agreement of the Young China Party to participate in such a government and they are striving to get agreement from the National Socialist Party to secure one member from that Party and to get one non-partisan. Thus the reorganization could be effected around August or September and the National Assembly could be started in November along similar lines as the Government reorganization; namely they would request the Communists to submit the list of National Assembly delegates but they would pay no heed whether the Communists would participate or not. All this means that the Government would pay no attention at all to the PCC resolutions and just go ahead with what it wants to do. The Government will dictate the terms and no matter whether Communists would accept those terms or not the Generalissimo would just go along his own way. This procedure leads to nothing but to a National split.

General Chen Cheng, the General Chief of Staff, at the last press conference in Kuling, made a very outspoken statement. He said that with regard to North Kiangsu there were three alternatives: 1) That the Communist Party would voluntarily withdraw. 2) The Government would move the capital somewhere else. (Since both those alternatives are impracticable the only alternative left is to fight). Now it seems to me that in Shantung, Shansi, Jehol, along the highway between Peiping and Tientsin, and in some parts of Hopei they can, by the same reasoning, wage war against the Communists in case the Communist troops did not evacuate from those places. Based on the same reasoning they may wage war in any other place.

In the political aspect the Government is now inclined to pay no attention to the negotiations and the procedure adopted by the Government since coming to Nanking is entirely contrary to the procedure outlined in President Truman’s statement61 and the procedure you have proposed. It appears to me now that those question[s] are no longer individual matters which have no connection with each other, but rather this is the new line of the Generalissimo and the Government, [Page 1482] by which they are trying to place the Communists in the position of causing the civil war and a National split. This procedure is not only aimed to deceive the Communist Party but also to deceive the representatives of the American Government. That means in the past this deceit was aimed at General Marshall and at present also to Dr. Stuart. I have had such a feeling through the last three months. However on the other hand I also cherish a hope and I am always ready to try other possibilities, particularly being impressed by your efforts and by the participation of Dr. Stuart. I have maintained the hope (although everything now seems to be without result) that the feelings I have had before seem to be verified. That is the seriousness of the situation.

Regarding the outstanding matters at this moment, it appears to me that almost nothing can be settled. Every step is designed for propaganda and not for settlement. For example, regarding the incident of the bombing of Yenan, the planes evidently passed over Yenan city and it is known to all that the B–24 plane came on its own initiative over to the Communist side. But the Government firmly contended that that plane landed at Yenan because it had lost its direction and that the bombing and strafing planes did not fly over Yenan. Their argument on destroying that plane is to say that they did not want to see that plane bomb Chinese people, but as a matter of fact that plane had been disarmed of all its bombing equipment before it made that flight. On the other hand the Kuomintang planes have made 268 raids on Communist territory since January. They have created untold damage to the population. This shows that all their arguments are nothing but propaganda.

In the case of the Kwangtung Communists, in accordance with the original arrangement, we have submitted the list of 700 demobilized persons, but the Nationalist authority in Canton, without any reference to previous agreement, collected those personnel for mass training.

With regard to General Li Hsien-nien in Hupeh, the Nationalist Branch of Executive Headquarters blocked the approval of the agreement [on?] the field team and also even contemplating the recall of the 9th and 32nd teams. At the same time General Hu Chung Han also blocked the representatives of General Li from coming from the Communist territory.

With regard to the fighting, it is almost universal knowledge that only the National troops attack the Communist troops, but the Government still argues that they are being attacked by the Communists. The Government has no intention at all of reconvening the Steering Committee of the PCC under any circumstances. Also the propaganda [Page 1483] is not designed for the settlement of the disputes. Their propaganda seems also very self-contradictory, since on one occasion they say that I am insisting that as a first step we should reorganize the government while on other occasions they would assert that I am insisting first on a cease fire. Of course they are trying to capitalize on the An-ping incident for sowing dissension and to provoke dissension between the Communists and American members. From all these instances I cannot see any slight indication that the Government has the intention of settling the issues.

All the foregoing refers to the policy of the Government. Now another aspect is the policy of the United States. Ever since your coming, I placed full confidence in your suggested proposals and I also have a firm belief that you are working toward a peaceful goal. Therefore, I want to forget what occurred before January 10; such as the dispute over the acceptance of surrender and other matters. After all, we have the conviction that the Government has got to be straightened out, that the assistance rendered by the United States will be extended to China as a whole, and that a peaceful solution is obtainable. Therefore, I am also directing our efforts along that line. Since coming to Nanking, it is true that we had exercised certain criticism toward the American policy. I recall that I had one occasion to comment lengthily on this policy; and, on another occasion, you also made a lengthy explanation drawing the conclusion that all the criticism was actually directed against you. It appears to me that your assertion has some factual basis because the contradictions are reflected on you. Had China been moving along the line of your desire—toward peace, democracy, reorganization of the Government, reorganization of the armies, stability in Manchuria—then whatever assistance the U. S. would have given to the Kuomintang would be of little significance because eventually all that material assistance would be turned over for the purpose of national reconstruction.

Though hostilities still occurred during the first three months, once that was brought to a stop, the harmful effect of the American assistance would be rather insignificant. Your way of thinking has convinced me on many matters. Therefore, I still have confidence and hope but, on the other hand, the Kuomintang did not pursue the same course. Instead it is determined to wage civil war, it is against democracy, it wants to force a split with the Communist Party. On that basis the assistance rendered by the U. S. merely helps strengthen their regime.

If we compare the military power of the Kuomintang at the time of your first arrival with its present power, we can come to the same [Page 1484] conclusion. There has been a definite change during the past eight months. While the Kuomintang has received considerable assistance, we are not even permitted to receive such small assistance as in the case of establishing a military training school in Kalgan. Such a state of course evoked certain complaint and bitter feeling on the Communist Party side, and they have the impression that the Americans are actually helping the Kuomintang to wage war against Communists. Because of that, there is some friction reflected on the relations between CCP and the United States. While the U. S. is helping us to effect a truce and restoration of communications, we welcome and are anxious to cooperate with them. But, on the other hand, when the Kuomintang troops are attacking us and are utilizing the American equipment and arms and are being moved to the vicinities of the Communist positions, it causes complaint and suspicion among the Communists. It is for these reasons that before and after a true truce is established, we are very reluctant to submit the list of our army units to Executive Headquarters. This fact also furnishes a reply to what I have so far been unwilling to make firm.

The course of the events of the past six months has thus placed us in a very difficult position because at the beginning of this period we had been devotedly pursuing the road you have proposed and, even though we confronted certain difficulties, we never wavered from that course. This fact is reflected in the following aspects: In the first place, we never wavered from unconditional truce, no matter whether the conditions in any particular instance are favorable to us or not, we are always ready for a truce. Secondly, we are always for a reorganization of the Government in line with the PCC resolutions. Third, we are for the restoration of communications and are still ready to carry out the plan we have worked out. Fourth, with regard to the army reorganization, it is true that we did raise the question of varying the army strengths in our favor but later on, due to your objection, I withdrew that demand. Though Ave asked for some readjustment of troop disposition, similar demands were also put forward by the Kuomintang side. This means nothing but a minor readjustment. It does not mean an alteration of the original basic agreement. On all those four points, we still stick to our original proposition. But, on the Government side, they have an entirely different scheme. They are planning to place us into such a position that while we take up the commitments, they would pursue a different road. Now by taking up those commitments and pursuing with you the road which has been outlined to us before, it now appears that we almost fell into a trap.

In order to clarify this situation, I wish to review the standpoint on a few basic questions. The first point is regarding our attitude toward [Page 1485] the American assistance. Because we are firmly convinced of the road of peace and we are firmly against civil war, despite the fact that we did not receive any assistance from the United States, we did not make a complaint, yet the fact remains that the Kuomintang is receiving that assistance. The Kuomintang is capitalizing on this assistance for civil war purposes. This places us into a most difficult position.

The second point is regarding the reorganization of the Government and regarding our relation with the Kuomintang. While we have always been anxious to establish a democratic, unified government in keeping with the PCC resolutions, we have always anticipated that we would participate in such a reorganized government and that we would stay in the position of a minority party. After that there would be the National Assembly which would adopt a democratic constitution. It is because of the fact that we are so firmly convinced of such a road that we refrain from taking any steps to cause a National split. In the last year, the Communists were contemplating convening a delegation congress of the Communist liberated areas. We made certain preparations for that Congress and I, myself, was appointed as chairman of the preparatory committee. But, since we have adopted the road of unity, I never paid a thought to that matter again. But on the Kuomintang side there is an entirely different picture. The Kuomintang is preparing for the reorganization of the Government which would exclude any Communist participation. Many Kuomintang editorials voiced this tendency, as you may readily receive confirmation from Mr. Beal.62 All the Kuomintang papers are making propaganda along this line. They also express their intention of having no Communist participation in the National Assembly and that they are not adopting a constitution in keeping with the PCC resolutions.

Third, with reference to the American assistance, we have had the conviction that so long as we are looking for peace and democracy and so long as peace and democracy is obtainable, the assistance rendered by the United States to the Kuomintang is of little consequence because, after all, it will all be turned over to the unified government and though the Communist Party did not receive any assistance at this moment it still has hope it will receive assistance in the future. But the Kuomintang is thinking differently. They will exploit U. S. assistance to strengthen their own position for civil war. As you once told me, they are strong enough now to wage civil war without U. S. assistance for another three months in Manchuria. As a matter of fact the assistance is still coming and a present of naval vessels has [Page 1486] been made to the Kuomintang. The National armies are also being strengthened, it is the same with the air force. The Chinese army units which were equipped and trained by the Americans in war time were little used in the anti-Japanese war, except in west Honan. Ever since the conclusion of the war the lend-lease supplies have been coming in and the total figure taken over after the war is no less than those turned over during the war. Now all this equipment and material has been utilized to wage civil war and such assistance is still coming.

From the three foregoing points, it is easy to draw the conclusion that we are actually being “roped in” and are in the first stage of being “beaten up”. We no longer have freedom but the Kuomintang still has freedom. That is why day before yesterday I talked to Dr. Stuart, saying that we believe firmly in President Truman’s statement. I recall that his statement talked about cease-fire, about reorganization of the government, about the termination of political tutelage, about the conference of the various parties, and about the reorganization of the armies. It did not mention that Communists should evacuate any particular place before a cease fire can be effected.

Dr. Stuart also suggested that he withdraw himself for a moment and let the Communists and the Kuomintang talk directly with each other. I explained to him that this is impossible, as can be testified by you. We have had such opportunity while we were in Chungking but the result was highly unsatisfactory. The 5-man conference in Nanking was completely fruitless.

During the past half year I placed perfect confidence in the mediation of the United States. While it is true that in individual matters, in subordinate matters, we sometimes had some change of our attitude, basically we never deviated from President Truman’s statement. But, on the other hand, the Kuomintang and the Generalissimo have deviated from that line. It is my feeling that the United States has a moral responsibility toward the Chinese people. That after it has led China into such a dilemma, some way of settlement should be found. Of course the Chinese people also have the power to strive further for democracy and peace. But that is a remote possibility because the Kuomintang is waging a civil war. It is working for a National split and for the preservation of dictatorship. It evoked the opposition of the Chinese people but the struggle of the Chinese people will be a long term one and under the suppression of the Generalissimo they may have to shed their blood. Should any effect be brought about, another force which would greatly influence the people of China is the mediation of the United States. During the past six months, the United States has so deeply involved itself in the China issue that it requires U. S. efforts to complete that mission. [Page 1487] I believe the U. S. has the power to solve the China issue by mediation. Of course you complained to me several times that both parties are now full of dissension and complaints toward your attitude but I wish to call to your attention this difference, that while on our part I admit that we may have made certain criticism I still cherish the strong desire to cooperate with the Kuomintang. We want only democracy and do not want to go ahead along the road alone without cooperation with the Kuomintang. On the contrary we are still anxious to cooperate with the Kuomintang and the United States.

The other thing that we complained about was in connection with the U. S. assistance rendered to the Kuomintang, which is being used against the Communists. The attitude of the Kuomintang is different. During the past six months all our efforts were directed towards one thing, that is to try to prove that it would be good to cooperate with the Communist Party and that the only purpose of the Communist Party is to settle by unity. We never intended to stall. The Kuomintang does not want to cooperate with the Communist Party and therefore it tries by every conceivable means to prove the impossibility of cooperating with us. They want to pull the United States into the whirlpool of Chinese civil war. That is their purpose. I am not afraid of that but it is most undesirable because it is harmful to the Chinese people. It would be a tragedy because we are merely against an erroneous part of the American policy and against whatever assistance the U. S. may give to the Kuomintang which will be used to fight the Communists; but, basically, we are for cooperation with the Kuomintang and the United States. Of course we are for cooperation with all United Nations, including Soviet Russia. But the United States will take the first place among the United Nations because that place is indisputable and we have no intention to change that status. But our relation with the U. S. is now reaching a dilemma and we are placed in a very difficult position. President Truman’s statement is the most complete and the best statement made by the U. S. Government since the Japanese surrender. I am of the belief that the policy contained in that statement is a most correct one, but the procedure of the Kuomintang now is different from that and I therefore have the feeling that you and Dr. Stuart should have a fair view and opinion on the current situation and find some way to fulfill your responsibility toward both the Chinese and the American people.

The reason why I made this lengthy statement is because I felt the necessity of revising the over-all situation. If instead of making such an over-all review I would make point to point counter-proposals to the Kuomintang proposals then I think that there are two points which are undesirable. When talking to Dr. Stuart, he asked me [Page 1488] whether I had any counter-proposals to make. I felt pretty certain that whatever kind of proposal I would make to Dr. Stuart to bring up to Kuling would not meet the approval of the Generalissimo. Therefore, instead of troubling Dr. Stuart to make this unnecessary effort, I should rather talk to him plainly because as a personal friend I felt it most unnecessary to cause so much trouble to Dr. Stuart if I knew for certain that no results could be accomplished. Regarding the efforts made by you during the last six months, I regret to see that those efforts should now reach a state of paralysis. I expect that you may not entirely agree to what I have said but I would like very much to hear your comments. The reason I did not go into the details on the various matters is because if I had, it would increase the tendency to stall. In the meantime the Generalissimo would carry on the war and then in September or October he would start the Government reorganization and in November call the National Assembly and then the Communist Party would be faced with the question as to what its reaction should be to that. Under such circumstances, I would be placed in the passive position. I am already thinking about that. I feel that I must discharge a responsibility to the Chinese people but also that it is not proper for me to refrain from saying what I think about your mission, because future events may eventually tell us about what we are visualizing. Even as a friend I feel that I have the responsibility to tell you frankly what I think about the situation. I would like to hear your comments.

General Marshall: It would not be possible for me tonight to make a detailed comment to you on such a lengthy statement. Your statement brings up so many different points, some of which are highly debatable. There is no question in my mind that I must use every effort I can find to compose the situation and I will continue to do that. But with great frequency, usually once a week—sometimes every day, I find myself in a new dilemma. I have mentioned many of the major dilemmas and embarrassments to you from time to time. Now, in all of this, I have to operate without a definite knowledge of the facts concerning dilemmas—just why did it occur; just what was the purpose behind the incident; how much was accidental; how much was the act of an ill-advised subordinate; how much was a carefully inspired plan—just what are the intentions. That applies to both parties. I am never in the clear as to an understanding. I suppose that is common to all such negotiations, but I think it is more pronounced in this particular case than others within my knowledge. General Chou has implied certain motives that are guiding the action or the attitude of the Generalissimo. That is his opinion. The Generalissimo, of course, would deny that. Certainly I have no intimate [Page 1489] knowledge beyond that of General Chou. I draw my own conclusions from implications just as I draw them regarding certain things of the Communist Party. It is not easy for me to take decisive action either for the reason that I can never be entirely certain of the intentions or the purpose for the future of either party, but also because for one in my position it is not easy to find a method for positive action.

Dr. Stuart and I have gone over every phase of this matter that we can think of in the effort to find some crack or crevice into which we may exert pressure to force a decision to terminate hostilities. He has a wide knowledge of things Chinese and I have a certain military knowledge and an intimate knowledge of what has happened since December. Putting together our respective knowledge it gives us as fair a basis for reaching a conclusion as is possible in this immensely complicated and tragic situation. Personalities play such a large part. Suspicions and bitterness play such an important part. The normal attitude of a party out of power opposed by the inevitable attitude of those in power who will fight to avoid losing individual or party power—these all present aspects of the situation and the exceeding difficulties involved. Following this discussion by you and further discussion by me with Dr. Stuart, I will want to talk to you again to see if we can develop a definite proposal.

To change the subject because I have to keep an engagement, I have a letter from General Hsu63 protesting the aggressive action of 40,000 Communist troops at Tatung. He states he has warned General Chou that a continuation of this affair will lead to total civil war. General Yu Ta Wei asked me to bring this to General Chou’s attention.

Meeting adjourned with setting of time for next meeting at 10:30, August 10.

  1. Telegram No. 6588, August 7, p. 1463.
  2. December 15, 1945; United States Relations With China, p. 607.
  3. John R. Beal, formerly Washington news editor of Time Magazine, adviser to the Chinese Government on foreign press and political relations.
  4. Not printed.