The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State

No. 176

Sir: I have the honor to report the latest developments in the Kmt–CP conflict. Since my previous despatches (no. 76 of August 30, no. 139 of September 18, and no. 154 of September 25, 19462) have given some indication of the tedious procedure which has been followed it may not be desirable to go into such full detail again, particularly as the Embassy has kept you fully advised of the public statements and inspired press comments, which have been all too plentiful.

With the return of President Chiang to the capital, General Marshall and I conceived the idea of submitting to him a suggested draft of an open letter for him to publish, urging the Communist Party to resume negotiations, adopting an irenic and generously conciliatory tone and giving very specific, clearly understood conditions for the issuance of a cease-firing order. At the same time, we decided to send a joint letter to General Chou En-lai requesting him to return to Nanking. We tried to express this in the most friendly spirit.

General Marshall had an opportunity to present on September 27 the letter he had drafted to President Chiang. The latter’s first reaction [Page 309] was definitely favorable, but the changes he suggested in the draft bespoke of a desire to capture the strategic stronghold of Kalgan before ending hostilities. This intention became increasingly clear to us during subsequent consultations and we came to know that some of President Chiang’s more reactionary advisers urged him strongly on such a course of action. Meanwhile Chou En-lai replied, refusing to leave Shanghai or take any part in negotiations until the advance against Kalgan was abandoned.

With the manifest intention of the Government to take Kalgan before putting a stop to the fighting the position of General Marshall became intolerable. He was acting as a mediator with one party demanding that the attack on Kalgan cease, while he himself was fully aware that the other party had determined to capture that place despite his protests. He informed President Chiang that he felt forced to ask President Truman to recall him at once since his position under such conditions compromised his own integrity and that of the United States Government. Very reluctantly I have had to agree with him—that this was the only course he could honorably take. My own part in this effort at mediation had been giving me much concern but as long as the negotiations were not broken off I satisfied my conscience with the hope that a solution might soon be found.

After consultation with General Marshall I proposed to the Communist Party representative that they agree to the following four points which would give us a basis upon which to recommend to the Government that the advance against Kalgan be stopped:

The acceptance of thirteen Communist-controlled votes in the State Council (see my despatch no. 139, September 18 and Embassy’s telegram no. 1580, October 3, 1946).
To withdraw troops from North Kiangsu.
To entrust the names of their delegates to the National Assembly to General Marshall or myself to be turned over to the Government at our discretion.
To lift the siege of Tatung.

Three days later the reply came from Chou En-lai in Shanghai objecting to all four points, but agreeing to come to Nanking to meet with either the Three- or Five-Man Committee if the attack on Kalgan should cease.

Meanwhile there were constant consultations among President Chiang, General Marshall, myself and others concerned, culminating in a two and one-half hour conference on the morning of October 6. The final outcome of this may be seen in the appended memorandum addressed to Mr. Wang Ping-nan and the reply sent by President Chiang through General Marshall to General Chou. As was true of those preceding, this was a very tense discussion. The issues at stake [Page 310] were enormous. I shuddered in trying to imagine the consequences if General Marshall stood firm in his decision to ask to be recalled. But he and President Chiang both showed themselves to be truly great men. The former faced unflinchingly the ethical principles involved and foresaw the stain forever after upon our country’s honor if he acted otherwise. The latter, proud and stubbornly determined, sensitive to the loss of personal and official prestige, and deeply conscious of his own moral responsibility to his people, mastered his earlier impulses and graciously deferred to General Marshall’s judgment. This final meeting took the form that I had been hoping for of genuine consultation in an effort to find the best solution for a common problem, with restored friendliness between the two men and heightened mutual respect. To me it brought indescribable relief.

Immediately upon my return home I sent for Mr. Wang and the promptness with which he arrived seemed to indicate the Communist Party’s desire to have something happen. I gave him the substance of the memorandum which he said would be promptly transmitted to General Chou and I confirmed it on the following day in written form.3

Respectfully yours,

J. Leighton Stuart
  1. Ante, pp. 111, 201, and 223.
  2. Not printed; it repeated terms in General Marshall’s OSE 491, October 6, p. 299.