Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and General Chou En-lai at General Gillem’s15 Residence, Shanghai, October 9, 1946, 11:30 a.m.

Also present: Colonel Caughey
Captain Soong
Mister Chang16

General Marshall: I made this engagement to meet you in this manner in order to avoid any publicity.

I had an interview yesterday with Mister Tung Pi-wu and Mister Wang Ping Nan of which you may have received some information. That conversation was so unsatisfactory and the implications so serious that I don’t wish to leave anything undone that I might do to try to save this situation. Therefore, I decided to come here to Shanghai to see you.

To simplify the procedure and to amplify your understanding of what happened, I brought the minutes of our meeting yesterday. I think it probably would be best for your own information if you would read them over before we endeavor to discuss matters.

(General Marshall and party departed for a few minutes while General Chou and Mister Chang went over the minutes.)

General Chou: I have gone over the minutes. Do you have anything further to say.

General Marshall: Not at the moment.

General Chou: I have also read the Chinese text of your joint statement issued by you and Doctor Stuart. I would like to point out that when Mister Tung Pi Wu and Mister Wang Ping Nan called on you there [they] were not aware of that joint statement.

There is a point regarding the terms for the 10-day truce of the military operations against Kalgan in which it is stated that the two demands of the Generalissimo advanced on October 2nd will be carried out. In the joint statement there is a different version saying that it was to consider the two points of the Generalissimo. If it is understood that those two points will be carried out it will be still further divergent from the Communist understanding. It would be tantamount to a document of surrender.

General Marshall: Will you repeat that point.

General Chou: In your memorandum to Doctor Stuart,17 you state, “to carry out the two points advanced by the Generalissimo on October [Page 333] 2nd” and in the joint statement, it is said that both parties in the discussion would consider the points. (General Chou marked portion of press release and letter from General Marshall to Doctor Stuart, copy of which was forwarded to him, and passed them to General Marshall to read).

General Marshall: Before I read these I would like to say that I dictated both papers, one in five minutes and the other in ten.

What you are now talking about is my English rather than the Generalissimo’s intention; so, what can be done to clarify that is apparently the question. I dictated both papers. I don’t see that there is very much for me to say. I can say, however, that neither of these papers were seen by the Generalissimo. They were my dictation. I sent Wang Ping Nan a copy of this memorandum for Doctor Stuart on my own initiative. I dictated this press release very hurriedly, though I had this folder (indicating folder with all of the current memoranda) and Doctor Stuart and Colonel Caughey listened to me. Again, the Government did not see these papers. They did not see the release before they read it in the paper.

In my dictation I endeavored to condense the several letters except for the final paragraphs. I did that with General Chou’s memorandum and I did that with the Generalissimo’s memorandum. Now the paragraph that I did not quote, which apparently would have avoided this present confusion reads, “with a view to saving time and showing its utmost sincerity, the Government expresses its maximum concessions in regard to the solution of the present problem.” The issue as raised by General Chou apparently boils down to the expression “to carry out”—those three words—in the two proposals of the Generalissimo in his communication to me of October 2nd. I might have said there, “consideration” of the two proposals of the Generalissimo in his communication to me of October 2nd. I repeat, I might have just as well said “to consider” the two proposals of the Generalissimo in his communication to me of October 2nd.

The point I wish to make now is that the Generalissimo has never seen this memorandum. It is from me to Doctor Stuart. Doctor Stuart heard the conversation, having translated the major part of it. He and I went to see the Generalissimo. So the use of the two different expression[s], it seems to me, need not concern General Chou except to the extent that the one to which he takes the least objection is the one that was used in the public statement. Neither are direct quotations from the Generalissimo. I do not think, therefore, that they should be a matter of such apparent moment. Also, my conception of the matter was that these meetings were to have been initiated in the effort to make a beginning toward an understanding.

[Page 334]

The Generalissimo says these are the maximum concessions and General Chou has told me in the past of his maximum concessions. Then we have debated those issues long after. I consider that the same state of affairs holds here.

The previous disagreement and misunderstanding (and one referred to by Mr. Tung Pi Wu) revolved about your desire as relayed to me through Dr. Stuart, to reach an informal understanding as to representation on the State Council in advance of a formal meeting of Doctor Stuart’s Five Man Group. The Generalissimo’s decision was that his delegates could only negotiate in a formal meeting, That apparently led you to believe, and I think you so stated to me, that the Government members were not in power to negotiate the question of delegates or the veto question nor were they authorized to discuss the military aspects, particularly the question of cessation of hostilities. Your understanding was correct regarding the military aspect. It was so understood by me from the start of our efforts to convene the Five Man Group. Your statement relating to the lack of authority to negotiation as to the representation in the State Council on the veto question was taken up and its incorrectness confirmed by the Generalissimo. He agreed with me that those were the only two questions the Five Man Group would consider and naturally the delegates had the power to negotiate within the group.

That situation, in a sense, parallels the one we are discussing today. I told Tung Pi Wu yesterday that I could not understand the dragging out of the negotiations while the military operations went on. I had felt that my great problem was to so arrange matters that the active operations in the region of Kalgan could be quickly terminated. That would not only require a prompt issuance of orders, but would equally require a very rapid deployment of teams from Executive Headquarters, to see that there was no abuse of the truce. I sent confidential instructions to Mister Robertson and General Timberman18 stating that, without discussing it with either the representatives of the Kuomintang Party or the Communist Party, they should work out the details of a complete plan to make rapid deployment of teams; then I had to consider how I would get the authority of the Committee of Three without any delay to confirm those tentative plans. So, it is hard for me to understand why matters are permitted to drag on while the campaign proceeds and the situation becomes more and more difficult to handle.

One more factor. Your most serious concern appears to relate to the restrictions placed on the matters to be discussed by the two committees. In other words, the Generalissimo stipulated that only [Page 335] certain matters would be discussed. I think it is probably a complete misunderstanding there. I had consistently tried to have as few arguments as possible as conditions precedent to the cessation of hostilities. What I had tried to do throughout was to secure an agreement to the cessation of hostilities with negotiations to follow. I have continued to try to make that arrangement, but I had tried to limit as far as possible the number of matters to be adjusted prior to the issuance of an order for the complete cessation of hostilities. Now, as I understand it, you are concerned that other matters are not to be discussed. My assumption would be that there would be a general discussion the moment we got this fighting stopped. Also, there is the reconvening of the Constitutional Draft Committee. There is the strong desire of the Government to have delegates of the Communist Party nominated for the National Assembly and there are the difficulties of misunderstandings regarding the number of the seats, of delegates. Dr. Stuart and I have been struggling to try to get a common ground and that is what we tried to do back in early August.

What I came down today for was to ask you whether we are to have such a meeting, or do we continue with the various complications involved before such a meeting can be held.

Before you answer that, General Gillem has invited us to lunch and if it is agreeable to you we will have a recess for lunch.

(Recessed for lunch).

General Chou: Regarding the wording “carrying out”, the reason why I attach such importance to it is that this is the only letter which relates to the 10 day truce for the operations against Kalgan, which I have for consideration. Last night, when I read Doctor Stuart’s and your statement in which it is said that the two proposals of the Generalissimo need to be considered instead of carried out, then of course the wording has become less important than it was before. The wording is not so strong as it was before, but still the question presents itself that, while as you said, the Generalissimo considers those two proposals as the maximum concessions he can make, from the Communist Party point of view it is not a concession, but rather conditions which are unacceptable. The first point which stipulates that certain seats of the State Council are to be apportioned to the Communists and Democratic League is not compatible without a little more than ⅓ vote in the State Council. At the same time to count one of the non-partisan members into those certain seats is not in accordance with the PCC resolutions. Furthermore, the first point demanded that the Communists should produce the list of delegates to the National Assembly prior to the working out of the draft constitution also is not in accordance with the PCC.

Regarding the second point, it is a unilateral demand to designate [Page 336] the garrison places for the 18 Communist divisions and that it should be carried out before a certain time. This demand also goes beyond the truce of June. It is tantamount to say that whereas the location of the Communist troops will all be fixed for a time when the Army reorganization is being carried out, the Government 90 divisions still have the freedom to move around or will be able to occupy the Communist areas without any withdrawal. That is also in violation to the cease fire agreement and army reorganization plan.

The reason that I did not immediately send a written reply to the Generalissimo, but merely asked Messrs. Tung Pi Wu and Wang Ping Nan to give a verbal transmittance to Doctor Stuart requesting it be further transmitted to you, is that the two points are not acceptable. I felt that perhaps you and Doctor Stuart may still find some way to stop the attack on Kalgan and to avert a total split.

The result has been that the drive against Kalgan will only be held for 10 days while at the same time during those 10 days the Communists have to accept the two proposals of the Generalissimo to carry them out or to consider them as conditions precedent. This, of course, leads one to presume that the Government is forcing the Communists to surrender under those terms and that if they are not accepted the Government would continue to drive against Kalgan. This situation differs from that in June in that respect. In June the questions were brought up for discussion and this time, the scope of the discussion is limited, but also the solutions are worked out before hand which is tantamount to an ultimatum.

General Marshall: Let me interrupt for a minute. The limitation on matters to be discussed results from my effort to put as few difficulties as possible ahead of the termination of hostilities. That the Communists cannot agree because the Generalissimo has decided the terms, is, I think, a definite misunderstanding. The Generalissimo stated his terms and you have frequently stated yours. If in discussions over the table no agreement is reached, then the proposals are a failure. There is in no way a commitment to the specific terms as outlined by the Generalissimo, such as the number of delegates and the location of the Government troops can be made without sitting down at the table to discuss the terms. I apologize for interrupting.

General Chou: Regarding my request for a reconvening of the Committee of Three your reply to me that it cannot be called at this time because you could not reach a basis for preliminary discussion with both sides as to how the hostilities can be terminated, can be also applied, I feel, to the Informal Five Man Group. No informal preliminary discussion has been held regarding the arrangement for the organization of the State Council and therefore it would be equally difficult to convene the meeting.

[Page 337]

Apart from that, there is still the question that no guarantee was given to issue the cease fire order. Before I left Nanking I tried to communicate to Dr. Stuart every conceivable way as to Communist proposals in connection with the organization of the State Council.

The Government stand has been that it would refuse flatly to discuss the matters informally. The Generalissimo made his proposal for the certain seats of the State Council which appears to be very ridiculous and could not meet with the approval of the Democratic League. Later on, you and Dr. Stuart tried to call the Committee of Three and the Five Man Group at the same time. The Generalissimo did not reply to that proposal instantly and thereupon the negotiations were interrupted for about five days.

Meanwhile, the Government is launching a large scale attack against Kalgan which was formally opened at 2 o’clock on September 29th. This was admitted both by the press as well as by the Government military leaders in Peiping. Thereupon the Communists came to the conclusion that the situation has come too far to be saved. Do you agree to the point that the attack against Kalgan should be stopped, but you do not consider this move is tantamount to a countrywide split. The Communists still hold that the Government attack on one of the few cities which are political and military centers of the Communist Party such as Yenan, Kalgan and Harbin does constitute such a national split. By now there are only a few cities left and Chengteh has already been occupied by the Government troops.

I hope that you will understand that ever since the Communists withdrew from Changchun, they have always been on the defensive, while the Kuomintang troops are taking the initiative to attack any the Communist weak points are. Now they have occupied over 60 Communist cities; if we take into consideration those occupied prior to June 7th, 107 cities. Communists are offering little or no resistance. Communist cities; if we take into consideration those occupied prior to June 7th, 107 cities. Communists are offering little or no resistance. In other words, in areas such as Yenan border region, we also refrain from attacking the Nationalists. The same applies to Manchuria. However, if the Communists resorted to an all-out counter-attack on the Kuomintang areas, we are perfectly aware that the Nationalists have very little force in their own areas such as in the area to the south of the Yangtze River. The Government is still continuing their attack against the Communists. That is why we feel that the continuation of the drive against Kalgan is a declaration of the Generalissimo’s determination to abandon the last prospect of negotiation and that he is driving headlong into a nation-wide split. On this question there is only the issue of the terminating of the fighting, or not to terminate it. It is not a question of a temporary armistice.

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The Generalissimo on October 2nd made a reply to my memorandum of September 30th. Prior to making that reply the Standing Committee of the Kuomintang called a meeting of that day in which they established a policy of war. General Pai,19 General Chen Cheng20 as well as Mr. Chen Li Fu21 all voiced their opinion that only by force would there be a settlement. So, the Standing Committee decided that the war was the only way out. In the same afternoon, Mr. Peng made his statement and the Generalissimo immediately sent a memorandum to General Marshall in which he avoided reply to the question of the attack against Kalgan. He made his two demands and as I mentioned above, they are unacceptable to the Communist Party. When raising these demands, the Generalissimo is perfectly aware that they will not be acceptable to the Communists. Thereby, it would be all the better for the Government to use them as a cover to prosecute the war.

On October 6th, Dr. Stuart and you went to talk to the Generalissimo and the Generalissimo agreed to your proposal of holding up the drive for 10 days against Kalgan. The Generalissimo still insisted that the two demands of his proposal should be brought under discussion. This testifies that, although he knows perfectly well they will not be accepted by the Communists, he still wanted to discuss the 10 day truce in order that he may regroup his army for further attack. He did this in view of the fact that at the present time the Government does not have sufficient troops at disposal for the drive in Chahar. If there is a breathing spell of 10 days the Generalissimo can exploit that to move troops by sea and air to the Peiping-Tientsin areas, at least he can send up a large amount of arms and ammunition.

Therefore, our reply to this question is quite a different one. That is, we have learned a lesson from the two armistices in June, that despite the fact we made tremendous concessions there will be no settlement. Therefore, we cannot agree to a 10 day truce for the operation against Kalgan. As a matter of fact, we cannot even agree to a limited armistice for the entire country, and it is our view that only a lasting truce would demonstrate that the Government does not want to see a total split.

Our stand on questions regarding the military matters is as follows:

The troops on both sides should resume their positions as of January 13 in China Proper and their positions of January [June] 7th in Manchuria.
The location of the troops of both parties until the time of army reorganization should be fixed.
Those Government troops which have been moved since January 13th should be sent back to the original locations in order to facilitate the demobilization.

Only these conditions will insure the truce.

As to the political matters, it is our view that no matter whether they will be discussed by the Five Man Group or by the Steering Committee of the PCC they should cover the following points:

The Communist Party and the Democratic League must hold 14 seats in the State Council, in order to insure that a joint platform will not be violated. The distribution of these seats between the Communist Party and the Democratic League will be settled by a separate discussion.
The organization of the State Council should be in conjunction with the reorganization of the Executive Yuan.
The Draft Constitution Review Committee should be immediately reconvened in order to put into final form the Draft Constitution so as to insure that this draft will be presented to the National Assembly and that all parties will pledge to stand by this draft.
As to the date of the National Assembly and the final distribution of National Assembly delegates among the various parties, that should be settled by the Steering Committee of the PCC by consultation.
After the reorganization of the Central Government the various parties will hand in the list of their National Assembly delegates in accordance with the number agreed upon by this reorganized Government.
The question of local administration will be settled in accordance with the joint platform of the PCC. That is, a status quo will be maintained pending the initiation of the local self-government after the reorganization of the Central Government.
In order to insure that the four promises made by the Generalissimo at the opening session of the PCC will be carried out, the political prisoners should be released and the newspapers, magazines and civic bodies abandoned since January should be restored. Further, the secret service should be abolished.
In accordance with the military resolutions of the PCC, the division of military and civil affairs should be strictly carried out and the demobilization should be started afresh.

The above eight points are all within the scope of the stipulations of the PCC and they should all be carried out.

Speaking briefly, I (Chou) could put it this way—that the Informal Five Man Committee and the Steering Committee of the PCC would merely discuss as to how to implement the PCC. They could determine whether certain points are in contravention to the PCC resolutions.

These are the circumstances that I was going to put into my reply to the Generalissimo’s memorandum of October 2nd.

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To put it still more briefly, it can be said that the attack against Kalgan should be stopped indefinitely in order to avoid a nation-wide split so that the Committee of Three and the Informal Five Man Group and the Steering Committee of the PCC will be convened to discuss the truce and the implementation of the PCC resolutions. This will be my specific reply to the Generalissimo.

There are two other points that I would like to make:

The Communist Party does not agree to the assistance given by the American Government to the Kuomintang Government while the civil war is still going on. It further cannot agree to the fact that the U. S. troops in China have not yet been withdrawn as it was promised before.
I took notice of the fact that the statements you and Dr. Stuart have issued, always come in such a way as to follow a rejection by the Communists of the Government’s demands and not when the Government is rejecting the Communist demands. For example, you did not issue a statement after the June armistice when the Communists had practically abandoned all their claims and still the Government refused to sign the agreement causing the negotiations thereupon to break down. Later on, when Dr. Stuart came into the negotiations and the Government issued the five-point demand to us which was tantamount to blocking the mediation by Dr. Stuart, you did not at that juncture issue a statement. When those five points were refused by the Communists a statement was issued. Later on in connection with the informal Five Man Committee, when the Government refused to give a guarantee and further brought unreasonable demands, you also issued no statement. When the Government refused the Communist proposal of halting the advance against Kalgan you also did not issue a statement, but when we refused their proposal you issued your last statement.
Though in those statements you did not make any accusation, the timing of that statement leads the public to some misunderstanding and they could not have a true picture of what was going on.

General Marshall: I will give the Government this list of 8 points, but I would suggest that you make a formal reply to the Government yourself.

I came here, as I told you, in order to see you directly for discussion to determine whether or not the situation was as serious as appeared to me following the discussion yesterday afternoon with Mr. Tung Pi Wu and Mr. Wang Ping Nan. I appreciate your frankness and I am not going into any detailed response. I have covered most of the points before and I cannot help but deplore your continued insistence that the Generalissimo planned this truce for an evil purpose after I spent four or five days trying to persuade him to stop the fighting. The truce was not possibly conceived as an effort of the Government to find time for moving troops and munitions.

All I can say is that, having heard your statement, it would seem [Page 341] that my efforts of mediation appear futile and I see no practical basis for any other action on my part. I will deliver the 8 points to the Government. I hope that you will make your own written reply and I can but express my regret at this ending of our discussions.

I told you some time ago that if the Communist Party felt that they could not trust to my impartiality, they merely had to say so and I would withdraw. You have now said so. I am leaving immediately for Nanking. I want to thank you for coming over here to General Gillem’s today and giving me this opportunity for a direct conversation with you.

General Chou: I would like to make two points: One, those eight points refer merely to the political aspects. I also mentioned three points on the military aspects. Further, I would like to point out that the halting of the advance against Kalgan should be a permanent one. I will furnish a written reply to the Generalissimo for transmittal through you; Two, though I had some complaint with regard to the last statement you have issued, I do not refer to your over-all efforts throughout the whole mediation. I want to make that clear.

Meeting adjourned.

  1. Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., Commanding General, China Service Command, U. S. Army, at Shanghai. On October 11 General Gillem became Commanding General, Peiping Headquarters, and American Commissioner of Executive Headquarters at Peiping, in succession to Walter S. Robertson.
  2. Chang Wen-chin, secretary to General Chou En-lai.
  3. OSE 491, October 6, p. 299.
  4. Brig. Gen. Thomas S. Timberman, Director of Operations, Executive Headquarters, Peiping.
  5. Pai Chung-hsi, Chinese Minister of National Defense.
  6. Chief of the Chinese General Staff.
  7. Chinese Minister of the Kuomintang Organization Board.