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

No. 253

Subject: Political Negotiations.

Sir: I have the honor to report that since my last despatch (no. 232 dated October 31, 194617) the so-called Third Group (composed of leaders of the Democratic League, Youth Party and those of no party) has been actively trying to mediate between the Government and the Communist Party. They have kept in constant touch with General Marshall or me and we have done what we could to encourage them. Finally, some of them called on me on November 6 confessing that all their efforts through the past three weeks had been futile and asking that General Marshall and I again resume negotiations. I answered that since the Communist Party had made no reply to President Chiang’s formal communication of October 16 transmitted to General Chou En-lai through us, they had virtually ignored us and that we could only mediate when both sides indicated their desire to have us do so. They left therefore determined to persuade the Communist Party to send some sort of reply.

The following evening they brought General Chou and Mr. Wang Ping-nan to the Embassy residence. General Chou was voluble in [Page 536] excuses for not having replied and in his denial of any anti-American sentiment. He discussed the problem of the letter: he could not possibly accept President Chiang’s “eight points”, nor did he care to repudiate these and thus break oil negotiations, etc. I suggested that he compose a brief but courteous letter pointing out that at the urging of both Government and Third Group representatives he had returned to the capital to discuss any relevant topics. As an instance of the importance to the Chinese mind of epistolary style, as well of the intensity of emotion which complicates this issue, they worked all the next day drafting this simple letter and finished it at six o’clock in the evening. Copies in English were delivered to General Marshall and the original text reached President Chiang by eleven o’clock that night.

Meanwhile President Chiang had told me that in view of the rapidly approaching date for the National Assembly, he had determined to take our advice and issue a cease-fire order without making any stipulations. I suggested that he accompany this with an irenic announcement calculated to win the Third Group and, if possible, the Communist Party to participate in the Assembly. On November 5 he gave me two English copies of this18 and asked that General Marshall and I revise it as we thought best. It was a discursive mixture of self-defense and criticisms of the Communist Party which would have been highly provocative, and was withal entirely too lengthy. After attempting to delete much of it, we agreed that the only possible treatment would be to rewrite it entirely, and General Marshall did this. When we submitted our draft to President Chiang he explained that in his original draft he had been trying to convince his civil and more especially his military associates to approve his cease-fire order and that he was standing almost alone in this decision. He accepted our draft with a few verbal alterations except for our paragraph regarding the proposed constitution.

On November 10 he asked me to suggest to the Third Group leaders that they send in their lists of delegates for the Assembly on condition that its opening be postponed. They protested that the time was too short, etc., but that evening and the following day were spent in vigorous efforts by all concerned to find a solution. The net result thus far of these numerous conferences is that the Assembly has been postponed for three days (November 15), the Youth Party and an element of the Democratic League are sending in the names of their delegates with the intention of participating, and the Communist Party is more obdurate than ever. The Assembly will be in session for two weeks in a “preparatory status”.

[Page 537]

General Chou En-lai came with Mr. Wang on the afternoon of November 11 to pay what seemed to be in the nature of a parting call before leaving for Yenan and did the same that evening with General Marshall. It was a distressing interview for he saw no gleam of hope in recent developments. His distrust of President Chiang and the Government leaders generally was so deep, his insistence on meticulous details of procedure so uncompromising, that all my appeals to concentrate on the two really fundamental issues—the cessation of hostilities and the drafting of a truly representative constitution—were unavailing. He repeatedly described President Chiang as having “slipped a noose over the neck of the Communist Party” or as “pointing a dagger at our heart”, thus revealing a fear of consequences if he agreed to any proposal leading to a partial solution. It must be a complete acceptance by the Government of the original PCC resolutions as the basis for procedure or nothing.

On only one point he expressed himself as not being clear: as to whether American policy had changed or not. I replied that as to nothing could he be more clear, for American policy adhered firmly to the President’s statement of December 15, 1945.19 He quoted two reports from the United States of statements by American officials to the effect that we needed to support the Chinese Government because of the Russian menace, and wondered if the recent Republican victories did not imply shifts in foreign policy. After reaffirming the desires of our Government for a united, peaceful China as variously indicated, I commented on my chief personal concern which was for democratic reforms leading to a more enlightened liberalism and to a reduction of the prevalent corruption and inefficiency. I pointed out the absolute necessity of a strong and determined opposition in achieving this and the patriotic service the Communist Party could thus render. I told him that I had argued all this with President Chiang, who had heartily concurred with me. I reminded him of the great benefits that would accrue to the nation as a whole if the American plans for aiding China could be made effective, and of the complete protection to the Communist Party and the areas under its control if General Marshall and his subordinates were in charge of military reorganization. Later on when I was called away for a few moments he asked my Chinese helper if there were not some way to cancel the whole five-year program of American military aid. The latter replied that this would doubtless be very simple if the Government would unite with the Communist Party in requesting it. This question is quite revealing as seeming to strengthen the impression that General Chou and his comrades would not hesitate to sacrifice the welfare of the nation for their internal struggle with the [Page 538] hated Kuomintang, as is indeed apparent in all their recent anti-American propaganda. It would seem that at long last the negotiations are about to be broken off by the Communist Party attitude. General Chou has given assurance that one of his colleagues will remain here to represent the Party, but his own departure is significant. When I asked him whether he was leaving because he felt the outlook was hopeless or in order to report and receive new instructions he hesitated a moment and then replied that perhaps it was something of both.

These selections from many recent discussions have perhaps resulted in a tediously lengthy report, but it is in an attempt to give something of the murky atmosphere now settling down upon the effort to bring the Communist Party into a coalition program. Whatever the reasons, that would seem to be—at least for the present—impracticable. But I should like to close on a more cheering and constructive note that there is no occasion for pessimism and that I believe there remain in our American relations with China many hopeful potentialities.

Respectfully yours,

J. Leighton Stuart
  1. Ante, p. 457.
  2. See undated draft, p. 476.
  3. United States Relations With China, p. 607.