Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Minutes of Meeting Between General Marshall and Professor Chou Tsien-chung at No. 5 Ning Hai Road, Nanking, November 14, 1946, 10 a.m.

Also present: Col. Underwood

Prof. Chou: I have come from Shanghai today for a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Young China Party. Mr. Li Huang, Chinese representative to the United Nations Conference at San Francisco, is also here for the meeting. We want your advice concerning what we should do to break the present deadlock regarding the National Assembly. Specifically, what will happen if the Communist Party does not participate?

General Marshall: It is very difficult for me to estimate Chinese reactions. There has been so much maneuvering by all parties that it is very difficult to determine the real objectives of each group. I very much fear that China is moving toward a state of full civil war. The chief difficulty has been a lack of trust on all sides. The Communist Party does not trust the Government in anything that it says or does; similarly, the Government has no trust in the sincerity of the Communist Party. At the moment, the Communist distrust is the greater. The Communists are now more bitter than ever before. Formerly, the reverse obtained. An additional difficulty stems from the fact that all parties are haggling over details of procedure rather [Page 539] than concentrating on fundamental issues. The important issue, to me, is the Constitution, and not the details concerning convocation of the National Assembly, as well as all the names of delegates, etc.

Prof. Chou: The Constitution is not the important issue to the Communist Party.

General Marshall: It is very difficult for me to determine the real objectives. My major interest at the moment and that of the United States Government lies in the true intention of the National Government concerning the Constitution. Will that Constitution be a genuine democratic document, or a hollow instrument of dictatorship or one-party control.

Prof. Chou: The revision of the Draft Constitution was practically completed by the PCC. However, the unfinished part is the most important part; namely, making the Executive Yuan responsible to the Legislative Yuan. Our party and the Communist Party insist upon this provision. The Government has not yet agreed with us.

General Marshall: What are the really important parts of the present Communist Party demands?

Prof. Chou: When Chairman Mao Tze-tung came to Chungking,20 he had many talks with the Generalissimo. I discovered that in those talks, the Communist Party demanded 7 governors of provinces, 5 mayors of major cities, and the retention of certain Communist divisions. In other words, the Communist Party would make certain concessions to the Government (such as recognition of the National Assembly delegates who were elected 10 years ago) in return for positive material gains. We feel that the Communists are realists and doctrinaire at the same time. They are very hard to deal with because of their lack of principles and their constantly changing attitudes.

General Marshall: I regret that I cannot give you a good estimate of the present situation. Neither Dr. Stuart nor I know what took place yesterday; neither of us saw the Generalissimo nor General Chou En-lai yesterday.

Prof. Chou: There were no positive results from any of the meetings which were held yesterday. The minority parties held a meeting which consisted solely of a free exchange of opinion. The Legislative Yuan also held a meeting to discuss the Generalissimo’s suggestion for examining the revised draft of the Constitution. The Legislative Yuan refused to follow the Generalissimo’s suggestion. Instead, the Legislative Yuan indorsed the 5 May Constitution which was drafted by the Kuomintang only. I believe that the Legislative Yuan has taken this position because of the Generalissimo’s postponement of the National Assembly. It is simply a case of Chinese politics.

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My party is fighting against one-party rule. We oppose both Kuomintang dictatorship and proletariat dictatorship of the Communist Party. We do not think that indefinite postponement of the National Assembly will stop fighting. The National Assembly has been postponed many times before, while fighting has gone on for many years. We do not think that the Communist Party attaches much importance to the Constitution. We believe that the Communist Party will accept any Constitution, provided sufficient material gain accrues to them as a result of their acceptance.

General Marshall: The Communist Party has changed its attitude decidedly with respect to the civil war. They now state that if the National Assembly is held, they will continue to negotiate on a military level, but will not agree to a cessation of hostilities until the whole military program is settled. Their present position is the same as the position which the Government took in June. However, now the Government desires a cessation of hostilities, with the troops holding their present positions and with the resolution of the military program following the cessation of hostilities. Of course, the Communist Party is thinking in terms of the Government capture of Antung, Kalgan, and Chengte. Moreover, the Communist Party says that if the National Assembly is postponed and then convened according to PCC agreements and procedure, it will then agree to immediate cessation of hostilities.

Prof. Chou: What concessions can the Government make to the Communist Party?

General Marshall: I had always thought that the best grounds for Government concessions consisted of moulding the Constitution in strict accordance with the PCC agreements.

Prof. Chou: Mr. Tso Shun-son21 saw the Generalissimo yesterday. The Generalissimo told him that he would guarantee that the Constitution would be formally adopted by the National Assembly in spite of the opposition of the Legislative Yuan.

General Marshall: What would happen if the National Assembly would adopt a Constitution based upon the PCC agreements? If this were done, Americans would expect the rebellious party to join the Government. However, I do not know what the Chinese reaction to this situation would be.

The important thing, however, is the future of China. The United States will not support a one-party government in China. China sorely needs economic assistance, and there is no government in the world other than the United States which can give this economic assistance to China. Nevertheless, the United States will not give economic assistance to nor in any way support a fictitious two-party [Page 541] government. It must be a real, a genuine two-party government. The opposition party must not be completely dominated by the party in control.

Prof. Chou: The Generalissimo has wanted a three-party government consisting of the Kuomintang, the Young China Party, and the Democratic League. Would the United States support a coalition government minus the Communist Party, if the PCC agreements were carried out literally?

General Marshall: The only hope there would stem from the carrying out of the PCC agreements, both in spirit and in letter. Such action would leave the Communist Party without grounds for argument. However, the PCC agreements would have to be carried out, genuinely, or the whole affair would be meaningless. If you had a coalition government minus the Communist Party, how would you organize the State Council?

Prof. Chou: The Communist Party seats would be left vacant. The situation in China would then resemble the present situation in India.

General Marshall: Such action would leave the Government with a majority. It would mean that there would be no real veto power. The Kuomintang would have to provide a real basis for effective veto or the result would still be one-party rule. China must have an opposition party because the Kuomintang cannot reform itself.

Prof. Chou: Reformation of the Kuomintang Party is difficult because the Communist Party has its own army. In what length of time could the Communist Party complete its disarmament and preparation for integration?

General Marshall: At first, we figured on 18 months. The job could be done in 12 months, if all concerned cooperated to the fullest. Again I say that I am sorry that I am unable to give you a definite answer to your question concerning the consequences of Communist failure to participate in the National Assembly.

Prof. Chou: We are in a very difficult position. The postponement of the National Assembly was accepted by the Generalissimo on the condition that the Young China Party would come into the National Assembly. Yet we have insisted that the National Assembly must follow PCC resolutions and procedure.

General Marshall: Leaving seats in the National Assembly for the Communist Party does not mean much, though it is a necessary action.

Prof. Chou: The Government really intends to form a coalition government in name only; it will be a one-party government in practice. I have heard a rumor that the Government has offered to trade Kalgan for Manchuria. Is that true?

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General Marshall: I know nothing about the matter. As you know, negotiations have been in the hands of the Third Party recently.

Prof. Chou: Could you exert your great influence on the Generalissimo to influence him to maintain an atmosphere of goodwill in the National Assembly?

General Marshall: You have no idea how hard I have tried to influence the Generalissimo in the past. There is a hard-boiled element in the party that has ruined my efforts and is now ruining China. However, the basic trouble now is bitter distrust, of which I spoke earlier. Whenever I do get a concession from the Government, the Communist Party honestly feels that the concession represents maneuvering on the part of the Government. Take the Generalissimo’s eight points, for example. They in part represent definite, important concessions which the Government did not want to make, yet the Communist Party treats them as articles of surrender. Moreover, the Third Party complicates the situation by calling the Assembly illegal. Again, I regret that I can give you no more positive guidance.

  1. For correspondence on this phase, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vi, pp. 247 ff.
  2. Tso Shun-sheng, member of the Chinese People’s Political Council.