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

No. 305

Subject: Political Negotiations.

Sir: I have the honor to report the following developments in the Communist issue.

Before General Chou En-lai left for Yenan on November 19 General Marshall asked him to secure as promptly as possible on arrival a categorical statement from the Yenan leaders as to whether or not they still desired him to continue his efforts. He agreed to this. The failure of the Communist Party to match the Government’s cease-fire order and of General Chou to participate in the Three-Man Committee (except for one “informal” meeting), together with his announced return to Yenan, were enough to justify General Marshall’s interrogation. True, he pointed out that he had left two representatives here to demonstrate the possibility of further negotiation.

On November 29, no reply having been received, General Marshall and I conferred as to what we should do next, with the result that I asked Tung Pi-wu, one of the Communist Party delegates, to come [Page 580] to see me. In a lengthy discussion he urged that the Communist Party had never declared that they rejected American mediation, but when I asked whether he cared to put this more positively and state that they desired this to continue he avoided a direct answer. He agreed, however, to send a message in the form General Marshall requested—“How long they expected him to wait for a reply to his question?”—and thought an answer might be received in two or three days. Mr. Tung also confirmed the published statement that the Communist Party would continue to negotiate on the three following conditions:

That conferences be renewed based essentially on the PCC resolutions.
That the Government be reorganized on this basis.
That there be another National Assembly to supersede the present one.

It is difficult to interpret the motives behind these propositions which can scarcely be regarded as practicable. The intelligent leaders of the CCP must be aware of the skeptical attitude the Government would take toward a resumption forthwith of negotiations on such a scope after nearly twelve months of futile discussion and the latest Communist Party defection. Even more impossible would it be to expect the Government to declare that the Assembly now in session is illegal, that its work has been useless, and the fifteen or sixteen hundred delegates must depart and come again when summoned. The Government had already determined to effect the second item.

On December 1 President Chiang, with Madame Chiang as interpreter, General Marshall and I had a conference lasting almost three hours. President Chiang began by asking our opinion as to what should be done if all attempts to win Communist Party cooperation finally came to naught. General Marshall reaffirmed with admirable clarity and frankness his conviction that the Communist Party problem could not be solved by military means and that through the continued attempts to do so would plunge the nation before long in financial chaos. He recognized that in their present mood of animosity and distrust there was not much hope of persuading the Communist Party to abandon its insistence on meticulous details of procedure and come to agreement on the larger issues, but he felt that every endeavor should be exerted to this end. President Chiang agreed to this last but repeated his own belief that the Communists were not so much controlled by fears and suspicions as by a deliberate policy of obstructive delays in order to bring about the collapse of the Kuomintang Government. As long as the Government was in the ascendancy his experience with Russia was that she would be too realistic to aid the Chinese Communist Party, especially in view of [Page 581] her present preoccupation with problems on her western borders. Although economic conditions were bad throughout the country, causing wide-spread hardship, yet this was more true in the ports and industrial centers, and he believed that the national economic structure could stand the present strain for another two years. He was confident that the Communist Party military power could be shattered in another nine or ten months, and that the areas under their control could then be restored to normal allegiance by political methods, as had proven true in Kiangsi and elsewhere after the Communist Party evacuation some sixteen years ago. He argued that with their bases destroyed and with motor roads, airplanes etc., guerilla warfare would not be as easy as it had been hitherto. He fully endorsed the importance of reform in the Government and of improved local administration as the surest means of weakening the Communist Party influence, but insisted that if they maintained an armed force and refused to resume peaceful negotiations, it would be impossible to avert civil war. President Chiang felt that ultimately the problem would narrow down to the situation of Manchuria. His intention was to get control of Manchuria south of Changchun, which was the industrially important area and for the present make no attack on Harbin and leave the Communist Party undisturbed in that area, thus avoiding any possible clashes with Russia. He added that, being now sixty years old and in any case uncertain as to when his active service might suddenly end, he felt the responsibility of finishing by one means or another this Communist Party issue while he was in power. In conclusion he urged that in view of the altered situation the American Government reconsider its policy for securing unity and peace in China and stability in Eastern Asia.

It was informally agreed that if the National Assembly should approve the Constitution essentially as presented to it, and after the State Council had been elected with seats assigned to non-government members including nine for Communist Party, and a definite decision could be announced as to reorganizing the Executive Yuan, it would seem wise to make one more final appeal to the Communist Party to consider the national welfare and to take the necessary steps for participating in a coalition Government. This appeal should be in the most irenic and conciliatory tone, but whether to be made publicly or through messengers sent to Yenan for private consultation was left open for further consideration.

Meanwhile the National Assembly is holding daily sessions. There are many signs of inexperience in parliamentary debate and of noisy crudities in behavior. But all of this is at least indicative of spirited interest and belies the jibes that it is completely dominated by the Kuomintang machine. Actually this is probably true of only about [Page 582] one-third of the delegates. The remainder are more or less independent members of the Kuomintang, or of the minority parties, or non-party delegates, these last being perhaps the most influential group. The revised draft of the Constitution is very close to the PCC resolutions, due chiefly to strong pressure by President Chiang. It is being strenuously opposed by the reactionary Kuomintang element numbering about two hundred delegates, and it is probably due to his constant and alert presence that there has been no recourse to violence. As it now appears, the Constitution will be passed by a majority of about nine hundred. It is estimated that the opposition can from present indications rally another two hundred or so, with two to three hundred uncertain. If this result is achieved it will be a personal triumph for President Chiang as well as an encouraging evidence of his sincere intention to inaugurate a modern form of democracy.

Respectfully yours,

J. Leighton Stuart