893.00/6–149: Telegram

The Consul General at Peiping (Clubb) to the Secretary of State

917. Following message given Assistant Military Attaché Barrett55 May 31 by reliable intermediary, origin being Chou En-lai.56 Chou desired message be transmitted highest American authorities on top secret level without his name being mentioned, said in fact that if it were attributed him he would positively disavow it. Essential there be no leak his name to outside channels. Chou approved transmittal via Barrett who gave message me to transmit, but wanted name un-mentioned even to Barrett. Chou desired what he said be conveyed to British, expressed preference transmittal be through Department.

[Page 358]

There were few disagreements in CCP Party [sic] during agrarian stage revolution but with arrival at urban stage there have now developed disagreements of serious nature primarily re industrial-commercial policies and questions international relations. There is still no actual split within party but definite separation into liberal and radical wings, with Chou being of liberal, and Liu Shao-chi57 of radical wing. Chou however said it would be as big mistake to base any policy toward China on idea there would develop major split in party as it was to attempt stop Communism in China by aiding Kmt58 para-liberal group; feels that country is in such bad shape that most pressing need is reconstruction without regard political theories and that Mao Tse-tung59 concepts regarding private capital should be effected. Group feels there should have been coalition with Kmt because of party lack necessary knowledge regarding reconstruction, did not favor coalition with elements Ho Ying-chin-Chen Li-fu60 type but felt that without coalition reconstruction might be so delayed that party would lose support people. Realistic coalition advocated by group failed after big dispute involving most of higher figures in party with exception Mao (Chou was most careful in references to Mao). Coalition having failed, party must make most of bad job and obtain aid from outside. USSR cannot give aid which, therefore, must come from USA or possibly Britain. Chou favors getting help from USA and does not accord Soviet attitude regarding USA. Chou professedly sincere Communist but feels there has developed in USA economy something which is outside Marxist theories and that present American economic situation is, therefore, not susceptible Marxian interpretation. Therefore, Soviet attitude this respect wrong, feels American economy will continue without internal collapse or revolution and that there is no real bar to relations between USA and other governments, different political type. Unequivocally opposed to American aid to Kmt but feels this was given from mistaken motives altruism rather than American viciousness. Feels USA has genuine interest in Chinese people which could become basis friendly relations between two countries.

Chou, speaking for liberal group, felt China should speedily establish de facto working relations with foreign governments.

This question will be prime issue in struggle between two wings. Radicals wish alliance with USSR, sort now existing between US and Britain, while liberals regard Soviet international policy as “crazy”. Chou feels USSR is risking war which it is unable fight successfully [Page 359] and that good working relations between China and USA would have definite softening effect on party attitude toward Western countries. Chou desires these relations because he feels China desperately needs that outside aid which USSR unable give. Feels China on brink complete economic and physical collapse, by “physical” meaning breakdown physical well-being of people.

Chou feels USA should aid China because: (1) China still not Communist and if Mao’s policies are correctly implemented may not be so for long time; (2) democratic China would serve in international sphere as mediator between Western Powers and USSR; (3) China in chaos under any regime would be menace to peace Asia and world. Chou emphasized he spoke solely for certain people personally and not as member party, that he was not in position make formal or informal commitments or proposals. He hoped American authorities would recall wartime contacts with Communists and character and opinions of many whom they knew at that time. He hoped American authorities remembering this would believe there were genuine liberals in party who are concerned with everything connected with welfare Chinese people and “peace in our time” rather than doctrinaire theories. As spokesman for liberal wing he could say that when time came for Communist participation in international affairs his group would work within party for sensible solution impasse between USSR and west and would do its best make USSR discard policies leading to war.

In response particular questions Chou made following statements: There is bad personal feeling between Lin Piao and Peng Teh-huai61 but without more significance than would be a dispute between MacArthur and Eisenhower.62 Lin has complete confidence party leaders as shown by fact he was chosen to command Manchuria and will probably emerge eventually as China’s top military leader. Liu Shao-chi has best party mind re propounding theories, is master of personnel organization but whether he is realist and capable of administering towns is one of points at issue between two wings. Laws prohibiting certain types business came largely from Liu. Liberals oppose such restrictions, believing them helpless, hopeless tinkering with economic system. When it was suggested Liu’s ability as organizer personnel and party machinery might enable him become another Stalin,63 Chou flushed, said nothing. Liberals oppose suppression press but in all his years as party member Chou has never been able get control propaganda section. Party has consequently frequently made fool of itself through propaganda, and propaganda is doing much harm because party itself is beginning believe it. Chou emphasized that despite [Page 360] deficiencies, errors, disagreements, Communists had won military victory and in spite of same drawbacks would win future victory in reconstruction. Chou said Mao Tse-tung stands aside from party disputes using Chou, Liu Shao-chi and other liberals and radicals for specific purposes as he sees fit. Mao is genius in listening arguments various sides, then translating ideas into practical working policies.

Chou per source appeared very nervous and worried.

Comment follows.64

Sent Department 917; repeated Nanking 600, OffEmb Canton 138.

  1. Col. David D. Barrett.
  2. Member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and of its politburo.
  3. Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
  4. Kuomintang (Nationalist Party).
  5. Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
  6. General Ho resigned May 31 as President of the Chinese Executive Yuan; Chen, Minister without Portfolio, was a leader of the C–C clique of the Kuomintang.
  7. Two leading Chinese Communist military commanders.
  8. Generals of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Powers in Japan, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.
  9. Josif Vissarionovich Stalin, Soviet Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.
  10. Telegram No. 928, June 2, 6 p. m. p. 363.