S/P Files: Lot 64 D 563

Memorandum of Conversation, by Charles Burton Marshall of the Policy Planning Staff

top secret
Participants: Brig. Gen. Frank Roberts of Mr. Harriman’s1 Staff;
Mr. Charles B. Marshall, Policy Planning Staff.
Time: From 12:00 noon to 2:00 p. m., January 30, 1951.

Marshall explained to General Roberts the background of the conversations involving First Party, Second Party, and Third Party. Marshall explained that he was First Party through most of the reported conversations and that John Davies, a colleague, had been First Party in a small portion of them.

General Roberts asked for the identity of Second and Third Parties. Marshall identified Second Party and gave the credentials of Third Party insofar as he understood them. General Roberts compared the name of Third Party with a name appearing among several words on a card put away in some of his papers. He seemed to be reassured.

General Roberts then proceeded to read the file on conversations. This file was complete except for the report of conversation dated January 19, 1951.

Marshall explained that he was not an expert on internal Chinese affairs and had been selected to make contact with Third Party through Second Party for the reason of a lack of such identity.

General Roberts said he agreed with the analysis indicated in the report of conversations to the effect that Mao Tse-tung was irretrievably tied to Moscow. He said that he believed that the present apparent retraction of Chinese forces in Korea had been forced upon the Chinese by their domestic circumstances and that Mao had not been able to carry through what he had started to do. He did not believe, however, the retraction indicated that Mao was changing his point of view away from Moscow. He said that he believed that in the last analysis that [Page 1534] Mao would prove to be Moscow’s servant and that he would have to be removed before a real understanding could be established between the United States and Peiping.

General Roberts said that he also was loath to believe that Chou En-lai was a patriotic communist rather than a Stalinist communist. He said he regarded Chou En-lai as completely treacherous and undependable from the standpoint of the United States.

General Roberts suggested the desirability of a check on Third Party’s reports about particular Chinese concerning whom First Party had made inquiries in the first conversation. He said this was particularly important as to Chang Fa-kwei. Marshall said that Mr. Krentz would be more familiar with these details as to Chinese affairs than he himself was. He had gathered from Mr. Davies and Mr. Krentz the general information that Third Party’s appraisals were generally upheld by other information available and indicated reliability.

General Roberts gave the general appraisal that the line of conduct suggested in the reports of conversations was the most important opportunity conceivable for the United States in the immediate future. He said this should be played to the limit and every possibility along this line exploited.

Marshall explained the general point of view developed in the Policy Planning Staff to the effect that Yugoslavia was a most likely target for Russian attack, delivered through the agency of satellites, in the very near future and such a move on the part of the Soviet system had a potential of undermining our whole position in Europe. General Roberts said he agreed with this viewpoint and had just prepared a memorandum to Mr. Harriman dealing with the same prospect. Marshall gave the opinion that what Russia might attempt in the Mediterranean area would be very vitally influenced by the degree and manner of United States commitments in other parts of the world—that is to say, in the Far East. He speculated that Russia had attempted and was attempting to involve the United States in a struggle with China so as to create a situation in which Russia could have the highest degree of freedom in making a move against Yugoslavia. General Roberts agreed to the general relationship between the Chinese-Korean problem and the prospect in Yugoslavia and inferentially in Western Europe. He said he regarded the liquidation of the Korean problem as therefore of the very greatest moment.

General Roberts said he understood and agreed with thoroughly the necessity of a high degree of dissimulation in carrying forward an attempt to reach a settlement with Peiping along the lines indicated in the conversations. He gave the view that it would probably be necessary to take a very select few of the leaders in Congress into confidence.

[Page 1535]

General Roberts said that he would seek to set up immediately a conversation between Marshall and Mr. Harriman so that Mr. Harriman could be apprised fully of the developments. He would try to arrange an hour’s interview for this purpose.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

General Roberts emphasized his belief that in the long run a coup d’etat would be the only avenue to setting up the situation in Peiping to bring about a settlement with the United States.

General Roberts placed great emphasis on the idea of a leaflet drop on Chinese cities—the . . . . Marshall told him of the conversation with Second Party on this subject and of Third Party’s views as reported. General Roberts said that something along this line should be worked out at once in his opinion. He strongly favored the idea of starting the leaflet with the statement that “It might have been a bomb”. He said he believed this would have a direct and very significant impact on the Chinese mainland. Marshall said others in the Department of State more familiar than himself in internal affairs in China looked with disfavor on the idea of this blunt reference to the idea of a bomb. General Roberts said he disagreed with their point of view.

General Roberts emphasized the importance of getting over to the Pentagon the references in the reported conversations concerning the imminence of attack on Formosa, the training of suicide pilots and submarine crews, and the reported impression on the Chinese mainland that the opening attack in a war might occur in the Far East. General Roberts said he did not agree with this latter view but that he thought that it should be passed along to the Pentagon anyway. He said that he believed that the Russians would open up everywhere at once if and when they finally should have recourse to war.

Marshall said that point had been raised about the importance of getting the strictly military information on to the Pentagon but that he would follow up to make sure that this had been done.

General Roberts and Marshall then discussed the implications of the aggressor resolution in relation to the prospects of a settlement with Peiping. Marshall pointed out that the passage of this resolution, considered imminent and now inevitable, would require as an eventual element in a settlement some action purging the Peiping Government of the aggression charge. This would be difficult to bring about, Marshall said. General Roberts agreed. He said from this point of view the ousting of Mao Tse-tung, in his judgment, was necessary. He said that an ouster of Mao would enable the successor government to disavow all acts taken under the aegis of Mao’s premiership and thus would ease the way for clearing China of the aggressor charge.

  1. W. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President.