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Editorial Summary of a Meeting with Chou En-lai
November 12, 1946, 6:00 P.M. Nanking, China
General Chou reported on his meeting that afternoon with the P.C.C.’s Steering Committee, saying that the government’s unilateral opening of the National Assembly in three days had caused a political split, and its recent capture of Antung had caused the Communists “bitter resentment.” Negotiations would be pointless in view of the government’s use of the National Assembly meeting to put pressure on the Communists. “If the National Assembly is called off,” Chou responded to a question from Marshall, “then I fully subscribe to the procedure of having first the cease fire agreement and then the discussion of all the other matters.”
Marshall repeated his belief that agreement was “being defeated by suspicions and misapprehensions. . . . There has been undoubtedly a very serious battle within the Government ranks, and what I believe you do not perceive nor understand is the fatal effect on the liberals in the Government of the abrupt, almost contemptuous, refusal or suspicion by the Communist Party of proposals which have been wrung from Government military and political leaders with the greatest difficulty.” The National Assembly issue was not a mere matter of procedure, Chou replied, “but a question of fundamental principles.” Marshall said he failed to see why this was so. While he realized that he did not understand the many ramifications of the political situation, Marshall said, “from an American point of view, the great issue is the draft of the Constitution and the basis of its acceptance—for the new law of the land,” not the allocation of ministry appointments in an ever-changing bureaucracy. Chou expressed surprise at the importance Marshall placed on the draft constitution. China had to have an organized, legal, opposition party in order to achieve reform, in Marshall’s opinion. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 524-34.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 743.