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Editorial Summary of a Meeting with Yeh Chien-ying, John Leighton Stuart, C. P. Lee, and Others
November 26-December 1, 1946 Nanking, China
Yeh Chien-ying, Executive Headquarters, Peiping, November 26, 10:00 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
General Yeh, the Communist commissioner at Executive Headquarters, reported on the Communist Branch’s activities and the conditions under which the Communists might withdraw from the organization. “The present difficulty,” Marshall stated, “was severely aggravated by distrust and mutual suspicion”; each side had become the victim of its own propaganda.
Yeh elaborated on Communist strategy in Manchuria. Overall victory not local victories was the key, he said. The Communists had evacuated the large cities and kept their strength intact, while government forces had lost strength even as they occupied cities. Moreover, the Communists had concluded over the past five months that the government did not have the troops to conduct simultaneous campaigns in Manchuria and North China. “General Marshall said he felt that it was utterly wrong for either side to use military force and that military campaigns conducted in the past had been most regrettable. He stated that the situation could not be settled by force and that he had not agreed with either side on their military operations.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 563-66.)
John Leighton Stuart, November 29, 6:00 P.M. [added for the internet edition]
Stuart reported on his meeting with Tung Pi-wu, acting head of the Communist delegation in Nanking, who made a number of ascerbic comments about the government’s good intentions and concluded by stating that he frankly did not trust American mediation. While Tung believed that party headquarters probably would not assist in reopening the mediation effort, he agreed to send a message to Yenan. Marshall agreed that if no reply was received in three days, “he would act accordingly.” (Ibid., pp. 571-72.)
C. P. Lee, November 30, 5:30 P.M. [added for the internet edition]
Marshall refuted the many rumors General Lee had read in the newspapers about his and Stuart’s activities. Lee thought that Tung Pi-wu was still friendly toward the American mediators; Marshall noted Dr. Stuart’s report of Tung’s hostile attitude. Lee thought the draft constitution was a good one, but Marshall said that in order to insure that the government would follow it the country needed to have a strong opposition party. Lee thought that a U.S.-Soviet Union-China agreement on China would be helpful. Easier said than done, Marshall responded; the U.S. “could not get any cooperation from Russia over the smallest issues” regarding China. The key problems at present, Marshall emphasized, were whether the government would adopt the P.C.C.’s draft constitution and whether it would attack Yenan. (Ibid., pp. 572-73.)
W. Walton Butterworth and Others, December 1, 11:00 A.M.
Marshall had requested a meeting of his political advisers (in addition to Butterworth were Raymond P. Ludden, John F. Melby, and Philip D. Sprouse) because Chiang Kai-shek had requested a meeting with Marshall that afternoon, and the draft constitution might be a topic of conversation. The Foreign Service officers agreed that the new constitution was generally democratic and adaptable to China’s situation. There was nothing about the constitution they wished Marshall to contest with the Generalissimo. The group discussed ways of implementing a coalition government.
Marshall asked Butterworth’s opinion on continuing the mediation. Butterworth thought the general’s presence had a desirable restraining influence on the government, and his “departure would be catastrophic, and in view of Dr. Stuart’s inclinations, would cause the United States, as far as its policy is concerned, to drift toward full support of the National Government.” Marshall suspected that many Chinese found his role “an undesirable necessity since by keeping him continually in the picture the Government reactionaries could continue their undemocratic practices and military campaigns under the guise of willingness to negotiate.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 573-75.)
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), pp. 749-750.