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Editorial Summary of Meetings with C. P. Lee and John Leighton Stuart
December 12-13, 1946 Nanking, China
C. P. Lee, December 12, 11:00 A.M.
General Lee told Marshall of a newspaper report that the government was sending two delegates to Communist headquarters at Yenan, and either Marshall or Stuart would accompany them. “The story was fabricated rumor,” Marshall responded, made by the government “simply to test to Communists’ reaction.” Previously the Communists “wanted to stop the fighting, but now it seemed that either their conditions had to be met or they would rather fight.” This was a serious error on their part, Marshall thought. He did see as a positive development the newspaper report that the Kuomintang was divorcing its party budget from that of the central government.
They briefly discussed the possibility of Mao Tse-tung’s holding some office in the reformed government. Coalition governments only worked well in emergency situations, Marshall said; in general, opposition parties could participate in the legislative and administrative parts of government but only with difficulty in the executive branch.
General Lee said that Lo Lung-chi of the Democratic League had asserted that the U.S. had secret treaties with China and that the Nationalists did not want the Communists in the government because they would learn about them. Marshall dismissed this; the treaties on air and trade, he noted, had been drafted with great care “so that no precedents would be established to be taken advantage of by the Soviet Government.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 618-20.)
John Leighton Stuart, December 13, 10:30 A.M., U.S. Embassy
The ambassador had had a meeting with Chiang Kai-shek the preceding day, and he reported that “the Generalissimo honestly desires United States help in making China strong, modern, and efficient.” Stuart repeated his belief that Chiang “honestly desired General Marshall to stay in China as his advisor.” Marshall thought that “the best way to defend against Communism was for the existing government of China to accomplish such reforms that it would gain the support of the people.” Since the Generalissimo had difficulty divorcing himself from the reactionaries’ “destructive influence” in the government, the liberal elements had to be built up. Corruption in the government could not be eliminated by advice from outsiders, Marshall asserted, but only by an effective opposition party.
Chiang Kai-shek had asked that Marshall and Stuart meet with him. “General Marshall suggested that the Generalissimo might be making this recommendation as a means of bidding for the support of himself and Dr. Stuart to the Government cause.” Dr. Stuart was inclined to believe that “the overriding factor was the Generalissimo’s overwhelming desire to bring democracy and good government to the people of China.” (Ibid., pp. 621-24.)