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Editorial Summary of Meetings with C. P. Lee, W. Walton Butterworth, and Others
November 18-21, 1946 Nanking, China
C. P. Lee, November 18, 10:00 A.M.
General Lee was discouraged. The only possibilities that he could foresee were: a bloody revolution that would destroy the government; a renewed possibility of a peaceful settlement through outside action by the United States or the U.N.; or Chiang Kai-shek’s resignation. Public opinion was rapidly turning against the government; the Third Party Group had lost stature; and the government had thrown all its financial resources into the war—which drove many people into the Communists’ camp. The military and political cliques now dominating the government were convinced that no successful agreement with the Communists was possible, Marshall responded; it was clear that the government was “merely using the negotiations to prove its point of view regarding the Communist Party.” Lee hoped that the United States would force the Chinese government to change its course by openly announcing that it would no longer support the present regime. “The U. S. Government cannot pursue a course of action that will destroy the foundation of the Chinese Government,” Marshall replied. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 550-51.)
W. Walton Butterworth, November 18, 10:45 A.M.
Marshall and Butterworth discussed the upcoming meeting with Wang Wen-hao regarding a memorandum from T. V. Soong proposing a comprehensive, expensive, and long-range United States economic program for China. (See ibid., pp. 1021-22.) “He was prepared to emphatically point out,” Marshall remarked, “that continued hope for financial support from the United States for the purpose of economic stabilization could hardly be entertained by the Chinese when the need for such stabilization had been caused by military leaders and `diehards’ in the National Government who, during the past year, had shown no cooperation whatsoever with General Marshall.” Butterworth thought that Marshall should hold out hope for assistance providing the government was reformed. (Ibid., pp. 1020-21.)
Wang Wen-hao, November 18, 11:00 A.M.
He “was rather surprised” at the comprehensive nature of Dr. Soong’s memorandum, Marshall indicated, since he had agreed at their November 13 meeting only to suggest to the State Department the possibility of establishing a small confidential committee to discuss reparations. Moreover, Marshall pointed out, “prospects of financial assistance . . . were growing dimmer and dimmer.” American taxpayers, “particularly under a Republican Congress, certainly would not be willing to support a country whose financial condition was continuing to worsen because of military campaigns” and forces that consumed over 75 percent of the Chinese government’s budget. Dr. Wang reiterated that U.S. assistance was necessary to save China from the economic collapse that had already begun. Marshall promised to contact the State Department and General MacArthur’s headquarters regarding Japanese reparations and to send Dr. Soong’s memorandum to Washington. (Ibid., pp. 1022-23.)
Lo Chung-shu, Wu Chi-yu, and Professor Yi, November 19, 11:00 A.M.
Marshall “emphasized the urgent need of a party to offset the one-party domination of China. He further pointed out that the Communist Party must be handled politically instead of by force.” Liberal elements had to join together quickly. He frankly noted that university professors like his guests could not produce the tactical leadership for such an organization, which had to be furnished by politically experienced people. Marshall thought the liberal elements should avoid forming a new political party but should be an informal group—Executive Headquarters being an example of a balancing organization. He did not believe that, as yet, Soviet actions had been other than of a negative character, but the government’s military policies invited Soviet intervention. Professor Wu observed that the mutual distrust about which Marshall complained “was due to historical hatred which can be traced back to the revolutionary days of 1923.” European liberal elements had emerged and reformed their governments “due to the presence of external forces.” Marshall believed the Chinese could bring about social reform without pressure from outside powers. (Ibid., pp. 551-53.)
Stuart S. Murray, November 20, 10:00 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Vice Admiral Murray (U.S.N.A., 1918), a submariner and senior member of the Naval Advisory Group in China, asked Marshall’s concurrence on turning over five ships to the Chinese navy. Marshall agreed, since the ships would have only a marginal impact on the government’s ability to move troops, given the ships already in its possession. The Chinese navy was improving slowly, Murray reported, but he had endeavored to convince its leader that destroyers and cruisers were currently beyond his sailors’ capability to manage. (NA/RG 59 [Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 5].)
W. Walton Butterworth, November 21, 10:30 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Butterworth described a recent agricultural survey report as being over-optimistic and received Marshall’s agreement to delay the formal termination of the Sino-American Special Technical Cooperative Organization (S.A.C.O.) agreement. Marshall discussed the current anti-American propaganda campaign and suggested that perhaps it was time for the U.S. actively to combat this misinformation. He also discussed his imminent meeting with General Yu Ta-wei. Butterworth said that his European experience made him skeptical about Communist willingness to cooperate in a coalition government. Perhaps it was time, Marshall thought, to tell the Generalissimo that the U.S. would not align itself with a reactionary government. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 554-55.)
Yu Ta-wei, November 21, 11:00 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
At Yu’s request, Marshall reviewed his recent conversations with Chou En-lai. He said there was no possibility of the Communists sending delegates to the National Assembly “unless the Generalissimo would rigidly observe the PCC agreements regarding the drafting of the Constitution”—which Chiang Kai-shek had recently indicated that he would not. (Ibid., pp. 555-56.)
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. 746-747.