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Editorial Summary of Meetings with Chou En-lai and Chang Chun
January 5-6, 1946 Chungking, China
Chou En-lai, January 5, 4:30 P.M.
General Chou described his January 3 meeting with Chiang Kai-shek’s representatives. Mention of Manchuria should be omitted in the proposed cease-fire agreement and the problems there settled separately, he said, lest it complicate Chinese-American-Soviet relations. Marshall expressed concern that the agreement not be rigid in excluding all troop movements in China, and he suggested that the minutes of the meeting where the cease-fire was agreed to carefully note what both sides understood the agreements to mean in addition to what the wording stipulated.
Marshall warned that premature, uncoordinated, and possibly differing, public communiqués by the two sides about the cease-fire might make his job of mediating impossible and could “easily be fatal to the negotiations.” Furthermore, “it is a long distance down to the troops and they have very strong feelings” about the conflict and the high-level agreements on a cease-fire; “therefore it is very important to the success of our procedure that this matter be very carefully handled.” For example, he did not want the two sides to spend weeks exchanging conditions and writing letters. Marshall also desired the immediate establishment and manning of the Executive Headquarters in Peiping and its traveling Nationalist-American-Communist truce-inspection teams. He offered the use of his personal aircraft to facilitate the Communist representatives’ arrival at Executive Headquarters. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 20–25.)
Chang Chun, January 6, 4:30 P.M.
Governor Chang explained some of Chiang Kai-shek’s reservations about Marshall’s draft cease-fire proposal concerning the cessation of troop movements throughout China. (See ibid., p. 6.) Chiang recommended that this be amended to permit troop movements south of the Yangtze River, prohibit the movement to the north of troops presently south of the Yangtze, and prohibit troop movements north of the Yangtze (both sides agreed that the exception to this would be the movement of government troops into Manchuria to reestablish Chinese sovereignty).
Marshall recapitulated the conversation he had had with Chou En-lai the previous day. The two men then discussed the Communists’ desire to have Manchuria excluded from the cease-fire agreement and the Nationalists’ request that Jehol province (north of Peiping) be included in Manchuria. Marshall thought that the Communists were opposed to including Jehol, and they discussed possible alternative ideas or wordings that the Generalissimo might consider as a compromise—for example, adding a phrase that permitted government troops to enter and reestablish sovereighty in Manchuria and “such other specific areas as are now occupied by Soviet troops in North China.” Governor Chang said that he would see Chiang Kai-shek about this and also mentioned the Generalissimo’s desire to add a paragraph in the cease-fire draft about the disposition and reorganization of Chinese troops. Marshall did not think that this was a good move, since it might encourage the Communists to add more paragraphs and might confuse the public and the troops that had to implement the cease-fire orders.
Marshall and Chang ended their conference with a lengthy discussion about the creation, location, and structure of the Executive Headquarters. (Ibid., pp. 26–39.)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 410–411.