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Editorial Summary of Meetings with Chou En-lai and T. V. Soong
December 23-24, 1945 Chungking, China
Chou En-lai, a Chinese Communist party intellectual and political leader as well as its best-known negotiator after party chairman Mao Tse-tung, was vice chairman of the Communist party’s Central Revolutionary Military Council and chief of military affairs; he held the rank of general. T. V. Soong was an economist, financier, Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s brother, and occasionally the Generalissimo’s rival for power. He had been acting president and then president of the Executive Yuan (the government’s highest executive organ with twelve ministries under its authority) since December 1944 and chairman of the Joint Board of Four Government Banks since July 1945. (Note: hereinafter all meetings take place at Marshall’s residence, unless otherwise noted.)
Chou En-lai, December 23, 4:00 P.M.
Marshall explained the purpose of his mission, the reasons for United States interest in China’s affairs, and his personal willingness to listen to all sides. It was particularly important, he said, that the Chinese reach some agreement to end the existence of two armies—Nationalist and Communist—and thus two countries in China.
The Communist party agreed with the main points of President Truman’s December 15 statement, General Chou said. There should be an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities while Communist-Nationalist talks were undertaken. Moreover, a coalition government should be created based upon the American style of democracy. Chiang Kai-shek could remain as trustee in such a government, and the Nationalists would remain the senior party. If there were a fully democratic government, all Communist and Nationalist armies could be nationalized. The Communists desired that the up-coming Political Consultative Council prepare a draft constitution and a plan for a coalition government with a National Assembly to adopt the constitution. Chou invited Marshall to submit any questions he had for the Communists to answer. They ended with toasts to understanding, lasting freedom, and the mission’s success. (Foreign Relations, 1945, 7: 800-804.)
T. V. Soong, December 24, 9:00 A.M.
“At the present time I am here to learn. I have read a good deal and have listened, but I have got to listen to more,” Marshall told China’s premier. Marshall specifically asked about the Democratic League. There were “only two parties in China that are worth anything,” Soong replied: the Nationalists and the Communists. The small political groups comprising the Democratic League—e.g., Youth party and the National Socialist party—were insignificant. One group claiming a membership of six or eight million had tried to see him in Washington, Marshall said. Soong denied that any of the minor parties was that large.
Since Soong had negotiated the recent Sino-Soviet agreement, Marshall asked if he thought that Soviet behavior in Germany, where they had been difficult to deal with and where they declared so many things war booty that “they practically cleaned the place,” would be similar in Manchuria. Soong said that the Soviets defined virtually everything in Manchuria as designed by the Japanese for aggression against the U.S.S.R. and thus legitimate war booty, which they were removing.
Soong and Marshall then discussed the distribution and movements of Nationalist and Communist forces in Manchuria, the economic situation in Formosa, China’s transportation and supply problems, and materiel recovered from the Japanese. (Ibid., pp. 804-13.)
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. 401-402.