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Editorial Summary of Meetings with Hou Yeh-chun, Charles M. Cooke, Jr., Lo Lung-chi, and John Leighton Stuart
December 16, 18, 1946 Nanking, China
Hou Yeh-chun, December 16, 10:45 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Mr. Hou presented a memorandum concerning the principles and goals of the Chinese Democratic party, which claimed a membership of 630,000 in Yunnan and Szechuan provinces. The party’s policies would be “most difficult to attain,” Marshall remarked, asserting that “the major hope for China at the present time lay in the combined action of all the minority parties.” He urged the small parties “to organize all the liberals into one party and select some outsider to be the leader.” Recently the Nationalists and Communists had divided the small parties to the point where “their influence was negligible.” Now they needed to “make genuine sacrifices” and get organized in order to form a strong mediating group. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 630-31.)
Charles M. Cooke, Jr., December 16, 11:30 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Marshall said he favored further reductions in the Marine force in China, as he did not see the military necessity for their remaining. Admiral Cooke, however—citing Major General Samuel Howard, Marine commander in China—thought that nine thousand Marines should remain. Marshall acquiesced; nevertheless, he insisted that the matter should “be kept under further study.” (NA/RG 59 [Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 7].)
Lo Lung-chi, December 18, 10:00 A.M.
Dr. Lo asked Marshall if he had any advice to give Democratic League delegates preparing to meet in Shanghai. “There was so much Chinese maneuvering taking place,” he responded, “that it was difficult for an American to accurately assess the situation.” He reiterated his displeasure with reactionary elements in the government, the Communists, and the minor parties’ inability to unite. He “remained in China in the hope that his presence would facilitate the adoption of a genuine democratic constitution by the National Assembly.”
Communist party members had repeatedly told him, Lo stated, that they wished American mediation to continue. Marshall replied “that he had often felt in the past that the National Government desired his mediation as a shield for its military aggression.” Now he had “become a convenience to the Communist Party,” because they feared the popular response to rejecting his mediation. He would allow neither his own nor his country’s integrity to be questioned regarding China policy. Moreover, “he did not intend to serve as an umpire on the battlefield.”
Dr. Lo did not think the government could implement the new constitution because the Communists did not accept it. Everything depended on how the government enforced the constitution, Marshall thought. “If the constitution was vitiated and circumvented in favor of a policy of force, tragic economic collapse would follow and China might fall back to the dark ages of warlordism. It was very difficult because of twisted propaganda to make a correct estimate of the military situation. However, he considered the Communists capable of waging effective guerrilla warfare, but incapable of formal positional warfare. On the other hand, the Government was not capable of destroying the Communist Party by force nor was it capable of defending itself against the guerrilla tactics of the Communists.”
Successful negotiations were still possible, Lo thought, but the government first had to make broad political concessions. He also thought it was still possible for the minority parties to cooperate. After the Shanghai meeting, Lo said, the Democratic League might wish to send delegates to Yenan. Marshall replied that he would try to furnish air transportation. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 632-36.)
John Leighton Stuart, December 18, 11:00 A.M.
Ambassador Stuart recounted his recent meeting with Wang Ping-nan and Marshall his with Lo Lung-chi. Each side, Marshall said, had its own reasons for desiring continued U.S. mediation. They discussed the Chinese intellectuals’ views on the government and Chiang Kai-shek. The Generalissimo was “perfectly aware” of their views, Stuart noted, but his “mentality would not let him reform.” They also considered the possibility of a government delegation going to Yenan for talks; Marshall said he would encourage this, but “he felt that a renewal of negotiations at this time had very slender prospects.” In fact, he informed Stuart and Butterworth (who was also present) that he believed that he should return to the United States, where he would issue a statement critical of government reactionaries and militarists and of Communist obstructionism. He hoped that this would “build up the liberals in both parties and at large” and appeal to the Generalissimo “to rely on these liberals for a reformed government establishment.” (Ibid., pp. 636-40.)
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. 761-762.