5-578 Editorial Summary of Meetings with John Leighton Stuart, S. A. Trone, and Others

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Editorial Summary of Meetings with John Leighton Stuart, S. A. Trone, and Others

October 14-17, 1946 Nanking, China

John Leighton Stuart, October 14, 5:00 P.M.

The previous day Marshall had written a new draft of the public statement he and Stuart wished Chiang Kai-shek to issue. It called for immediate and simultaneous meetings of the Five-Man Committee and the Committee of Three based on nine “understandings”: five on troop dispositions; four on political problems (i.e., the P.C.C.’s Steering Committee was to confirm any understandings reached by the Five-Man Committee, the State Council was to settle questions of local government control, the Constitutional Draft Committee was to be convened at once and a draft submitted to the National Assembly, and the Communists were to announce their participation in the National Assembly). (See Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 367-69.) Stuart and Marshall agreed to send the statement to the Generalissimo.

Stuart reported that Sun Fo was going to reconvene representatives of the minor parties to discuss the measures the Generalissimo indicated the government was now prepared to initiate. When he had seen Chiang Kai-shek earlier that day, Stuart said, the Generalissimo wanted the United States to guarantee that the Communists would negotiate in good faith. Marshall replied that “it would be equally impossible for the American mediators to guarantee the actions of the Communists as it would be for the Generalissimo to guarantee the activities of people like Chen Li-fu and other reactionaries in the Kuomintang.” (Ibid., pp. 366-67.)

S. A. Trone, October 15, 10:15 A.M.

Trone said that he had spent many years in Russia as an electrical engineer for the General Electric Corporation. The Soviet Union was changing but was still a socialist state. Moreover, “there is no need of personal individual freedom to live and to develop; and, Russia, as a state, is powerful and strong” and greatly desired peace. He thought that it would be impossible for the Chinese government to develop Manchuria economically, and the Soviet Union represented a great danger to China’s economic self-sufficiency. Consequently, peace with Russia was extremely important, not merely a paper peace between rival parties in China.

Was he suggesting that Russia be brought into the present Chinese negotiations, Marshall inquired. Trone implied that Marshall was correct, and Russia would want assurances from the United States that the United States would not attack the U.S.S.R. Russia had no ambition to control Manchuria, because it was engaged in developing Siberia. Marshall observed that developing eastern Siberia would be extremely difficult, but with 50 percent control of Manchuria it might not be necessary. Furthermore, “logistically speaking, it would be extremely difficult for the United States to attack Russia. Therefore, it is nonsense to ask for such an assurance.” The United States wanted a united, prosperous, and strong China, nothing more. Mr. Trone stated that Russians were unconvinced by American professions of sincere and unselfish intentions, but an agreement between the countries would be mutually beneficial. (NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 5].)

C. P. Lee, October 15, 11:15 A.M.

Lee reported that Tung Pi-wu of the Communist delegation had told him that the fundamental question in China was between the United States and the Soviet Union. Tung also asserted that the Communists’ loss of Kalgan was not important because they had not lost military strength, but that the United States’ China policy would not determine the issue. “American policy is one thing and [Communist] propaganda another,” Marshall responded. The Communists, General Lee observed, were now accusing the United States of gathering the world’s conservative elements, including the Philippines, to oppose Russia. Marshall said he “resented very much the bringing of the Philippine Islands into the discussion,” and that “American policy toward the Philippines was one of the most honorable episodes in world history.”

The Communists were being badly defeated, Lee said, and if the government showed leniency toward them, peace was still possible. Dr. Sun Fo, a pro-democracy member of the Nationalist party’s left wing, had created an organization similar to the Five-Man Committee and was conferring with the Generalissimo. Marshall thought it “best to wait and see what Dr. Sun and his group would do.” Liang Shu-ming of the Democratic League, however, believed that Chiang Kai-shek’s announcement of the convocation of the National Assembly had “closed the front and back doors for further negotiations.” Marshall did not agree. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 372-73.)

John Leighton Stuart, October 16, 11:00 A.M.

Ambassador Stuart outlined recent developments in the negotiations. Marshall reported that the previous evening Madame Chiang had called to show him a rewritten version of the statement he had produced for the Generalissimo. The revised version “was jumbled in thought and provocative in nature,” so he “struck out considerable portions of the Generalissimo’s version.” (The revised version is ibid., pp. 373-75.) Even so, Marshall said, there remained three important matters to be settled: (1) an understanding by both sides as to what the statement actually meant; (2) a method for putting the procedure into effect after it was agreed to; (3) a resolution of the local administration issue for Manchuria. Given the “vicious personal attacks of the Communists on him,” Marshall thought Dr. Stuart should handle the negotiations until the Committee of Three actually began meeting. Both men agreed to “exert every pressure on the Generalissimo” to issue their statement without delay. (Ibid., pp. 375-76. Chiang Kai-shek issued the redrafted statement on the evening of October 16; see ibid., pp. 377-78, 380-81.)


Liang Shu-ming and Yeh Tu-yi, October 17, 4:20 P.M. [added for the internet edition]

Members of the Third Party Group (i.e., members of the Democratic League, Chinese Youth party, the nonparty Group, and others) had visited Chou En-lai in Shanghai, Liang reported; the meeting had not been particularly fruitful, and the group wanted Marshall and Stuart to go to Shanghai on the eighteenth. Given the Communists’ attitude toward the mediation, Marshall said, “there should be a pause in American efforts during which the Chinese should conduct the discussions themselves.” If these discussions were successful, the mediators could then step in.

Marshall explained his views of the Communists’ propaganda regarding U.S. surplus property sales to China and training of Chinese government soldiers during World War II. He also commented on the withdrawal of Marines from China. Marshall agreed with Mr. Liang’s assertions that the Communists could not be excluded from the government. “The order for a total cessation of hostilities could be obtained by the Committee of Three within two hours upon its meeting if the Communist Party could agree to the procedures indicated in the Generalissimo’s statement.” (Ibid., pp. 384-87.)

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. 719-721.

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