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Editorial Summary of Meetings with Wang Shih-chieh, Yu Ta-wei, John Leighton Stuart, and Others
October 20-26, 1946 Nanking, China
Wang Shih-chieh, October 20, 7:00 P.M. [added for the internet edition]
China’s foreign minister told Marshall that Chou En-lai and members of the Third Party Group had decided to return to Nanking the next day. He asked Marshall for his understanding of the point concerning the June agreement on Manchuria in the statement he had written for the Generalissimo’s release to the press. In June, Marshall replied, “the relative dispositions of Government and Communist forces in Manchuria had been rather completely worked out and, although no agreement was signed, there seemed to be a meeting of minds concerning the right of the Government to establish in Harbin a symbolic force of 5,000 troops.” Indeed, the Manchurian situation was the key matter at present, Wang thought. The Communist party and the Third Party Group considered the government’s announcement of the November 12 National Assembly meeting date an ultimatum, Marshall observed. Dr. Wang insisted that it was not. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 395-96.)
Yu Ta-wei, October 21, 3:00 P.M.
He had not received a reply to his letter to the Communists containing the government’s eight proposals, Marshall stated. Moreover, the Communists’ current propaganda campaign against him might indicate that they objected to his sitting on the Committee of Three or it might be their understanding of how to stir up popular opposition in the U.S. to U.S. China policy. Consequently, Marshall had asked Chiang Kai-shek not to defend him publicly against the attacks. Meanwhile, “it would probably be best to let the third party members come to the fore in an effort to bring the two major parties together.” (Ibid., pp. 396-97.)
John Leighton Stuart and Third Party Group Representatives, October 22, 10:45 A.M., Stuart’s Residence. [added for the internet edition]
Marshall met with five members of the Democratic League, two from the Chinese Youth party, and two nonparty representatives at Ambassador Stuart’s residence. They discussed their efforts to convince Chou En-lai to resume negotiations with the government in order to achieve a cease-fire. Marshall endeavored to discover the extent to which the government and Communist representatives had agreed at the Shanghai meetings on the preconditions to a cease-fire and elaborated on the recent points of disagreement and misunderstanding. He also reiterated his opinion that “the trouble you gentlemen face now in reaching an understanding of what is written or said, is the complete distrust of the motives of both sides.” Repeatedly he had discovered that something he proposed would be accepted by one side and suspected by the other as being “of a deadly purpose.” He hoped the Third Party Group would understand this distrust and work on the two major parties to overcome it. All were agreed that the Third Party of China needed to work with the international Third Party (Marshall and Stuart) if the political-military situation was to be resolved. (Ibid., pp. 399-407.)
Carsun Chang, October 22, 5:00 P.M. [added for the internet edition]
Dr. Chang, who had recently formed the more conservative Democratic Socialist party within the left-leaning Democratic League, outlined the various meetings in Shanghai, described what he thought was the Communists’ state of mind following their defeat at Kalgan, and listed his reservations regarding portions of the government’s eight-point proposal. Marshall then summarized his meeting with the Third Party Group that morning and the history of the eight-point proposal.
The Kalgan loss undoubtedly meant that the Communists would not give up Harbin, Chang believed; but they might give it up if the June agreements were adhered to—which would mean that troop dispositions would revert to those of January 13 and the government would have to give back Kalgan. Marshall “stated that he was seriously concerned over this particular aspect of the situation and felt that this could very likely be the basis of a breakdown in negotiations and development of war in Manchuria.” (Ibid., pp. 407-8.)
Hu Lin, October 22, 6:00 P.M.
Editor of the country’s most respected newspaper, Ta Kung Pao (L’Impartial), which prided itself on its journalistic objectivity (see newsman John R. Beal’s opinion in Marshall in China, p. 64), Hu Lin thought that the Third Party Group was beginning to exercise some influence to help the mediation. It could guarantee fair treatment and overcome the deep Nationalist-Communist suspicions. Marshall agreed and outlined the background of the Five-Man Committee and the current negotiating situation. Since the Communists had turned down the government’s eight points, Nationalist leaders would insist that this proved that the Communists would not abide by agreements. Marshall also elaborated on his idea that the Communists were captives to their own propaganda regarding U.S. actions and intentions, especially regarding surplus property transactions. He thought Hu Lin “might be able to break down this particular theme of propaganda through judicious application and treatment of this subject in his paper.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 409-12.)
Chen Cheng, Yu Ta-wei, and John Leighton Stuart, October 24, 10:30 A.M.
“General Marshall stated that he had been more or less forced to withdraw from negotiations since the Communist Party is of the firm belief that he is backing the National Government.” He had received from Dr. Stuart a copy of Chou En-lai’s response to the government’s eight proposals (see ibid., p. 412). Marshall described the Third Party Group’s current role in the discussions.
General Chen thought that “recent Yenan broadcasts would indicate that the Communist Party was not in a frame of mind conducive for a peaceful settlement.” Consequently, the Third Party Group would have difficulty in resolving the issues raised by the Communists in their response to the government. He agreed with Marshall’s assertion that “the reorganization of the armed forces was the basic factor in the present negotiations.” Marshall said that the government was being “unrealistic” in attempting, under the February 25 military reorganization agreement, to fix the location only of Communist troops, not of government troops; this merely stimulated Communist fears. Marshall then questioned Chen and Yu about Chiang Kai-shek’s proposals on Communist military withdrawals in Manchuria. Dr. Stuart commented on his meeting with Chou En-lai, noting that, in essence, the Communists had rejected the government’s eight points. (Ibid., pp. 414-17.)
John Leighton Stuart and Third Party Group Representatives, October 25, 10:45 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Lo Lung-chi, who did most of the talking for the four Chinese visitors, discussed the government’s reactions to the Communists’ response to its eight political points. Marshall said that “it was his desire to stay out of detailed discussions at this particular time in order not to confuse the issue.” Both sides’ views “contained glaring inaccuracies,” and Marshall suspected that Chou En-lai’s arguments “appeared in some respects skillful maneuvers which cloud major issues.” Reorganization of the armies was the key, he thought; “the armies must in effect be neutralized or else political negotiations and governmental reorganization would be impossible.” The Third Party Group “might get at the root of the present difficulties by finding some sort of an agreement between the Government and the Communists concerning the Kalgan versus Harbin issue.” (Ibid., pp. 418-21.)
Miao Yun-tai, October 25, 2:00 P.M.
Mr. Miao, a Yunnan province financier and a nonparty member of the Third Party Group, thought that it might not be a good idea for him to participate in the political talks as the key issues were military. Marshall discussed the military problems briefly and noted that Third Party Group influence was the only real hope for a settlement—provided they had “wise direction” and remained unified.
Personally, Miao said, “he was not adverse to letting the two major parties fight it out if the Kuomintang leaders could give some assurance that they could destroy the Communists.” He asked Marshall what he thought of the idea that he (Marshall) or some other American be given command of all Chinese forces. This was impractical, Marshall replied. “Command amounts to nothing unless it is respected.” The government’s power would be undermined if an American commanded, and “it would create an international political situation which would be unacceptable.” As an example of what could happen, Marshall observed, Communist propaganda “had almost completely destroyed the effectiveness of Executive Headquarters.”
The Third Party Group was the key, Marshall reiterated. They could examine both sides of the situation; furthermore, the government was dependent upon them for the success of the National Assembly. Marshall advised that they “should get down to the fewest possible issues, get the fighting stopped, and settle certain fundamental issues, particularly like the organization of the State Council.” (Ibid., pp. 421-23.)
Chou En-lai, October 26, 11:30 A.M.
Chou briefed Marshall on six military operations, saying that the government had occupied nineteen cities so far in October. If these advances continued, Chou said, he could see no necessity for continuing to negotiate. As the Committee of Three still formally existed, he desired that it take action on the military problems.
Marshall noted that he had gained the impression that Chou’s mind was closed, so “there would be little purpose in my arguing with you regarding various aspects of the situation.” Marshall also explained wherein he thought Chou was incorrect in his views, information, and presumption of evil purpose in the various proposals the government had made (e.g., regarding the ten-day truce). Chou denied misunderstanding the Kalgan truce idea or the government’s publicly stated eight points. He then examined the eight points and how they amounted to a government demand for surrender. If there was a total breakdown in relations, he asserted, the Communists would not only adopt a stance of all-out resistance but would attack the government’s numerous weak points.
The discussions seemed to “be going somewhat in a circle,” Marshall observed. “What I most deplore is allowing any small thing, any matter of form, to delay or prevent an understanding for a cessation of hostilities.” The question was, “What are the small things and what are the large considerations?” He recognized that each side assumed that the other would not abide by any agreement. “From my point of view,” Marshall said, “both sides have been pretty wrong.” Moreover, “the Third Party group appear to be endeavoring to act in a strictly impartial manner,” and Chou would be making a mistake to go to Yenan in the next few days on the basis of the discussions held so far. Chou replied that he would wait a few days and see if the Third Party Group could construct some compromise formula. (Ibid., pp. 425-35.)
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. 725-727.