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Editorial Summary of Meetings with Wang Wen-hao, Chou Hsien-chung, and Others
November 13-16, 1946 Nanking, China
Wang Wen-hao, November 13, 6:00 P.M.
Dr. Wang, vice president of the Executive Yuan and former minister of economic affairs, expressed the government’s alarm over the United States policy of rehabilitating Japan, which he thought would hurt China through loss of reparations and economic competition. (This issue was to grow rapidly in importance hereafter; see Thomas D. Lutze, “America’s Japan Policy and the Defection of Chinese Liberals, 1947-1948,” in Larry I. Bland, ed., George C. Marshall’s Mediation Mission to China, December 1945-January 1947 [Lexington, Va.: George C. Marshall Foundation, 1998], pp. 461-97.)
Marshall promised to ask the State Department, and possibly Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Japan, about the reparations issue. He concluded, however, with what he termed a “brutally frank” statement that while it “was very interested in helping China . . . the U.S. would not support a Government which was not representative of the people.” In February, the United States had been “prepared to assist China with large amounts of money and supplies, . . . [but] some of the assistance had had to be curtailed because of certain of the political group in power who had exercised a determining influence on procedures detrimental to political reformation.” (NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 5].)
Chou Hsien-chung, November 14, 10:00 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Professor Chou had come from Shanghai for a meeting of the Chinese Youth party’s leadership. He asked for Marshall’s advice on breaking the deadlock on the National Assembly. Marshall told him that mutual distrust and bitterness were leading toward full-scale civil war. Moreover, in his opinion, the constitution, not differences on details concerning the National Assembly, was the fundamental issue: “Will that Constitution be a genuine democratic document, or a hollow instrument of dictatorship or one-party control.” The constitution was not an important item to the Communists, Chou said; they were simultaneously realists and doctrinaire ideologues. “They are very hard to deal with because of their lack of principles and their constantly changing attitudes.” Marshall regretted that the professor could give him no significant encouragement about the present political situation. United States economic assistance to China depended upon creating a genuine two-party government, Marshall asserted. There seemed to be little that he could do to alleviate the political situation at present. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 538-42.)
Lo Chung-shu, November 15, 10:00 A.M.
Professor Lo, of the West China University of Chengtu, came to acquaint Marshall with the East and West Cultural Association, a group of people, mainly university professors, interested in international affairs. Lo believed that the key need at the moment was reform of the Kuomintang. “It is necessary to have an opposition party to insure reform of the party in power,” Marshall replied. “It had been my great hope that the Communist Party with its thorough organization and strong hold on the peasants could function as a constructive opposition party. Although the Communists sometimes do outrageous things, their faults are party faults and different from the individual corruption which plagues the Kuomintang Party and China with extortions and misgovernment.” Moreover, “the Generalissimo does not hear the true story regarding activities of his party except possibly in a limited way from me. His political leaders intentionally misinform him.” The Kuomintang did not understand democracy. Opposition parties were normally obstructive forces; this obstruction had to be overcome by better government by the party in power. In addition, Kuomintang leaders seemed not to recognize the Communists’ well-founded fear of government police organizations. “I did not expect the Kuomintang to surrender its power without a struggle, but I also did not expect the chicanery which they have practiced since February.”
Marshall thought that “one of the dangers of the present situation is that many of your young university graduates are going over to the Communist Party. . . . The Kuomintang party has erred by failing to absorb liberal elements into the party. . . . If activities in Manchuria and manipulation by the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee had not destroyed the gain made through negotiations in March of this year, I believe that by now, a sizeable liberal party would be in existence” that initially would have served as a holder of the political balance of power and eventually “would have become the dominating party, and either the Kuomintang or the Communist Party would have been forced to join with the liberal party. . . . A liberal party must attract the businessmen, recover the young intellectuals from the Communist Party, absorb the liberals now in the Kuomintang Party, and must also include the women of China. Such a party had been my hope. I even had considered lending support to such a liberal movement. . . . If the liberals had gotten together in July (as I urged) as they got together recently, it could have been a great help to me. . . . Now, however, they are falling apart through the division tactics of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang Party.” (Ibid.)
Chou En-lai, November 16, 10:15 A.M. [added for the internet edition]
Chou came to tell Marshall that he was returning to Yenan in two days, to ask U.S. protection for their delegation in Peiping should the government launch an offensive toward Yenan, and to express his gratitude for Marshall’s efforts over the past ten months. Marshall offered to arrange for an aircraft to fly Chou En-lai and his party to Yenan and promised to evacuate other Communist offices in the event of a Yenan offensive—about which, he noted, he had heard nothing except from Yenan broadcasts and the newspapers. If the government launched such an attack, “President Truman would recall me.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 544-47.)
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. 744-745.