5-584 Editorial Summary of Meetings with Yu Ta-wei, Third Party Group, John Leighton Stuart, and Others

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Editorial Summary of Meetings with Yu Ta-wei, Third Party Group, John Leighton Stuart, and Others

October 27-November 4, 1946 Nanking, China

Yu Ta-wei, October 27, 4:45 P.M.

General Marshall detailed his meeting the previous day with Chou En-lai. He suspected that Chou’s repeated references to the Committee of Three might be an indirect way of putting him (Marshall) back in the role of mediator. There was little he could say to Chou, however, “in the face of an open resumption of a military campaign in Manchuria, a campaign which started right at the moment Government representatives were in Shanghai asking General Chou En Lai to return to Nanking to resume negotiations.” At Marshall’s request, Yu described the government’s demobilization plans. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 437-38.)

Third Party Group Representatives, October 27, 5:20 P.M.

Lo Lung-chi (Democratic League), Miao Yun-tai (nonparty), and Li Hwang (Chinese Youth party) told Marshall that they were “facing a crisis in their negotiations” with Chou En-lai because of the recent capture by Nationalist forces of Antung on the Korean border. When he heard this news, Chou “became very excited” and thought the Communists should break off all negotiations.

General Yu had told him, Marshall recounted, that the government’s attack on Antung was a counterattack against Communist forces that had attacked in the vicinity and that the government was surprised to have the city fall to them so easily. “He urged the Third Party delegates not to be too discouraged over what had happened; it had happened several times before and it may happen again. It was decidedly a two-sided proposition. Maybe some day, they could get both sides together.” Meanwhile, the Third Party Group had to “sit squarely in the middle” and be “even more determined.”

With regard to the convening of the National Assembly on November 12, the Third Party Group was considering having an opening ceremony but postponing business for thirty days. Marshall was opposed to an indefinite delay as probably leading “to a winter campaign of total war.” The Third Party Group should “do everything possible” to get the assembly into action early. He suggested that they insist that the government be reorganized within some stipulated period in the near future. The representatives asked if Marshall would use his influence on the Generalissimo to stop the military campaign in order to give them time to work. Marshall said he would try. He concluded by suggesting that when the Third Party Group representatives presented their proposals to Chiang Kai-shek, they take up political issues first; if they began with military considerations “they may never get to discuss the political issues.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 438-41.)

Carsun Chang and Lo Lung-chi, October 28, 10:30 A.M. [added for the internet edition]

The three discussed the impasse wherein the government refused to make any further political concessions and the Communists demanded them if they were to participate in the National Assembly. While it appeared that it would be impossible to reach any agreement, Marshall said, if the Third Party Group could concentrate on one aspect and get an agreement on that, perhaps other agreements, including a cessation of hostilities, could follow. He warned that the Third Party Group “must be extremely careful to avoid submerging the crux of the issues in a mass of details or allowing themselves to be side-tracked in the matter of getting agreement on a particular detail.”

Carsun Chang complained that Chiang Kai-shek had been a dictator for nearly two decades, and even if the State Council was established, Chiang might simply ignore it. For his part, Lo Lung-chi was “tired of the corruption which existed now in the Executive Yuan,” the seat of power in the government; he thought the Executive Yuan’s reorganization was even more important than organizing the National Assembly. Although Marshall said that he had made considerable effort to disabuse government leaders of the notion, Dr. Lo nevertheless observed that most people in China thought that the Soviet threat obliged the U.S. to support the government. (Ibid., pp. 441-44.)

John Leighton Stuart, October 29, 10:45 A.M., U.S. Embassy

Dr. Stuart reported that the Third Party Group had sent a three-point proposal to the Generalissimo, who rejected it in favor of his own eight-point statement of October 16. Marshall outlined his conversation with the Generalissimo the previous evening. The Third Party representatives were very discouraged and talked of returning to Shanghai, Marshall told Chiang, and the Communists did not believe anything the government said. The Communists had no intention of surrendering, Marshall thought. They were losing cities and towns but not their armies; moreover, they had no intention of standing and fighting major battles, but would strike where the government’s forces were weak. The Generalissimo’s forces doubtless could take Harbin, Marshall told him, but subsequently the government “would be in for endless tribulation.” The Third Party Group “appeared to be the only hope” of achieving a settlement, Marshall insisted, and he urged the Generalissimo to build up the group’s prestige by making some concessions and having frank conferences with its representatives. (Ibid., pp. 445-48.)

C. P. Lee, October 30, 10:30 A.M. [added for the internet edition]

General Lee reported that the previous day Chou En-lai’s assistant had told him the Communist party insisted that the Executive Yuan be reorganized simultaneously with the State Council, the Executive Yuan must be responsible to the Legislative Yuan, and the Communists would only list their delegates to the National Assembly after the State Council and Executive Yuan were reorganized. Lee and Marshall discussed methods of reorganizing the Executive Yuan, including replacing some of the cabinet members. (Ibid., pp. 450-51.)


John Leighton Stuart, October 30, 5:30 P.M.

He had met with the Generalissimo earlier that day, Dr. Stuart reported, and encouraged him to reduce and modernize the army and reform civil administration. This could be accomplished by using the country’s intellectuals and by immediately establishing the National Assembly with Communist participation. Marshall told Stuart that he was “rather impressed” with General C. P. Lee’s efforts “to reduce the various outstanding issues to a practical basis with the object of establishing a modus operandi for continued negotiations.” He and Stuart discussed reorganization of the Executive Yuan and what ministries the Communists might logically hold—e.g., agriculture and communications. (Ibid., pp. 451-52.)


Mo Teh-hui and C. P. Lee, November 1, 10:45 A.M. [added for the internet edition]

Mo, a prominent independent political figure, thought that the critical issue was the National Assembly, but the government was most concerned with the submission of lists of delegates, while the Communists seemed to want to settle all outstanding issues at once. Marshall thought the Communist party was not being logical. It had long insisted that the government’s generals were determined to settle the political issue by force; yet the party risked a great expansion of the war (to its disadvantage) by delaying its participation in the National Assembly in the hope that the government would make concessions in order to obtain the list of Communist delegates to the assembly. Marshall thought reorganization of the Executive Yuan was the present key issue. A political settlement, brokered by the Third Party Group, was a precursor to stopping the fighting before it got entirely out of control. (Ibid., pp. 462-63.)

C. P. Lee, November 2, 11:15 A.M. [added for the internet edition]

After their meeting with Marshall the previous day, Lee had a long talk with Mo Teh-hui about the Communist party’s anxiousness for and sincerity in desiring peace. That desire, Lee believed, was confirmed at a meeting later with Tung Pi-wu, Chou En-laiassistant. General Lee suggested that Marshall and Stuart hold an informal tea party and invite a key Nationalist, Communist, and Third Party representative to discuss the cease-fire and government reorganization issues. Marshall did not think it was a good idea for Americans to take the leading position in current negotiations away from the Third Party Group.

By pressing for reorganization of the Executive Yuan, Marshall observed, he had hoped to achieve an immediate compromise. But the common belief among Chinese political leaders that one had to be in the Cabinet in order to participate in the government was incorrect. He noted that the U.S. House of Representatives was controlled by the Republican party, which could dominate important activities of the government despite the Democratic party’s control of the presidency, Cabinet, and Senate. (Ibid., pp. 464-65.)

Carsun Chang, Lo Lung-chi, and Yeh Tu-yi, November 3, 3:30 P.M.

Chang thought that Chiang Kai-shek and Chou En-lai were both receptive to holding an informal Nationalist-Communist-Third Party meeting. As the Committee of Three could deal only with military issues, it was irrelevant at present, Marshall thought, and suggested that the Third Party Group concentrate on settling the political issue of naming Communist delegates to the National Assembly. At Marshall’s suggestion, the Chinese discussed what Communist and Third Party people might be appointed to the Executive Yuan as an initial step toward reorganization. Marshall thought Chou En-lai should be considered for minister of communications, which would probably solve the problems of railroad destruction, rail police personnel, and communication censorship. (Ibid., pp. 466-68.)

John Leighton Stuart, November 4, 4:00 P.M.

Wang Ping-nan of the Communist delegation had asked what the U.S. reaction would be should the National Assembly be convened without Communist participation, Stuart reported. He replied that the Generalissimo might postpone convening the National Assembly if the Communists indicated a definite intention of participating and he might issue a cease-fire order if the Third Party Group would indicate that they would join the assembly. Marshall said that the major issue was the Communist desire for reorganization of the Executive Yuan; resolve this and “most of the outstanding political questions could be easily handled.” He then apprised Stuart of his discussions about this with Carsun Chang.

Chiang Kai-shek had said, Dr. Stuart noted, that he would not reorganize the Executive Yuan until after the National Assembly met. Moreover, just that afternoon T. V. Soong had said that no Communist should be included in the Executive Yuan until the government was reorganized and popular elections held. With regard to Marshall’s idea of making Chou En-lai minister of communications, Stuart remarked that it was common practice in China for an entire group to resign under circumstances of displeasure or disapproval. If this was the likely reaction, Marshall said, then it would be unwise to suggest a ministerial position for Chou. (Ibid., pp. 468-69.)

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. 729-731.

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