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Meeting with Chou En-lai
May 21, 1946, 10:40 A.M. Nanking, China
GENERAL Chou said that he agreed with Marshall’s May 20 press release and had sent a copy to Communist party headquarters in Yenan. Marshall replied that he was reluctant to interfere in such a domestic situation but felt that it was necessary; moreover, the propaganda campaigns were discrediting both sides in the United States. Chou suggested that he might meet the new government minister of information to see if something could be worked out.
Marshall and Chou then discussed the issues raised in three letters dated May 19 Marshall had received from Chou concerning truce team problems and specific areas of fighting. There were several instances in which the Communists were at fault in thwarting the truce teams’ operation, Marshall asserted, and he asked that General Chou “take some positive action to get his people [in the Chihfeng and Chengte regions of Jehol province] under control.” He was also unhappy with two instances of the Communists blocking the movement of U.N.R.R.A. supplies to starving people. Chou explained the Communists’ viewpoint on these issues and said that he would investigate further.
They briefly discussed the Changchun situation. Chou assured Marshall that, after the truce, the demobilization and reorganization would be carried out as previously agreed. The Communists now wished to have five divisions in Manchuria rather than the one stipulated in the original proposal. Marshall stated that the central government would doubtless demand a corresponding increase. He was opposed to a net increase in troops in Manchuria, but supposed that a change in the ratio of Nationalist to Communist armies from 14:1 to 5:1 might be possible.
General Marshall said he would not permit himself to become involved in the negotiations unless he thought there was a fair prospect of reaching an agreement. Once he had a pretty definite idea of the Communist side of the picture, he could do some investigating to find out what the possibilities of the Government’s considerations of his views would be. General Marshall would follow the same procedure he had in the past. He would start with the side that was in the strong position at the moment. It was crucial that rapid action be taken to settle the troop strength and disposition problems. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 868-79.)
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), p. 562.