5-478 Meeting with Chou En-lai and Others

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Meeting with Chou En-lai and Others

June 17-18, 1946 Nanking, China

CHOU En-lai, June 17, 10:00 A.M.

On June 13, Marshall sent the two other members of the Committee of Three (Chou and Hsu) a draft proposal he had prepared on terminating hostilities in Manchuria. (See Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 1044-45.) Marshall proposed “wiping the slate clean” by going back to the January 10 cease-fire agreement and modifying it to take care of the situation as of the June 7 truce. Chou thought that the part of the January 10 agreement permitting the government to reassert Chinese sovereignty was no longer effective, since Soviet troops had left Manchuria; the draft agreement should note this lest the government claim the right “to go everywhere under the pretext of restoring sovereignty.” The mere evacuation of Russian troops, Marshall noted, did not determine the sovereignty question, “because Communists were definitely not taking over control for the Central Government during the past few months.” He hoped to get a special separate agreement that would stop the fighting and cover troop redistribution in Manchuria, thereby making the sovereignty issue moot.

They then discussed the distance contending troops would withdraw from one another and the time on June 7 to which troop dispositions would be restored. Chou reiterated Communist opposition to permitting the U.S. representative of the advance section or truce teams to make decisions if the Chinese members were deadlocked.

Concerning the proposed military reorganization, Marshall said that each side was keeping him too much in the dark about its essential demands on the other side. Thus he found it difficult to mediate. The Communists were willing to make concessions to reach agreement, Chou said, but before making proposals “they wanted first to see what the Government’s proposal would be and then to negotiate.” He also pointed out a number of proposals and concessions the Communists had made toward reaching a Manchurian settlement.

Later that day, Marshall’s assistant sent to Chou for comment copies of three government papers regarding troop readjustments in North China, an amendment to the February 25 agreement on military reorganization in Manchuria, and a proposed agreement on the restoration of communications. The Communists were to evacuate Jehol and Chahar provinces and government forces were to occupy the ports of Chefoo and Weihaiwei and reinforce Tsingtao in Shantung province and Tientsin in Hopeh province. In Manchuria, the government was to occupy Harbin and various other cities then held by the Communists. (Ibid., pp. 1065-74.)

Lo Lung-chi and Carsun Chang, June 17, 5:30 P.M.

The Democratic League leaders came to discuss the issue of giving the U.S. member on field teams the power of final decision and the Communist attitude regarding this. Marshall desired that American officers on field teams and at Executive Headquarters have only limited authority concerning where teams would go and who they would be able to see—not final authority on all issues, as the government desired and the Communists feared. Lo and Chang thought that the Communist party was willing to grant final authority to American team members. It would help a great deal, Marshall concluded, if the Democratic League would facilitate a quick settlement of the authority issue. (Ibid., pp. 1079-81. )

Yu Ta-wei, June 18, 9:15 A.M.

General Yu informed Marshall that his previous evening’s meeting with Chou En-lai had been unsatisfactory and that Chou “had become `wild’ and acted in a disgraceful manner.” Their discussions on communications problems and troop dispositions had been fruitless. On the question of allowing the American representative to have the decisive vote, Chou asked: “What would happen if I suggested that a Russian have the decisive vote?”

Marshall desired to know if General Yu thought there were any grounds for an agreement on Manchuria; the general thought not, and said that the Generalissimo desired Marshall’s reaction to the Yu-Chou meeting. Marshall “replied that he knew the Generalissimo’s terms were too harsh. What concerned him at the moment was what concessions could be made by the Generalissimo.” He also thought that the government’s belief that a settlement required the Communists to be concentrated in specific areas would “evoke the natural fear on the part of the Communists of being concentrated in an area to facilitate ultimate destruction.” The Generalissimo was willing to grant the Communists more generous areas, Yu said, and asked Marshall to have his staff prepare a solution. (Ibid., pp. 1082-83.)

Chou En-lai, June 18, 11:15 A.M.

The scope of the government’s demands were surprising, Chou stated, and it left him feeling “rather embittered.” The proposals would have to be transmitted to Yenan. Chou defended Communist military actions in Manchuria and Shantung, maintaining that the government’s forces had been even more aggressive. Communist evacuation of Chahar and Jehol could not be considered, he asserted, and against the government’s demands, the Communists could make similar demands—e.g., government evacuation of Peiping, Tientsin, and Tsingtao. The government, while making no assurances on political matters, demanded concessions from the Communists on military reorganization, troop movements, and communications far beyond the January and February agreements. Chou did agree to Marshall’s suggestion that he fly in Marshall’s plane to Yenan for consultations. (Ibid., pp. 1083-90.)

Hsu Yung-chang and Yu Ta-wei, June 18, 4:40 P.M.

General Yu detailed the government’s ideas about areas in North China and Manchuria where Communist troops should be concentrated. Marshall asked how many Communist troops were in Jehol and Chahar and what portion of those troops were natives of the area. Fifty thousand in each province and somewhere between a third and half, Yu replied. Marshall feared that an enforced evacuation of Jehol and Chahar would create an explosive situation and the concentration of so many Communists in North China would present a threat to both sides’ interests. He also thought that it would be a mistake for the government to present its entire plan to the Communists at one time; it should begin with the Manchurian agreement, with which Chou was already largely in agreement, and then the Chahar-Jehol and Shantung problems. Marshall particularly did not want General Yu to show General Chou the map depicting the government’s ideas on Communist concentration areas: “if you show him the restricted areas you will have war in China.”

They talked about the issue of American-member decision-making authority, and Marshall described his meeting with Carsun Chang and Lo Lung-chi. General Yu ended with a discussion of the communications-restoration agreement negotiations. (Ibid., pp. 1091-99.)

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. 595-597.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 5-478

Rights: Public Information