5-487 Meetings with Chou En-lai and Chiang Kai-shek

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Meetings with Chou En-lai and Chiang Kai-shek

June 26-27, 1946 Nanking, China

CHOU En-lai, June 26, 2:00 P.M.

Marshall doubted that the government—which had already indicated that it would accept a 5:1 ratio of Nationalist-Communist divisions in Manchuria—would agree to General Chou’s latest proposal (see Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 1198-99) to have five Communist divisions in Manchuria, nor was it likely to accept the proposed Communist dispositions in north Kiangsu province near Nanking. General Chou defended the Communist proposals on military reorganization as being closer to Marshall’s and the P.C.C.’s ideas, unlike the government’s proposals. Moreover, the Communists did not intend to abandon any place they currently held to government troops. Chou explained how reasonable Communist proposals were, particularly in Shantung province, but the government was being unreasonable in demanding that they evacuate Jehol province. The Communist party was “prepared to make military concessions in order to get the Government to concede political matters so that the goal of democratization of politics and nationalization of armies will be achieved.” Chiang Kai-shek, Chou asserted, desired that the troop disposition issue be solved first so that government troops could occupy a larger area; then the government would fear no one.

He could understand the Communists’ fears about the government’s military operations, Marshall said, but given the Communists’ post-cease-fire operations in Shantung and elsewhere, there were reasonable fears in the government about the Communists’ attempts to influence political discussions through military action. There was “little time for maneuvering,” Marshall said, and it was “quite evident that further delays or extensions of negotiations are not practicable because of the growing unrest and the constant threat of disturbances and vicious propaganda.” He was “rather at a loss” as to what to do next. “I find the two sides so far apart and so firm in their purpose, that I do not know what to say or do.” The key issue was military reorganization—and resulting troop dispositions—Chou replied, but the Communist party could not compromise the rights and interests of the peasants to solve this. Chou suggested some approaches to getting the talks moving again, and Marshall responded: “I will see what I can do with them.” (Ibid., pp. 1203-15.)

Chiang Kai-shek, June 27, 9:30 A.M., Generalissimo’s Office

The Generalissimo outlined what he considered the Communists’ policies of delaying and obstructing implementation of the February 25 military demobilization and reorganization agreement. He asked Marshall to point out to General Chou that he (Chiang) knew of no instance where the inhabitants of a region occupied by the government had fled to a region controlled by the Communists, whereas over five million people had fled from Communist-controlled regions. Chiang suggested that Americans might control the movements of Communist and government forces into and out of areas. Furthermore, the government would be willing to accept Communist officials temporarily in Heilungkiang, Hsingan, Nunkiang, and Chahar provinces pending a final political reorganization.

Marshall observed that “the discussions and action of the Central Committee of the Kuomintang has conveyed to the public a grave doubt as to the intention of the Government in carrying out the agreements of the PCC.” Moreover, staged violent demonstrations against the Communists and the Soviets, in addition to actions by the Communists, “militated against the implementation of the agreements.” Marshall suggested that the recent round of demonstrations appeared to be “a deliberate effort to interrupt the negotiations,” and he could not conduct negotiations under such circumstances. The Generalissimo assured Marshall that there would be no further outbreaks of rioting. With regard to the critical points in the current negotiations, Marshall said, the government’s present terms regarding Communist evacuation of north Kiangsu and Jehol provinces and the Manchurian rail center of Harbin were unacceptable to the Communists and some basis for compromise had to be found. (Ibid., pp. 1215-18.)

Chou En-lai, June 27, 1:30 P.M.

Marshall relayed the substance of Chiang Kai-shek’s initial comments on the notes of the June 26 Marshall-Chou meeting. Chou En-lai then rebutted the Generalissimo’s specific charges against the Communists, blaming the Nationalists for the problems. At some length, he explained the seeming imbalance in refugee flow; landlords’ hostility to Communist reforms was one contributing factor, Chou asserted. Holding proper elections would show what the people desired in the way of personnel and policies. The Communists were definitely unwilling to accept the government’s demands on north Kiangsu, Shantung, the Tsinan-Tsingtao railway, and certain other areas. However, the Communists might concentrate their troops and leave most of north Kiangsu and the railroad unoccupied, so long as the government did not try to move in troops.

Marshall repeated his assertion that he was at a loss as to how to proceed. “I find that in both my discussions with the Generalissimo and with General Chou, about the time a new idea forms in my mind as to possible compromise, some further statement obliterates that as a possibility.” At Marshall’s request, Chou elaborated on his nongarrisoning suggestion. (Ibid., pp. 1218-28.)

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. 609-610.

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