5-442 Meetings with Chou En-lai

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Meetings with Chou En-lai

May 13-14, 1946 Nanking, China

MAY 13, 3:30 P.M.

General Chou desired to discuss the escalating military problems in North China—where, he asserted, “the Kuomintang was trying its utmost to stir up trouble and eventual civil war and lay the blame on the Communists”—and the proper locations to which Executive Headquarters truce (or field) teams should be sent. Chou and General Byroade had met the previous day to examine the truce team issue. Byroade had drafted a directive from the Committee of Three asserting the right of freedom of movement for field teams and permitting the American member to decide where to go if the Communist and Nationalist members disagreed. Chou had countered with a more complicated six-point draft that specified, among other things, penalties for truce violations. (On the Chou-Byroade meeting and the two documents, see Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 833-40.)

Chou’s six-point proposal was “too complicated to be carried out,” Marshall told him, and he urged the Communist leader to sign Byroade’s draft directive. He was particularly concerned about recent reports that indicated “complete opposition of the Communist members toward any common sense action” by the field teams. The growing mutual suspicion and distrust between Communist and Nationalist team members was “causing the situation to become almost hopeless.”

Marshall also raised the Manchurian issue, stating that he “had exhausted his resources in dealing with the Generalissimo,” who was “convinced that the intention of the Communists in Manchuria was totally different from the original [cease-fire] agreement.” Marshall reiterated his idea of a Communist withdrawal from Changchun, a Nationalist forces halt in place, and the establishment in the city of an advance echelon of Executive Headquarters.

Responding to Communist criticism of the U.S. troop presence and his own role in the negotiations, Marshall insisted that he was trying to get American forces “out of China as quickly as he could,” and if his impartiality was in doubt, “we should terminate his role of mediator.” Marshall did not wish to be “placed in the position of mediator where a stalemate was in prospect.” Chou thought that the North China situation should be prevented from worsening and then solved as “a beginning point in solving the Manchurian problem.” He did not want Marshall to resign. “Radicals on both sides”—higher echelon Nationalists and lower echelon Communists—were the ones blocking progress in Marshall’s opinion. (Ibid., pp. 843-46.)

May 14, 3:30 P.M.

With regard to General Byroade’s draft directive, Chou insisted that truce team unanimity be retained and that the American chairman not be the final authority in making decisions regarding investigations. Marshall obtained Chou’s agreement to wording specifying that in the case of continued team member disagreement, the American member would report to the commissioners at Executive Headquarters, who would either reach a unanimous decision within twenty-four hours or refer the matter to the Committee of Three. Chou then signed the modified Committee of Three directive. (Ibid., pp. 847-48.)

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. 556-557.

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