5-538 Meetings with John B. Blandford, Pai Chung-hsi, and Others

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Meetings with John B. Blandford, Pai Chung-hsi, and Others

August 22-23, 1946 Nanking, China

JOHN B. Blandford, Jr., August 22, 9:30 A.M.

An engineer, civil administrator, and wartime head of the U.S. National Housing Agency, Blandford was advising the Chinese government on financial matters. He briefed Marshall on China’s economic situation. Marshall told him of T. V. Soong’s various predictions as to how long China would be able to carry on a civil war without collapsing economically. At Kuling the previous week, Marshall noted, Soong thought that the government could survive for perhaps another two months at the present level of military activity. Blandford thought that the government’s short-term survival was difficult to determine.

Chiang Kai-shek, Marshall observed, did “not concern himself with the economic question” or apparently see the dangers of an economic collapse to the Nationalist party or as “a formal invitation to Russia to sow further seeds of Communism in China.” Marshall told Blandford of the various warnings he had given to Chiang on the dangers of seeking a military solution. “The U. S. does not want the Communists to rule China,” but “the Generalissimo is leading China right into Communism through his over zealous and unrealistic treatment of the present military and political situation.” Moreover, the “radical elements” in the Nationalist party “do not realize that China is no longer isolated from the rest of the world. The Chinese old philosophy and methods are no longer applicable.” (NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 4].)

Pai Chung-hsi, August 22, 5:30 P.M.

General Pai, the minister of national defense, said that his ministry was being reorganized along American lines, and he desired Marshall’s comments. A key difference between the Chinese and U.S. systems, Marshall began, was that it was a “cardinal principle” in the U.S. that the military was invariably subservient to civil authority, and thus a civilian always headed the War Department. Placing the military chief directly under the Generalissimo was “a very peculiar establishment for peace time organization,” Marshall believed. He also emphasized the importance of the military budget, particularly in peace time when it “bears a great importance in relation to the political party in power.” Again, in the U.S., while the chief of staff calculated the budget requirements, it was the civilian minister who was responsible for getting the appropriations.

Having the Chinese navy under the direct command of the chief of staff was a “weakness and inefficiency,” and Marshall urged General Pai “to place an efficient navy man in command of the Navy.” Marshall then described the importance of having a system to train replacements. “What the government needs in Manchuria,” Marshall thought, “is not new divisions but trained replacements.” Fewer full-strength divisions were better than more that were under strength. Poorly trained and locally recruited soldiers tended to “water the stock” of a division. China needed a nation-wide recruiting system that could maintain a smaller but more efficient army. (Ibid.)

Yu Ta-wei, August 23, 10:00 A.M.

He had told Chou En-lai, Yu said, that while the government was unwilling to waive its military conditions for peace, it was willing to let them “rest” until Dr. Stuart’s Five-Man Committee had been able to reach a political agreement. The Generalissimo, Marshall recalled, was emphatic in insisting that the Communists not be led to believe that the government was pressing for the organization of Dr. Stuart’s group but that it be seen as Marshall’s idea. The reason he was going to Kuling that afternoon was to press Chiang Kai-shek to appoint members to Stuart’s group.

“The situation was becoming worse day by day,” Marshall said. This could drive the Communists to seek Soviet support, which would make it more difficult for the Chinese to find a peaceful solution. Chou En-lai had given him a letter the previous day asserting that the Communists had reason to believe that the government was preparing to use gas against their forces. If the government had any gas stocks, they should immediately destroy them, which would be the most effective counter to Communist propaganda on the subject. This would not hurt the government, Marshall insisted, since he “was quite certain that they did not have enough gas to do any real harm anyway.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 69-70.)

Percy Chen, August 23, 10:30 A.M.

Chen, whose father had been minister for foreign affairs in the 1920s and 1930s, said he was optimistic about Marshall’s ultimate success. Present problems could have been solved much easier two months ago, Marshall replied; “those liberal elements in the Communist Party are losing control and the radicals are becoming the leaders.” Starting the State Council was important, and “the only chance for the Kuomintang Government to survive is to prove that it is a better government.”

The idea of a State Council, Chen stated, was conceived by Dr. Sun Fo, president of the Legislative Yuan and son of Sun Yat-sen. Sun Fo had a good reputation in the United States, China’s liberals were his followers, and he also commanded respect from Nationalist and Communist moderates, the British, and the Russians, according to Chen; Sun ought to participate in the negotiations. Sun favored some sort of participation by the Soviets in the mediation and thought it was time to find out what they wanted in China. (Ibid., pp. 70-72.)

Chou En-lai, August 23, 11:20 A.M.

He was going to Kuling to secure the Generalissimo’s immediate agreement to designate members of Dr. Stuart’s committee to discuss the organization of the State Council, Marshall began. Chou thought that the government’s attitude on this was still uncertain. Marshall explained the origins of Dr. Stuart’s committee idea and his hopes for its success.

There remained some unsettled points concerning the government reorganization, Chou indicated: the distribution of State Council seats among the parties; an agreed platform; Communist veto power. He agreed with Marshall that fighting should cease or at least be significantly reduced. Nevertheless, the Communists believed that the government intended to initiate large-scale fighting (including the use of tear and perhaps other gases) in two or three weeks. Marshall agreed that continuation of the present situation, with each side accusing the other of perfidy was making a settlement increasingly difficult, and that was the reason he and Dr. Stuart had turned to the effort to institute a State Council to take up political issues. Marshall hoped that if the individuals were nominated to Stuart’s committee, the two sides could then arrange an end to the fighting.

Since April, it was the government that had mainly benefitted from fighting, Chou replied; thus the Nationalists posed numerous conditions for a cease-fire, whereas the Communists consistently desired an unconditional end to the fighting. Recent measures taken by the Communists “are only aimed to put up a total resistance” and were defensive in nature. The Nationalists were contemplating calling the National Assembly to meet without Communist participation, Chou said; if they did that, the Communists “will feel forced to call the Delegation Conference of the liberated areas.” (Ibid., pp. 72-79.)

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), pp. 663-665.

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