5-524 Meetings with John Leighton Stuart, Yu Ta-wei, and Chou En-lai, August 9, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 9, 1946

Subject: China

Meetings with John Leighton Stuart, Yu Ta-wei, and Chou En-lai

August 9, 1946 Nanking, China

JOHN Leighton Stuart, 9:30 A.M.

The ambassador described his August 6 meeting with Chou En-lai, noting that the Communist leader had objected to all of Chiang Kai-shek’s terms. Marshall expressed his concern over the Communists’ “delay and confusion” tactics at Executive Headquarters concerning the investigation of the Anping Marine incident. He proposed to tell Chou that not only was the Communist attitude on the incident “intolerable from the U. S. point of view,” but that the Communists were “playing directly into the hands of the National Government.” He was going to inform Chou that he proposed telling Executive Headquarters to withdraw American participation in the investigation and to issue a statement of the U.S. position on the incident, Marshall said. He also proposed to tell Chou that the Communists had twenty-four hours to decide to participate in a full and fair investigation. “General Marshall then asked Dr. Stuart if that approach appeared too extreme. The Ambassador agreed that it was not and stated that he believed the time had come for a showdown.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 1471-73.)

Yu Ta-wei, 10:30 A.M.

The over-all military situation had not improved, General Yu began, commenting on the fighting in various locations. Ambassador Stuart’s talks with Chou En-lai had produced no results, Marshall said. With regard to further negotiations, Marshall believed that he first had to meet with Chou and then assess the situation; at present, he could not even suggest a reasonable approach. “The political leader in the Government was also the head of the secret police [Chen Li-fu], which was much the state in Germany during the war, the only difference being that the name of the individual involved was not Himmler.” Marshall closed with comments on U.S. public opinion toward China and its potential policy implications. (Ibid., pp. 1473-74.)

Chou En-lai, 4:30 P.M.

His meeting the previous day with Chiang Kai-shek had been “one of the most difficult or embarrassing discussions I have had,” Marshall stated, “not because of what the Generalissimo had to say but entirely because of the extreme frankness that I thought was necessary on my part.” But when Marshall returned to Nanking, he found a message from the U.S. commissioner at Executive Headquarters (ibid., pp. 1463-64.) detailing the Communists’ obstruction of the Anping incident investigation—parts of which Marshall read to General Chou. “I do not feel that, representing the United States Government, I can accept that situation in silence, and therefore I am considering now withdrawing the American member [of the investigating team] and making my statement public as to what I consider are the facts of the matter. I would not hesitate an hour to do that were it not for the fact that such action on my part will have a tremendous and almost determining effect on the possibility of reaching a successful conclusion of the negotiations we have been struggling with so long.” Unfortunately, Marshall asserted, this would tend to confirm the claims of those within the Chinese government who had long insisted that negotiating with the Communists was a waste of time. “I am willing to wait 24 hours to receive an assurance, not a discussion, that this matter will be handled in an ordinary every-day straight-forward manner.” Marshall emphasized that he would “not wait.”

Chou expressed surprise: “My report is almost the complete reverse of the one received by you.” He was anxious that a team be dispatched to the attack site. Furthermore, messages he received blamed the Nationalists for the delay. “I quite share your view that if we let ourselves be over-ruled by our sentiments the matter will only become more complicated and will have a tremendous and determining effect on the successful conclusion of the negotiation.” Marshall then outlined the sequence of events concerning the Anping investigation as he had received them from his Executive Headquarters representative. He then suggested that they move on and asked Chou for his “comments regarding the present situation” in China.

His review of the negotiations of the past three months, Chou said, caused him to conclude that Chiang Kai-shek and the government had decided upon a course of action and nothing the Communists did or agreed to would affect that course. He then elaborated at length on the thesis that the Nationalists not the Communists were responsible for the current military and political problems. “It appears to me that almost nothing can be settled,” Chou remarked. “Every step is designed for propaganda and not for settlement. . . . With regard to the fighting, it is almost universal knowledge that only the National troops attack the Communist troops, but the Government still argues that they are being attacked by the Communists.” United States aid to China was encouraging the Nationalists’ war policies, but the Communists continued to desire U.S. mediation and cooperation with the Kuomintang and the United States.

He could not immediately make detailed comments on General Chou’s lengthy statement, Marshall said, noting that some of the points Chou made were “highly debatable.” Discovering the facts and motivations behind what was going on in China was more difficult than in other negotiations in which he had participated, Marshall admitted. He hoped that he and Dr. Stuart could soon “develop a definite proposal” to submit to Chou. (Ibid., pp. 1474-89.)

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. 647-648.

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