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Meetings with P.C.C. Delegates, Hsu Yung-chang, and Chou En-lai
June 8-10, 1946 Nanking, China
POLITICAL Consultative Conference Delegates, June 8, 4:15 P.M.
Eight delegates, representing independents, the Chinese Youth party, and the Democratic League, came to express their gratitude to Marshall for his efforts to arrange the present fifteen-day truce (which all agreed was not enough time) and to talk about what might be accomplished during it and how they could help. One suggestion was that a three-man committee elected from the P.C.C. should consult on the political aspects of issues with the Committee of Three.
Marshall said that he had no objection to such a committee, but political issues were “outside his jurisdiction.” He explained how the Committee of Three operated and how it was different from a P.C.C. committee. He urged speed in arriving at small agreements that built confidence on both sides. In discussing the problems of realizing democracy in China, he mentioned his idea of creating special films to educate the masses. (See editorial note #5-394, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [5: 501-2].) “General Marshall then suggested that all the independent groups should combine to exercise their influence on a few important individuals on each side as well as important editors to convince them that there must be more moderation in order that a solution other than a devastating war might be reached.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 995-97.)
Hsu Yung-chang, June 9, 4:00 P.M.
The government’s representative on the Committee of Three, General Hsu had called on Marshall to deliver a message from the government commander in Manchuria, General Tu Li-ming, protesting a Communist attack southeast of Harbin launched after the truce began. Marshall promised to send a message to Chou En-lai urging him to obtain orders stopping the action. Marshall objected to a statement by General Tu that if the Communists continued attacking government troops, he would order a resumption of attack and pursuit. Marshall said that “General Tu needed to be calmed down” so that he “would not again upset everything in Manchuria.”
General Hsu suggested—and Marshall agreed—that the two parties’ troops be assigned certain territories in which they would be responsible for communications restoration. Marshall discussed the United States system of parallel federal and state governments in a two-party system as a possible model for power-sharing on a territorial basis.
In Manchuria, General Marshall said, getting the troops “untangled” was crucial and difficult, and the politics of control “could easily wreck all military proposals.” In the political context, Marshall described his June 8 meeting with the PCC delegates. He urged General Hsu to “use his influence” with the Generalissimo “to find some compromise on the political side” with the Communists in Manchuria, otherwise the fifteen-day truce “would come to an unfortunate end.” General Hsu thought that General Tu’s reaction to local Communist actions was “over-sensitive”; Marshall thought Tu “pugnacious.”
Marshall suggested that General Hsu begin working on proposals to be made to the Communists, but not to wait until all the government’s ideas were fully developed before talking them over with Marshall’s staff and beginning talks with the Communists. “The best way to proceed was to continue discussions on difficult points but always have something else that they [the Committee of Three] could complete” in order to keep the process moving. He also thought it would be useful if Hsu and Chou would initiate exploratory talks on various issues.
General Hsu raised the issue of United States representatives having the deciding vote on the truce teams and at Executive Headquarters; he thought that nothing would be accomplished without it. Chou En-lai had consistently opposed the idea, Marshall replied. (Ibid., pp. 998-1006.)
Chou En-lai, June 10, 10:10 A.M.
Chou recognized that mutual confidence between the government and the Communists had been destroyed and that one way of restoring it was to “approach detailed problems one by one and then go on to another,” using Marshall as a mediator. He reminded Marshall of his comment at their June 3 meeting (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-458 [5: 573]) that the Communists suspected that United States policy toward China was simultaneously progovernment and promediation. “Communists now feel that the United States rather favored the Kuomintang,” and while Marshall himself was working for peace, U.S. support of the government encouraged the Nationalists to wage a civil war. Yenan thus concluded that “regardless of the concessions Gen. Marshall would make for the sake of peace, the Kuomintang would never feel satisfied” until they, in the name of reestablishing sovereignty and reopening communications, had driven the Communists into a corner in Manchuria and forced them into the rural areas in China proper. “The next effort would be to suppress Communists in the rural areas.”
There was no reason, Chou continued, for the Communists to participate in the Nationalist-dominated People’s Consultative Conference, National Assembly, or government, since “under the present rule of the Kuomintang, it is impossible to obtain a true peace and democracy. The Communist Party feels that the only way out is to resist any attack from the Kuomintang.” Despite the government’s provocations, Chou said, the Communist party “would give a new trial to cooperation.” Marshall’s efforts were still needed for this work, but there also needed to be some U.S.-Communist party cooperation in communications restoration and army reorganization. Direct Communist-Nationalist contacts without Marshall’s mediation would not work.
Unfortunately, Marshall responded, there were “some military leaders who look to a settlement only by military means,” but he had acted vigorously to quiet outbreaks caused by both sides. Nationalist leaders Marshall had talked to recently were “seriously considering the most practical approach to a final solution politically,” but the fighting had to stop for moderation to succeed. He had perhaps been harder on the government for its military transgressions than on the Communists, and “a considerable portion” of the Nationalist party was bitterly opposed to his role. Marshall hoped “that there were a sufficient number of individuals on each side to take a long view of the situation and to suppress their own personal feelings of resentment.” The Communist party, Chou said, taking a long view of the situation, thought that Marshall was working for peace in China, and they hoped that he “would stay in China for a long time.”
Chou said, and Marshall agreed, that it would be a good idea for the two sides to deal with the communications problem first and then move on to the more difficult cessation of hostilities and military reorganization issues. They discussed railroad reconstruction, and Marshall said that it was also important to reopen the highways as soon as possible. Concerning the cessation of hostilities, Marshall was more optimistic than Chou; they should keep the terms of the agreement as simple as possible and leave the details of execution to the Executive Headquarters group in Changchun and its local network of field teams. A similar incremental approach should be used for the more difficult to achieve agreement on force readjustments in Manchuria over the next six months. Beginning with the communications problem, each side had to concede some things quickly in order to develop confidence between them on the more difficult matters to be settled later. General Chou concurred. (Ibid., pp. 1008-20.)
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. 582-584.