5-543a Meetings with Yu Ta-wei and Chou En-lai

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: China

Meetings with Yu Ta-wei and Chou En-lai

August 28-30, 1946 Nanking, China


YU Ta-wei, August 28, 9:45 A.M.

In their meeting the previous day, Marshall reported, the Generalissimo had indicated that there were “exceptions” to returning matters to their original status in the negotiations, such as not needing a cease-fire order. Did the Communists really and sincerely want a cessation of hostilities, Yu asked. “Emphatically yes,” Marshall replied. “There is also no doubt in my mind, on the other hand, that certain Government military leaders wish to continue the fighting in an effort to gain certain local advantages.” How much longer the Communists might continue to desire a cease-fire Marshall could not say, but he reiterated his belief that “if this fighting spreads to Manchuria, it means that you are inviting Russia to enter into the affairs of China. It will be your own undoing.” The State Council offered a possibility for compromise. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 86-89.)


Chou En-lai, August 29, 5:00 P.M.

Chou described his August 28 talk with Dr. Stuart. Marshall then detailed his August 27 talk with Chiang Kai-shek, seeking to make certain that Chou understood the Generalissimo’s attitude. Marshall then gave his assessment of the state of Communist party thinking, repeating his assertion that further fighting would quickly lead to a situation “entirely beyond control of either the Government or the Communist Party.”

The Communists, Chou said, had assumed that the government would issue a cease-fire order as soon as the Communists demonstrated good faith by participating in the State Council, but the Generalissimo indicated that his military goals still remained in force and there was no guarantee that the fighting would stop no matter what the Communists did. The Communists also disagreed with the Generalissimo’s apparent belief that the Political Consultative Committee was no longer relevant and that the State Council (which would have a Nationalist majority and transact business by a simple majority vote) was to have jurisdiction over political and administrative matters. Marshall interjected that he was surprised not by the difficulties the Generalissimo had indicated during their recent conversation but “by the general statement which seemed so favorable.”

The Five-Man Committee was acceptable, Chou stated, but the Communists would not permit the Nationalists to use the group’s talks as a vehicle for political stalling while they continued military operations. Dr. Stuart’s group was not a government tactic, Marshall insisted. He and Stuart had expended considerable effort to convince the Generalissimo to accept it.

Marshall rejected General Chou’s references to U.S. support of the government and his threat to unleash a campaign to “arouse the opposition of public opinion against the continuation of war in China” if the Communists perceived that Stuart’s group was merely a Nationalist ploy. “In my opinion you are confusing propaganda with fact,” Marshall replied, “and Chinese propaganda is far from fact. It consists in exploiting of any item that can be found, regardless of whether or not there is any actual support of hostilities involved. I have stopped, I think, almost every direct support of the Government in a military way and yet the propaganda would seem to indicate that the fight could not go on a week without the military supplies and support the U. S. Government is alleged to be giving the Kuomintang Party.” Communist propagandists probably had come to believe their own words, but “to depend on that propaganda to win the battle is a vital mistake. Just as depending on the action against the Marines to drive them out of China was an even more vital mistake.”

Since March, Marshall revealed, he had had access “to all the instructions from Moscow to the Soviet representatives in Shanghai for propaganda, and also the reports of the Shanghai group in answer to questions and in explanation of their propaganda efforts.” Soviet efforts, while separate, paralleled Yenan propaganda. Such propaganda by all sides in China was inevitable, Marshall admitted; the Communists should not draw conclusions from propaganda but from facts. (Ibid., pp. 96-107.)

Yu Ta-wei, August 30, 10:45 A.M.

Marshall recapitulated his meeting the previous day with Chou En-lai, noting that Chou appeared “to be greatly disturbed over the situation” and “not particularly hopeful” as to what might result from Dr. Stuart’s committee, but “he did agree to go ahead with it.” One of the most important problems, Marshall thought, was “that the Communists are more or less the victims of their own propaganda which is evidenced by the great importance they attach to the alleged assistance being given to the Kuomintang by the United States,” to the point that they seemed to think that every Kuomintang effort was dependent upon U.S. support.

Yu showed Marshall a message he had just received stating that the U.S. State Department had rejected China’s request for an export license for 130,000,000 rounds of 7.92-mm. rifle ammunition. (See ibid., p. 757.) Marshall denied having anything to do with this but reminded Yu that he had told the Chinese government “that it was just a matter of time before such a step would be taken.” (Ibid., pp. 108-9.)


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