5-395 Memorandum for the President, March 13, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 13, 1946

Subject: China

Memorandum for the President1

March 13, 1946 En Route Tokyo to Wake Island

Subject: Oral Statements of Views of Chinese Central Government

And Communist Party Reference Situation as of 10 March

1946, in Personal Conversations with General Marshall.

There are attached a statement by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and another by General Chou En-lai made to me in my final conversations with these two officials just prior to my departure from Chungking for the United States. I dictated my recollection of the Generalissimo’s statement and had Chou En-Lai’s Secretary-Interpreter write up his notes of Chou’s oral statement.2

In reading these papers it should be borne in mind that they represent views expressed during a most critical situation in Manchuria and in the heat of a political struggle within the governing Central Committee of the Kuomintang Party—a Committee which rules China and whose officials and subordinates down the line hold their position of power and personal income by virtue of that Committee’s rule, now due to be abdicated to a coalition government.

Another fact bears on the interpretation of these statements. So far no measures have been taken to suppress the fighting and the struggle for favorable position in Manchuria. It has required two months and a personal visit by me to bring all the Central Government and Communist leaders in the field into line in accordance with the terms of the Cease Firing agreement—halt of all movements, restoration of communications and evacuation of Japanese. Lack of communications makes it very difficult not only to reach leaders, but especially to reach the commanders of brigades, regiments and independent or guerilla groups.

In Manchuria the situation as to communications and leadership is far more difficult than in North China. The Communist forces are large—about 300,000, but little more than loosely organized bands. It has been all but impossible for the Yenan headquarters to reach the leaders. On the Central Government side the leaders have been free to place their own interpretation on orders or agreements—complicated by the Government public announcement that the Executive Headquarters had no jurisdiction in Manchuria. This was an unjustified statement, as the agreement of January 10th for Cease Firing included Manchuria.

Now, on the night of my departure from Chungking, I succeeded in getting an agreement for the immediate entry of field teams from Executive Headquarters into Manchuria. I was notified the same evening that the American Consul was amicably received in Dairen. The Consul for Mukden is en route by rail, which the Russian troops have evacuated.

I will make no predictions at this writing—enroute Tokio to Wake Island, delaying such report until the further developments of the situation become known to me on my arrival in Washington.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, War Department, Return to China File, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Marshall wrote on another copy of the memorandum: “Read to the President and copy delivered to Sec. of State.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 541.)

2. Marshall’s memorandum of his conversation with Chiang Kai-shek noted the Generalissimo’s concern about Communist intentions and dependability as a negotiating partner. Chiang hoped that any U.S. loans to China would come without announced conditions. A positive outcome of the Manchurian situation for China, Chiang asserted, depended upon the United States taking a strong stand towards the Soviet Union. Marshall observed that Chiang was “using his great influence to bring the recalcitrant leaders of the Kuomintang Central Committee into line” on the issues of cease-fire, demobilization, and reorganization. (Ibid., pp. 528-29.)

Chou En-lai’s lengthy March 10 statement insisted that the Communists had been quite reasonable and blamed the Manchurian problems on the Nationalists. The Soviets, and subsequently the Nationalists, Chou said, had mainly occupied the larger cities on rail lines, and the Communists had simply moved into the vacuum in the countryside and organized the people there. He blamed “irreconcilable elements” within the Nationalist party, who were “reluctant to give up the power of one-party dictatorship,” for the recent civil disturbances and propaganda attacks, to which the Communists had been forced to reply. (Ibid., pp. 529-35.)

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. 502-503.

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