5-532 Notes on a Meeting with Chiang Kai-shek, August 16, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 16, 1946

Subject: China

Notes on a Meeting with Chiang Kai-shek

August 16, 19461 Kuling, China


Dr. T. V. Soong, acting as interpreter, and Madame Chiang were present during the interview. The entire situation was discussed by the Generalissimo. In brief, his view was that the Communists were violating all aspects of the truce by offensive operations in Kiangsu, the region of Tatung, and east of Sian. He felt that there was no sincerity in any proposals they made regarding negotiations and that they treat the negotiations as a means of prolonging matters, during which they would gain military advantages. He stated that he felt that they were now working close in hand with the Soviet Government and that they would not seriously carry through with any arrangement which might be reached for the organization of a coalition government, nor could the Government have any assurance that they would cease fighting if a formal order for the cessation of hostilities was issued.

The Generalissimo asked me for my estimate of the situation. I stated that the Communists’ view as expressed to me was almost the exact opposite of the view he had expressed. They insisted that the Government had led in the offensive operations and that their reactions were defensive to prevent themselves from being squeezed into a corner. I further stated that the events of the weeks following my final interview with the Generalissimo prior to his departure for Kuling from Nanking had almost exactly corresponded to my prediction at that time. I reminded him that he had stated that he could control the situation in Manchuria and the fighting in North China would merely be local; that if I were patient I would see that the fruit would soon ripen and drop into our laps—that the Communists would be appealing to me for a settlement and offer to make the compromises necessary towards such a settlement. I reminded him that I had stated at that time I felt not only would the situation in North China quickly spread beyond control, but that the probability was there would be a resumption of fighting in Jehol and that would immediately relight a conflagration in Manchuria, indicating there would be a general civil war beyond his or Communist control to check, and a catastrophe for China. I also stated that such a catastrophic condition, in my opinion, offered an ideal opportunity for subversive activities of the Communists in spreading unrest and for the Soviet Government in supporting the Communists in a sub rosa or in an overt manner if they so desired, which was probable. I expressed the belief that the Government of China had little, if any, prospect of gaining by pursuing hostilities at the present time and a very definite prospect of a great loss with the possible collapse of the Government and the almost certain collapse of its economy. I outlined the geographical weakness of the position of the Government with long lines of communications and bordering mountain regions which fitted perfectly into the Communistic method of fighting. I insisted that the present government policy was, in my opinion, ruinous and that the only other alternative was in effect to swallow the Communist Party—which was too large and powerful to ignore.

I again urged that the Generalissimo agree to the proposal Dr. Stuart had put to him to nominate one or two men to meet with a similar number of Communists, Dr. Stuart presiding as chairman, in an effort to agree on precise terms for the Communists inclusion in a State Council to be initiated as the first step towards the genuine reorganization of the government. The Generalissimo stated that the Communists had declined to nominate any members for such an organization.

I reminded him that this was during Chungking days and that more recently the leaders of the Democratic League had advised me that the Communists were ready to nominate the members, and further that they were changing their views regarding a coalition government in regard to mixed ministries. The Generalissimo said that that gave no assurance it was the view of the Communist Party. I replied that the fact of the matter was very easy to ascertain. He requested me to do so and I sent a message to my assistant, Colonel Caughey, in Nanking to put the question to General Chou which he did the following day. Chou replied in the affirmative, but stated several conditions to be met.2

The following morning [August 18] Dr. Soong called on me and reviewed the conversation of the previous afternoon giving reasons why he felt the stand of the Generalissimo was the correct measure and discussing at length the economic situation. He expressed no faith whatever in the Communist willingness to proceed on a normal basis with a reorganization of the Government.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Conferences Miscellaneous, vol. 4, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed notes.

1. Internal evidence (see the last paragraph) suggests that this document was written on or after August 18.

2. Caughey replied on the evening of August 17 that Chou En-lai had said that the Communist party was “not prepared to nominate State Council representatives. Specifically Communists will be ready to nominate representatives when terms of cease firing agreements have been arranged and when the small group of which Doctor Stuart would be chairman has worked out a basis of Government reorganization.” (Caughey to Marshall, Radio No. GOLD 1335, August 17, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages]).

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. 656-657.

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