5-452 To Chiang Kai-shek, May 26, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 26, 1946

Subject: China

To Chiang Kai-shek

[May 26, 1946] [Nanking, China]

Very Secret from General Marshall to Consul Clubb Mukden for his Eye Only.1

This is the first of a series of messages I will probably have to send to you for personal delivery to the Generalissimo.

“Your Excellency:

I received your statement of terms of 24 May by letter of Madame Chiang at noon today Sunday.2 Have had three hour conference with Chou En-lai.3 He is to give me a statement this evening of agreements, and commitments on certain details which are involved in your statement of general terms. His difficulty is inability to commit himself on details regarding matter of procedure of government in taking over sovereignty and extent of authority proposed for American officers referred to in your paragraph four (c).4

Meanwhile I make these recommendations and observations:

(a) General Chou and I propose that an advance section of Executive Headquarters be moved into Changchun immediately and get established there.

(b) I urge that you immediately issue orders terminating advances, attacks and pursuits by government troops within twenty-four hours of the time of issuing your order, publicly announcing such action and stating that you do this in furtherance of your desire to terminate hostilities and settle matters by the peaceful method of negotiations. I feel that to continue to press your present military advantage will invite a repetition of the unfortunate results of the early National Government experience in Manchuria and the result of the more recent belligerent attitude of the Communist leaders at Changchun. Besides, to do otherwise at this moment would be contrary to your recent proposal to the Communists.

(c) Question. Is it your intention to give American Commissioner at Peiping complete authority to make decision on all matters over which opposing commissioners are in disagreement. This certainly would facilitate matters but I feel that it is too all inclusive in effect to place American and consequently American Government in position of deciding a number of major matters that would shortly become involved. How about restricting this final decision by Americans to specific matters such as where, when and how teams should proceed, who they should see and decisions covering local situation. Also final decision by Americans at Changchun regarding all immediate arrangements and matters in Manchuria pertaining to termination of hostilities. Also decision at Executive Headquarters regarding matters referred to Commissioners by teams or team chairman, and in matters pertaining to restoration of communications. In all of this, decisions regarding political matters would be excluded unless specifically stipulated by later agreement.5

(d) Reference statement in letter regarding my willingness to guarantee good faith of Communists please explain the meaning you place of [on] the term guarantee.6

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Political Affairs, Chiang Kai-shek, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. O. Edmund Clubb, one of the Old China Hands and an expert in the language, had served in numerous posts in the country since 1929. In 1946 he was U.S. consul general in Mukden. His 1932 report “Communism in China” was the first detailed study of the Chinese Communist movement by an American, although it was not available outside the State Department until it was published by Columbia University Press in 1968.

2. This document (see Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 891-92) stated that government troops had begun to enter Changchun and that “a fair and permanent” understanding with the Communists should be based upon their adherence to the three agreements already signed (i.e., cease-fire, army demobilization and reorganization, and restoration of communications). In his fourth paragraph (“Method of Procedure”), Chiang made three points:

a. The Communists should not obstruct or impede the Central Government in the taking over the sovereignty of Manchuria as provided in the [August 14, 1945] Sino-Soviet Pact.

b. The Communists should not interfere with or obstruct the Central Government’s efforts to repair railroads in all parts of China for the resumption of traffic. Only in this way can the Communists demonstrate their sincerity to live up to their pledged word.

c. In the carrying out of the three agreements . . . the American officers of the Executive Headquarters or Teams have the determining voice and authority both in the execution and interpretation of views held in divergence by the Government and Communist representatives.

3. See the summary of the meeting with Chou En-lai on May 23, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-450 [5: 564-65].

4. Marshall sent Chou En-lai a copy of Madame Chiang’s letter. Chou responded (see Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 903-4) that the agreements already signed should be implemented without delay. Responding to Chiang’s fourth paragraph, Chou wrote that: (a) it was not clear what was meant by “taking over sovereignty” in Manchuria; (b) railroad repair work should be “immediately expedited” and that he would begin talks with the government’s minister of communications (Yu Ta-wei); and (c) he would “further exert” his efforts to get Communist headquarters to agree to have the American representative on field teams be given “determining power over the procedure of conducting investigations.”

5. In his May 28 reply (see ibid., pp. 907-8), the Generalissimo agreed that the American member’s “authority should be confined to specific matters. However, all executive matters relating to the restoration of railroad and other communications must be included in the scope of such authorities.”

6. Having listed the things that the Communists needed to do, Madame Chiang’s May 24 letter (ibid., p. 891) had included the sentence: “Whether the Communists would agree to the above, and whether the American representative would be willing to guarantee the good faith of the Communists.” Chiang’s May 28 response to Marshall’s message said that by “guarantee” he meant that “in regard to all the agreements you have participated in signing . . . you will set time limits for the putting into effect of such agreements and will assume the responsibility of supervision over the strict observance of such agreements on the part of the Communists, so as to avoid any further delays.”

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. 566-568.

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