5-603 To Colonel Marshall S. Carter, December 6, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 6, 1946

Subject: China

To Colonel Marshall S. Carter

December 6, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1850. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret, Eyes Only

Reference your WAR-86819.1 Please give following to McCloy.2 “I have already read Time’s comment on China situation favorable to KMT and advocating termination of my mission;3 also Scripps article in local press in effect along same line but addressed to John Carter Vincent’s speech.4

The most serious complication in the problem and the one tacitly ignored by Luce is the fact that controlling reactionary group in KMT and Government and KMT military clique have upset by indirect action or aggressive military operations whatever success I have had with the Generalissimo; and these people have cooly calculated on inevitable support of their party government by United States. Their actions have been cleverly provocative, arousing the Communists to inexcusable retaliations on their part both in action and in propaganda. They also feel that now is the time for destruction of Communists in belief that Soviets cannot give open assistance for about five years. This leads to a situation where the present refusals of Communists to accept various proposals because of complete lack of trust in good faith of Government even though proposals were largely generated by Stuart and myself, of which the Communists cannot be convinced, play directly into the hands of the governing reactionary clique. The violent Communist propaganda attacks on United States policy and me, personally, I think are welcomed by the reactionary clique as evidence in support of their position that the United States is backing the KMT against the Communists.

My problem has been while endeavoring to develop an accord to bring the heaviest possible pressure on the Government to be genuinely sincere in its stand for peaceful negotiations, and to lend the least possible encouragement to the controlling clique that the United States will fill the financial vacuum now rapidly being created by the military campaign on which this clique is intent. From 80 to 90 per cent of the budget is now going for the maintenance of the Army and capital assets, such as enemy property, are being converted into cash for the conduct of the war.

On the Communist side, their actions have been dominated by an overwhelming suspicion of every proposal of the Government because of past experiences. This is a definite contrast to the situation last February before the Kuomintang clique initiated a deliberate campaign to incite retaliatory action by the Communists, along with the tremendous embarassment to the Central Government created by negative action of the Soviets in Manchuria and the present Communist propaganda campaign has been successful in stirring up an active and unreasoning anti-American feeling in many localities. Their publicity campaign is without any regard to the facts but has a well defined purpose. On the other hand, the Government publicity has the same disregard for the facts but lacks clever direction. The great misrepresentations relate to the Marines and the surplus property transaction. The latter was propagandized as being for the purpose of giving immediate assistance to the KMT armies last August. The items are of a non-military nature, but the principal misrepresentation relates to the fact that only the first small loads of this property have reached Shanghai in December and that largely consisted of medical supplies, blankets, K rations and dock yard machinery. The contracts for the evacuation of the property from Guam, Saipan and Okinawa have not even yet been completed and the property itself, particularly motor transport, has to be completely reconditioned and vital parts supplied from the States. Therefore this had no relation whatsoever to the military campaign and was agreed upon in late August because of the necessity of terminating this business in the Pacific and because I felt the people of China should not be denied this form of economic help in their poverty stricken condition. There was no pressure on the part of the Government to effect a settlement which I had been endeavoring to secure since the previous January. But the Communist attacks on this have really been welcomed by the reactionary clique as evidence of United States support of the Government, meaning to them the KMT.

The other misrepresentation refers to the Marines. I kept them on the railroad because the economic life of the Yellow River and the Yangtze Valley and Tientsin and Peiping depended on the coal from Tongshan. If that coal were cut off the railroads in Central China would cease to operate, the utilities and factories in Shanghai, Nanking, Hankow, Tientsin and Peiping would be crippled. The Communists would not agree to any Government troops to relieve the Marines, which I endeavored to arrange in April and finally succeeded in managing by diverting the National Army from Formosa intended for an active campaign against the Communists to the relief of the Marines on the railroad in September. This force, however, has been unable to keep the railroad continuously open and a shortage in coal is now developing.

In all these matters, a frank statement of the facts as I see them would have terminated my usefulness in mediation because one side or the other would have been badly damaged in the public eye. They both were so frequently in the wrong that there was never a clear case for either side, except possibly in last February when I felt the Communists had played the game with cleaner hands than the Government. I have had to be very careful not to tear down the Government by public characterization of its deficiencies or machinations, which would be playing directly into the hands of the Communists, but I have characterized or condemned the Government’s actions with brutal frankness to the Generalissimo time after time and have won the decision on numerous occasions to be defeated either by Communist suspicion or the persuasions or actions of the Government military or political clique.

The problem is how to proceed in a continued effort to hold the door open for the Communist Party to participate in the Government and how to proceed without so encouraging a corrupt government that there is little chance for its improvement. The United States Government cannot afford to be dragged through the mud of such corruption and there is small chance of improving the political situation and methods without the activity of an organized minority party. It was this action of the Communist Party that I thought would be most helpful and which the Government most feared.

Luce has warm friendship for the Generalissimo and quite evidently is much impressed by the Generalissimo’s statements. I am fond of the Generalissimo but recognize unmistakably the state of mind and governmental procedures which are the opposite of our desires. So, in effect, I stand between the rock and the whirlpool.

At the present time I have been using all my influence to force the adoption of a constitution in keeping with the PCC resolutions. This was not at all the original purpose as the Assembly was convoked. They were going back to the one party constitution of 1935 and it required mercilessly plain speaking on my part to secure consideration of the present draft which the Generalissimo, personally, is now endeavoring to carry through against energetic opposition of the reactionary groups. The next few weeks should determine whether or not there is any possibility as a result of the action of the Assembly and possible action of the Government in organizing a State Council and commencing the reorganization of the Executive Yuan to bring the Communists into the Government and again initiate the demobilization and reorganization of the armies.

The statement of Time and Roy Howard5 articles will seriously weaken my hand because of encouragement to the controlling clique. However that cannot be avoided and I do not repeat not believe there is any use in endeavoring to change Luce’s point of view and such effort might easily back fire. Better utilize the New York Times, the Herald Tribune, Kansas City Star and some well chosen columnists and commentator.”

You, Carter, can show McCloy in strict confidence such sections of my message to the President as dealt with my recommendation for recall and also GOLD 1827.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. The editors have not found this December 3 message.

2. John J. McCloy, who had ended his five-year stint as assistant secretary of war about the time Marshall arrived in China, tended to favor Time, Inc., head Henry R. Luce’s views that the United States should back Chiang Kai-shek in unifying China and should give him a chance to reform his government after peace had been achieved. (Robert Edwin Herzstein, “Henry Luce, George Marshall, and China: The Parting of the Ways in 1946,” in Bland, ed., George C. Marshall’s Mediation Mission to China, p. 122 [emphasis added].)

3. Under the heading “End & Beginning,” Time magazine commented that, with the convocation of the National Assembly, “China entered a new phase in her long search for democratic unity. By calling the Assembly in the face of a Communist boycott, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek underscored his recent military victories over the Reds. He could proceed—unilaterally, if necessary—to establish the forms if not the substance of democracy, could tell the Communists and other dissenters to like it or lump it.” President Truman’s directive to seek and Marshall’s attempts to get a compromise conclusion of the civil war “had been outdated by events. Chiang’s successes in the field had invalidated it. The Assembly meeting made hope for mediation dim as starlight.” Nevertheless, “no shadow of blame could be cast on George Marshall.” But “now that there was no longer room for the delicate—and probably impossible—task of mediating between a sovereign government and armed rebels, U.S.-Chinese relations could return to normal diplomatic channels”—i.e., Ambassador John Leighton Stuart, “a good, old friend” of the Chinese people. (Time 48 [November 25, 1946]: 34.)

4. Addressing a luncheon of the forty-third annual Foreign Trade Convention on November 12, Vincent had issued what the New York Times termed a “sharp warning” against public or private investments in countries where the government was corrupt, there were excessive armaments expenditures, and there was the threat or fact of a civil war. (New York Times, November 13, 1946, p. 39.)

5. Roy W. Howard was editor and president of the New York World-Telegram and president of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain.

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. 754-757.

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