5-462 To Harry S. Truman, June 5, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 5, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

June 5, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 828. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mr. President:

Since my message of May 26 GOLD 776, following has transpired, on May 28 Generalissimo sent me from Mukden a letter received the thirtieth largely repeating terms dictated in previous letter of May 24 but agreeing to my qualifications regarding power of decision of Americans, also stating that as to the method of recovering sovereignty in Manchuria Government could not abandon the taking over administration of any area but might agree to send forward, after military advances had ceased, only administrative officials and such military and police force as would be absolutely necessary for the maintenance of local order and communications. Also he explained use of word guarantee in reference to me as meaning that in regard to all agreements in which I have participated in signing that I would set time limits for the putting into effect of such agreements and would assume the responsibility of supervision over the strict observance of such agreements on the part of the Communists. Incidentally, in what follows I have made no reference to this matter of guarantee in my negotiations with Generalissimo.

Not having received the foregoing letter on the twenty-ninth I had Doctor T. V. Soong transmit the following message from me to the Generalissimo in Mukden. “The continued advances of the Government troops in Manchuria in the absence of any action by you to terminate the fighting other than the terms you dictated via Madame Chiang’s letter of May 24, are making my services as a possible mediator extremely difficult and may soon make them virtually impossible.”

No reply to the foregoing message having been received on May 31 I had the following message dispatched to Generalissimo in Peking where he had just arrived. “Your Excellency: Mr. Robertson has just advised me at your request that you would remain in Peiping two or three days. I have not received a reply to my message to you of May 29th. I must therefore repeat that under the circumstances of the continued advance of the Government troops in Manchuria my services in mediation are becoming not only increasingly difficult, but a point is being reached where the integrity of my position is open to serious question. I therefore request you again to issue immediately an order terminating advances, attacks or pursuits by Government troops, and also that you authorize the immediate departure of an advance section of Executive Headquarters to Changchun.”

This message was sent direct by me to our American Commissioner of Executive Headquarters in Peking Walter Robertson and also through Doctor T. V. Soong. Incidentally it developed that my previous message of May 29th had missed the Generalissimo in Mukden and was therefore long delayed in delivery.

Robertson on June 1st sent me the following from Generalissimo. “I have just received your telegram sent through Mister Robertson. I surmise that you have received my message of 28 May sent through Doctor Soong. You may rest assured that in all my decisions I have kept in mind the difficulty of your position and am doing everything in my power to facilitate and assure the success of your work. I shall be returning Nanking tomorrow or Monday when I shall tell you in person the Manchurian situation as I saw it. I am ready to agree to your proposal to send an advance party of the Executive Headquarters to Changchun for preliminary work in the event of my not being able immediately to issue orders to Government troops to terminate advances and so forth.”

During the foregoing period I had continued lengthy conferences with Chou En-lai Communist representative including one from 10 AM until 4 PM. Also lengthy meetings with Doctor Soong, representatives of Democratic League, Young China Party, a representative committee from 500 delegates to National Assembly and many others.

Generalissimo returned day before yesterday evening and I had a three hour conference with him yesterday morning. The following developed:

A. A misunderstanding on his part caused by a mistranslation had blocked the immediate establishment of an advanced section of Executive Headquarters in Changchun. I immediately directed its establishment.

B. The Generalissimo agreed to issue an order to his armies in Manchuria to cease advances, attacks or pursuits (in other words, aggressive action) for a period of ten days to afford the Communist an opportunity to prove their sincerity by completing negotiations with the Government during that period on the following points.

1. Detailed arrangements to govern a complete termination of hostilities in Manchuria,

2. Definite detailed arrangments, with time limits, for the complete resumption of communications in North China,

3. A basis for carrying out without further delay the agreement of February 25 for reorganization of armies.

He first stipulated one week in which to complete these negotiations, but I insisted that would be impossible. He finally agreed to a period of ten days. He stated to me, most confidentially, that this would be his final effort at doing business with the Communists, that the present indeterminate situation with communications blocked, coal barely obtainable in sufficient quantities, cities starving could not be endured economically or otherwise, that all out war would be preferable.

I saw Chou En-lai yesterday afternoon, first having sent him a memorandum of the Generalissimo’s terms. Chou immediately asked for an extension of the 10 days to one month but finally reduced his request to 15 days which in my opinion is not unreasonable as there are many complicated plans to be agreed to and he must fly to Yenan at least once and to Manchuria for conferences. Doctor Soong called later and discussed details regarding communications in which he is vitally interested. I already had an American Army engineer, who heads the communications reestablishment activity of Executive Headquarters1 in conference yesterday with the Minister of Communications.

I will see Generalissimo early this afternoon regarding extension of time to 15 days.

The following factors have been involved most in the foregoing: The prolonged absence of Generalissimo created a serious doubt in the minds of Communist leaders regarding impartiality of my attitude, accentuated by a lively propaganda against U. S. support of Government armies, etc. The Generalissimo’s insistence at the same time that American officers should be given the deciding vote in all cases of Communist-Government representative disagreements, added to these suspicions and the delicacy of my position. I can ride through these difficulties I think.

For your information, but I hope not repeat not for press release, our naval vessels or other American flag shipping are no longer engaged in transporting either Chinese Government troops or military supplies, this work now being carried out by Liberty ships with Chinese crews under special flag until sale negotiations are completed and by Chinese-manned LSTs in process of turnover to Chinese Navy. We may give some help to the transport of a Chinese division to Japan.2 I want no press release on this because I do not wish to tie my hands or to appear to be pushed into a defensive attitude of explanation. Furthermore, the Communist leaders know the facts and are surprised and somewhat apologetic.

Question regarding American powers of final decision has been left to direct negotiation between Government and Communists without reference to me.

Finally, as matters now stand solution awaits Generalissimo’s agreement or refusal to extend time to 15 days and Chou En-lai’s obtaining commitments or instructions from Yenan. I will advise you tonight or tomorrow of progress.

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. Colonel Donald C. Hill (U.S.M.A., 1924) was chairman of the Communications Group at Executive Headquarters.

2. See Marshall to Gillem, March 16, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-397 [5: 507-8].

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. 576-579.

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