5-520 To Harry S. Truman, August 2, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 2, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

August 2, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1229. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mister President:

Reference the Communist attack of 29 July on a Marine detachment or convoy near Peiping,1 the Navy Department has received the Marine report of the incident. Meanwhile at the personal request of Chou En-lai, as well as the Generalissimo, a fact finding team of selected individuals from Executive Headquarters has been sent out to make a report and to determine responsibility. I delayed such action until the Marine investigation had been completed, and the Communists made a personal request for such action because of the almost inevitable charge that the Government representative in the investigating team would automatically side with the American member. I stated this reason to Chou En-lai.

Doctor Stuart in Kuling has so far recovered his health as to have had a long conference with the Generalissimo in which he secured a tentative agreement to the appointment of a group of Government and Communist representatives to sit with Doctor Stuart as chairman, to determine an immediate method for initiating a reorganization of the Government. This committee will point toward establishing an effective State Council concurrently with a cessation of hostilities.2 The Generalissimo utilized the Communist-Marine Corps incident as a reason for delaying decision but has agreed to discuss the entire matter with me and Doctor Stuart in Kuling where I go tomorrow afternoon. I had a long talk along this same line with T. V. Soong this morning and he is also leaving for Kuling tomorrow.3 He is strongly opposed to the actions, terroristic in my opinion, of Chen Li-fu, the political leader of the Kuomintang and the virtual successor of Tai Li, former head of all secret police or plain-clothesmen operations in China. Soong is urging immediate steps to establish a more democratic form of government, but where he may or may not differ from Stuart and I, is regarding the urgent necessity in our opinion for creating the State Council of 40 members, which in effect would give a form of genuine legislative action for control or guidance of the existing government. I think I have convinced Soong of the necessity for such action.

I had a lengthy session with Chou En-lai yesterday, Thursday, and another scheduled for tomorrow Saturday morning. I leave for Kuling at one o’clock.

Admiral Cooke, Seventh Fleet, and I have been in personal conference over Marine Corps-Communist incident. He is at Kuling so will see him again tomorrow. Meanwhile, I should receive information from Executive Headquarters which should guide us as to appropriate action in the case.

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. See note 2, Marshall to Truman, July 30, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-513 [5: 639].

2. In January 1946, the Political Consultative Conference had adopted resolutions expanding the State Council to forty members and designating it “the supreme organ of the Government in charge of national affairs” pending the convocation of the National Assembly. Members included the heads of the government’s five branches and were to be appointed by President Chiang Kai-shek. (Chinese Ministry of Information, China Handbook, 1937-1945, 1946 Supplement [New York: Macmillan Company, 1947], p. 744.)

On August 1, Stuart proposed that an informal special committee of five members (hence subsequently referred to as the Five-Man Committee)—consisting of two Nationalist and two Communist representatives with Stuart as chairman—be established to organize the State Council. For a summary of the efforts to convene the committee, see China White Paper, pp. 174-88.

3. Regarding her husband’s Kuling visit, Mrs. Marshall wrote: “I think if negotiations this week end do not bare fruit- The jig is up- Gen M is making his death struggle.” She expected to return to the United States in September. (K. T. Marshall to Sally G. Chamberlin, August 2, 1946, GCMRL/K. T. Marshall Papers [Correspondence, 1941-49].)

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. 644-645.

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