5-531 To Harry S. Truman, August 16, 1946

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

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

August 16, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1320. [En route to Kuling, China]

Top Secret, Eyes Only

Dear Mister President:

The recent statement by Doctor Stuart and myself was to bring both sides, along with the public in China, to a realization of the crisis and impending chaos and to excite foreign and local pressure for termination of hostilities. Apparently it has had something of that effect though interpreted from Peiping by irresponsible or notoriety seeking correspondents as signaling the closing up of Executive Headquarters and my early withdrawal.

We have encountered great and anticipated difficulty with combined investigation of Marine-Communist clash at Anping. Delaying tactics, vicious propaganda, etc. have been the order of the day. Finally, on my calling Commissioner Robertson to Nanking and also notifying Chou that I would not tolerate further delays and misrepresentations, an agreement on procedure was reached yesterday Wednesday. Chou and I, with Mister Robertson and Communist Commissioner from Peiping conferred today (Thursday 15 August) for three hours. In fact the conference was still in session without lunch when I left at two o’clock.1

I am writing this in a plane en route to see Generalissimo at Kuling which I left a week ago. He has just received your message2 because of strike delays, and is pressing me to return.

I have characterized Communist tactics regarding Anping in emphatic terms and served notice on Chou that if delays are resumed I will withdraw the American representative and make a public statement. My delays in taking such justified action has been that it plays directly into the hands of the small group in the Kuomintang Party who are blocking me in my efforts to terminate fighting. Admiral Cooke of the Seventh Fleet earnestly desires me to take public action in defense of the Marines, demanding apology, et cetera, but I have felt that I would sacrifice too much in other direction by doing this, though I may be forced to such action within a few days. The tragedy is that it will virtually terminate Executive Headquarters and result in a general military conflagration.

Generalissimo’s last terms to the Communists, transmitted by Doctor Stuart on his return from Kuling last Tuesday, were more exacting than those of June 30th when the final stalemate was reached.  I made a very frank resumé of the situation to Generalissimo last Thursday on the afternoon of my return to Nanking, emphasizing the growing impression at home that all liberal opinion in China, particularly of intellectuals, was either discouraged or suppressed directly or by intimidation.3

As soon as I see the Generalissimo I will radio his reaction to your message.

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

Document Format:  Typed radio message.

1. See Foreign Relations, 1946, 10:  28–45.

2. See Marshall to Acheson, August 10, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-528 [5:  651–52].

3. For a summary of Marshall’s minutes, see Meeting with Chiang Kai-shek, August 8, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-523 [5:  646–47].

Recommended Citation:  The Papers 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. 654–655.

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