5-539 To Harry S. Truman, August 23, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 23, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

August 23, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1367. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mister President:

Since my GOLD 1334 of 17 August sent from Kuling, I have had several lengthy interviews with the Generalissimo and also with Doctor Soong and other advisors, all at Kuling. Since my return to Nanking, Tuesday, Doctor Stuart and I have been engaged in efforts to initiate a meeting of a small Kuomintang-Communist group under Stuart’s chairmanship to reach an immediate settlement of the conditions for the early creation of the State Council with complete party representation. I have had further conferences with Doctor Soong and other Government representatives and just completed a few minutes ago a lengthy conference with General Chou En-lai. I am leaving within the hour for Kuling to persuade the Generalissimo immediately to appoint his representatives for the small group under Stuart’s chairmanship to settle the details for the creation of the State Council.

The Generalissimo’s present attitude is that he is willing to make a try at reaching an agreement with the Communists for the organization of the State Council through the means suggested by Doctor Stuart and me, but he is unwilling to agree to a termination of the fighting until that agreement is reached and presumably until his military conditions for the cessation of fighting have also been agreed to. He feels that even this concession is a great one and involves a military risk on the part of the Government. I disagree completely with this view of the matter as to risk. To my mind the great risk is involved in the continuation of the fighting. The Generalissimo feels that the Communists are responsible for the fighting and cannot be trusted to go through with an agreement for its cessation. I am not in agreement with this view, at least I feel that the effort is a mandatory requirement.

Doctor Stuart has held lengthy conferences with Chou En-lai in the past two days and the latter has agreed to enter into the meeting of the small group to settle the conditions for the activation of the State Council. It is with that understanding that I am proceeding to Kuling this afternoon to see the Generalissimo.

The military situation naturally grows more serious day by day and there is now an immediate threat of an outbreak of the fighting in Jehol, northeast of Peiping. The Communists’ mobilization manifesto, General Chou assures me, was a defensive measure against what they considered was the definite purpose of the Government to settle the issues by military force.

The fact of the matter is that each side takes the same stand with me, that the other is provoking the fighting and cannot be trusted to go through with an agreement. The present effort of Doctor Stuart and myself regarding the State Council is but another move, but on a higher level, to break the stalemate. I was shown a copy of the Generalissimo’s reply to your message1 and I can only repeat the language of my last message that “It can mean much or little depending on whether or not a renewed negotiation this coming week” can be productive of a basis for the cessation of hostilities.

The introduction of Doctor Soong into the negotiations has not yet had any important result as he only had his first meeting with Chou yesterday and has been forced to leave for Shanghai this morning to meet Mister McCabe and others of our FLC [Foreign Liquidation Commission], also he has a high fever.

The investigation of the Anping Marine-Communist incident is progressing slowly but actually is progressing. I doubt exceedingly whether an agreement can be reached as to either the facts, or the responsibility, but at least we will have the testimony of the various actors and the opportunity of the press to hear that testimony.

Admiral Cooke conferred with me at length yesterday regarding this situation and such plans as we should make against various eventualities.

Doctor Stuart and I and some of the Embassy staff are working on a possible restatement of American policy which I will submit to the State Department as soon as completed.

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. On the president’s message, see Marshall to Acheson, August 10, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-528 [5: 651-52]. In his reply (delivered to the State Department August 28), Chiang Kai-shek praised Marshall’s efforts but stated: “The desire for peace has to be mutual, and for the Communists, it must mean that they give up their policy to use armed force to seize political power, to overthrow the Government and to install a totalitarian regime such as those which are now spreading over Eastern Europe.” He briefly described some Communist provocations and admitted that some government subordinates had made some “mistakes . . . , but they are minor in scale compared to the flagrant violations on the part of the Communists.” He promised to do his utmost to cooperate with Marshall and to make peace. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 91-92.)

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. 665-667.

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