5-556 To Harry S. Truman, September 22, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 22, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

September 22, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1549. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mister President:

Since my GOLD 1491 of September 13 I returned to Kuling and conferred with Generalissimo, voicing Chou En-lai’s resentment over the new condition that cessation of hostilities would also be dependent on publication of Communist delegates to National Assembly scheduled for November 12th and Chou’s demanding that meeting of Committee of Three, of which I am chairman, should precede meeting of group headed by Doctor Stuart [i.e., the Five-Man Committee] to settle terms for organization of State Council. Meanwhile Chou En-lai was holding discussion with Doctor Stuart in latter’s effort to precipitate meeting of his group for organization of State Council.

Last Monday Chou submitted three memoranda to me: one protesting against surplus property deal, which I radioed at his request to SecState; one relating the course of the “fruitless negotiation” of the past three months and requesting me to transmit this statement to the National Government, and finally, calling on me to convene the Committee of Three immediately; and the third memorandum merely stating that he was leaving that day for Shanghai and would return immediately on notice from me of a meeting of the Committee of Three.

A radio summary of these lengthy memoranda was sent to me at Kuling and I presented the situation to the Generalissimo. He stated that he would not authorize the attendance of the Government representative of the Committee of Three until Doctor Stuart’s group had convened and shown some evidence of reaching an agreement for organization of the State Council. He agreed to certain compromise proposals I made regarding the organization of the State Council which I could introduce if the Government members failed to carry their initial proposal as to membership.

I returned to Nanking and conveyed the information to Doctor Stuart who was meeting daily with Chou En-lai’s representative, Wang Ping-nan, Chou still being in Shanghai. Wang informed Stuart that Chou desired a formal written reply from me, which I then made, stating the impossibility of holding a meeting of the Committee of Three until the Generalissimo’s representative was authorized to attend. I sent the statement by courier to Shanghai.1 Wang Ping-nan brought me a lengthy reply from Chou this morning, Sunday, which was a further argument for an immediate meeting of the Committee of Three insisting that the Government would not boycott the meeting if I called it, and concluding with the statement that if the meeting was not called Chou would publish the minutes of our conversations.2 I informed Wang Ping-nan that I would consider the letter and make a formal reply, that the Generalissimo was now traveling on an inspection trip and would not reach Nanking for two or three days and therefore I could not discuss with him his refusal to authorize the attendance of his representative until he returned. I further made emphatically clear that it was Doctor Stuart and I who were pressing for the State Council group to meet, not the Government, in the hope that an agreement there would create sufficient trust in the good intentions of both parties to enable us to compromise the military issues. I also stated that the present practice of the Communist Party to attack publicly in official propaganda the integrity of my actions and at the same time privately to appeal to me to continue in my efforts to mediate must cease immediately for I would no longer tolerate such a procedure of duplicity, that if they had lost faith in the integrity and honesty of my actions they had only to inform me and I would withdraw immediately as a mediator. I had tactfully implied this before but made it emphatically clear today. Frankly, I think they would be very loath to have me withdraw unless the time in their opinion had arrived to go into a state of complete civil war and to seek such Soviet assistance as they could obtain. Incidentally Wang Ping-nan informed Doctor Stuart that the Soviet Ambassador had called on him and, indicating the American failure, had offered to undertake the role of mediation. Just to what extent this was an accurate statement must be a matter of opinion but it is evident that it might well be considered by the Communists as a means to influence more powerful American pressure on the Nationalist Government. Therefore I take the statement with a grain of salt.

I will make no reply to Chou En-lai until the Generalissimo returns, unless Chou himself returns to Nanking and calls on me personally. And I will ignore his implied threat regarding the publication of the minutes of our meetings. They are far too lengthy to be carried in the press and extracts which would be considered favorable to the Communist contentions would be open to certain questions as to remainder of minutes.

The situation now involves maneuvers of such complicated possibilities or motives on both sides that it is impossible to make a logical estimate. The Democratic League which has been allied with the Communists and whose proposed representatives plus Communists in the State Council might constitute a veto power, has been opposing the meeting of the Stuart group and its leader has been attacking me. But two of its leading intellectuals or liberals have just resigned, one forming another group, which indicates a serious break for the Communists and a possible gain politically for the Government. Chou is in Shanghai presumably in frequent conferences with the head of the Democratic League, who is an astute but somewhat discredited and self-seeking politician, so I am told.3 Confused and maddening as are the developments I have not lost hope at all, for maybe yet we can pull this chestnut out of the cross fire which rages around us.4

Doctor Stuart is sending by pouch lengthy written statements of the various meetings and points of view.

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 Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 208-9.

2. Ibid., pp. 212-14.

3. For background on Lo Lung-chi and his outspoken and abrasive personality, see Fredric J. Spar, “Human Rights and Political Engagement: Luo Longji in the 1930s,” in Roger B. Jeans, ed., Roads Not Taken: The Struggle of Opposition Parties in Twentieth-Century China (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 61-81. John Robinson Beal considered Lo “a disagreeable fellow” and was “repelled” by him. (Marshall in China [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1970], p. 77.) Second Secretary of Embassy John F. Melby, however, was somewhat more impressed with Lo and his realistic grasp of the political situation in China. (The Mandate of Heaven: Record of a Civil War; China, 1945-49 [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968], pp. 201-2.)

4. President Truman replied on September 26 that he had “the utmost confidence” in Marshall. “I know you can `pull the chestnut out of the cross fire.’ If it can be done at all.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 225.)

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. 688-690.

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