5-579 To Harry S. Truman, October 17, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 17, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

October 17, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1663. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mr. President:

Since my message of October 10, GOLD 1627,1 Dr. Stuart has had frequent interviews with Government officials, the leading member of the Democratic League and the leading members of the Young China Party, as well as with non-party men of prominence. A lengthy message from Shanghai dated October 9 was received by me from General Chou which was transmitted to the Government.2 It is repeated to you in GOLD 1662. The Generalissimo made a broadcast on the tenth reiterating his stand and reasons therefor.3

As a result of the interviews with Dr. Stuart, a group representative of the leadership in the Democratic League and the Young China Party proceeded to Shanghai with the purpose of inducing General Chou to return to Nanking. Unfortunately at the same time without notice to us the Government issued an official confirmation of the date for the National Assembly, November 12. This aroused strong feeling in all minority parties and made it impossible to persuade General Chou to return to Nanking. The Generalissimo in explanation to Dr. Stuart and me stated that the formal confirmation of the November 12 date was merely a routine procedure, a matter to which he felt no proper objection could be taken. The regulations of the Kuomintang required a formal notification and confirmation one month before the date of meeting. The minority parties on the other hand claimed that this is a matter of great importance to them and an evidence of unilateral and dictatorial action on the part of the Government. Dr. Stuart and I thought the proclamation at that time was tactless, an unnecessary irritation, but it did not appeal to us as a matter of great moment. However leaders of the Democratic League insisted that it was of great moment and we would make a serious tactical error in not repeat not considering it as such. Their reasoning stems from an oral discussion and claimed agreement on April 24 between representatives of all the parties and the Generalissimo at the time of the decision to postpone the meeting of assembly scheduled for April [May] 5.

Since October 10, Doctor Stuart and I have had frequent interviews with the Generalissimo, which finally resulted last night in the issuance by him of a public statement based on my original proposed statement (see GOLD 1588) with modification by him in the introduction, with additions by me to the conditions or understandings, which in turn the Government modified in part (see GOLD 1661).4 The most serious modification related to the exclusion of Manchuria from the regions in which the Government agreed to settle the question of local government in the State Council. However the Government conceded that the location of troops, Communist and Government alike, would be settled by the Committee of Three and, probably most important of all that the Constitutional Draft Committee would be immediately convened and its draft would be the basis for discussions by the National Assembly.

This morning the Generalissimo sent me a formal letter transmitting the body of his public statement and requesting Dr. Stuart and me to transmit it to the Communists.

Just what the Communist reply will be is difficult to predict. During the last call on Chou En-lai in Shanghai by representatives of the other minority parties, he listened in silence to their persuasions, making no reply whatever. There is the possibility that the Communists will decline to accept my services in the Committee of Three. Dr. Stuart, however, does not share this fear. While I felt that Dr. Stuart’s position in China was beyond attack as to the integrity of his actions, yesterday an attack was made on him as being subservient to a U. S. governmental policy which was hostile to the Communists. We must await and see the developments of the next few days before attempting to estimate the situation.

Incidentally, we should have in mind that the Communists are, I think, sincerely convinced that the surplus property transaction has had and is having an important influence on the continuation of military operations. As a matter of fact it will be several months before the non-military products of this negotiation are received and ready for distribution in China, and probably four or five months before the truck transportation, for example, will be received and sufficiently reconditioned to be available for use. Nevertheless the Communists’ belief, while exaggerated in propaganda, is fairly sincere. They are of course unaware of the restrictions that have been placed on the National Government in the shipment of ammunition, airplanes, and similar items. Their rank and file very naturally, particularly in view of their vigorous and skillful party propaganda, is embittered by the fact that they are confronted in the fighting with American munitions. The fact that this equipment of the armies of China is based on agreements as far back as 1943 does not enter into their reasoning. They themselves lack in equipment and ammunition and they are driven back by American equipment and ammunition. Their argument, in effect, is that the National Government should be disarmed, which would be the case if denied the use of the American munitions which are the basis of their army organization. I elaborated on this point of view not at all as an argument but merely to assist you in evaluating psychological reactions at the present time.

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 Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-575 [5: 714-17].

2. See Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 345-48.

3. See Ambassador Stuart’s report on this, ibid., pp. 359-60.

4. Versions of Marshall’s statement for the Generalissimo are all ibid.: pp. 312-13 (first draft, October 8); pp. 367-69 (second draft, October 14); pp. 373-75 (third draft, October 15); and as issued by the Generalissimo on October 16, pp. 377-78.

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. 721-723.

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