5-585 To Harry S. Truman, November 4, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 4, 1946

Subject: China

To Harry S. Truman

November 4, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1716. [Nanking, China]

Top Secret

Dear Mister President:

Since my radio of October 26 (GOLD 1695) there have been numerous interviews or negotiations with Third Party Group taking leading part and Doctor Stuart and I refraining from participating in negotiations. However we have been frequently consulted by Third Party and Government and infrequently by Communists.

Government officials’ rigidity or uncompromising stand following Generalissimo’s return from Formosa and the capture of Antung caused Third Party Group to consult me regarding their abandonment of effort and return to Shanghai. I told them that they could not give up so easily especially since I had experienced a number of almost exactly similar impasses, that they must continue and redouble their efforts.

On the Generalissimo’s return I had told him, in outlining the situation, that the Communists had not reduced their demands or objections; that they doubted the sincerity of every proposal by the Government; and that the active operations at Antung in Manchuria and at Chefoo in Shantung were proof to them of the Government’s determination to follow out a policy of force. I urged that he receive the Third Party people with special consideration and that he see them the morning after his return, which he did. He later sent for Doctor Stuart and stated that he was willing to concede that the matter of local government for all of China (including Manchuria) would be left to the State Council, whereas previously he had excluded Manchuria, and that the Government would not dispossess the local governments in the cities and hsien [counties] along the Changchun trunk railroad in Manchuria except those already in Government control prior to the organization of the State Council.

The Third Party presented a proposed compromise solution to the Generalissimo which he refused, stating that the eight points of his statement of October 17 must be the basis of discussion. The Communists also objected to this compromise proposal. The Third Party then recommended that there be an informal discussion by Government, Communists and Third Party together. The Generalissimo agreed but insisted that his eight points constitute the agenda. Chou agreed but I do not yet know his reaction on agenda. The meeting was scheduled for this afternoon. The Third Party consulted me yesterday regarding agenda and course to follow.

There have been several developments that affect the negotiations (A) We now learn indirectly that Chou En-lai would not agree to return to Nanking until the Third Party Group bound themselves to stand with the Communists against nominating delegates to the National Assembly until the Government had reorganized in strict accordance with the PCC agreements. This is now proving very embarrassing to the Third Party Group. (B) The main issue at present boils down to this: The Government will not agree to a cessation of hostilities until the Communists submit their list of delegates to the Assembly and on the other hand the Communists will submit their list only to a reorganized government—meaning now in particular the reorganization of the Executive Yuan by appointing seven or eight ministers from the Communists and the Third Party, five of whom may be without portfolio. This the Government had indicated it would not do before the meeting of the Assembly. (C) The Third Party Group have been urging Doctor Stuart and me to take the lead again in the negotiations but we have declined to do so because it is very important that if possible a Chinese neutral group act in mediation at least on political questions and also because the urging seemed to have behind it a suspicion of the pass the buck complex.1

There are rumors regarding a delay in meeting of the National Assembly scheduled for November 12th but I know nothing of this reliably. I do know that they have had in mind the possibility of formally meeting and then adjourning for a period to permit the delegates appointed at the last moment to assemble. Mister Mo Teh-hui of Manchuria a non party man of fine reputation and highly regarded by both sides is taking a prominent part in the negotiations; also Mister Hu Lin the leading liberal editor in China, who brings to the negotiations a most practical and selfless influence.2

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. Marshall followed this message with a Top Secret Eyes Only message for Colonel Marshall S. Carter to deliver verbally when he presented GOLD 1716 to the president: “(D) T V Soong has submitted his resignation as head of the Executive Yuan and Chang Chun is supposed to be his successor. Involved in Soong’s resignation, I am told by a person who should be well informed, has been a demand by Doctor Sun Foo [Fo] for a $500,000 advance from the Government to his son for a business venture which Soong refused. Doctor Sun Foo who has been taking a prominent public position in the negotiations left for Shanghai last night on the eve of the combined meeting for the informal discussion.” (Marshall to Carter, Radio No. GOLD 1717, November 4, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages].) Sun Fo was Sun Yat-sen’s son; he had held numerous government positions since 1921 and had been president of the Legislative Yuan since 1932.

2. In a memorandum for U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff General Thomas T. Handy, who was planning a trip to the Far East, Colonel Carter wrote: “The President asked that you convey to General Marshall the following remarks from him, which are quoted as nearly verbatim as I can remember them: `The President stated that he was continually and deeply grateful for General Marshall’s patience and perseverance in China. He wanted General Marshall to be told, as he has so often told him before, that the President has the most complete and unwavering confidence in General Marshall’s activities. He wanted General Marshall to know that he relied entirely and only on General Marshall’s judgment in the China problem and that he would continue to do so, “At least as long as I am President”.’” (Carter Memorandum for General Handy, November 7, 1946, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [China Mission, Carter Files].) Handy arrived in Nanking on November 21 and departed the next day.

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. 731-733.

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