Liveblogging Postwar: June 29, 1946: Eleanor Roosevelt
Procrastinating on June 30, 2016

Liveblogging Postwar: June 30, 1946: China

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George C. Marshall: To Harry S. Truman:

Top Secret

Dear Mr. President:

I saw Generalissimo for lengthy conference this morning in which exceedingly frank and lengthy statements were made by both of us, I principally reflecting on the plainly evident and tremendous pressure of military leaders (who also occupy powerful political positions) to pursue without delay a policy of force for which all plans have been made.[1] However drastically they reduce their application to Communist territorial holdings and territory occupied by Communist troops or eliminate local Communist governmental set ups of long standing, the Generalissimo laid great emphasis on the necessity of arrangements which would safeguard the Government against the uncertainties of agreements with the Communists or future hostile threats or actions by them to influence political negotiations.[2]

I had been endeavoring to have a small group of civil representatives of high position or reputation convened immediately to undertake the solution of the exceedingly complicated problem involved with regard to the local civil governments of the regions to be evacuated by the Communist troops and to which thousands of refugees would be immediately returning. With regard to the previous unwillingness to accept such a proposition I stated that the procedure contemplated by the Government officials would in effect be washing their hands of any idea of democratic procedures and deliberately following the dictates of Army officials as did Japan to her ruination.

The Generalissimo finally announced that he had already issued instructions continuing in effect his orders against aggressive offensive action by his troops. He accepted my proposal that he have a personal interview with Chou En-lai tomorrow and that he would discuss with his people the appointment of a special group of six, the three from the Government to include my suggestion of Doctor Wang, Minister of Foreign Affairs and General Chen Cheng, Chief of Staff. General Chou En-lai would head the Communist representatives. If he decided on this procedure he agreed to propose it himself to General Chou. The latter incidentally had formulated such a proposal the preceding day at my suggestion.

I just completed a meeting with Chou En-lai who is preparing for his meeting with the Generalissimo. The latter issued a statement to the press this afternoon of which I was shown a draft. I have not yet seen the statement actually issued so I do not know to what extent my rather extensive alterations were accepted.

  1. Information he had gleaned from the newspapers, Marshall had told the Generalissimo, ‘indicated plainly that the Government was washing its hands of any democratic procedure and was pursuing a dictatorial policy of military force. I further stated that the comparison would be inevitable of the army leaders’ procedure in this case with that of the army dictatorship in the case of Japan, which led to the destruction of that nation.’ (Foreign Relations, 1946, 9: 1263-64.)

  2. A few hours after this message was dispatched, Marshall sent another message (GOLD 1029) asking that this sentence be replaced with: ‘The Generalissimo laid great emphasis on the necessity for harsh measures or demands to safeguard the Government against the uncertainties of agreements with the Communists and also against future hostile threats or actions by them to influence political negotiations.’ (Ibid., p. 1272.)