Statement by General Marshall, January 7, 1947
In this intricate and confused situation, I shall merely endeavor here to touch on
some of the more important considerations-as they appeared to me -during my connection
with the negotiations to bring about peace in China and a stable democratic form of
In the first place, the greatest obstacle to peace has been the complete, almost
overwhelming suspicion with which the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang regard
On the one hand, the leaders of the Government are strongly opposed to a communistic
form of government. On the other, the Communists frankly state that they are Marxists and
intend to work toward establishing a communistic form of government in China, though first
advancing through the medium of a democratic form of government of the American or British
type. . . .
I think the most important factors involved in the recent break-down of negotiations
are these: On the side of the National Government, which is in effect the Kuomintang,
there is a dominant group of reactionaries who have been opposed, in my opinion, to almost
every effort I have made to influence the formation of a genuine coalition government. . .
. This group includes military as well as political leaders.
On the side of the Chinese Communist Party there are, I believe, liberals as well as
radicals, though this view is vigorously opposed by many who believe that the Chinese
Communist Party discipline is too rigidly enforced to admit of such differences of
viewpoint. Nevertheless, it has appeared to me that there is a definite liberal group
among the Communists, especially of young men who have turned to the Communists in disgust
at the corruption evident in the local governments-men who would put the interest of the
Chinese people above ruthless measures to establish a Communist ideology in the immediate
future. The dyed-in-the-wool Communists do not hesitate at the most drastic measures to
gain their end . . . They completely distrust the leaders of the Kuomintang and appear
convinced that every Government proposal is designed to crush the Chinese Communist Party.
I must say that the quite evidently inspired mob actions of last February and March, some
within a few blocks of where I was then engaged in completing negotiations, gave the
Communists good excuse for such suspicions. . . .
Sincere efforts to achieve settlement have been frustrated time and again by extremist
elements of both sides. The agreements reached by the Political Consultative Conference a
year ago were a liberal and forward-looking charter which then offered China a basis for
peace and reconstruction. However, irreconcilable groups within the Kuomintang, interested
in the preservation of their own feudal control of China, evidently had no real intention
of implementing them. . . .
Between this dominant reactionary group in the Government and the irreconcilable
Communists who, I must state, did not so appear last February, lies the problem of how
peace and well-being are to be brought to the long-suffering and presently inarticulate
mass of the people of China. The reactionaries in the Government have evidently counted on
substantial American support regardless of their actions. The Communists by their
unwillingness to compromise in the national interest arc evidently counting on an economic
collapse to bring about the fall of the Government, accelerated by extensive guerrilla
action against the long lines of rail communications-regardless of the cost in suffering
to the Chinese people.
The salvation of the situation, as I see it, would be the assumption of leadership by
the liberals in the Government and in the minority parties, a splendid group of men, but
who as yet lack the political power to exercise a controlling influence. Successful action
on their part under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek would, I believe, lead
to unity through good government. . . .
I have spoken very. frankly because in no other way can I hope to bring the people of
the United States to even a partial understanding of this complex problem. I have
expressed all these views privately in the course of negotiations; they are well known, I
think, to most of the individuals concerned. I express them now publicly, as it is my
duty, to present my estimate of the situation and its possibilities to the American people
who have a deep interest in the development of conditions in the Far East promising an
enduring peace In the Pacific.