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Liveblogging the Cold War: August 2, 1946: George Marshall to Harry S. Truman

George Marshall: To Harry S. Truman, August 2, 1946:

Top Secret

Dear Mister President:

Reference the Communist attack of 29 July on a Marine detachment or convoy near Peiping, the Navy Department has received the Marine report of the incident. Meanwhile at the personal request of Chou En-lai, as well as the Generalissimo, a fact finding team of selected individuals from Executive Headquarters has been sent out to make a report and to determine responsibility.

I delayed such action until the Marine investigation had been completed, and the Communists made a personal request for such action because of the almost inevitable charge that the Government representative in the investigating team would automatically side with the American member. I stated this reason to Chou En-lai.

Doctor Stuart in Kuling has so far recovered his health as to have had a long conference with the Generalissimo in which he secured a tentative agreement to the appointment of a group of Government and Communist representatives to sit with Doctor Stuart as chairman, to determine an immediate method for initiating a reorganization of the Government. This committee will point toward establishing an effective State Council concurrently with a cessation of hostilities. The Generalissimo utilized the Communist-Marine Corps incident as a reason for delaying decision but has agreed to discuss the entire matter with me and Doctor Stuart in Kuling where I go tomorrow afternoon.

I had a long talk along this same line with T. V. Soong this morning and he is also leaving for Kuling tomorrow. He is strongly opposed to the actions, terroristic in my opinion, of Chen Li-fu, the political leader of the Kuomintang and the virtual successor of Tai Li, former head of all secret police or plain-clothesmen operations in China. Soong is urging immediate steps to establish a more democratic form of government, but where he may or may not differ from Stuart and I, is regarding the urgent necessity in our opinion for creating the State Council of 40 members, which in effect would give a form of genuine legislative action for control or guidance of the existing government. I think I have convinced Soong of the necessity for such action.

I had a lengthy session with Chou En-lai yesterday, Thursday, and another scheduled for tomorrow Saturday morning. I leave for Kuling at one o’clock.

Admiral Cooke, Seventh Fleet, and I have been in personal conference over Marine Corps-Communist incident. He is at Kuling so will see him again tomorrow. Meanwhile, I should receive information from Executive Headquarters which should guide us as to appropriate action in the case.