George Marshall on Guomindang-CCP relations (1947)


In January 1947 the US General George C. Marshall (later famous for the European post-war recovery plan that bore his name) gave the State Department a report on the situation in China. In this extract he explains the bitter relations between the Guomindang and CCP:


“In the first place, the greatest obstacle to peace has been the complete, almost overwhelming suspicion with which the Chinese Communist Party and the Guomindang regard each other. 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 Guomindang, 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 Guomindang 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.