George C. Marshall with Mao
General Marshall with Chiang Kai-shek and Zhou Enlai in 1946.
The Marshall Mission (Chinese: 马歇尔使华; pinyin: Mǎxiē'ěr Shǐhuá; 20 December 1945 – January 1947) was a failed diplomatic mission undertaken by United States Army General George C. Marshall to China in an attempt to negotiate between the Communist Party of China and the Nationalists (Kuomintang) to create a unified Chinese government.
Committee of Three, from left, Nationalist representative Zhang Qun
, George C. Marshall and Communist representative Zhou Enlai
Throughout the length of the Second Sino-Japanese War an uneasy stalemate had existed between the Chinese Communists (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalists (KMT), while prior to the war, both parties had been in open conflict with each other. During this period numerous US military personnel and private writers visited and reported on the Communist Party of China. In 1936, international journalist Edgar Snow traveled and interviewed leading members of the Communist Party of China. Snow reported that Mao was a reformer rather than a radical revolutionary, and many readers got the impression that the Chinese communists were "agrarian reformers." In the 1944 Dixie Mission, US Colonel John Service visited the Communists and praised them, claimed that they were democratic reformers, likening them to European socialists rather than Soviet Communists and claimed that they were less corrupt and chaotic than the Nationalists.
US Ambassador to China Clarence Gauss recommended the United States "pull up the plug and let the whole Chinese Government go down the drain". General Patrick Hurley claimed that the Chinese Communists were not real communists. China Burma India Theater Commander Joseph Stilwell repeatedly claimed (in contradiction to Comintern statistics) that Communists were doing more than the KMT, and sought to cut off all US aid to China.
American attempts during the Second World War to end the intermittent Chinese Civil War between the two factions had failed, notably the Hurley Mission: in 1944 General Patrick Hurley approached both groups, and believed that their differences were comparable to the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.
Throughout the war, both the CCP and the KMT had accused the other of withholding men and arms against the Japanese in preparation for offensive actions against the other. Thus, in a desperate attempt to keep the country whole, President Harry S Truman in late 1945 sent General George Marshall as his special presidential envoy to China to negotiate a unity government.
Marshall arrives in China
Marshall arrived in China on 20 December 1945. His goal was to unify the Nationalists and Communists with the hope that a strong, non-Communist China, would act as a bulwark against the encroachment of the Soviet Union. Immediately, Marshall drew both sides into negotiations which would occur for more than a year. No significant agreements were reached, as both sides used the time to further prepare themselves for the ensuing conflict. In order to assist in brokering a ceasefire between the Nationalists and Communists, the sale of weapons and ammunition by the US to the Nationalists were suspended between 29 July 1946 to May 1947. Finally, in January 1947, exasperated with the failure of the negotiations, Marshall left China. Soon afterward, Marshall was appointed United States Secretary of State (foreign affairs secretary).
The failure of the Marshall Mission signaled the renewal of the Chinese Civil War.
Attack by McCarthy
On 9 June 1951, Douglas MacArthur charged that the post-war Marshall mission to China committed "one of the greatest blunders in American diplomatic history, for which the free world is now paying in blood and disaster" in a telegram to Senator William F. Knowland. On 14 June 1951, as the Korean War stalemated in heavy fighting between American and Chinese forces, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked. He stated that Marshall was directly responsible for the "loss of China," as China turned from friend to enemy. McCarthy said the only way to explain why the US "fell from our position as the most powerful Nation on earth at the end of World War II to a position of declared weakness by our leadership" was because of "a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man." McCarthy argued that General Albert Coady Wedemeyer had prepared a wise plan that would keep China a valued ally but that it had been sabotaged; "only in treason can we find why evil genius thwarted and frustrated it." Specifically, McCarthy alleged:
When Marshall was sent to China with secret State Department orders, the Communists at that time were bottled up in two areas and were fighting a losing battle, but that because of those orders the situation was radically changed in favor of the Communists. Under those orders, as we know, Marshall embargoed all arms and ammunition to our allies in China. He forced the opening of the Nationalist-held Kalgan Mountain pass into Manchuria, to the end that the Chinese Communists gained access to the mountains of captured Japanese equipment. No need to tell the country about how Marshall tried to force Chiang Kai-shek to form a partnership government with the Communists.
Public opinion on Marshall's record became bitterly divided along party lines. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower, while campaigning successfully for US President, denounced the Truman administration's failures in Korea, campaigned alongside McCarthy, and refused to defend Marshall's policies.
- ^ Brady p. 47.
- ^ Kenneth E. Shewmaker, "The "Agrarian Reformer" Myth," The China Quarterly 34 (1968): 66-81. 
- ^ John Service, Report No. 5, 8 March 1944, to Commanding General Fwd. Ech., USAF – CBI, APO 879. "The Communist Policy Towards the Kuomintang." State Department, NARA, RG 59.
- ^ U.S. Congress. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and the Other Internal Security Laws. The Amerasia Papers: A Clue to the Catastrophe of China. Vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1970), 406 – 407.
- ^ "John Service, Report No. 5, 8 March 1944, to Commanding General Fwd. Ech., USAF – CBI, APO 879. "The Communist Policy Towards the Kuomintang." State Department, NARA, RG 59.
- ^ The full story of Marshall's mission is told by Daniel Kurtz-Phelan in The China Mission: George Marshall's Unfinished War, W.W. Norton & Co., 2018. http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=4294994542
- ^ Taylor, Jay (209). Stilwell's The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Harvard University Press. p. 297,298. ISBN 978-0674054714.
- ^ Wesley Marvin Bagby, The Eagle-Dragon Alliance: America's Relations with China in World War II, p.96
- ^ Russel D. Buhite, Patrick J. Hurley and American Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U Press, 1973), 160 – 162.
- ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, the Far East: China, Volume VII - Office of the Historian".
- ^ "Chinese Civil War".
- ^ The speech was published as a 169-page book, America's Retreat from Victory: The Story of George Catlett Marshall (1951).
- ^ Joseph McCarthy, Major Speeches and Debates (1951) p. 215
- ^ McCarthy, Major Speeches and Debates (1951) pp. 264.
- ^ McCarthy, Major Speeches p. 191, from speech of March 14, 1951; see also Thomas C. Reeves, The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy (1982) pp 371-74.
- ^ Reeves, McCarthy 437-8