893.00/4168: Telegram

The Minister in China ( Schurman ) to the Secretary of State

457. Supplementing my 429, December 3, 5 p.m. Chang Tso-lin called yesterday for half an hour prearranged visit, remained full hour and asks permission come again. I questioned him about new administration and he confirmed my 451, December 18, 5 p.m. He talked freety Government weakness, inaptitude and corruption saying that of any loan formerly contracted by the Government half might have gone as squeeze. Provinces would not supply a government so dishonest, inefficient and weak nor would he or people in America in like case. His panacea is strong, capable and honest central government compelling obedience and neither taking nor permitting others to take graft. Declared that was system practiced in Manchuria. I asked how he would secure such cabinet. Answered that was job of President whom he had yesterday angered by his plain talk. If President did not get such men he would again upset Cabinet. Thinks financial conditions not as serious as generally imagined as Chinese people solvent and China’s resources great. In reply to my inquiry regarding disbandment troops declared Manchuria needed present troops for protection against robbers and policing long border and China generally could stand little reduction of troops whose maintenance cost anyway was small. He favors unification of country but separate from trust to manipulations of leaders or to force and certainly has no popular government or constitution [sic]. Said epigrammatically have read foreign constitutions, have read Chinese history, they do not harmonize. He wants government adapted for Chinese, thinks his Manchurian government is, and constitutional institutions cannot be.

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Chang Tso-lin is obviously intelligent and able. I surmise that surveying his career and weighing his rivals he has come to believe himself man of destiny for salvation of China.