Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson)14


I called upon Dr. C. T. Wang,15 at his residence this afternoon. I told him that I was aware of reports which were current concerning efforts to negotiate a peaceful compromise of the present difficulties between the Nationalist Government and the military leaders of the Northwest faction. I said that these reports were so circumstantial that I wanted to come and get from him, personally his views in the matter. I said that it was always my hope that conditions would bring about a peaceful ending of the present difficulties and that the [Page 18] country might have a number of years of tranquillity so that the Government could put into effect the various programs which had been outlined.

Dr. Wang replied very positively that there was no truth in the reports of efforts at peace by compromise. He said these reports were all due to propaganda originating among the northern factions. He desired me to remember that this was a struggle between two ideas, one advocated by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great Kuomintang leader, calling for a unified China, governed from the center with a measure of local autonomy being granted to the cities, of which there were in the neighborhood of 2,000. He said that all along Dr. Sun had preached union and had believed that the safety of the country would be obtained if local sovereignty could be reduced to the smallest unit, which would be the city. As against this idea there was the idea of unity through the confederation of a small number of autonomous areas governed by independent heads much after the fashion of satraps under the old Persian empire of Alexander. He said that this idea did not even exist in the Chinese mind under the old Manchu regime where the plan was to farm out the duties of government to viceroys who acted in their several provinces as the very persons of the Emperor and who were held strictly accountable for the maintenance of peace and good order in their several areas and whose only duty above this to the central government was to remit the provincial quota of tribute rice each year. This idea of a union or confederation of a small group of autonomous areas amounted to a reversion of [to?] semi-feudalism.

To yield to this idea would be to play false to the teachings of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The party which Dr. Sun Yat-sen had created was now sovereign and supreme in China. It was above the government and it was heartily supporting General Chiang Kai-shek in his sincere efforts to put into effect the ideas of the great leader.…

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Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department without covering despatch; received August 1, 1930.
  2. Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs.