793.94/7674: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

19. My 17, January 16, 10 a.m.35 It is learned from apparently reliable sources that on January 15 the student representatives presented questions and “demands” by delegations from different localities and that the following 10 subjects were those in which the greatest number of delegations concurred: [Page 17]

Referring to General Chiang’s statement to the Kuomintang Congress on November 19 that “we shall not talk lightly of sacrifices until we are driven to the last extremity which makes sacrifices inevitable”, the students inquired at what stage the limit of endurance would be reached and resistance to Japanese aggression would begin.
They inquired concerning the exact extent of China’s military preparedness. They presented the following “petitions” or “demands”.
That traitors be punished.
That autonomy movements in North China be suppressed.
That revision of school textbooks in North China to meet Japanese wishes be opposed.
That the freedom of the press be restored.
That open diplomacy be practiced instead of secret diplomacy.
That the Government do its best to organize the Chinese masses.
That the greatest care be taken in readjusting Sino-Japanese relations.
That the Hopei-Chahar Political Council be abolished.

General Chiang spoke to the student representatives from January 16, 3 p.m. to January 16, 7 p.m., the seven main points of his address being as follows:

War against Japan is only a question of time and when it comes the whole nation will be mobilized and responsibility will not rest on the students alone.
China at present is inferior to Japan in this detail of preparedness and organization and war cannot be declared recklessly.
Reviewing the history of Sino-Japanese relations, he said that since the Sino-Japanese war in 1894 Japan has been determined to invade China for, in the view of the Japanese, China is Japan’s only economic outlet.
The so-called “continental policy” has become the traditional policy of Japan and it means “down with the Kuomintang and down with Chiang Kai Shek”.
China, also, has a traditional policy, which is the policy of the Kuomintang, no surrender to Japan. There were no secret clauses in the Tangku truce and no such thing exists as the so-called Ho-Umetsu agreement.36
To meet the special situation, education in China will be on an extraordinary basis designed to meet the special needs.
The entire nation should be reassured that Chiang Kai Shek will never surrender to Japan nor sign any agreement injuring the State. He does not fear death for the cause.

The press is under strict orders to publish no information regarding statement made by Chiang and I suggest that this message be treated temporarily as confidential. Repeat to Peking.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Alleged agreement in 1935 between General Ho Ying-chin, Chinese Minister of War, and General Yoshijiro Umetsu, commanding the Japanese North China garrison.