The Consul General at Tientsin (Caldwell) to the Ambassador in China (Johnson)58

No. 262

Sir: I have the honor to refer to this Consulate General’s despatch No. 258, dated July 3, 1936,59 concerning the reported arrangements [Page 239] between General Han Fu-chu and Sung Che-yuan in anticipation of war between the Nanking Government and the Southwest, and in that connection to report that according to information which reached the Consulate General yesterday through a somewhat biased but well-informed source, General Chang Hsueh-liang60 is preparing to adopt an independent course of action in case of civil war.

The source referred to confirms generally the Domei (Japanese) press despatch of June 30, 1936, which appeared in the Peking & Tientsin Times (British) of July 1, 1936, and according to which a conference of the old Northeastern generals at Sianfu presided over by General Chang had heard his report of the course of internal politics and had adopted a six-point program of which the most important items were the suspension of the Anti-Red campaign and the establishment of a “North Western Government”.

The anti-communist campaign has definitely been brought to a stand-still, the informant asserts. He states that a verbal, or perhaps a written, truce agreement has been reached terminating actual fighting and permitting the conduct of ordinary commercial relations between the garrisoned areas and those under communist occupation.

General Chang and his subordinates are also veering toward a more definite anti-Japanese stand, according to the individual quoted.

This change of heart on General Chang’s part the informant attributes to the General’s known liberal tendencies—he is alleged, for instance, to be strongly in sympathy with the student movement—and to the fact that the establishment of Japanese hegemony in North China, and of an opium monopoly in the North paralleling the more rigorously enforced Nanking Government monopoly in the Yangtze, have left the Young Marshal in such straitened circumstances financially that he has for some months past been drawing on his personal fortune to support his troops. To a divergence in temperament between Chang and Chiang and the economic motive there is added the consideration that if General Chiang in his present dilemma is forced into closer relations with Japan, General Chang’s influence in the National Government must suffer an even more definite recession. Nor are his subordinates content with their present situations: the bitterness of the able and forth-right General Yu Hsueh-chung61 over his present “exile” to Kansu, only a part of which is actually under his control, is said to be typical of their present temper.

The informant believes that in these circumstances General Chang is likely, in the event of a severe internal test of General Chiang Kaishek’s [Page 240] strength, to become more or less independent of, though not unfriendly to, the “Generalissimo”.

Respectfully yours,

J. K. Caldwell
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Tientsin in his unnumbered despatch of July 10; received August 10.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Vice Commander in Chief of bandit suppression forces in the Northwest at Sian, Shensi; head of the Mukden regime from 1928 to 1931.
  4. Commanding bandit suppression forces in Szechwan and Kansu; formerly Chairman of the Hopei Provincial Government, and more recently of the Kansu Provincial Government.