793.94/14374: Telegram

The Ambassador in China ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

553. Picture of Generalissimo in my 547 of November 16, 11 a.m. is of a man committed to a prolonged and bitter resistance to Japanese conquest with or without assistance from the outside; one who believes that in the end resistance will be successful and that he is not only fighting for the independence of his own people but that the success of his efforts will mean much in the future of those third powers who come to his aid now (and to that extent he is fighting their battles for if he loses he argues that Japan plans to monopolize all commercial opportunities to its own advantage). The Generalissimo reveals himself as a Protestant Chinese Nationalist, he desires assistance in his struggle, feels deeply that such aid is due him from the democratic nations, whose interests he identifies with China’s, but will not accept aid with strings attached. Corroborative of this I recite the following. Donald told McHugh at Changsha that Russians had informed Chiang that they had 100 planes at Lanchow and were prepared to send more if he would continue resistance to the Japanese. Chiang retorted that he intended to continue resistance whether they [Page 385] helped him or not. This appears to be the nearest their Government has come to presenting a quid pro quo to Chiang as both Donald and Madame Chiang have denied repeatedly to McHugh that Moscow has ever made specific proposals and have insisted that China has paid for all help received to date.

Please also refer to my 218, April 26, 2 p.m.,19 when British Ambassador appears definitely to have dropped a hint that British financial help might be trending provided Generalissimo dropped Kung.20 McHugh informs me that in conversation with British Ambassador on journey to Chungking latter stated that on one of his visits to Hankow, McHugh and I believe that (one) [was?] about the middle of July, the Generalissimo told Ambassador that he would be glad to receive and consider any advice which the British Ambassador might have to offer. Later Generalissimo asked the British Ambassador to visit him and asked him whether he had advice to give whereupon the Ambassador stated that if request was serious he would advise the Generalissimo to bring the Young Marshal21 out of retirement; call all the Soong family22 to Hankow; line them up there and present a solid front to Japan. He suggested that Kung be retained as President of the Executive Yuan (which he said he did to save Kung’s face, but obviously implied that he would relieve Kung of financial responsibility), give Madame Sun Yat Sen a responsible place in the Government, suggesting a special post as Minister of Cooperation, and generally reorganize the Government along the representative lines used in selecting the delegates to the People’s Political Council which had just met in Hankow. He advised Chiang specifically to award posts according to merit and to include all factions rather than to give the plums to his former comrades. British Ambassador stated Generalissimo received these suggestions coldly, commenting that Madame Sun would only be a mouthpiece for the Communists. He told McHugh he had met Madame Sun in Hong Kong; had liked her best of the whole family; and that she had expressed her desire to go to Hankow if invited.

It is my belief that this was an attempt by the Generalissimo to find out what might be considered necessary to put British Government in a mood to make loan available (he was already disappointed with outcome of Kung–Wang23 efforts to obtain financial assistance in the [Page 386] United States and had recalled Wang), and that the British Ambassador’s reply was a second hint that financial assistance would be forthcoming from British sources provided Soong assisted by Rogers (of Bank of England) might have the management thereof and that a second time the Generalissimo refused assistance with strings attached.

It is my belief that the Generalissimo is convinced that the time has come when China, in dire need of compactness, must choose the source of such assistance, and that he has attempted to portray vividly to the British Ambassador the remonetizing or losses that will accrue to Great Britain as the result of its decision whether or not to assist China in time of need and thus determine the future direction of China’s economic associations.

I understand that aide-mémoire quoted in my 545 [546], November 16, 9 [10] a.m., was sent to Hu Shih24 with instructions not to show it until instructed.

Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.

McHugh asks that substance of my 545, November 16, 9 a.m.,25 and my 546, November 16, 11 [10] a.m., be made available to ONI.26

Repeated to Peiping, Shanghai; Shanghai repeat to Tokyo.

  1. Ante, p. 157.
  2. H. H. Kung, President of the Chinese Executive Yuan and Minister of Finance.
  3. Chang Hsueh-liang, who kidnapped Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in December 1936 at Sian and was detained thereafter.
  4. Madame H. H. Kung, Madame Sun Yat-sen, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, and their brother, T. V. Soong, former Minister of Finance.
  5. C. T. Wang, former Chinese Ambassador in the United States.
  6. Chinese Ambassador in the United States.
  7. See footnote 15, p. 377.
  8. Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department.