893.00/14640: Telegram

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

46. My 27, January 18, 4 p.m.29 Yesterday evening there was released for publication the gist of a report made by General Chiang Kai Shek at the memorial service on January 27. The report dealt chiefly with the recent action taken by the Government against the New Fourth Army and with the importance of maintaining sound military discipline. General Chiang refuted what he termed Japanese rumors and false reports that the incident would result in internal disruption and civil war and a lessening of support from hitherto friendly nations, asserting that apart from the traitors and puppets there is “absolute unanimity of purpose among both people and armed forces.” With regard to the attitude of the foreign powers General Chiang said, “The records of 4 years sympathy and assistance from friendly nations has shown them uniformly desirous of seeing strict discipline enforced in our armies as a means of enhancing their efficiency in resistance; there has never been an instance of their being discouraged by our taking action required by the very object they approve. They will recognize the propriety of any action aimed at keeping high the standards of sound discipline prevailing in the Chinese armed forces. So far from the effect being as the Japanese foolishly attempt to convey, [Page 476] foreign countries will be inspired with respect for us by observing our ability to put down insubordination without hesitation or trepidation despite the difficulties attendant on such action under the conditions imported [imparted?] by active prosecution of warfare.”

Emphasizing the necessity of military discipline, General Chiang declared “only troops obedient to their orders and demonstrating a good standard of discipline can represent an effective part of the forces resisting the enemy and only such troops can win the wholehearted support of their government and people. Troops contemptuous of discipline, on the other hand, forsaking their fighting duties and even attacking other sections of the forces of resistance, diminish the efficiency of the whole war effort; to permit such troops to go on their way would be to invite national ruin, not to speak of defeat for resistance.” Asserting that the measures taken against the New Fourth Army “were in no way peculiar,” he went on to recount disciplinary measures taken against Han Fu Chu, Li Fu Yeng and others which were on an individual nature “whereas the New Fourth Army as a unit was guilty of attacking a body of comrades in arms, of disobedience to orders and rebellious gestures. Punishment in its case had therefore to extend to the abolition of its status as a section of the national armies and its disbandment. Such are the simple and clear facts of the matter; any enlargement on them can only proceed from the Japanese sources of falsification.” General Chiang continued, “The incident under discussion was an exceedingly distressing case of military necessity…31 I exercised the Christian precept of forgiveness unto seventy times seven in bearing with the recalcitrant New Fourth Army, but it, so far from repenting of its evil courses, continued to give out false reports villifying commanding officers and the Government and to take all manner of arbitrary action until it became apparent to me that if it were not checked China would cease to be worthy of the name of a nation, that she would be powerless to make success of resistance or the revolution; while it [I?] should become guilty of criminal neglect of my duties. The time had come when the matter could no longer be overlooked or kept in the dark.”

Declaring that “the incident is now entirely closed” and that “absolutely no political and party issue is involved”, General Chiang concluded, “I have only to say that my action was dictated solely by the desire to strengthen the nation’s capacity for resistance…31 it was a blow at the enemy…31 it was designed to save [have?] a deterrent effect and to be a stimulus in promoting good discipline and solidarity throughout our armies”.

Sent to the Department, repeated to Peiping.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Omission indicated in the original.
  3. Omission indicated in the original.
  4. Omission indicated in the original.