Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Vincent)8

Following is a summary of an address made to Chinese students by Dr. Chang Hsi-jo, a college professor, which is noteworthy as constituting an unprecedentedly forthright public criticism of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and as having evoked intense and sympathetic interest among the students.

“Dr. Chang believes that the only solution to China’s present difficulties lies in substantial curtailment of the Generalissimo’s powers. The Generalissimo during the course of the war has greatly increased his power, and now assumes complete responsibility for all decisions in military, political, economic and educational matters. Any ministerial changes are without significance as long as Chiang exercises [Page 159] such power. No reform can be looked for from either within the government or the Kuomintang, as both form his personal retinue. The speaker recommended that the government convene a national convention, which should elect an executive council, and which should severely limit the powers of the Generalissimo, reserving major decisions to the council. The convention should also set up machinery for the establishment of a properly representative legislative body to which the council and the president would be responsible.” (Kunming’s despatch no. 125, December 6, 19449).

Dr. Chang is a prominent independent leader in liberal circles at Kunming, who is noted for his integrity and fearlessness and who has friends among the liberal elements of the Kuomintang. It is significant, and probably indicative of the Generalissimo’s’ realization of the inadvisability of attempting to suppress a liberal leader of Dr. Chang’s prestige, that the government has, as yet, taken no action against Dr. Chang for having dared openly to criticize the Generalissimo.

J[ohn] C[arter] V[incent]
  1. Addressed to the Under Secretary of State (Grew), the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn), and the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine).
  2. Foreign Relations, vol. vi, 1944, p. 721.