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

No. 923

Sir: I have the honor to report a visit with President Chiang last evening. This followed upon the most recent interview General Cheng [Page 252] Kai-min46 had with him. General Cheng and I have of late been frequently in consultation in our efforts to persuade President Chiang to commit himself wholeheartedly and without further delay to the democratic way. General Cheng had recently submitted to him a memorandum with various concrete suggestions of this nature (a translation of which has been given to General Wedemeyer).

After discussing a brief trip to Tsinan from which I had just returned, he opened the way for me to say what I had in mind. My comments could be summarized as follows:

China should join the democratic group of nations in opposition to aggressive Communism.
The United States has been consistently ready to aid China by such means as are proper and possible, provided only that the present Government can give convincing evidence of reforms in this direction and in doing so recover the support of its non-Communist people.
The procedure might well include such measures as these:
The Kuomintang should be completely dissociated from the Government and given the status of any other party in a democracy. (President Chiang had already asked General Cheng to secure an outline of the organization of the two principal American parties for him to study.)
Military affairs. The reorganization of the army along the lines of the P. C. C. proposals47 and with the help of the American Army Advisory Group might be begun on a basis that had due regard for the realities of the civil war. A small army, well trained and equipped, with adequate physical treatment and a new morale, would be far more effective and less costly than the present one. The problem of deactivating the surplus officers and men could not be neglected.
Administration. The rampant venality and similar evils among civil officials could be improved at the outset by enlarging the powers of the Control Yuan and holding it accountable. The civil rights provided for in the Constitution might be declared as taking effect now, in advance of the date set for its enforcement (December 25). But what was more essential than any of these measures was a new revolutionary spirit, with fresh enthusiasm and a dynamic conviction as to the real meaning and value of democracy. This should be incarnated in him. He was too much the head of a Party when he should be the leader of the whole Nation.

There was little new, of course, in any of this, even in previous conversations of mine with him. He made occasional comments as I went along and when I had finished said that he had come to essentially these conclusions.

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He said that he had determined to increase the pay alike of civil and military employees of the Government and that this would bring a measure of relief.

As to the military reorganization, he reminded me of his request to you in my presence that you become Supreme Adviser with all the authority that he himself possessed. He said that he was ready to make the same offer to General Wedemeyer and earnestly hoped that this might be accepted.

He claimed that freedom of the press, for instance, was already in existence and cited the unrestrained publicity allowed in discussing the affairs of the two big companies in which members of the Soong and Kung families were involved. I replied that the newspaper editors were by no means aware that such freedom could be relied upon and that it would be in order to issue an unequivocable proclamation supported by a description of means for redress or protection.

He said in conclusion that he was giving this whole subject very careful thought—as is undoubtedly the case—and I remarked that when he was ready to make the rather radical changes involved it might be desirable to issue a very clear announcement.

He left this morning for Ruling where he plans to spend several days alone in order to think over the momentous decisions he must soon be making and some of the detailed issues involved.

Respectfully yours,

J. Leighton Stuart
  1. Chinese Vice Minister of National Defense.
  2. January 31, 1946; see United States Relations With China, pp. 610–621.