Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Ringwalt) to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent)

Reference is made to Nanking’s telegram 2123, Dec 18 10 a.m.,2 a copy of which is attached, in regard to the drift of Sinkiang away from China as evidenced by developments in the Nanking visit of Sinkiang delegates to the National Assembly. Reference also is made to a note of JCV3 in regard thereto, reading as following: “ARR4—Can you EER,5 Ward6 or anybody think of anything we could do to slow down this drift?”

Ward makes the following suggestions:

We should urge upon the Chinese authorities at Nanking the importance of extending fullest possible support to General Chang Chih-chung, Chairman of the Sinkiang Provincial Government. General Chang has the confidence of the Turkis, but alone and unsupported he cannot save Sinkiang for China. Because of the political rivalry and jealousy existing between Chinese leaders immediately subordinate to Chiang Kai-shek,7 there is danger that needed support will be withheld from him by T. V. Soong8 and others who for motives of rivalry would like to reduce his prestige. We can combat such tendencies by urging in the highest quarters at Nanking the necessity of fully supporting him.
Urge upon the Chinese authorities, including Chang Chih-chung, the importance of carrying out in Sinkiang visible, constructive public works. Ward explains that the Turkis consider the Chinese to be burned out and hopeless. When General Kuo Chi-ch’iao9 made [Page 547] everybody in Tihwa, including Turkis, turn out to assist in digging a defensive ditch entirely around the city, the resulting psychological effect was very good in spite of the fact that it was for defense against Turkis. The latter contemplated this show of determined energy with surprised approval. To both win and hold the Turkis the Chinese should get busy and build streets, roads, or anything visible and useful which will serve as convincing evidence that the Chinese retain a measure of vigor.

Major Chinese difficulties in holding Sinkiang, it would appear from Ward’s past reports, are: (1) lack of transport facilities between intramural China and Sinkiang; and (2) scarcity of consumer goods. It is suggested that the Chinese be urged and perhaps aided to establish and maintain regular, frequent air and other transport schedules between intramural China and Tihwa, and thence to the various centers of Sinkiang. These transport facilities should be utilized in part to bring in as large amounts of consumer and other goods as possible. Such facilities should be operated if necessary at a loss, as essential to national defense.

Incidentally, we note from the reference telegram that the Chinese have thwarted efforts to have written into the constitution provisions for safeguarding minorities. We do not perceive why such provisions, if themselves unobjectionable, should not be written into national and provincial basic laws. It would seem to us, for instance, that a roving tribal people, if made responsible to the Chinese authorities through their own tribal leaders, could be controlled both more happily and more effectively than by trying to fit them into the government of a small fixed area such as the hsien. Possibly such views might be presented informally to the Generalissimo or to other responsible Chinese leaders, at an appropriate time, by Ambassador Stuart.10

A[rthur] R. R[ingwalt]
  1. Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. x, p. 1221.
  2. John Carter Vincent.
  3. Arthur R. Ringwalt.
  4. Edward E. Rice, Assistant Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs.
  5. Robert S. Ward, Consul at Tihwa, 1944–1946.
  6. President of the National Government of the Republic of China.
  7. President of the Chinese Executive Yuan.
  8. Former Deputy Director of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Headquarters in the Northwest.
  9. J. Leighton Stuart.