893.00/9–1648: Airgram

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

A–229. In mid-summer the Chinese press carried the story that the Chinese Communist radio on 4 successive days had broadcast a message from Chou En-lai11 to Chang Chih-chung12 in Lanchow which allegedly apologized for the earlier Communist attack west of Sian and into Kansu. This message is supposed to have said the attack was a mistake and that as long as Chang Chih-chung remained in command of that military district it would not be repeated.

On September 4 the North Shensi Radio in its daily news service carried a denial that any such message had ever been sent to Chang Chih-chung. It charged that the entire story was a fabrication of the CC Clique designed to bolster the position of the Generalissimo whom it said the United States would like to replace with a cabal composed of Li Tsung-jen, T. V. Soong and Ho Ying-chin13 because the United States has lost faith in the Generalissimo.

In August Mr. Henry Lieberman, New York Times correspondent for China, called on Chang Chih-chung in Lanchow. He asked him if he had in fact received any such message from Chou En-lai. Chang said he had and when Lieberman asked him how any such thing could happen with a civil war going on, Chang merely laughed and said “Oh, we are old friends.”

It would seem, therefore, that such a message was sent and it furthermore seems not impossible that Chang Chih-chung and Chou En-lai are in occasional correspondence. Our evidence suggests that earlier in the summer there probably were peace negotiation feelers on a low level. These feelers obviously failed and it seems not unlikely that the recent Communist denial of the Chang Chih-chung story is designed to cover up the failure of the attempted negotiation and at the same time to exploit the earlier rumors to the disadvantage [Page 463] of the United States as well as to create an impression that there is a major serious split in the National Government.

  1. Member of the Central Committee and of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party.
  2. Director of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Northwest Headquarters.
  3. Chinese Minister of National Defense.