893.002/3–2649: Telegram

The Minister-Counselor of Embassy in China (Clark) to the Secretary of State

Cantel 173. Sun Fo said that, in appointing Fu Ping-chang FonMin, Li Tsung-jen and Ho Ying-chin had some idea of pleasing Soviets and Communists. (According press, Fu has declined appointment and Ho has asked George Yeh to serve temporarily.) Dr. Sun said he was afraid Li Tsung-jen was rapidly letting himself be [Page 203] maneuvered into position where he is going to have no alternative to surrender. Communist broadcast of March 23 (Cantel 165, March 24, repeated Nanking 148, Shanghai 106) indicates he thought that Communists would require earnest of Li’s good intentions and ability to carry out Mao Tse-tung’s eight points as preliminary to real peace negotiations. “Produce the Generalissimo in chains and we will believe you can speak with authority and implement your undertakings.” Not being able to do this, Li will seek some other means of satisfying the unbelievably overwhelming sentiment in Nanking and Shanghai for “peace at any price”. This sentiment controls the thinking not only of the masses but also of Legislative and Control Yuans and many elements of Government.

Given this picture, Dr. Sun seems to think Li government, as at present constituted, will agree to “honorable surrender” much as did Fu Tso-yi.49 At this stage he inquired, rather revealingly I thought, whether US aid would continue to a government that might result from such action even though it might be expected to be dominated, by Communists. He also inquired re US attitude should Government split at that time and one element determine to continue resistance. Would we aid such resisting government? To this I replied that my Government would have to consider the situation as it existed at the time. I felt safe in saying, however, that my Govt would be unhappy to see a Communist-dominated government in China or even a coalition with Communist participation and that we would not grant aid to any such government. Given this fact, if the resisting element had supportable claim to legitimacy, that fact would; increase its possibility of receiving the continued recognition of US and such aid as might be found in light then existing world conditions feasible. In this connection I mentioned the President’s reply50 to Generalissimo’s message51 which Dr. Sun had seen and understood.

Dr. Sun then remarked that, although constitution is silent on subject, intention was that, when President was unable to function and Vice President assumed office under Article 49 as Acting President, President could resume his office when the disability had been removed. No irrevocable retirement from office took place, he said, until resignation had been submitted to National Assembly and accepted. Generalissimo had not taken such action.

It seems obvious to me from this conversation that Dr. Sun and his followers anticipate that Li will be led to surrender any day and hope at that time to persuade Generalissimo to resume office as President [Page 204] and carry on struggle. Dr. Sun, of course, is biased on subject of Li and his belief that Li may surrender may have elements of wishful thinking. Also, there is some evidence in Canton that Kwangtung clique plans split with Li government at appropriate time and establish here Legislative Yuan and Government. They can command quorum at any time. On other hand, Li Tsung-jen certainly assured me when in Canton last month (Cantel 70, February 22, repeated Nanking 67, Shanghai 40) that he would continue the fight if, as he then seemed to anticipate, reasonable peace were found impossible. Whether, in the face of overwhelming sentiment for peace, he can revive the will to fight is another question. That the fragmentation process continues seems certain.

Sent Department Cantel 173. Repeated Nanking 157, Shanghai 117. Pouched Kunming, Chungking, Hankow and Peiping.

  1. General Fu remained in Peiping upon its occupation by Communist forces in January 1949.
  2. See telegram No. 1608, November 12, 1948, 7 p. m., Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. viii, p. 202.
  3. See telegram No. Telmar 155, November 12, 1948, 8 p. m., to the Secretary of State, at Paris, ibid., p. 201.