893.001 Chiang Kai-shek/7–1149: Telegram

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

Cantel 715. It seems to me visit Generalissimo [to] Philippines87 marks definite change from “retirement”; receiving innumerable callers seeking his counsel in traditional Chinese pattern of loyalty to individual rather than to government or other institution. There was no need for him to direct, his mere suggestion sufficed.

Publicly he was giving Li Tsung-jen opportunity demonstrate, first, his ability negotiate peace, which failed, and later his ability govern remainder country, which also has failed except to extent Generalissimo has been willing assist. Li has tried valiantly make a success as Acting President, but he has lacked the forcefulness and the means. His realization of his inability act without Generalissimo has manifested itself in his constant willingness compromise. He came Canton [Page 423] from Kweilin against advice some of his supporters largely in hope move would influence Generalissimo toward full support government. Since his arrival Canton he has demeaned himself in various ways seeking better basis for cooperation with Generalissimo, most recent one being his acceptance of Kmt88 Supreme Policy Committee which, with Generalissimo [as] chairman, puts ultimate authority for Government China in hands Generalissimo and not in those of Acting President.

I sense at moment considerable perturbation in Li Tsung-jen camp over recent activities Generalissimo and feel Generalissimo has definitely decided publicly to resume power. (Several have inquired of me what our reaction would be to such an event.) This feeling, I infer, is based at least to some extent on fact that after long period during which publicity was shunned and even Generalissimo’s whereabouts were kept secret, he has suddenly held conference Taipei to decide future military strategy; has given press interview stating determination continue leadership resistance Communism; has gone to Philippines without a “by your leave” from the government; (the government was not even informed that he had accepted Quirino’s89 invitation); and the evidence that he plans at “his” convenience come Canton assist inauguration Supreme Policy Committee which he will head.

Nevertheless I find it difficult believe Generalissimo will return to presidency this stage. There is no need for him to do so. He already controls air force, navy, and all organized land forces except those of Pai Chung-hsi, of the Ma’s,90 and possibly those in Szechuan, and he controls the purse strings. The government with an admitted deficit of 30 million silver dollars monthly cannot survive long without his largesse, and through his position as head of the Kmt, operating through the new Supreme Policy Committee, he can prevent that government from taking any action which he disapproves.

Although Generalissimo may take this occasion resume presidency it appears more likely we are coming to phase where he will be more openly and actively in control without actually resuming presidency. Whether Li will tolerate such a situation is another question. His actions so far would lead one to believe that he will. Whether we like it or not, therefore, we are likely have Generalissimo once more fully in control. He is the only visible leader who has any chance whatsoever at this stage of reviving the will to resist the Communist advance in China and we are going to have make the best of it.

Sent Department Cantel 715; repeated Nanking 479, Shanghai 412.

  1. For further documentation on this subject, see vol. vii, Part 2, pp. 1115 ff.
  2. Kuomintang (Nationalist Party).
  3. Elpidio Quirino, President of the Philippines.
  4. Surname of Mohammedan generals controlling Northwest China (Ma Chan-hsiang, Ma Hung-pin, Ma Hung-kwei, Ma Pu-ching, and Ma Pu-fang).