893.001 Chiang Kai-shek/7–1249: Telegram

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

Cantel 721. Li Tsung-jen camp is much perturbed over activities Generalissimo and there is elation among reactionary elements Kmt at prospect Generalissimo may assume more openly active role. George Yeh, Acting Foreign Minister, tells me Generalissimo and party have arrived back Taiwan and that Generalissimo is expected Canton July 16. Invitation to Generalissimo was sent by Chinese Ambassador [in] Manila to Foreign Office which passed it on to Generalissimo without comment. Acceptance was direct and government here was uninformed until after Generalissimo and party were airborne. In fact many big shots went military airfield Canton immediately upon receipt information Generalissimo was in air in anticipation Generalissimo was coming Canton. They later pretended to save face that he flew over Canton and communicated with them from plane by radio.

High-handed manner in which Generalissimo has acted of late, and particularly in this case, seems to indicate his lack of respect for Li Tsung-jen and Yen Hsi-shan government and to make more difficult Li’s efforts to cooperate. Am becoming increasingly convinced Generalissimo now plans use Li Tsung-jen as figurehead much as former President Lin Sen4 was used, with full responsibility for functioning government resting in fact with Generalissimo. In other words, he feels [Page 427] that Li has had his chance, has failed, and that the interests of the Chinese people once again require the firm hand of the Generalissimo.

Belief rampant in foreign press circles here Li will not accede to any such plan despite fact he planned supposed survey trip to several coastal cities, Hainan and Taiwan whose real purpose was to be meeting with Generalissimo whom he was seeking out in view failure Generalissimo come Canton. It is now rumored that Li plans delay trip only until Generalissimo’s arrival; that he plans spend 1 day with him in conference, then leave Canton ostensibly survey trip but actually to save face since Generalissimo coming really to give orders. Also, now reported that Kweilin added to tour and Li will make that last stop. He may well remain there if Generalissimo’s role too active. Endeavoring to check this story but since it ties in with Li’s usual face-saving moves, may well prove true and offer it only as unverified rumor today.

Sent Department, repeated Nanking 481, Shanghai 414.

  1. President of the National Government of the Republic of China, December 1931 to August 1943, when he died.