The Chargé in China (Strong) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 19—12:55 a. m.]
Cantel 1293. It becomes apparent that move of Generalissimo-selected Chinese Government personnel to Taiwan is about to begin and [Page 602]it is expected that, if Chungking becomes insecure before movement of personnel completed, Chengtu will be used as staging point, despite its greater distance from Taipei, in view fact it can be held longer.
Recent refusal of Szechwan “leaders” return Chungking from Chengtu to see Generalissimo would indicate their belief in futility of attempting improve matters now. It may be expected that they will endeavor play ball with Communists in every way.
An increasingly independent attitude on part of the various military leaders will doubtless show itself before long, each seeking in best way preserve forces and position. Friction between population and troops in western Szechwan will heighten and before end there may even be clashes between different groups of Nationalist forces.
We now believe President Li Tsung-jen will not attempt attract enough men of caliber to form government in Nanning. It seems more likely that, although for face purposes he may return briefly to Chungking, he will regard it as useless to attempt create rump government. Unless he could get numbers of capable men to join him and be sure of outside financial help, he would merely be increasing overhead expenses without achieving object. Provincial Government of Kwangsi is quite adequate for purely local purposes of Li and Pai Chung-hsi.
Headlines in leading paper today supporting current rumors that Generalissimo may soon resume presidency seem entitled credence as logical move in view virtual abdication by Li, who is being criticized even by friends for neither returning nor resigning. A brief absence might have increased strength of his position but failure join issue in crisis has decreased his stature.
SWMPA now controls all travel and cargo out of Chungking. Tickets sold only by China Travel Service, which must have prior clearance each case.
Sent Department; repeated Taipei 225, Hong Kong 70, Shanghai 574. Department pass Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai.