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The Position and Problems of Chinese Nationalism

January 2, 1928

Report Outline
Problems Confronting Nanking Government
Nationalist China and the Great Powers
Developments in Manchuria

The most important action taken by the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, at its recent “unity conference” at Shanghai was the extension of a formal invitation to General Chiang Kai-shek to resume active participation in the Nationalist movement. The invitation was promptly accepted by this youthful military commander, who led the northward sweep of the Nationalist forces from Canton during 1926, but resigned his command and went into temporary retirement after the split last summer between Nanking and Hankow. While there is every reason for believing that Chiang is slated to be restored to his old position as commander-in-chief of the Nationalist armies, his present appointment is civilian in nature, and to a temporary office. It will be his duty to endeavor to bring about agreement between the various Nationalist factions in advance of the plenary session of the Kuomintang convention to be held this month at Nanking.

Chiang has not been made “chief” of the Nationalist government, as reported in some dispatches, for that government now has a complete cabinet which exercises executive functions through its various department heads. There is no parliamentary body whatsoever, but over the cabinet is the Central Executive Committee of the Nationalist Party, to which Chiang owes his appointment and which, in theory at least, can remove him at its pleasure. The claim that Chiang's position is subordinate is important, for it is a cardinal principle of the Nationalist program that civil authority must be superior to military authority.

Nationalist Factions in China

The question of immediate interest and of fundamental importance in the Chinese situation is whether the unity Chiang Kai-shek is supposed to forward can be achieved. There are three separate factions in the Kuomintang, each with approximately equal representation among the 36 members of the Central Executive Committee. They are known as the Nanking, Hankow and Canton factions, taking their names from the cities they tend to dominate. All are Nationalist in the sense of being opposed to Chang Tso-lin and the northern warlords, and all are united in the demand for abolition of foreign unilateral privileges in China, but the three factions are widely divided upon economic issues.

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