Former Taiwanese premier gives insight into Xian incident

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 4:23am

Nationalist marshal Chang Hsueh-liang's role in the famous Xian incident during the second Sino-Japanese war troubled him until the day he died, his close friend former Taiwanese premier Hau Pei-tsun revealed.

On the one hand, Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek could never forgive Chang's betrayal during the incident, which put the civil war on hold to fight the Japanese invaders. But Chang could never forgive the Communist Party for resuming the war a decade later.

In 1936, Chang, who was then the Kuomintang's military chief in Manchuria, famously kidnapped Chiang from his residence in Xian and forced him to enter a truce with Mao Zedong's communists.

"Chiang never forgot Chang's betrayal, but Madam Chiang Soong Mei-ling treated Chang very well," Hau told a City University lecture on Friday. Hau was chief aide to Chiang from 1965-70.

Chiang kept Chang under house arrest throughout the second world war, sending him to Taiwan in 1946. "If Chiang let Chang stay on the mainland, he was afraid that people in Manchuria would want Chang … to do something," Hua said.

Chang was freed after Chiang's death in 1975. But he refused to return to his hometown in Liaoning because he also could not forgive the Communist Party over its decision to continue the civil war.

"He lost his freedom in betraying Chiang just because he didn't want to see civil war," said Hau. "However, both Chiang and Mao Zedong failed to keep their promise and went to war again. That made him very unhappy."