Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > East Asian Collections > 35. Peter H. L. Chang

35.  Peter H. L. Chang (Zhang Xueliang), (1901-2001).  "Recollections of Xian Incident [Review]". Jiangshang, [May 10, 1946] RBML, Chang Papers

Peter Chang (his name also rendered as Zhang Xueliang, and Chang Hsueh-liang) was born in Manchuria in 1901 and died in Hawaii in 2001. After his father, Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin), a leading war-lord know as the Old Marshal, was assassinated in 1928 by the Japanese, Chang took his place as the Young Marshal, becoming one of the most powerful military figures in China. In 1930, Chang became Deputy Commander in Chief of the Chinese Armed Forces. In 1933 he traveled to Europe. Upon his return to China, Zhou Enlai convinced him of the need for a united front between the Nationalist and Communist Chinese against Japan.

On December 4 1936, Chiang Kai-shek, the nationalist leader met with Marshal Chang in Xian, ostensibly to plan a campaign against the Communists that was due to begin on December 12. Chang arrested Chiang Kai-shek, an event that became know around the world as the "Xian incident." Two weeks later, Chiang was released after agreeing to work with the Communists in fighting the Japanese. After the Xian incident Marshal Chang might have chosen to join the Communists. Instead, he surrendered to Chiang Kai-shek who placed him under house arrest for the next 50 years. Marshal Chang lived comfortably in a house with an extensive garden. The house was filled with paintings and calligraphy honoring the Chiang family, including a number that were draw by Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Many of these items are now in the Chang Papers, along with correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, published materials, and memorabilia documenting the life of Peter and Edith Chang.

Gift of Peter H. L. and Edith C. Chang, 1994

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