Cablegate: Former U.S. Ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart Laid To

Published: Tue 9 Dec 2008 04:46 AM
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1. (U) Nearly 60 years after departing his post, the last U.S.
Ambassador to serve in pre-PRC Mainland China was laid to rest
in a cemetery near Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang
Province. The interment of the remains of former Ambassador Dr.
John Leighton Stuart on November 17 completed a journey that
began almost a century and a half earlier in the same city. At
the interment ceremony, U.S. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) John Fugh, the
person entrusted with fulfilling Ambassador Stuart's wish to be
buried in China, spoke of Ambassador Stuart's vision for
bilateral relations based on mutual understanding and respect.
Ambassador Randt acknowledged that vision and noted Ambassador
Stuart's legacy of educational exchange. The event received
widespread positive press coverage and interest. End Summary.
Interment Ceremony
2. (U) In a small, dignified ceremony, the ashes of former U.S.
Ambassador to the Republic of China John Leighton Stuart were
interred November 17 in a picturesque cemetery surrounded by the
graceful hills of Hangzhou. Ambassador Stuart was born in
Hangzhou in 1876 and died in the United States in 1962; he was
formally the U.S. Ambassador to China from 1946 to 1952,
although he left China in 1949 shortly after Communist forces
entered the then-capital city, Nanjing, and before the October 1
proclamation of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
The event honoring the late Ambassador Stuart was attended by
Ambassador Randt, the Consul General, Hangzhou Vice Mayor Tong
Guili, several Zhejiang Foreign Affairs Office officials, and
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) John Fugh and his wife. In addition, a handful
of elderly alumni from Yenching University, the institution that
Ambassador Stuart helped found and that later became Beijing
University, were present.
3. (U) The ceremony began with Gen. Fugh's remarks about
Ambassador Stuart's life, followed by remarks by Ambassador
Randt and Vice Mayor Tong. At the conclusion of the ceremony,
attendees laid flowers and bowed to honor the man who had
devoted the lion's share of his life to service in China.
(Note: As the ceremony began, a CD player, tucked in the nearby
bushes, played "Amazing Grace" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
One of the gray-haired Yenching alumni, who started his studies
in 1949, later confessed that the alumni had decided to play the
music without asking permission.)
Gen. Fugh Outlines a Lifetime of Service
4. (U) Maj. Gen. (Ret.) John Fugh, whose father was a close aide
of Ambassador Stuart, was the first to pay respects. He told of
the promise his father made to Ambassador Stuart before his
death to fulfill Ambassador Stuart's wish to be buried in China.
Although his father, Philip Fugh, attempted to fulfill this
wish, he was not able to do so in his lifetime. Now, nearly
half a century later, Fugh said, this promise was fulfilled:
"Dr. Stuart and my father can now rest in peace." Gen. Fugh
acknowledged and thanked the Zhejiang Foreign Affairs Office;
Mr. Hu, Director of the Hangzhou John Leighton Stuart museum; as
well as Ambassador Randt and the U.S. Department of State for
making the event possible.
5. (U) Outlining the life of the late Ambassador, Gen. Fugh
noted that Ambassador Stuart was born to American missionary
parents in Hangzhou and in some respects considered himself
Chinese. He dedicated his entire life to education in China and
organized a number of small missionary colleges into Yenching
University, which later became Beijing University. In 1919, he
became its president, and he remained the University's until
President Truman appointed him Ambassador to China in 1946.
Ambassador Stuart departed China in 1949, before the Communists
announced the founding of the People's Republic of China on
October 1 in Beijing. (Note: Then PRC leader Mao Zedong's
denunciation of Ambassador Stuart as a symbol of failed American
imperialism was later made part of the standard reading
curriculum in schools throughout the PRC.) Fugh's parents cared
for Ambassador Stuart until his death in 1962.
6. (U) Gen. Fugh highlighted how dramatically U.S.-China
relations have changed over the past half century, noting their
depth and complexity. He said that the fact that "we are able
to grant the last wishes of an American who dearly loved China
is a testament to enduring faith and cooperation between peoples
and countries." Fugh called upon both Chinese and Americans to
"live up to Ambassador Stuart's vision for what bilateral
relations can be." He closed with a Chinese proverb, "qiu tong
cun yi," urging both sides to "seek common ground while
respecting differences."
Ambassador Highlights John Leighton Stuart's Legacy
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7. (U) Following Fugh's remarks, Ambassador Randt highlighted
John Leighton Stuart's legacy, saying Stuart used his ties in
America to establish educational exchanges between Yenching,
Harvard and other American universities. The United States and
China both host thousands of exchange students each year, with
tens of thousands of Chinese students in the United States
currently. The Ambassador attributed these achievements to the
early efforts of people like Ambassador Stuart. In addition,
the Ambassador said that educational exchange is one of the
primary foundations of a positive relationship, and Ambassador
Stuart's return underscores the historic, close relations
between the United States and China. Ambassador Stuart would
have been pleased by the two countries' current relations, the
Ambassador added.
Hangzhou Vice Mayor: "Hangzhou is Stuart's Second Hometown"
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8. (U) Vice Mayor Tong Guili spoke of Ambassador Stuart's
childhood in Hangzhou, saying he was remembered as a child who
spoke the local dialect and played with his peers in the
neighborhood. Since he often returned to Hangzhou during his
many years in China, it is "a safe assumption that Hangzhou is
John Leighton Stuart's second hometown." Because of his
Hangzhou background, Stuart's life became "inextricably
intertwined with China." The Vice Mayor praised Ambassador
Stuart for his lifelong affection for Chinese culture and for
"dedication to the cause of Sino-American cultural exchange."
She noted his "role in advancing China's modern education" and
"people-to-people exchange," to which history has "already done
justice." The Vice Mayor closed by saying that it is comforting
to know that "Sino-American economic cultural and educational
exchanges are continuing to increase."
Positive Press Coverage
9. (U) Following the ceremony, the Ambassador and Maj. Gen.
(Ret.) Fugh participated in a small press pull-aside as several
members of the local press and an AP reporter asked questions
about the event's background. Both AP and the New York Times
subsequently ran articles about the historic significance of the
event. In local coverage, both the Qianjiang Evening News
(Party-owned, circulation: 700,000) and the provincial-level
Zhejiang Daily carried the news about the ceremony. The
Zhejiang Daily carried the story on its front page. Qianjiang
Evening News used its entire local news page to print an article
entitled "The Soul of John Leighton Stuart Returns to Homeland."
The Qianjiang Evening News article has been reposted at more
than 133 Chinese-language sites on the Internet. Showing
further interest in the significance of this event in U.S.-China
relations, Southern Metropolis Weekly in Guangzhou approached
the Consulate with a request to interview the CG and Gen. Fugh
to learn more about how the interment ceremony came about. The
Consulate declined, but the interest of press and media
elsewhere in China is evidence that Chinese media recognize the
importance of the quiet "rehabilitation" of Ambassador Stuart.
"A Journey Home" Courtesy of the Diplomatic Courier Service
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10. (U) Ambassador Stuart's homecoming would not have been
possible without the crucial contribution of the State
Department's Diplomatic Courier Service. When Gen. Fugh finally
received Chinese permission to bring Ambassador Stuart's ashes
to China, he struggled with finding a way to ship the ashes via
commercial delivery services. As the ashes were in a sealed
metal urn, commercial delivery services were unwilling to accept
the delivery order. Fugh subsequently contacted the Department,
obtaining approval from the Under Secretary for Management
Affairs to use the Diplomatic Courier Service. Couriers
transported Ambassador Stuart's ashes from the Springfield,
Virginia Logistics Operation Center via New York and Seoul to
Shanghai, arriving on October 20. Ambassador Stuart's ashes
remained at the Consulate until Fugh arrived in Shanghai and
traveled to Hangzhou with the CG on November 16.
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