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
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.