File No. 1518/164–165.

Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 989.]

Sir: Referring to the legation’s dispatches Nos. 742 of September 28, 1907, and 765 of October 22, 1907, with which were inclosed translations of the edicts establishing Constitutional and Deliberate Assemblies, I have the honor to transmit herewith a condensed translation of a most interesting memorial recently submitted to the Throne and approved by it concerning the mode of election to, the composition and the duties of the provincial deliberative assemblies, from which the members of the Constitutional Assembly are ultimately to be drawn. The provincial assemblies are to convene within a year.

The imperial edict of October 19, 1907, decreed the immediate establishment of provincial deliberative assemblies, but the instructions as to the method of forming these bodies were so vague that no attempt has yet been made in this direction by the provincial authorities. It is probable that, the above difficulty having been removed, the assemblies will be started within the period named. The constitutional assembly alluded to will be established as soon after the foundation of the provincial assemblies as the advancement of the country seems to the Throne to warrant such a step.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.

Abstract of memorial submitted by the bureau for the collation of administrative methods and the Constitutional Assembly accompanying the regular Hons for the provincial deliberative assemblies.

(Imperial rescript issued July 22, 1908: “Sanctioned.”)

An imperial edict was issued on October 19, 1907, saying that the establishment of the Constitutional Assembly had been decreed as a start toward a Parliament. In every Province there should be a deliberative assembly where public opinion could be ascertained, and the Constitutional Assembly should [Page 183] draw its members from the provincial assemblies. The powers of these assemblies shall be limited strictly to debate, the final determination and execution of all measures belonging exclusively to the provincial authorities. The provincial assemblies shall furnish any information required by the Constitutional Assembly and they shall be empowered to make suggestions to the provincial authorities. [End of edict.]

The important principles of constitutional government are (1) giving the people an insight into governmental affairs and (2) placing officials under the scrutiny of the people. All forms of constitutional government have deliberative bodies.

The idea of consulting the wishes of the people is not a new one to China. It is advocated in the Chinese classics. But such popular discussion must be strictly regulated to avoid leading to disastrous results.

The imperial command has been received to establish provincial deliberative assemblies in addition to the Constitutional Assembly in Peking. The Empire unites in praise of this act of the Throne. Foreign constitutional governments have parliaments of two houses in the capital which act in conjunction with local self-government bodies. But owing to the size of the Chinese Empire local administration centers in the viceroy and governor, thus marking a differentiation from the foreign type of government. The provincial authorities are under the direct control of the Throne, another point of difference. The, provincial assemblies, while concerned with local government and designed to voice popular opinion, can not be held to diminish the supreme authority of the Central Government. It must not be forgotten that all deliberative bodies are restricted in their functions to debate. They have absolutely no executive powers. In foreign constitutional governments the powers of popular deliberative bodies are similarly restricted. In Germany the promotion and removal of officials is expressly reserved as a prerogative of the Throne, likewise in Japan. A parliament is an essential attribute of a constitutional government and a date must be set for the establishment of a parliament in China. As a start toward a parliament the Constitutional Assembly and the provincial deliberate assemblies are now established. Hereafter the Throne may set a date for the establishment of a parliament. The method of operation of the parliament and the provincial deliberative assemblies will be identical. The powers of the parliament must be defined in advance.

provincial deliberative assemblies.

[Regulations approved by the Throne, July 22, 1908.]

Article I.General character.

Section 1. The provincial deliberative assemblies shall conform with the imperial edicts and act as places where the public opinion of the respective Provinces may be ascertained; they shall also deliberate as to what would seem to be beneficial for the Province and shall advise their superiors of their opinions. The above shall be their principal function.

The provincial deliberative assemblies shall be held wherever the provincial viceroy or governor has his seat.

Article II.The members of the assemblies.

Sec. 2. The members of the provincial assemblies shall be elected to the numbers set forth in the following table and shall have to be selected in two successive elections:

Members Members
Feng-t’ien 50 Anhui 83
Kirin 30 Kiangsi 66
Heilungchiang 30 Chekiang 114
Chihli (including Shun-t’ien) 40 Fukien 72
Nanking 55 Hupeh 80
Hunan 82 Hsin-chiang 30
Shantung 100 Ssu-ch’uan 103
Honan 96 Kwang-tung 91
Shansi 86 Kwang-hsi 57
Shensi 63 Yunnan 68
Kansu 43 Kwei-chou 39
Kiangsu 66

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The Manchu bannermen shall be held to be residents of the places where they are stationed, whether it is in Peking or the Provinces. Up to the time the laws governing the bannermen are changed, however, the Peking bannermen shall be entitled to 10 exclusive representatives, who shall constitute an addition to the number permitted to Chihli (including Shun-t’ien). Bannermen stationed as garrisons in the Provinces shall be represented by from one to three additional members as determined by the viceroy, governor, and Tartar general acting jointly.

Note by Memorialists.—The representation in the provincial deliberative assemblies would best of all be arranged strictly on a basis of population, but as China has not yet made a census, and to make one now would consume too much time, the statistics of the literary examinations and the tax rolls have been taken as a basis for reckoning the number of assembly members to assign each Province. Five per cent of the number of licentiates of each Province was fixed as the number of the members. But in Kiangsu, while the revenue yielded to the Throne in tribute rice is large, the number of licentiates is small. Accordingly one member has been added for every 30,000 piculs of rice yielded. On this basis there are 9 additional members at Nanking and 23 at Soochow. In Che-kiang and other Provinces while much tribute rice is yielded yet the number of licentiates is also large, and there have been no additional members added. In Manchuria and the New Dominion, which places have not been created into Provinces for a very long time, it is difficult to learn definitely statistics of either the taxes or the examinations; accordingly an attempt has been made to set a suitable number irrespective of these-facts. The number of members returned from each prefecture, independent subprefecture, department, and district will be arranged by the provincial authorities in accordance with the supplementary regulations.

In foreign countries a distinction is made between the direct election and the indirect election of the members of deliberative bodies. In the former case the members are chosen directly by the voters. In the second case the voters select electors, who in turn elect the members of the deliberative bodies. At this time, when a beginning is being made in the methods of election, nothing careless should be done. It is to be urged against a hasty adoption of the method of direct election that its operations are not very exact and make it possible for mere useless figureheads to be elected. In this article the second method described is selected with a view to caution.

In the last few years many edicts have been issued having for their aim the obliteration of the distinctions between Manchus and Chinese, and it is hoped that at some future time when the laws governing them have been altered that the bannermen may be accounted residents of the locality in which they live. But before these laws are changed and the Manchus merged in the Chinese population, if the bannermen in Peking and elsewhere are not provided with special representatives they will have no opportunity to become acquainted with governmental affairs. Accordingly, provision has been made for the temporary representation of bannermen by special members, etc.

Article III.

Sec. 3. Any man 25 years of age, or over, who is a native of a Province and conforms in any one respect with the requirements enumerated below has the privilege of voting in the election of members of the deliberative assemblies:

  • “(1) Having been successfully engaged for three years or more in teaching or in some other occupation conducive to the public good.
  • “(2) Having graduated from a middle school, or school of corresponding grade, in China or abroad, and possessing proof of the same.
  • “(3) Having the former literary degree of a senior licentiate (kung-sheng) or a higher one.
  • “(4) Having held any substantive official post of the seventh civil or fifth military rank or higher, and not having been degraded on impeachment.
  • “(5) Having any business capitalized for $5,000 or possessing real estate to the value of $5,000”

Note.—The franchise abroad may be classified as universal and restricted. In countries where universal franchise is the rule the Government makes no demands as to property; all male citizens who are of legal age may vote. In countries of restricted franchise, possession of property or the amount of taxes paid is the basis for granting or withholding the franchise. At the present time, when a beginning is being made in the establishment of elective offices, the universal franchise can not be granted. If a property qualification alone were demanded it would tend to inculcate money greed among the people and lead them to honor the rich. So various qualifications have been selected and the range has been widened to include other things besides material wealth. There have been added qualifications of reputation, learning, and official office, all of which are adjudged of equal importance with wealth, and any one of which will entitle a man to vote. And thus the admission of unqualified men to vote will be avoided and no partiality will be shown, etc.

Sec. 4. Any man of legal age (25) who, though not a native of a Province has nevertheless lived in the said Province 10 years and has the sum of $10,000 or more invested in a business or in real property, is qualified to vote for members of the provincial deliberative assembly of the said Province.

Sec. 5. Any native of a Province or any one (30 years old) not a native, who has lived in the Province at least 10 years, is eligible to election to the provincial deliberative assembly.

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Sec. 6. If under any of the following disabilities, no man shall be allowed to vote for or to be elected a member of the provincial deliberative assemblies:

Any turbulent or law-breaking person.
Any person who has suffered imprisonment or any more serious penalty of the law.
Any one who has been engaged in any disreputable business.
Any one who has been put under suspicion in a business matter and has not been exonerated.
Any one who uses opium.
Any insane person.
Any who himself or a member of whose family is engaged in any disreputable pursuit.
Any illiterate person.

Sec. 7. The following of the occupations named below during their continuance shall prevent a man from voting for or from being elected a member of a deliberative assembly:

Tenure of public office in the province or acting as private secretary to any official.
Enrollment as a soldier or in the first or second reserves.
Holding a commission as a police officer.
Being occupied as a Buddhist or Taoist priest or as a religious teacher in any other creed.
Being enrolled as a student in any school.

Note.—The disabilities mentioned in this section are not selected because they show necessarily any lack of those qualities which an elector or a candidate should have, or because they indicate a lack of accord with the character of such functionaries; but the officials of a province and their private secretaries are engaged in public affairs and occupied with the same business as is the provincial deliberative assembly, and it is to be feared that if the former are given the electoral or office-holding privileges misconduct and mutual interference may result, or criminal alliance. It is a universal law that soldiers shall have no right to concern themselves with matters of government and the principle applies to the police. Buddhist, Taoist, and other religious priests are concerned exclusively with the affairs of their respective religious organizations and do not interfere with mundane matters. Students in schools should put their attention on their studies, and naturally should not concern themselves with governmental matters. For the above reasons the classes enumerated are debarred from voting for or being elected members of the provincial deliberative assemblies.

Sec 8. Teachers in primary schools shall not be eligible to election, for to hold office as members of the deliberative assemblies would interfere with the performance of their important duties. But they shall retain the right to vote.

Sec. 9. The regulations governing the method of voting will necessarily be very long and will consequently be embodied in a separate set of rules.

Article III.—The chairman, vice chairman, and permanent committee of the deliberative assembly.

Sec. 10. A chairman, two vice chairmen, and a number of permanent officials shall be selected from among the members of the assembly. The members on continuous duty shall be one-fifth of the entire number. The chairman and vice chairman shall be elected separately by ballot, but the members on continuous duty shall be elected en bloc. A majority of the votes cast shall elect. The detailed regulations shall be determined by each assembly.

Note.—The business of the province never ceases, and in order that the assemblies may not be obliged to be in session longer than is necessary the above permanent committee is provided for, etc.

Sec. 11. The chairman shall direct the business of the assembly assisted by the vice chairman. In the absence of the chairman a vice chairman shall act, and in the absence of all three a temporary chairman shall be elected.

Sec 12. The members of the permanent committee shall conform to section 21, clauses 9 to 12, and when the assembly is not in session shall obey the orders of the chairman, giving account of their actions at the next subsequent meeting of the assembly. The members of the permanent committee shall be ready at all times to answer the inquiries of the viceroy or governor.

Sec 13. The chairman, vice chairman, and members of the permanent committee shall be in their place of public business continuously, in order to avoid delay.

Sec 14. With the exception of the above special functions the chairman, vice chairman, and members of the permanent committee shall have the same powers as the other members of the assembly.

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Article IV.—Terms of offices and filling of vacancies.

Sec. 15. The chairman and members of the assembly shall hold office for three years, but the members of the permanent committee shall hold office for only one year. The term of office shall be reckoned from the first day of the meeting of the assembly next following upon the election.

Sec. 16. When the chairman for any reason irregularly vacates his office, the vice chairman shall take his place. When the vice chairmen for any reason irregularly vacate their office a successor for each shall be elected by the members of the assembly from among their number. If the vacancy occurs while the assembly is not in session the choice shall be made from among the members of the permanent committee. When an unexpected vacancy occurs in the permanent committee it shall be filled by the man highest on the list of the expectant members of the committee. If a vacancy occurs in the assembly it shall be filled by the one highest on the list of those who were elected to the assembly but were not appointed.

Sec. 17. Those appointed temporarily to fill vacancies shall hold office only until the conclusion of the term for which they were appointed.

Article V.—Elections and resignations.

Sec 18. When his term of office has expired a member may be reelected, but only for one additional term. No member shall be removed before the expiration of his term on account of changes in the electoral districts.

Sec 19. No member may resign except for the following reasons: (1) Sickness that makes impossible for him the performance of his duties; (2) unavoidable changes of residence to another province; (3) some other reason approved by the assembly.

Sec 20. Any member reelected may resign if desirous of doing so.

Article VI.Powers and duties of the assembly.

Sec. 21. The deliberative assembly shall perform the following functions: (1) Determine the policy of the province; (2) make preliminary estimates of the income and expenditure of the province; (3) settling the amount of the above; (4) determine the taxes to be levied and the funds to be borrowed; (5) decide as to innovations in the provinces (i. e., additional taxes, etc.); (7) decide as to changes in the administration of the provincial government; (8) elect delegates to the constitutional assembly; (9) to answer questions put by the constitutional assembly; (10) to answer questions put by the viceroy or governor; (11) to supervise the local self-government societies; (12) receive and consider the proposals of the local self-government societies and the people.

Sec 22. Those measures advocated by the deliberative assembly they shall request the viceroy or governor to make official. If the viceroy or governor consider the said measures unwise he shall direct the deliberative assembly to reconsider them.

Sec 23. When the deliberative assembly shall decide that any measures are unwise it shall appeal to the viceroy or governor to make the required changes. If the latter official disagrees with the opinion of the deliberative assembly the procedure outlined in section 22 shall be followed.

Sec 24. If the deliberative assembly when instructed by the provincial authorities to reconsider any decision shall not alter said decision the provincial authorities may lay a full statement of the case before the constitutional assembly in Peking.

Sec 25. In anticipation of the meeting of the assembly the viceroy or governor shall make a list of those topics enumerated under the first seven heads of section 21, which the assembly shall discuss at the coming session. With the exception of heads 2 and 3 the assembly is at liberty to discuss any of the topics mentioned.

Sec 26. The deliberative assembly may appeal to the viceroy or governor in case of uncertainty, but if said official deems it necessary to maintain secrecy with regard to any matter he may inform the assembly of the general aspects of the case only.

Sec 27. If the viceroy or governor of a province shall hinder the assembly in the exercise of its lawful functions or shall break the laws of the Empire, the deliberative assembly may accuse him to the constitutional assembly in Peking.

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Sec. 28. In cases of bribery by the officials of the gentry of a province the deliberative assembly may acquaint the viceroy or governor of the facts of the case.

Sec. 29. If two provinces shall be engaged in a dispute the deliberative assembly may request the viceroy or governor to lay the case before the constitutional assembly in Peking for decision.

Sec 30. When the constitutional assembly shall make any decision in accordance with the provisions of sections 24, 27, and 29, said decision shall be authoritative.

Article XII.—Meeting of the assembly.

Sec 31. The sessions of the deliberative assembly shall be of two kinds, regular and special. The viceroy or governor shall summon the deliberative assembly to a session. The viceroy or governor shall attend the assembly in person the first day and explain the rules under which it will be conducted.

Sec 32. The deliberative assembly shall have one regular annual session which shall last about 40 days, from’the 1st of the 9th moon to the 11th of the 10th moon, but an extension of 10 days may be made in order to conclude unfinished business.

Sec 33. Special sessions of the assembly may be held to settle important business at the order of the viceroy or governor, or at the petition of one-third of the members, or at the petition of the chairman and permanent committee.

Sec 34. Notice shall be given to the members 30 days in advance of any meeting of the assembly of the topics to be discussed at the next session.

Sec 35. A half of the members shall be present before the assembly shall be declared open.

Sec 36. A majority of the members shall decide any question, and in case of a tie vote the chairman shall cast the deciding ballot.

Sec. 37. The viceroy or governor may attend the assembly to declare his views or he may send a deputy to do so, but he may not vote.

Sec 38. When any topic coming up for discussion is one of personal importance to any member or to any member’s family or relatives, or if it is a topic affecting any official prerogative of any member, said member shall not engage in the discussion nor participate in the vote in connection with said topic.

Sec 39. No member shall be molested elsewhere for language used in the assembly, but if he shall repeat any sentiments outside of the assembly which are of an unlawful character he may be punished therefor.

Sec 40. No member shall be arrested for any crime during the session of the assembly without the assent of the assembly.

Sec 41. Except for the following special reasons, the public shall not be denied admittance to the sessions of the deliberative assemblies: (1) At the instruction of the viceroy or governor; (2) on the unanimous decision of the chairman; (3) at the instance of more than 10 of the members.

Sec 42. Except when the chairmen unanimously consider that secrecy is imperative the transactions of the deliberative assemblies shall be communicated to the public, the provincial authorities, and the constitutional assembly in Peking.

Sec 43. When any member shall transgress the rules of debate, the chairman may forbid him to continue discussion, and in the event of his refusal to obey may expel him from the hall, or if disorder arises in the assembly the chairman may dissolve the meeting.

Sec 44. Spectators breaking the rules may be ejected by the chairman.

Sec 45. The rules of debate and the rules governing the admission of spectators shall be drawn up by the deliberative assemblies and authorized by the viceroy or governor, and promulgated.

Article VIII.—Regulations.

Sec 46. The highest provincial authority has the duty of supervising the election of the members of the deliberative assembly and controlling the meetings of the assembly; he shall also at his discretion authorize the decisions of the asembly.

Sec 47. The following shall be sufficient reasons for the adjournment of the assembly by the viceroy or governor: (1) Transgression of the limits of their [Page 188] functions and refusal to obey the viceroy or governor; (2) the arrival at any decision of an illegal character; (3) any disorder too serious to be controlled by the chairman.

Sec. 48. For the following reasons the viceroy or governor may memorialize the Throne to dissolve the assembly, but in this event he shall lay the case fully before the constitutional assembly: (1) The expression of sentiments reflecting unfavorably on the Throne; (2) any act calculated to disturb the peaceful rule of the country; (3) refusal to adjourn when ordered to by the viceroy or governor, or refusal to yield after having been adjourned several times; (4) the refusal of a considerable number of the members of the assembly to attend the meeting of the assembly after having been repeatedly summoned.

Sec. 49. When the assembly has been dissolved the viceroy or governor shall at the same time instruct the local officials to hold new elections, and the assembly shall convene within two months.

Article IX.—Offices of the Assembly.

Sec. 50. The assembly shall establish offices for the transaction of the correspondence and the keeping of the accounts of the assembly, said offices to be controlled by the chairman.

Sec. 51. The following officials shall be employed in the offices: A chief secretary and four secretaries, said officials to be selected by the chairman and the appointments to be confirmed by the viceroy or governor.

Sec. 52. The deliberative assembly itself shall determine the exact lines on which the offices shall be conducted.

Article X.—Expenditures.

Sec 53. The viceroy or governor shall furnish funds to the assembly for the following purposes: (1) The traveling expenses of the members; (2) the expenses of the chairman and the members of the permanent committee; (3) the salaries of the secretaries; (4) miscellaneous expenditures; (5) an emergency fund.

Sec. 54. The viceroy or governor shall determine the amount of the expenses and salaries mentioned in the preceding section.

Sec. 55. The chairman shall audit the expenditures of the assembly monthly and shall draw up accounts of expenditures at the regular sessions and submit the same to the assembly.

Article XI.—Discipline.

Sec. 56. The discipline used in the deliberative assembly may be divided into the following two varieties: (1) Suspension from attendance at the assembly for a period not exceeding 10 days; (2) expulsion.

Sec. 57. Suspension shall require the unanimous decision of all the chairmen. Expulsion shall follow unanimous decision of the assembly.

Sec. 58. A member may be suspended for infraction of rules or for disorderly conduct; in case of serious offenses he may be expelled.

Sec 59. If a member shall, without reason, absent himself for any period of 10 days from the meeting of the assembly he shall be expelled.

Sec 60. If a member shall meddle in any outside affairs he shall be suspended or in case of unusual gravity expelled.

Article XII.—Additional sections.

Sec. 61. These regulations shall take effect from the date of arrival of the dispatch bringing news of the imperial sanction.

Sec. 62. In case of any deficiency in these regulations the provincial deliberative assembly may make suggestions to the provincial authorities, who will in turn communicate with the bureau for the collation of administrative methods and the constitutional assembly, who will together arrive at a decision with regard thereto.