893.00 P.R./12

The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State

No. 1750

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,64 I have the honor to submit the following summary, with index, of events and conditions in China during October, 1928:

[Page 171]

The outstanding events of the month were the promulgation on October 3rd [4th?], by the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, of the “Organic Law for the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China”65 and the inauguration at Nanking, on October 10th, of the new State Council and the five Yuan or branches of the Government which were created by the law, and which under the general direction and control of the Kuomintang, are to handle the affairs of the country.

The period was marked by no military operations.

The Organic Law for the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China

The preamble of the law states that the Kuomintang of China, pursuant to the three people’s principles and the five power constitution, establishes the Republic of China. According to the preamble, it is likewise the Kuomintang which has formulated and promulgated the “law governing the organization of the Nationalist Government.” There is no question of a yielding up, on the part of the Kuomintang, of its preponderant influence in the country’s affairs by the readjustment here involved. This is made clear by the fact that at the time of the adoption of the Organic Law the party resolved, inter alia, (1) that the Central Executive Committee and the Central Political Council should direct and supervise the State Council in the execution of important affairs, and (2) that the revision and interpretation of the law governing the reorganization of the Nationalist Government should be decided and carried out by the Central Executive Committee and the Central Political Council.

It may be stated, parenthetically, that there has been no meeting of the National Congress of the Kuomintang, from which the Central Executive Committee, the Central Supervisory Committee, and the Central Political Council derive their authority, since 1924. The next or third National Congress, or, as it is more literally translated, the third National Convention of Kuomintang Representatives, is to be held at Nanking on January 1, 1929. One half of the representatives at this Congress are to be appointed by the central Kuomintang authorities and the other half by the various local branches of the party.

The State Council is the highest unit under the system of government provided for by the Organic Law and the chairman of this body is the formal head of the state. He officiates at state functions, receives the representatives of foreign countries, and is concurrently [Page 172] commander-in-chief of the army and navy. All laws promulgated and all mandates issued by virtue of a decision of the State Council are signed by him and countersigned by the directors of the five Yuan, which are dependent from the State Council.

The most arresting feature of the Law is the five power principle by which an endeavor appears to have been made to combine the essential features of Chinese and Western governmental systems. The five Yuan or branches of the government, are the executive, legislative, and judicial departments, as is customary in Western theory, in addition to two branches which are revivals of old Chinese governmental agencies, namely an examination department, which will in effect have charge of the civil service, and a control or supervisory department, which is to exercise powers of impeachment and auditing.

The Executive Yuan is composed of ten ministries, including those of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior, headed, respectively, by Dr. C. T. Wang and General Yen Hsi-shan, and five boards including those of national reconstruction and of Mongolian and Tibetan affairs. While the Executive Yuan, inter alia, handles such questions as “budgets, amnesties, declarations of war, peace negotiations, and the conclusion of treaties and other important international matters,” its decisions in regard to them are to be reviewed by the Legislative Yuan. The Judicial Yuan, in general, deals with such questions as its name implies.

The Organic Law went into force, on the date of promulgation, for an undefined period, tentatively estimated to be five years. It is a period of political tutelage to last, according to Kuomintang pronouncements, until the people shall have been trained to exercise their four political rights of election, recall, initiative, and referendum.

Inauguration of the New Government

The Government was inaugurated at Nanking on October 10th with General Chiang Kai-shek as Chairman of the State Council. This body is composed of sixteen members including, in addition to the chairmen of the five Yuan, such important military leaders as Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang and General Chang Hsueh-liang. The last named is reported to have telegraphed to General Chiang Kai-shek from Mukden expressing appreciation in his appointment and indicating that he was prepared to accept the responsibilities of the office. Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, probably the most powerful figure in China today and one whose views carry corresponding weight, was at first reported to be opposed to the inclusion of the “Young Marshal” in the State Council, but was later stated to welcome it. [Page 173] As set forth in local editorial comment on the subject, the appointment would appear to be essential to the reputed new order of cooperation and compromise.

Messrs. Tan Yen-kai, Hu Han-min, Wang Chung-hui, Tai Chi-tao, and Tsai Yuan-pei were appointed chairmen respectively of the executive, legislative, judicial, examination, and control Yuan. Feng Yu-hsiang, incidentally, has been appointed Vice Chairman of the Executive Yuan and Minister of Military Affairs.

In the matter of nomenclature, and as significant of the changed situation in China, it is of interest to record that it was decided at a meeting, on October 11th, of the standing committee of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang to change the English name of the new régime from the “Nationalist” to the “National” Government of the Republic of China. The reason given for this modification was that while the term “Nationalist” was an appropriate designation for the Southern faction while the Northern Government was still in existence, “National” was more suitable at this time, when virtually the whole country was under the control of Nanking.

The Legation was not officially apprised of the new name or asked by the Chinese Government to adopt it, during the period under review.

Sino-Japanese Relations

A change of feeling between the two countries facilitating the conduct of negotiations looking to a settlement of the differences between them was notic[e]able during October. Nothing very definite was accomplished, however.

After a number of meetings at Nanking between the Nationalist Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Consul General at Shanghai, who had gone to Nanking on October 18th, the following announcement, of October 25th, was made:

“C. T. Wang and Yada have minutely exchanged views regarding the Sino-Japanese issues, in connection with the Sino-Japanese treaty question, the Tsinan, Nanking and Hankow cases, and have agreed to tentative measures for their solution, with the result that both sides have reported to their respective governments for instructions.”

Manchurian questions do not appear to have been discussed. The Legation is informed, in this relation, that Japan does not wish to establish a protectorate over that region and that there are only two aspects of the situation with which that country is really con-concerned, namely, the question of the extension of railroads in Manchuria and the question of the lease of land.

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Conditions in Chefoo

Eastern Shantung, in common with other sections of North China, was occupied by Nationalist forces during the first part of June. At the end of July and during August, however, the five-barred Northern flag again was flying in that district, as the result of a coup d’état on the part of an adherent of General Chang Tsung-ch’ang. The Nationalist Government nominally regained control, through the agency of General Liu Chen-nien, on September 3rd.

Early in October, it became apparent that the relationship between the Nationalist Government and the régime set up for himself by the semi-independent Liu Chen-nien was far from being a cordial one, notwithstanding the fact that the General had sworn allegiance to Nanking. As suggested in reports from the American Consul at Chefoo,66 it appeared to be the General’s intention to ignore the central authorities and by the most ruthless methods to retain command of the area. To that end he did not hesitate to resort to a series of cold-blooded murders of representatives of Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, who had come to urge him to leave Chefoo quietly, and of a number of emissaries of the Nationalist Government who had come to discuss taxation questions and other administrative matters. More than forty such political murders took place.

Mr. Webber reported that at the end of the month General Liu still controlled the area, that assassinations had ceased, that order was being maintained, and that the character of the General’s relationship to the Nationalist Government remained in doubt.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

J. V. A. MacMurray
  1. Not printed.
  2. Treaties and Agreements With and Concerning China, 1919–1929 (Washington, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1929), p. 233.
  3. Leroy Webber.