893.00/13464: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

94. Peiping’s 183, April 14, 2 p.m.46

Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury April 16 published in news columns an “explanation of the hitherto completely mysterious” release of Bosshardt47 as due to change in Communist policy [Page 113] described in a quoted article said to have been written by one Wang Ming, “leading member of the Internationale in Moscow” and to have appeared (date not given) in the London International Press Correspondence, “official organ of the Communist Internationale”. According to this quoted article the new policy involves (1), concentration of Communist effort against “Japanese imperialism”; (2), establishment of more normal relations with other “imperialist” powers which “should not exclude the possibility under certain conditions of fighting together with them” against Japan; (3), relinquishment of “partisan traditions in relation to foreign diplomatic, trading, cultural and religious institutions and persons, i. e., a stop should be put to their arrest and holding to ransom.”
Such policy would seem to be complete reversal of that hitherto followed including opportunist attacks upon foreigners as illustrated by the reported statement of the Stams’ murderers in December, 1934,48 that the victims were being killed because being missionaries they were imperialists and had assisted Chiang Kai Shek in anti-Communist acts. That the reported new policy caused Bosshardt’s release would not appear to be entirely borne out by Yunnanfu’s April 15, 4 p.m., to the Embassy that Bosshardt when freed was told by Communist leader that Father Kellner would be released upon payment of ransom.
A change in Communist policy as described in Wang’s article would be a logical development in the light of present strained Soviet-Japanese relations because it would tend (1), simultaneously to strengthen the Communist cause in China and build up possible resources against Japan by playing upon and supporting the anti-Japanese feeling in this country: and (2), to weaken Chinese official and popular sentiment against Communists by aligning the latter with other Chinese against the common enemy. Moreover, although the principles of the First International are opposed alike to the furthering of representative democratic institutions and of nationalistic ambitions, nevertheless Russian Communist advisers for their own ends espoused “bourgeois democratic” aims in this country until 1927 and if the reported present plan to direct Chinese Communist strength against Japan is a fact, the change in policy appears to be a reversion to past technique. The opportunity given by the situation in the Far East to use Chinese nationalistic feeling as a weapon against Japanese nationalism with a view to breaking down the latter, thereby permitting the growth of Communism in Japan would also seem to be a logical objective at this time.
To the Department and Peiping. By mail to Moscow, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Telegram No. 183, April 14, 2 p.m., from the Ambassador in China reported that this missionery was “understood to be of Swiss nationality” (893.00/13457).
  3. For correspondence concerning this case, see Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. iii, pp. 479 ff.