The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State

No. 478

Sir: I have the honor to transmit, as being of possible interest to the Department as a reflection of relations between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists, and as an example of a cruder type of Kuomintang propaganda, a recent copy of a semi-monthly paper, the Liang Hsin Hua (roughly translatable as “Honest Talk”).

The chief object of this paper, judging from the emphasis on space and position, is propaganda against the Chinese Communist Party. Exactly the same terms of opprobrium are used for the Wang Ching-wei and Communist Border Region governments—both being referred to as wei (bogus or unauthorized)—but at least half of the leading articles, news items and total space of the paper are devoted to the Communists, while the remaining half is divided between the Wang Ching-wei and other puppet regimes, the Japanese, and general news, such as a story of the plight of “cultural workers” in Shanghai after December 8.

Translations of three of the leading articles of this issue are enclosed.14 Briefly: the first urges extension of National Mobilization to and the abolition of the special status of the Border Area (where mobilization is in fact already far more complete that [than] it has ever been in Kuomintang controlled China); the second “exposes” the Communist system of local government by councils of family heads; the third describes the “pitiful condition of the farmers under the oppression of the Communists”.

It is significant that the vision of the paper does not seem to reach beyond China. Although the Chinese Communists are damned, nothing is said of Russia. Japan is called a barbarous enemy, but only for its war on China. Despite the date of the paper—May 15, 1942—there is no mention of a world struggle against aggression, of China’s part in it, or of the many nations united together with China.

It is well known that the press in China is rigidly controlled. There are both political and military censorships—by the Central Publicity Board of the Kuomintang and the Military Affairs Commission. In addition, all newspapers must be registered with the Ministry of Interior, and all publications sold in the city of Chungking must have the approval of the Municipal Government. In [Page 201] Chungking the authorities make a pretense of “freedom of the press”—probably for the impression on foreigners—but deleted or partially censored editorials are not uncommon and outright criticism of the government or party almost unknown. Outside of Chungking the situation is reported to be worse. One effect of this control is to suppress much news; another is to discourage comment on domestic issues, leading to the often remarked unhealthy tendency to devote editorial comment to foreign affairs and, often, to criticism of China’s allies. The “prize exhibit” of this freedom of the press in Chungking is the continuance in publication of the Communist supported Hsin Hua Jih Pao. But the control is so close that this paper rarely comments on internal affairs and, especially during the past few months, has gone for weeks at a time without any editorials at all. In view of its emasculated character, it is rather amusing that samples of it should have been included in a recent exhibit of “enemy propaganda” shown to students of the Central Training Corps, a school for party workers near Chungking.

Other indications of the closeness of this press control are the facts that Communist publications from the Border Area are not permitted to come into Kuomintang controlled areas, and that no other Communist publication or propaganda material has come to the attention of the members of this Embassy.

The Liang Hsin Hua is hawked openly on the ferry boats, streets and other public places and has a wide circulation. It bears a Ministry of Interior registration number and states that it is registered with the Post Office as a newspaper. But the names of its editors or publishers are not published and cannot be ascertained. Inquiries by the Communist representatives have received the answer that it is not actually registered, that the Kuomintang authorities know nothing as to its publishers, and that it is in fact an illegal publication. Efforts by the Embassy to obtain a mail subscription through the address given were unsuccessful.

Under the conditions of press control described above, the assertion that this paper is published and sold without the knowledge and approval of the Kuomintang is absurd. The Communist representatives claim to have knowledge that it is published under the direct supervision of the Vice Minister of Publicity, Pan Kung-chan. Whether or not this is a fact, it is significant that the man in the street takes for granted that it is an officially inspired Kuomintang publication.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Not printed.