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

No. 2690

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s despatch No. 2660 of June 8, 1944, in regard to the 12th Plenary Session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee, I have the honor to enclose a translation of a statement82 recently issued by cultural circles at Chungking regarding freedom of speech and publication in which is included a petition to the 12th Plenary Session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee on that subject.

Summary of Enclosure. The statement of the views of Chungking cultural circles regarding freedom of speech and publication is addressed to the following organizations: The People’s Political Council, the Federation for the Realization of Constitutional Government, the various provincial and district assemblies, various newspapers, various legal bodies and cultural circles throughout the country. The statement points to the vital part to be played in the national cultural crisis by cultural elements and states that during the past few years numerous literary productions as well as translated articles and technical textbooks have been suppressed. It is charged that even though the publications did not contravene any national law they were suppressed on the ground that they did not accord with national policy or national characteristics or the demands of the war of resistance. There are said to have been numerous cases in which Kuomintang and civil officials and military and police officers have arbitrarily interfered with the publication and the sale of books. The statement describes the contrast in democratic nations where the people enjoy democratic rights and appeals for respect for democratic rights in China and the removal of the restrictions imposed on speech and publication.

The petition to the Kuomintang CEC submits suggestions for consideration as follows: (1) the abolition of the system of examination [Page 458] of publications and dramatic performances; (2) regularized procedure for the registration of periodicals; (3) except through legal procedure publications not to be suppressed and military or civil authorities not to suppress or detain any publication or interfere with dramatic performances; (4) local authorities to be instructed effectively to abide by laws and ordinances and to guarantee freedom of speech and publication; and (5) drafts of publications and plays previously seized or disapproved shall with certain exceptions be returned to the writers. The petition is signed by 78 Chinese cultural leaders and includes such well known figures as Mao Tun, Lao She and Kuo Mo-jo. End of Summary.

This statement and petition by Chinese cultural leaders give further evidence of the growing dissatisfaction among various and diverse elements in China with the Kuomintang and its policies. It does not seem likely that such a statement and petition would have been presented to the Kuomintang a year ago, but during the past year there has been an increasingly vocal critical attitude toward Kuomintang policies. American press criticism of China has perhaps provided the initial impetus to the ever more frequent expression of criticism of Kuomintang repressive policies and Dr. Sun Fo’s recent speeches have further encouraged diverse elements of the Chinese scene to take some positive action to obtain needed reforms in China. There seem to be at present, however, few indications that the Kuomintang has any intention of effecting any far-reaching reforms which would meet such criticism. The failure of the Kuomintang to meet the appeals for reform can, therefore, be expected to increase the intensity of the opposition to the Kuomintang and to give further fuel for discontent with the present regime in many Chinese circles.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
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