The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Penfield) to the Secretary of State 5

No. 37

Subject: Manifestos Urging Democracy for China.

Sir: I have the honor to enclose6 (1) a translation of a document entitled “Ten Points in Regard to National Affairs Advocated by the Society for the Promotion of Democratic Constitutional Government” dated Chengtu, June 20, 1944, and (2) a translation of a document dated June 1944 issued by the “Democratic Anti-Japanese Association of Chengtu Cultural Circles.”

The substance of these two documents is very similar; the ten points of the first document are paralleled by a nine point program set forth in the second. Both programs demand effective adherence to the Tutelage Period Provisional Constitution, freedom of person, speech, publication, association and belief, popular election of the present advisory legislative bodies and extension of their powers, and abolition of abuses in connection with conscription and taxation. The first document contains a short preliminary statement to the effect that “unless democracy is put into effect immediately it will not be possible to unite all elements in the country to achieve victory.” The second document contains a much longer and more interesting preliminary statement the keynote of which is that “though victory is said to be approaching we feel lack of strength to go through this most critical stage; the fundamental reason for this is nothing but the lack of democracy in our political life.”

The Society for the Promotion of Democratic Constitutional Government is a private organization said to have been established last year. Chang Lan (Chang Piao-fang), Chairman of the Federation of Chinese Democratic Parties, and Young China Party leaders (from whom I obtained a copy of the manifesto) appear to be the most active elements in its direction. It is asserted locally that this organization has been given quarters in Chengtu and at least negative support—in other words, relative freedom from official interference—by Provincial Chairman Chang Chun, in order to provide a counter-weight to other local military and political groups. However, the Society probably does not have any greater significance or basis of popular support than the other numerous non-Kuomintang political groups.

The second manifesto was obtained from a local University professor who is also a local leader of the National Salvation Group. On the [Page 479] basis of his statements it appears that the “association” which issued the manifesto is a relatively small (it claims 100 adherents), clandestine group and that the manifesto itself was inspired by the somewhat similar statement recently issued—and signed—by Kuo Mo-jo and other cultural leaders in Chungking. Although the cultural “association” is doubtless a less formal and extensive group than the Democratic Constitutional Government Society, its manifesto impresses one as being a more genuine, sincere and realistic statement of ideals than that of the Society. Both manifestos are printed but so far as is known neither has had a very wide distribution.

The small anti-Kuomintang political groups appear to have little real power or influence at present but, as their stated ideals are probably at least passively shared by large numbers of Chinese, as they are the only organized, soi-disant liberal, political opposition (with the exception of the Communists), and as the present Chinese political situation is admittedly potentially explosive, it is believed that the activities of these small groups are worthy of being followed with some attention.

Respectfully yours,

J. K. Penfield
  1. Approved by the Ambassador in China for transmission to the Department.
  2. Enclosures not printed.