The Appointed Ambassador in China (Hurley) to the Secretary of State

No. 58

Sir: I have the honor to report the receipt of telegram no. 182, December 12, 1 p.m., from Mr. O. Edmund Clubb, American Consul General at Vladivostok, transmitted through the Embassy at Moscow as its telegram no. 7, December 14, 8 p.m.,38 suggesting that in view of recent changes in the personnel of the Chinese Government at Chungking, the replacement of General Sheng Shih-tsai as Chairman of the Sinkiang Provincial Government, and the detail to Tihwa as Commissioner for Foreign Affairs of Mr. Liu Tse-yung, Minister-Counselor of the Chinese Embassy at Moscow, the Department might consider it feasible and salutary to recommend to the Chinese Government a general amnesty for the political prisoners detained by General Sheng during his incumbency in office in Sinkiang, at least so far as a review of their cases would seem to warrant. Mr. Clubb suggested that any such approach might be made on the basis that the release of these unfortunates would probably be appreciated by the world at large as a generous gesture on the part of the Chinese Government.

The revolting and inhuman treatment of the political prisoners of General Sheng in Sinkiang, many of whom apparently have been incarcerated with little or no semblance of a fair trial, has been described in the Embassy’s despatch no. 1966, dated December 27, 1943,39 and mentioned in despatch no. 23, dated October 10, 1944, addressed to the Department by the Consul at Tihwa.40 That the Chinese Government itself is not unaware of the situation is indicated by the fact that a commission for the investigation of political prisoners, headed by Dr. Lo Chia-lun, a member of the Central Executive Committee [Page 987] of the Kuomintang, was sent to Tihwa in November, 1944. General Chu Shao-liang, Commander of the Eighth War Area and formerly Acting Chairman of Sinkiang, informed an American naval officer in December that six hundred prisoners had already been released, but that perhaps a thousand more, including by implication political prisoners, still remained in custody. The American officer is inclined to the belief that this estimate is entirely too low; he states that in his opinion the number of political prisoners in Sinkiang is more than ten thousand, although one of his informants offered the fantastic figure of forty-five thousand. He has been informed that the five alien members of the staff of the American Consulate at Tihwa have, or have had, six near relatives in prison. Of interest in this connection is a newspaper report in the December 15, 1944 issue of the Chungking Ta Kung Pao which stated that the former Commissioner of Reconstruction in the Sinkiang Provincial Government under General Sheng, Mr. Lin Chi-iung, had been released on bail and was awaiting trial; it was added that a letter had been received in Chungking from Mr. Lin to the effect that, although his body wounds had in general healed, his teeth had been knocked out and his jaw dislocated, and he was now recuperating gradually.

Although the Embassy hesitates to make any representations to the Chinese Government, especially at this time, which might be interpreted by it as interfering in China’s domestic affairs, a tactful and informal approach might help the Chinese authorities now in Tihwa to effect an amelioration of the situation. The Department may therefore care to consider the advisability of authorizing the Embassy to approach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the matter, perhaps along the lines suggested by Mr. Clubb.

Respectfully yours,

For the appointed Ambassador:
George Atcheson, Jr.

Counselor of Embassy