Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Sprouse)87

Subject: The National Assembly.

Summary. In 1935 the Central Executive Committee (highest organ of the Kuomintang) provided for the convening of a National Assembly for the adoption of a constitution in November 1936 and the completion of election of delegates to that Assembly before October 10, 1936. In 1936, 1937, 1939 and 1940, the date of the convening of the Assembly was successively postponed, the earlier postponements arising from the failure to complete the election of delegates. In 1943 the Central Executive Committee provided for the convening of a National Assembly within one year after the end of the war. [Page 135] On January 1, 1945, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek stated that the National Assembly would be convened before the end of 1945.88 During the Central Government-Communist Party conversations in September 1945, it was agreed to leave the matter to the Political Consultative Council (PCC) for decision. The Central Government has, however, unilaterally fixed May 5, 1946, as the date for the National Assembly and the Generalissimo in his speech on January 1, 1946, stated that the date must “never again be postponed”. The positions of the Central Government and the opposition have been reversed since the initial discussions on the subject. Originally the minority parties and critics of the Government were anxious to convene a National Assembly and adopt a constitution even though such action was likely to be in accordance with Kuomintang terms. Now that their position vis-à-vis the Central Government is stronger, opposition groups are unwilling to accept a National Assembly and a constitution which, they charge, would perpetuate the present Kuomintang control of the Government. The struggle continues with the Kuomintang insisting on the early convocation of the Assembly and the opposition demanding the election of new delegates and revision of the organic and election laws governing the Assembly. End of Summary.

[Here follows detailed report.]

Some independent Chinese observers point to the failure of Chinese experiments in constitutional government during the early days of the Republic and state that constitutional government, if it is to be successful, must be achieved carefully and thoroughly. These observers are of the opinion that the formation of a coalition government must precede the convocation of a National Assembly and the adoption of a constitution and that it would be desirable to entrust full governmental powers to a coalition government, which could provide for election machinery for delegates to a National Assembly, decide upon the date of convocation of the Assembly and make recommendations regarding the revisions of the May 5th Draft Constitution. These Chinese feel that the establishment of a constitutional government more representative of public opinion in China, which would be expected to result from compromise between all groups in a coalition government, including sizeable non-party representation, warrants a delay in the convocation of a National Assembly for the adoption and promulgation of a constitution.

Philip D. Sprouse
  1. Prepared for submission to General Marshall; copy forwarded to Department by the Chargé in China (Robertson) in his despatch No. 1032, January 11; received January 30.
  2. See memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs, January 2, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vii, p. 153.