893.00/1–2546: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Smyth) to the Secretary of State

162. Draft factual report on People’s Consultative Council to date follows:

People’s Consultative Council which convened on January 10 has now held nine public sessions. (Sent Washington 162, repeated Moscow 20, January 25.)

Five main topics of discussion have been (1) reorganization of National Govt, (2) reorganization of armies, (3) common administrative policy, (4) National Assembly, and (5) draft constitution. All sessions have been reported in detail in local press. On conclusion of discussion on each topic, views and recommendations have been referred to a subcommittee for drafting of specific proposals to be presented to Council for consideration. At the first session of PCC, 8 non-partisan individuals were appointed to the Military Investigation Commission; 8 other members have been appointed by Resident Committee of People’s Political Council. (Coincidentally, Three-man Military Commission provided for in October 10 agreement has started work on technical aspects of reorganization of Communist armies and garrisons.)

Regarding reorganization, the Govt originally proposed that State Council should be expanded to 48 members instead of 36 with additional ones being representatives of other parties and should be given definitive authority on all questions of policy and administration. The President might veto any measure which he considered contrary to national interest but it has expressed unwillingness to concede autonomy at provincial level.
On military organization, Govt has insisted on complete nationalization of all armies with central control. Other parties have agreed to this in principle, apparently even including provision that Communist armies should be reduced to 20 divisions with 90 for the Central Govt and an overall reduction to 50 in 1947. Communist desire for local militia under control of provincial authorities and nontransferable has met Govt opposition.
Discussion on common administrative program has followed general lines with all parties agreeing in principle on free political activity and legalization of parties, increasing administrative efficiency, [Page 147] guarantee of civil liberties, and reconstruction of country. No specific proposals have been made publicly.
On National Assembly, Govt has insisted that it must be convened on May 5 and contends that it cannot agree to new elections without violating law. It has, however, agreed that additions, and replacements for deceased members and traitors, should be made by governmental appointment upon recommendation of other parties as well as Kuomintang in order to make Assembly more representative. It is said to have agreed that a second National Assembly be held six months after May 5 assembly and that there should be new elections for it. Publicly, all other parties have insisted on new elections, claiming that present representatives were elected nine years ago and hence are no longer representative and that question of assembly is no longer a legal but a political one.
On draft constitution, Youth Party has proposed a new draft based on American model. This has been opposed by Govt which insists that constitution must be based on Sun Yat-sen’s five-power concept. Discussion on question has been very general and without other specific proposals. Discussion in subcommittee is reported to be tending toward a compromise, consisting of a bicameral legislature, with legislative yuan as lower house (popularly elected), control yuan as upper house (elected by provincial councils), with executive yuan responsible to them.

Discussions in subcommittees which must formulate specific proposals have been confidential and there is only scattered indication of progress that has been made. Although opposing points of view on a number of questions are reportedly still far apart, considerable hope is expressed that some sort of agreement will be reached within a reasonable period of time.

One of highlights of PCC was announcement by Chiang Kai-shek in extemporaneous statement on January 14 that Govt would take measures within 10 days to grant civil liberties defined as follows: (a) Equality of all political parties before law, (b) permission for all legal political activities, (c) promotion of local autonomy, and (d) release of all political prisoners except those accused of traitorous acts. President Chiang at same time stated that political prisoners would be released within 7 days. This announcement has been subject of much comment and now of considerable concern because at end of announced time only one prisoner had been released. Communists, however, seem to feel that this action at least means that no further arrests will be made.

Public interest has been stimulated by organization by Democratic League members of Society for Promotion of PCC which after each open session has held a public evening mass meeting devoted to discussion of issues involved. Principal speakers have been delegates to PCC. Attendance gradually increased to approximately 2000; [Page 148] there has been increasing heckling of speakers and disturbances, allegedly fomented by secret service men.

In general Youth Party has tended to side with Kmt and Democratic League with Communists. Democratic League delegates have been most vociferous and outspoken in debate and spend a great part of their time criticizing proposals made by other parties.

Closing date, originally scheduled for January 23, has been postponed for 3 days. Despite continued charges and counter-charges in the press of violations of truce agreement, both parties seem to feel that hostilities have in the main ceased and that activities of Executive headquarters in Peiping, established by Government Communist truce agreement, are progressing satisfactorily.