Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Ludden) to General Marshall

Marked deterioration of the political situation commenced following the final session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee on 16 March. Although the Political Consultation Conference agreements were nominally unanimously ratified, resolutions introduced and general discussion at the Central Executive Committee sessions indicated that efforts would be made by the Kuomintang to amend the basic agreements, particularly that portion having to do with the principles to be followed in revising the May 5th Draft Constitution.

Since 16 March the Communists, and to a slightly lesser degree the Democratic League, have continuously questioned the validity and good faith of Kuomintang ratification of the Political Consultation Conference agreements. Communist reaction has been in the form of a series of violent press attacks upon the good faith of the Kuomintang with regard to the whole Political Consultation Conference program. Democratic League reaction has been similar to that of the Communists, but somewhat less violent in tone.

A series of meetings of the Steering Committee of the Political Consultation Conference has accomplished little since the middle of March toward settlement of the major points at issue. These points are:

Division of State Council membership between the non-Kuomintang parties and groups.
Constitutional questions:
Form and powers of the National Assembly. (On this point substantial agreement has been reached.)
Degree of responsibility of executive organs of government to the legislature.
The extent of provincial autonomy.

Within the Steering Committee there appears to have been a genuine desire for compromise, but as discussions continued it became more [Page 170] clear that the fundamental problem stems from the Kuomintang desire to achieve revision of the Political Consultation Conference agreements which would change a “cabinet system” of government (wherein there is executive responsibility to a popularly elected legislative body) and substitute a “presidential system” (wherein supreme authority would be vested in a president without provision for checks and balances on his authority comparable to the American system).

Furthermore, throughout the Steering Committee discussions the overall scene has been dominated by the obscure situation in Manchuria and growing Kuomintang-Communist mutual distrust of each other’s ultimate intentions. Addressing the closing session of the People’s Political Council on 1 April, the Generalissimo expressed doubt of Communist good faith and established the Government position that there would be no discussion of political problems in Manchuria until sovereignty had been re-established by the Central Government. On 7 April the Chieh Fang Jih Pao at Yenan published a vituperative personal attack on the Generalissimo accusing him of actively fostering civil war in Manchuria for selfish reasons.

Since that time nation wide press recrimnation with regard to Manchuria has been intensified. In this same connection, the Generalissimo granted an interview on 8 April to Miles Vaughn, Far Eastern Manager of United Press, which, although eventually published in rather innocuous form, has come to be generally regarded, at least in Communist circles, as a true expression of his feelings with regard to the Chinese Communists and their position in Manchuria. A separate memorandum with regard to this interview is attached.32

On 10 April a Political Consultation Conference Steering Committee meeting ended in complete stalemate, the Communists adopting the position that unconditional cessation of hostilities in Manchuria should be effected immediately and negotiation of politico-military problems affecting the northeast be opened; on the other side, the Kuomintang adopted the position, as stated before the People’s Political Council closing session by the Generalissimo, that there would be no discussion of Manchurian problems until Chinese sovereignty has been re-established by the Central Government.

Since 10 April there has been no progress toward settlement of any of the political questions involved in implementation of the Political Consultation Conference agreements. The Generalissimo has expressed to representatives of the various parties and groups his desire that government reorganization be completed by 20 April in order [Page 171] that the National Assembly at Nanking may proceed as scheduled on 5 May. Both of these objectives appear very difficult of attainment in the limited time remaining because both the Communists and the Democratic League seem adamant in their stands that they will not submit name lists of people for participation in the reorganized government or delegates to the National Assembly until the State Council and constitutional questions are settled. In addition, within the past week the Communists have intensified their allegations of Kuomintang failure to fulfill promises with regard to civil liberties and release of political prisoners, usually citing the case of the Young Marshal33 who has not been released.

R. P. Ludden
  1. Ante, p. 166.
  2. Chang Hsueh-liang, held since release of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek after kidnaping at Sian, Shensi, December 12–25, 1936.