893.00/10–946: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State

1623. First question asked in Department’s telegram 803, September 27, 8 p.m.22 and answer thereto form subject of Embassy’s telegram 1601, October 5, 1 p.m.

Herewith second question and answer:

Question: Whether Kuomintang actually ratified PCC decisions without reservation as announced by Central News. We realize that the PCC decisions met with strong opposition in the CEC23 but we would like to know the basis for the CCP charge that Kuomintang ratification was qualified. Please also endeavor to find out character of reservations, whether open or covert.

Answer: Although Kuomintang Central Executive Committee manifesto issued March 16 following adjournment Second Plenary Session24 pledges Kuomintang “to implement fully” PCC agreements, there has developed general feeling in non-Kuomintang quarters that the Kuomintang although formally having accepted the PCC agreements [Page 342] has had no real intention of implementing them as written. In purely legalistic sense PCC agreements were ratified by CEC, but the impression became wide-spread that the CEC in effect rejected a number of major points decided by the PCC by clouding over all ratification in contradictory and equivocal language. In fact, it is generally accepted that such nominal ratification as was achieved was forced by the Generalissimo in personal appeals before closing meetings CEC plenary session. Since that time the Generalissimo in public utterances and private conversation has consistently asserted that he is in favor of PCC program.

It will be recalled that the PCC had its origin in the Chiang Kai-shek-Mao Tse-tung25 conversations of October 194526 and that once convened the work of the PCC was molded by presence of General Marshall on basis of President Truman’s statement of policy toward China. It will be recalled further that the PCC had no legal power to implement agreements reached on January 3127 (Embassy’s telegram 201, February 128) and inasmuch as Central Executive Committee of Kuomintang remained the highest policy making body in China, ratification by the CEC in plenary session was essential in order to give authority to the agreements.

It became apparent immediately following adjournment of the PCC that there was ground for apprehension that Kuomintang right-wingers would attempt to block implementation. Shortly after PCC agreements were published a riot, allegedly inspired by the “C-C clique”,29 occurred in Chungking during a rally supporting the PCC agreements (Embassy’s despatch 1164 of February 2828 and Embassy’s telegram 304 of February 1530). On February 22 the Communist newspaper office at Chungking was wrecked (Embassy’s telegram 357, February 2331) by hoodlums and a number of similar incidents occurred at Sian and Chengtu where Leftist publications were temporarily stopped because of attacks on their sales offices.

CEC plenary session opened March 1 and at meetings March 7 and 8 PCC resolutions were formally reported to CEC. These sessions were marked by heated criticisms of PCC agreements as well as personal attacks on Kuomintang delegates to PCC, particularly Sun Fo,32 who presented the report, Wang Shih-chieh, Shao Li-tze, Wu Teh-chen [Page 343] and Chang Chun. Although criticism implied dissatisfaction with PCC agreements as a whole, representing unwarranted concessions to Communists, attention was focused on Part V of agreements having to do with the principles to be followed in revising May (1936) draft constitution.

As a result of foregoing criticism, on March 8 informal inter-party discussions to attempt resolution of differences commenced and centered around three constitutional questions: first, Kuomintang desired revision of the PCC decision that National Assembly would not be an existing body but rather a name applied to entire electorate; second, Kuomintang desired revision of PCC decision establishing definitive executive responsibility to elected legislative body; third, Kuomintang desired revision PCC decision granting the right of provinces to enact separate constitutions.

After considerable deliberation and discussion, a joint session of the PCC Steering Committee and the PCC Constitutional Sub-Committee reached conditional agreement on foregoing three points on March 15. Non-Kuomintang parties and groups agreed to revision of PCC agreements so as to make National Assembly an existent body, but the question of powers entrusted to it were to be subject of further discussion. It was also agreed to delete from PCC agreements the clause pertaining to responsibility of Executive Yuan to Legislative Yuan, but the revised relationship and phraseology to be substituted for that deleted was to be subject of further discussion. Finally it was agreed to alter the PCC decision on provincial constitutions by substituting the term “self-government” for the term “constitution”. These conditional agreements were made with the understanding that, first, the Kuomintang would guarantee that no further revision of the PCC agreements would be demanded, and second, that the Kuomintang would publish the conditional agreements and publicly commit its members to implement the PCC agreements as revised.

On March 16 the Central News Agency published a version of the agreements which the Communists and Democratic League have since maintained was false. According to Central News Agency version, it was agreed that the National Assembly would be vested with the powers of election, recall, initiative and referendum; that the Legislative Yuan would exercise no check on the Executive Yuan and vice versa; and that there would be no separate provincial constitutions. There was no mention in the Central News Agency version of the understanding regarding publication and non-revision which had made agreement the previous night possible.

On the morning of March 16 the Communists and Democratic League delegates to the PCC met and forwarded a protest to Sun Fo with regard to the erroneous version published by Central News [Page 344] Agency. The Assistant Secretary General of the PCC (known to be associated with the C–C clique) explained that the version published by Central News Agency was one he had drawn up before the discussions on the night of March 15 and was based on the views of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee and that this version had been turned over to Central News Agency in error. After this explanation, the Kuomintang delegates to the PCC apologized for the error, but there was no statement published by Central News Agency explaining that the version previously published was incorrect. Since that time the Communists have consistently and violently attacked the good-faith of the Kuomintang with regard to whole PCC program. In this general connection, reference is made to Embassy’s telegrams 541, March 21 and 600, March 31.34

A series of PCC Steering Committee meetings in late March and early April made some progress toward settlement of outstanding constitutional issues (Embassy’s telegram 642, April 935). It was impossible, however, to arrive at any firm decision with regard to question of executive responsibility to legislature. A fundamental obstacle was Kuomintang desire to achieve revision of PCC agreement which would change a “Cabinet system” government (wherein there would be clear executive responsibility to a popularly elected legislative body) and substitute a “presidential system” (wherein supreme authority would be vested in a President without provisions for checks and balances on his authority comparable to the American system). Likewise, the PCC concept of separate provincial constitutions could not be reconciled with Kuomintang desires for highly centralized national control. On this latter question PCC Steering Committee meetings eventually ended in stalemate on April 9.

Aside from purely political questions involved, it must be borne in mind that the overall scene during the period of PCC Steering Committee meetings was dominated by situation in Manchuria. It will be recalled that the original truce agreement of January 10 provided that the right of the Central Government “to move troops to and within Manchuria” for purpose of reestablishing Chinese sovereignty would not be affected by the terms of the truce. However, the Communists were reported to be carrying out continued movements of forces into Manchuria, over land through Chahar and Jehol and to a lesser extent by sea from the Shantung peninsula to the Liaotung peninsula. At the same time the Russians in Manchuria appeared to adopt an attitude of obstruction toward reoccupation by Central Government although Chinese Communists enjoyed at least Russian [Page 345] tolerance which had effect of tacit Russian support. (Embassy’s telegrams 464, March 11 and 655, April 1036). During same period the Communist press and radio showed a more marked tendency toward closer adherence to Soviet party line concerning Asiatic-Pacific questions than had been evidenced previously, and there was ample reason for Central Government heartily to distrust ultimate Chinese Communist intentions.

Since April 9 there have been no further meetings of PCC Steering Committee and there has been no definitive progress toward settlement of any political questions involved in implementation of PCC agreements.

The first section of General Marshall’s detailed top secret report37 on his mission to China was forwarded by courier October 1. Subsequent sections of this report, to be sent as completed, will cover the same matter as the above but in greater detail.

  1. Ante, p. 237.
  2. Central Executive Committee.
  3. See United States Relations With China, p. 635.
  4. Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
  5. For summary of conversations, see United States Relations With China, p. 577.
  6. For text of resolutions adopted by the Political Consultative Council, see ibid., pp. 610–619.
  7. Not printed.
  8. The Chen brothers, Li-fu and Kuo-fu, prominent Kuomintang members.
  9. Not printed.
  10. Vol. ix, p. 154.
  11. Ibid., p. 439.
  12. Son of Sun Yat-sen and President of the Chinese Legislative Yuan.
  13. Vol. ix, pp. 158 and 159.
  14. Ibid., p. 163.
  15. Vol. ix, pp. 538 and 167.
  16. Not printed.