The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 25—1:15 a.m.]
1956. Prominent feature of political situation during last week has been the National Assembly which was convened on November 15. So far four plenary sessions have been held which have been devoted to a large number of speeches by delegates and to the preparatory work of organization prior to submission of a draft constitution, probably sometime next week. Though there have been considerable backstage maneuverings going on, these have been far less obvious than one might have supposed. The actual proceedings of the Assembly itself have been conducted in an atmosphere of gentle confusion. Dr. Sun Fo,66 who has been presiding temporarily, has apparently proven himself completely incapable of controlling those who wish to speak at the same time or of introducing real order into the proceedings. Speeches, by those apparently fascinated with that new western gadget, the microphone, have been continuously interrupted by irrelevant and peremptory demands from various delegates for equal [Page 562] rights for women, autonomy for the Mongolians, a place in the Presidium for the Tibetans, etc. The main restraining influence on irrelevance or excess enthusiasm is the presence of the Generalissimo who sits in the front row periodically passing up scribbled notes to the presiding officer.
The above, however, does not mean that there has not been some accomplishment. The rules of procedure as proposed by the Government were finally adopted without substantial amendment, even though it is difficult to recognize them in application. A controversy developed over the method of election to the Presidium but it was finally solved by agreement upon proportional representation. Forty-six of the fifty-five members have now been elected and of the remaining seats five are reserved for Communists, and four for third parties should they desire to participate.
The Youth Party, after the first session, decided to participate and their 100 representatives have been named though they have as yet taken no part in the deliberations. Negotiations between the Government and the Social Democrats for participation of the latter are still continuing. It appears that the Social Democrats will before long enter the Assembly though it is not unlikely that Carson Chang67 himself will refrain from being a delegate. Other Third Party groups and individuals have remained aloof. The one exception is Hu Lin, editor of Ta Kung Pao, who allowed himself to be named as a nonpartisan delegate, and, after the first session, returned to Shanghai from which vantage point his editorials continue to assail the one-party characteristics of the Assembly and what he believes to be the eventual intention of the Government to force through a constitution widely at variance with the PCC principles.
General Chou En-lai returned to Yenan on November 19 and on the same day stated that negotiations could be resumed if the goal of those conversations was three-fold—the creation of a new interparty conference, the organization of a coalition government and the convening of a new National Assembly.
The Supreme National Defense Council, in concurrence with Kuomintang CEC,68 announced a reorganization of the Executive Yuan, expanding it to 18 Ministries and 7 or 8 Ministers without Portfolio. There is now wide-scale speculation as to what the composition of the new government will be, including several guesses that the Generalissimo himself may take over the Premiership. The Council has also approved a draft constitution to be submitted to the Assembly the nature of which is not yet quite clear. It is represented as a compromise between the PCC draft and May 5 draft. It has subsequently [Page 563] been approved by the Executive and Legislative Yuans and will probably be submitted within the next few days. Considerable flurry was caused by a press report that the Generalissimo, in a speech at the newly convened Pacification Areas Conference, stated it would take 5 months to liquidate the Communists militarily, and 5 years politically. The Minister of Information subsequently issued a statement saying that the words attributed to the Generalissimo were so unintelligent as not to require a denial.
On November 22 Communist spokesman Wang Ping-nan called to express the hope that the Government could be dissuaded from launching an attack on Yenan and that General Marshall could be persuaded to remain in China.
Meanwhile stories of military preparation grow thicker. The Communists seem convinced that the Government will launch an attack on Yenan, and according to the Military Attaché there are, in fact, heavy troop concentrations around that area. Consensus is that such an offensive would undoubtedly be successful. Communist spokesman told officer of Embassy on November 19 that in event attack on Yenan Communist forces would commence offensive operations in rear of Government forces. With guerrilla infiltration into Sian area or even into central China and in this connection he pointed to successful penetration into Honan and Hupeh by troops of Communist General Wan Chen after Government collapse that area in 1944–45.