The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 29—1:55 a.m.]
1991. Plenary sessions of National Assembly were adjourned over weekend until November 25. Weekend activity consisted of meeting of Presidium, which continued to discuss rules of procedure—a question which was reopened despite the November 22 Plenary Session decision to adopt the Government’s proposal. Little progress was made in reaching agreement at that time.
The most significant development of the weekend was the conclusion of negotiations whereby the Social Democrats submitted their list of delegates and took their seats on the floor. This fact was made known by publication of an exchange of letters between the Generalissimo and Carsun Chang, president of the party. Chang’s letter set forth conditions that cease-fire order must be implemented; military reorganization must be carried out; disputes must be settled politically; civil liberties previously promised must be carried out; Government funds must no longer be used for Kuomintang activities; and party activities must be discontinued in the schools. In reply the Generalissimo expressed his appreciation that the Social Democrats had decided to participate and stated that the program of the Social Democrats was identical with that of the Kuomintang and furthermore most of Chang’s conditions had already been put into [Page 567] effect, particularly the provision of civil liberties, and the rest would shortly become fact. With this the capitulation of the Social Democrats became complete. Its 40 delegates, however, do not include any well-known political names and Chang himself stays out of the Assembly.
At the Plenary Session of November 25, over which the Generalissimo presided, the Generalissimo stated that the PCC decisions on the revision of the draft constitution can have binding effect on members of the various parties participating in the PCC, but not on the popularly elected delegates. He also stated that the Chiang–Chang letters were binding only on Kmt and not on other parties. This should be read in conjunction with the repeated Kuomintang assertion that the Kuomintang has only a minority of seats in the Assembly. (Actually it has only roughly 50%, though it unquestionably controls perhaps as much as another 25%).
At the time of the publication of the Chiang–Chang letters (reference Embassy’s telegram 1986, November 2770), a Communist spokesman reiterated that peace talks could be revived if a new PCC was called, a coalition government established and a new National Assembly summoned (reference Embassy’s telegram 1982, November 2770); Chen Li-fu71 gave a press conference in which he attacked the Communists and expounded Chinese loyalty to the ancient virtues (reference Embassy’s telegram 1985, November 2770); and Lo Lung-chi72 in a statement reaffirmed and re-explained the Democratic League’s position in staying away from the Assembly (reference Embassy’s telegram 1983, November 2770)—
The two sessions on November 25 were devoted entirely to discussion and, finally, adoption of the rules of procedure. The only really major controversy developed over article 18 which stipulates that the Assembly can entertain motions only on two specific questions: (1) provisions of the submitted draft constitution and its eventual adoption; and (2) the date on which it is to be enforced. Strong opposition to this article developed which was finally put down only when the Generalissimo in a secret session of the Presidium announced that unless the Assembly adopted article 18 he would immediately resign as President of the National Government. Despite this threat the article was approved only by a very slim majority. This development automatically kills the movement which started in the Hunan delegation which would empower the Assembly to declare itself competent to [Page 568] undertake any action it chose on any subject. Reports reaching the Embassy indicate that Government attempts to whip the Hunan Delegation into line have been directed by General Chang Chun,73 whose wife is Hunanese. Control of the Hunan Delegation is more important than might at first appear because of the large number of prominent army leaders who come from that area.
It is the general hope of most delegates that this final adoption of the rules of procedure will at last restore some measure of order. So far even the Generalissimo, when presiding, has been unable to maintain full control. His difficulty has been accentuated by what has been reported to the Embassy as a “revolt” in the Assembly against the predominating influence of the C–C clique. The dissatisfaction with the type of control maintained by the C–C clique started at the meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the party about a year ago and is now finding its expression in such incidents as the Hunan Delegation movement. This may have been one reason why Chen Li-fu decided to resign from the Presidium in order to devote all his time to acting as party whip. Developments to date indicate that the clique has for the time being at least been successful in maintaining its control and that the Generalissimo is still disposed to rely importantly on Chen Li-fu. As one delegate put it, Chen Li-fu still has a monopoly of one of the Generalissimo’s ears.
Just what may eventually develop must, of course, remain in the realm of speculation, but it seems inevitable that there will be a deep impact on the party from the mere fact that its representatives of all shades of opinion and from all sections of the country have, for the first time since the beginning of the war, been thrown together in a common enterprise. The social results of this commingling will surely transcend even the immediate work of the Assembly. It is interesting in this connection to note that all members of the Assembly almost without exception and whether they be Kuomintang or not come from essentially bourgeois elements, namely professional men, businessmen and landowners. Direct peasant, labor or national minority representation is certainly lacking.
The draft constitution as approved by the Executive and Legislative Yuans, and drafted principally by Carsun Chang, has been published and is now awaiting discussion by the Assembly.