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

No. 730

Subject: Probable Course of Central Government Policy Toward Non-Kuomintang Political Groups

Sir: I have the honor to bring to the attention of the Department two recent developments which are considered significant in assessing the probable future course of Central Government policy vis-à-vis the Chinese Communists and other non-Kuomintang elements.

[Page 128]

On May 1, 1947 General Pai Chung-hsi, Minister of National Defense, attended a meeting of the Legislative Yuan for the purpose of reporting on military affairs. There is enclosed a summary report of his remarks93 as published in the Nanking Jen Pao of May 2. This is the most detailed published report of General Pai’s remarks which has come to the attention of the Embassy. Usually well-informed sources, however, have stated that General Pai, in addressing the Legislative Yuan, used far stronger language than is indicated by the enclosed newspaper account. Even from this alleged watered-down version, it seems clear that it was General Pai’s intention categorically to inform the Legislative Yuan that economic and political considerations were at this time in China to be considered subordinate to military questions and that the military would not countenance any change in the present policy of pressing for expanded conscription and grain requisitions for military use.

On May 2 the Central News Agency, English Service, released at Nanking a story to the effect that a Communist document entitled “Outline of Underground Struggle” had been captured by Government forces in northern Shensi. A copy of the Central News Agency report is enclosed.93

Since the adoption of the new Constitution by the National Assembly on December 25, 1946, and particularly since the recently announced reorganization of the State Council and the Executive Yuan, there have been numerous Government statements implying that the door would be left open to participation in the Government by the Communists, the Democratic League or any other non-Kuomintang groups. The overall implication has been that current military operations were aimed solely at re-establishing lines of communication and that while pursuing this objective the Government would welcome the reopening of peace talks with dissident elements.

From General Pai’s remarks it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Central Government military hierarchy is determined upon attempting forcible unification of the country before the initiation of any talk of peace, and the obvious inference flows from his remarks that unification to the Chinese military mind presupposes the prior elimination of the Chinese Communists, in which case there would automatically ensue a state of peace by reason of the elimination of the only armed opposition. The parallel with similar Chinese military thinking during the period of previous campaigns before 1936 aimed at the elimination of the Chinese Communists by force of arms is only too obvious.

General Pai’s remarks acquire added significance when considered in conjunction with the almost simultaneous appearance of an alleged [Page 129] Chinese Communist document in the nature of a directive on underground and terrorist activities. Regardless of whether the document is genuine, it is difficult to understand the excitement, which in certain press organs took on an hysterical tone, of the Government concerning it inasmuch as it would seem to have been a logical Government assumption for planning purposes that the Communists would adopt the tactics which are outlined therein.

It will be noted from the alleged captured document that direct reference is made to the Democratic League and other non-Kuomintang groups, even those at present participating in the Government, as channels for subversive Communist activity. The release of the document at this time has given rise to considerable concern among non-Kuomintang political groups. Dr. Lo Lung-chi, Secretary General of the Democratic League, on May 3, 1947 issued a public denial that the League was a creature of the Chinese Communist Party and declared that the publication of the alleged Communist document at this time was but a forerunner of repressive measures aimed at any or all groups in opposition to the policies of the Government. Other political groups referred to in the document have issued similar but less vociferous statements. The concern of non-Kuomintang political groups with regard to their future position was given substance on May 14 when the Director of the Chinese Government Information Office, in reply to a question at his regular weekly press conference, linked the Democratic League with the Chinese Communist Party as having openly repudiated the Constitution and rejected the validity of the National Assembly, and added that the Government’s attitude toward the Democratic League would be determined by the policies and activities it pursues. In reply to a second question, the Director stated that the Democratic League did not have the right to join in the forthcoming elections as a political party.

The remarks of General Pai Chung-hsi before the Legislative Yuan and the almost simultaneous appearance of an alleged Communist document which impugns all important non-Kuomintang political groups, adds weight to the widely held belief that the Government is irrevocably wedded to a policy of extermination of the Chinese Communists in spite of constant lip-service to the principles of settlement of internal problems by political means and multi-party participation in government. It is possible that the anti-Communist bias of the Government may well develop to a point where political opposition will be suppressed in the name of national security and behind a façade of reorganized government if the civil war drags on and the Government feels its force weakening.

It is not without significance that General Pai’s remarks were addressed to the Legislative Yuan. Within this organ are to be found [Page 130] many of the most intelligent and progressive Chinese officials from whom there has emanated much sound and constructive criticism of Government policies and who have fostered many liberal laws aimed at the roots of Chinese problems. In this latter connection a notable example is the new Land Law promulgated in April 1946, but thus far unenforced.

In spite of repeated warnings from enlightened Chinese and unbiased foreigners that social and economic problems can not be permanently resolved by force, the military hierarchy gives every indication of having embarked once again, in the name of “bandit suppression”, upon a final campaign to eliminate political opposition by military means. In this general connection it is significant to note that on May 12, 1947 an official Government announcement revealed that General Ho Ying-ch’in94 was about to emerge from temporary obscurity and assume the chairmanship of the Military Advisory Council of the Ministry of National Defense.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
W. Walton Butterworth

Minister-Counselor of Embassy
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Former commander in chief of the Chinese Armies and from 1946 Chief of the Chinese Military Mission to the United States and Chief Chinese delegate to the United Nations Military Staff Committee.