A Statement of Chiang Kai-shek's Statement
In Sian Chiang Kai-shek accepted the demand for resistance to Japan put forward by Generals Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hu-cheng and the people of the Northwest and, as an initial step, he has ordered his civil war troops to withdraw from the provinces of Shensi and Kansu. This marks the beginning of Chiang’s reversal of his wrong policy in the past decade. It is a blow to the intrigues conducted by the Japanese imperialists and the Chinese “punitive” group to stage-manage a civil war, foment splits and get Chiang killed in the Sian Incident. Their disappointment is already apparent. The indication that Chiang Kai-shek is beginning to wake up may be considered a sign of the Kuomintang’s willingness to end the wrong policy it has pursued for ten years.
On December 26 Chiang Kai-shek issued a statement in Loyang, the so-called “Admonition to Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hucheng”, which is so ambiguous and evasive as to be an interesting specimen among China’s political documents. If Chiang really wants to draw a serious lesson from the incident and try to revitalize the Kuomintang, and if he wants to end his consistently wrong policy of compromise in foreign affairs and of civil war and oppression at home, so that the Kuomintang will no longer stand opposed to the wishes of the people, then as a token of good faith he should have produced a better piece of writing, repenting his political past and setting a new course for the future. The statement of December 26 cannot meet the demands of the Chinese masses.
However, it does contain one praiseworthy passage, in which Chiang asserts that “promises must be kept and action must be resolute”. This means that, although he did not sign the terms set forth by Chang and Yang in Sian, he is willing to accept such demands as are beneficial to the state and the nation and will not break his word on the grounds that he did not sign. We shall see whether, after he has withdrawn his troops, Chiang will act in good faith and carry out the terms he has accepted. The terms are:
- to reorganize the Kuomintang and the National Government, expel the pro-Japanese group and admit anti-Japanese elements;
- to release the patriotic leaders in Shanghai and all other political prisoners, and guarantee the freedoms and rights of the people;
- to end the policy of “suppressing the Communists” and enter into an alliance with the Red Army to resist Japan;
- to convene a national salvation conference, representing all parties, groups, sections of the population and armies, to decide on a policy of resisting Japan and saving the nation;
- to enter into co-operation with countries sympathetic to China’s resistance to Japan; and
- to adopt other specific ways and means to save the nation.
The fulfillment of these terms requires above all good faith, and also some courage. We shall judge Chiang by his future actions.
But his statement contains the remark that the Sian Incident was brought about under the pressure of “reactionaries”. It is a pity that he did not explain what kind of people he meant by “reactionaries”, nor is it clear how the word “reactionary” is defined in Chiang’s dictionary. However, what is certain is that the Sian Incident took place under the influence of the following forces:
- the mounting indignation against Japan among the troops of Generals Chang and Yang and among the revolutionary people of the Northwest;
- the mounting indignation against Japan among the people of the whole country;
- the growth of the Left forces in the Kuomintang;
- the demand by the groups in power in various provinces for resistance to Japan and for the salvation of the nation;
- the stand taken by the Communist Party for a national united front against Japan; and
- the development of the world peace front.
All these are indisputable facts. It is just these forces that Chiang calls “reactionary”; while other people call them revolutionary, Chiang calls them “reactionary”—that is all. Since he declared in Sian that he would fight Japan in earnest, presumably he will not resume violent attacks on the revolutionary forces immediately after leaving Sian; not only does his own political life and that of his group hang upon his good faith, but they now have confronting them and obstructing their political path a force which has expanded to their detriment—the “punitive” group which tried to get him killed in the Sian Incident. We therefore advise Chiang Kai-shek to revise his political dictionary, changing the word “reactionary” to “revolutionary”, for it is better to use terms corresponding to the facts.
Chiang should remember that he owes his safe departure from Sian to the mediation of the Communist Party, as well as to the efforts of Generals Chang and Yang, the leaders in the Sian Incident. Throughout the incident, the Communist Party stood for a peaceful settlement and made every effort to that end, acting solely in the interests of national survival. Had the civil war spread and had Chang and Yang kept Chiang Kai-shek in custody for long, the incident could only have developed in favour of the Japanese imperialists and the Chinese “punitive” group. It was in these circumstances that the Communist Party firmly exposed the intrigues of the Japanese imperialists and of Wang Ching-wei, Ho Ying-chin and other members of the Chinese “punitive” group, and firmly advocated a peaceful settlement, which happened to coincide with the views of Generals Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hu-cheng and such members of the Kuomintang as T.V. Soong. This is exactly what the people throughout the country call for, because they bitterly detest the present civil war.
Chiang was set free upon his acceptance of the Sian terms. From now on the question is whether he will carry out to the letter his pledge that “promises must be kept and action must be resolute”, and strictly fulfill all the terms for saving the nation. The nation will not permit any further hesitation on his part or allow him any discount in fulfilling the terms. If he wavers on the issue of resisting Japan or delays in fulfilling his pledge, then the nation-wide revolutionary tide will sweep him away. Chiang and his group should bear in mind the old saying: “If a man does not keep his word, what is he good for?”
If Chiang can clean up the dirt created by the Kuomintang’s reactionary policy over the past ten years, thoroughly correct his fundamental errors of compromise in foreign affairs and of civil war and oppression at home, immediately join the anti-Japanese front uniting all parties and groups and really take the military and political measures that can save the nation, then of course the Communist Party will support him. As early as August 25, the Communist Party promised such support to Chiang and the Kuomintang in its letter to the Kuomintang. The people throughout the country have known for fifteen years that the Communist Party observes the maxim, “Promises must be kept and action must be resolute.” They undoubtedly have more confidence in the words and deeds of the Communist Party than in those of any other party or group in China.
- Under the influence of the Chinese Red Army and the people’s anti-Japanese movement, the Kuomintang’s Northeastern Army headed by Chang Hsueh-liang and the Kuomintang’s 17th Route Army headed by Yang Hu-cheng agreed to the anti-Japanese national united front proposed by the Communist Party of China and demanded that Chiang Kai-shek should unite with the Communist Party to resist Japan. He refused, became still more active in his military preparations for the “suppression of the Communists” and massacred young people in Sian who were anti-Japanese. Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hu-cheng took joint action and arrested Chiang Kai-shek. This was the famous Sian Incident of December 12, 1936. He was forced to accept the terms of unity with the Communist Party and resistance to Japan, and was then set free to return to Nanking.
- The Chinese “punitive” group consisted of the pro-Japanese elements in the Kuomintang government in Nanking who tried to wrest power from Chiang Kai-shek during the Sian Incident. With Wang Ching-wei and Ho Yiang-chin as their leaders, they advocated a “punitive expedition” against Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hu-cheng. Availing themselves of the incident, they prepared to start a large-scale civil war in order to clear the way for the Japanese invaders and wrest political power from Chiang Kai-shek.
- Seven leaders of the patriotic anti-Japanese movement in Shanghai had been arrested by Chiang Kai-shek’s government in November 1936. They were Shen Chun-ju, Chang Nai-chi, Tsou Tao-fen, Li Kung-pu, Sha Chien-li, Shih Lang and Wang Tsao-shih. They were kept in prison till July 1937.
- Wang Ching-wei was the head of the pro-Japanese group in the Kuomintang. He had stood for compromise with the Japanese imperialists ever since their invasion of the Northeast in 1931. In December 1938 he left Chungking, openly capitulated to the Japanese invaders, and set up a puppet government in Nanking.
- Ho Ying-chin, a Kuomintang warlord, was another leader of the pro-Japanese group. During the Sian Incident he actively plotted civil war by deploying Kuomintang troops for an attack on Shensi along the Lunghai Railway. He planned to kill Chiang Kai-shek by bombing Sian, in order to take over Chiang’s position.
- T.V. Soong was a pro-American member of the Kuomintang. Championing U.S. interests he, too, favoured a peaceful settlement of the Sian Incident, because U.S. imperialism was at loggerheads with Japanese imperialism with which it was then contending for supremacy in the Far East.
- This letter sternly criticized the Kuomintang’s reactionary rule and the decisions of the Second Plenary Session of its Central Executive Committee. It also set out the Communist Party’s policy of forming an anti-Japanese national united front and renewing its co-operation with the Kuomintang. The main part of the letter reads:
In talking about “centralization and unification”, the Second Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of your party is really confusing cause and effect. It must be emphasized that the civil war and disunity of the last ten years have been entirely caused by the disastrous policy of dependence on imperialism pursued by your party and your party’s government, and especially the policy of non-resistance to Japan persisted in ever since the Incident of September 18, 1931. Under the slogan of “Internal pacification before resistance to foreign invasion”, your party and your party’s government have been carrying on incessant civil war and launching numerous encirclement campaigns against the Red Army, and have spared no effort in suppressing the patriotic and democratic movements of the people throughout the country. Being blind to the fact that Japanese imperialism is China’s deadliest enemy, you have had no qualms even in recent months about abandoning northeastern and northern China, you have used all your strength to fight the Red Army and wage factional struggles within your own party, you have blocked the Red Army on its way to fight the Japanese and harassed its rear, you have ignored the nationwide demand for resistance to Japan and have deprived the people of their freedoms and rights. Patriotism is penalized and innocent people are in jail everywhere; treason is rewarded and traitors are jubilant over their new appointments and honours. To seek centralization and unification by means of this wrong policy is like “climbing a tree to seek fish” and will produce exactly the opposite results. We wish to warn you gentlemen that if you do not make a fundamental change in your erroneous policy, and if you do not direct your hatred against the Japanese imperialists but continue to direct it against your own countrymen, you will find it impossible even to maintain the status quo and any talk about centralization, unification and a so-called “modern state” will remain idle chatter. What the whole nation demands is centralization and unification for fighting Japan and saving the nation, not for fawning on the foreigners and persecuting their own people. The people are now eagerly demanding a government that can really save their country and themselves, a really democratic republic. They demand a democratic republican government which will serve their interests. The programme of such a government must principally provide for: first, resistance to foreign aggression; second, democratic rights for the people; and third, development of the national economy and elimination, or at least alleviation, of the people’s sufferings. If there is any sense in your talk about a “modern state”, this is the only programme genuinely meeting the needs of colonial and semi-colonial China in the present era. With eager hopes and firm determination the people are struggling for the realization of these objectives. But your party and your party’s government are pursuing a policy that runs counter to their hopes and you will never win their confidence. The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Red Army hereby solemnly declare: we stand for the resting up of a unified democratic republic for the whole country and the convening of a parliament elected by universal suffrage, and we support an anti-Japanese national salvation congress representative of all the people and all the anti-Japanese armed forces in the country, and a unified national defence government for the whole country. We hereby declare: as soon as a unified democratic republic is set up for the whole of China, the Red areas will become one of its component parts, the representatives of the people of the Red areas will attend the all-China parliament, and the same democratic system will be set up in the Red areas as in other parts of China. We hold that the national defence council, which the Second Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of your party has decided to organize, and the national assembly, which your party and your party’s government are in the process of convening, cannot achieve centralization and unification for resisting Japan and saving the nation. According to the regulations of the national defence council passed by the Second Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of your party, this council will be confined to a few officials who hold power in your party and your party’s government, and its task is merely to serve as an advisory body to that government. It is only too dear that such a council cannot achieve anything or win any confidence among the people. The same applies to the national assembly which you gentlemen propose to convene; according to the “Draft Constitution of the Republic of China” and the “Organic Law and Election Law of the National Assembly” passed by your party’s government, this assembly will be merely an organ manipulated by a few officials of your party and your party’s government, it will be nothing but an appendage for them, or a piece of ornamentation. A national defence council and a national assembly of this kind have nothing at all in common with the all-China congress for resistance to Japan and for national salvation—the national defence council—and the Chinese democratic republic and its parliament which our Party has proposed. We hold that a national defence council for resistance to Japan and national salvation must include representatives of all the political parties and groups, all walks of life and all the armed forces, and must constitute a real organ of authority to decide the major policies for resisting Japan and saving the nation, and that a unified national defence government must be formed from this council. The national assembly must be a parliament elected by universal suffrage and the supreme organ of authority of the democratic republic of China. Only such a national defence council and such an all-China parliament will win the approval, support and participation of the people of the whole country and place the great cause of saving the nation and the people on a firm, unshakable foundation. Mere fine words are useless and will not win the people’s approval. The failure of the various conferences held by your party and your party’s government is the best proof of this. The declaration of the Second Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of your party stated, “Dangers and obstacles are only to be expected; but we will never, because of the difficulties and troubles that beset the nation, relax in the fulfillment of our duty.” And again, “As to the survival of the nation, naturally our party will work for it persistently, body and soul.” True enough, being the ruling party in the largest part of China, your party must bear the political responsibility for all past deeds. In view of the fact that the Kuomintang government is a one-party dictatorship, your party can never escape this responsibility. In particular, you can never shift onto others your responsibility for the loss of almost half of China, resulting from the absolutely wrong policy which your party has pursued since the September 18th Incident against the wishes of all the people and the interests of the whole nation. As we and all the people see it, since half of China has been abandoned by your party, it certainly cannot evade its duty of recovering the territory and restoring China’s sovereignty. At the same time, even within your party many men of conscience are now clearly awake to the horrors of national subjugation and the inviolability of the people’s will, they are beginning to turn in a new direction and feel indignant and dissatisfied with those in their midst who have brought disaster both to their party and to the nation. The Chinese Communist Party has full sympathy with this new turn and warmly applauds the noble spirit and awakening of these patriotic and conscientious members of the Kuomintang, their readiness to make sacrifices in the struggle, and their courage to introduce reforms when the nation is on the brink of ruin. We know that the number of awakened and patriotic people is increasing daily in your party’s central and provincial headquarters, in its central and provincial governments, in educational, scientific, artistic, journalistic and industrial circles, among the women and in religious and medical circles, within the police service, among all kinds of popular organizations, and in particular among the broad ranks of the army and among both old and new Kuomintang members as well as Kuomintang leaders at various levels; this is very heartening. The Chinese Communist Party is always ready to join hands with these members of the Kuomintang and form a solid national united front with them to fight the nation’s deadliest enemy, Japanese imperialism. We hope that they will speedily grow into a dominant force in the Kuomintang and prevail over those wicked and shameless members who have ignored the interests of the nation and virtually become Japanese agents and collaborators—members who are a disgrace to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s memory—and we hope that they will thus be able to revive the spirit of Dr. Sun’s revolutionary Three People’s Principles, reaffirm his Three Great Policies of alliance with Russia, co-operation with the Communist Party and assistance to the peasants and workers, and “work persistently, body and soul” for the realization of the revolutionary Three People’s Principles, of the Three Great Policies and of Dr. Sun’s revolutionary Testament. We hope that, together with the patriotic leaders of all political parties and groups and of all walks of life and together with all patriotic people, they will resolutely shoulder the responsibility of continuing Dr. Sun’s revolutionary cause and will throw themselves into the struggle to drive out the Japanese imperialists and save the Chinese nation from subjugation, to win democratic rights for the people, to develop China’s national economy and free the vast majority of its people from their sufferings, and to bring into being the democratic republic of China with a democratic parliament and democratic government. The Chinese Communist Party hereby declares to all members of the Kuomintang: if you really do this, we shall resolutely support you and are ready to form with you a solid revolutionary united front like that of the great revolutionary period of 1924-27 against imperialist and feudal oppression, for this is the only correct way today to save the nation from subjugation and ensure its survival.