You will recall that in 1936 the Government decided to summon a National Assembly on November 12, 1937, for the inauguration of constitutional government and the termination of the period of political tutelage under the Kuomintang. On July 7, 1937, Japan suddenly made war on us, and the plan had to be shelved. However, the determination of the Kuomintang to realize constitutional government remained as strong as ever. Had it not been for the recommendation of further postponement by the People's Political Council, the National Assembly would have been convened during 1940 in accordance with another Government decision. This year, on the first of January, on behalf of the Government, I announced that the National Assembly will be summoned before the close of the year, unless untoward and unexpected military developments should in the meanwhile intervene.
The Kuomintang is the historical party of national revolution; it overthrew the Manchu dynasty; it destroyed Yuan Shih-kai who would be emperor; it utterly defeated the militarists that succeeded Yuan Shih-kai; it brought about national unification; it achieved the removal of the unequal treaties; and it led the country into the eight-year-old struggle against Japan. It is we who are the party of liberation and progress. In summoning the National Assembly and returning the rule to the people in conformity with the sacred will of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang is performing its historical role.
We must emerge from this war a united nation. Only a united nation can effectively perform the tasks of political and economic reconstruction to raise the lot of our toiling masses and handle the problems of external relations in a new, uncharted world. Before the Japanese invasion, we were a united nation. Today, but for the Communists and their armed forces, we are a united nation. There are no independent warlords or local governments challenging the central authority.
I have long held the conviction that the solution of the Communist question must be through political means. The Government has labored to make the settlement a political one. As the public is not well informed on our recent efforts to reach a settlement with the Communists, the time has come for me to clarify the atmosphere.
As you know, negotiations with the Communists have been a perennial problem for many years. It has been our unvarying experience that no sooner is a demand met than fresh ones are raised. The latest demand of the Communists is that the Government should forthwith liquidate the Kuomintang rule, and surrender all power to a coalition of various parties. The position of the Government is that it is ready to admit other parties, including the Communists as well as non-partisan leaders, to participate in the Government without, however, relinquishment by the Kuomintang of its power of ultimate decision and final responsibility until the convocation of the National Assembly. We have even offered to include the Communists and other parties in an organ to be established along the line of what is known abroad as a "war cabinet." To go beyond this and to yield to the Communist demand would not only place the Government in open contravention of the political program of Dr. Yat-sen, but also create insurmountable practical difficulties for the country.
During the past eight years, the country has withstood all the vicissitudes of military reverses and of unbelievable privation and has ridden through the storm for the simple reason that it has been led by a stable and strong Government. The war remains to be won, the future is still fraught with peril. If the Government shirks its responsibility and surrenders its power of ultimate decision to a combination of political parties, the result would be unending friction and fears, leading to a collapse of the central authorities. Bear in mind that in such a contingency, unlike in other countries, there exists in our country at present no responsible body representing the people for the government to appeal to.
I repeat, whether by accident or design, the Kuomintang has had the responsibility of leading the country during the turbulent last decade and more. It will return the supreme power to the people through the instrumentality of the National Assembly, and in the meanwhile, it will be ready to admit other parties to a share in the government, but it definitely cannot abdicate to a loose combination of parties. Such a surrender would not mean returning power to the people.
We must emerge from the war with a united army. The Communists should not keep a separate army. Here allow me to digress a little. The Chinese Communist propaganda abroad has tried to justify this private army on the ground that if it becomes incorporated in the National Army, it will be in danger of being destroyed or discriminated against. Their propaganda also magnify, out of all proportion, the actual military strength of the Communists. To you, I need hardly say that Government forces have always without exception borne the brunt of Japanese attack and will continue to do so. Today, with the wholehearted co-operation of our Allies, powerful armies are being equipped and conditioned to assume the offensive. We are synchronizing our efforts with those of our Allies in expelling Japan from the Asiatic mainland. . . .
To meet any fear the Communists may have the Government has expressed its willingness for the duration of the war to place an American general in command of the Communist forces under my over-all command as supreme commander—again if the United States Government could agree to the appointment of an American officer. The Communists have, however, rejected all those offers. If the Communists are sincere in their desire to fight the Japanese alongside us and our Allies, they have indeed been given every opportunity to do so.
No one mindful of the future of our 450,000,000 people and conscious of standing at the bar of history, would wish to plunge the country into a civil war. The Government has shown its readiness and is always ready to confer with the Communists to bring about a real and lasting settlement with them. . . .
I have explained the Government's position on the Communist problem at length, because today that is the main problem to unity and constitutional government. . . .
Upon the inauguration of constitutional government, all political parties will have legal status and enjoy equality. The Government has offered to give legal recognition to the Communist party as soon as the latter agrees to incorporate their army and local administration in the National Army and Government. The offer still stands. . . .
I am optimistic of national unification and the future of democratic government in our country. The torrent of public opinion demanding national unity and reconstruction is mounting ever stronger and will soon become an irresistible force. No individual or political party can afford to disregard this force any longer. Let all of us, regardless of party affiliations, work together for the twin objectives of our people—national unity and reconstruction.
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