CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
Nos. 30/31, June/September 2012


On Civil Liberties | China Heritage Quarterly

On Civil Liberties

Chen Tu-hsiu

The China Critic

The following Editorial is reproduced from The China Critic, V:43 (27 October 1932): 1120-1121.—The Editor

Chen Tu-hsiu [陈独秀], the well-known communist leader of the 'Trotzky faction,' was arrested on the 17th, together with eleven others of his colleagues. Since then, he has been transferred to Nanking under heavy guard, and it is reported that his request for a personal interview with General Chiang has been granted. If so, his life is probably in no great danger. A group of scholars headed by Dr Tsai Yuan-pei, Liu Ya-tze and others have asked the National Government to spare his life, in consideration of his past services to the cause of the revolution and of his contribution to the Chinese Renaissance movement as a fearless leader. Mr Chen was once co-editor of the revolutionary paper, Kuo Min Jih Pao, with Chang Chi and Chang Hsing-yen. He also assisted General Po Wen-wei in the administration of the Anhui provincial government. But it was as Dean of the Arts School of the Peking National University and one of the prime leaders of the literary revolution that Mr Chen will be chiefly remembered by the intellectual public. He was then one of the editors of La Jeunesse, together with Hu Shih, Chien Hsuan-tung and Liu Pan-nung. The success of the movement was in a great measure due to the power pen of Mr. Chen, who was much more outspoken and radical than Dr Hu Shih.

Fig.1 'The Newspaperman's "Bodyguards" ' 新聞記者的隨員, in 'Best Chinese Cartoons', The China Critic, 24 July 1930. Signed Ding Song 丁悚, origin unknown.

Later, Mr Chen joined the communist ranks, and became one of the important leaders of this movement until his expulsion by the Communist Party, owing to differences of opinion. Mr Chen's power has greatly declined since his expulsion and at the time of his arrest, he had only a weak and unorganized following, known for its adherence to Trotzky. His arrest was, therefore, no direct bearing upon the strength of the communist movement, which is entirely controlled by the so-called 'Stalin faction'. While Mr Chen has actually at some time been involved in plots for overthrowing the Kuomintang regime, it should be remembered to his credit that he denounced the present Communist Party in no uncertain terms, calling their troops bandits. While not sharing his political views, and perhaps because we do not share his political views, it seems to us that the wisest course would be for the National Government to show the most lenient consideration of Mr Chen's case, and accord to him the most liberal interpretation of his constitutional rights to hold different opinions, as is acknowledged in most modern countries. Mr Chen's case serves only to open up the more general question whether the best way to weaken the communist movement and keep it under control might not be to give the Communist Party a legal standing. The acceptance of such a standing would take the wind out of the sails of communist propaganda, which derives its force chiefly from underground activities. Such acceptance of a legal standing would also impose upon the communists definite obligations towards the state as it is at present constituted.