The Five-Power Constitution at Work: Political Institutions During the Period of Political Tutelage

  • William L. Tung


As stated before, the National Government of the Republic of China was first established in Canton, on July 1, 1925. With only ten articles, the first Organic Law of the National Government had three characteristics :
  1. (1)

    Party control. Article 1 stipulated that the National Government was to be in charge of the national affairs under the direction and supervision of the Nationalist Party.

  2. (2)

    Collective leadership. The National Government was composed of sixteen state councilors, who were to disose of important state affairs as a collective body. The Chairman and five Standing Members, elected from among themselves, were to take charge of routine matters.

  3. (3)

    Simple organization. The National Government had only three Ministries : military affairs, foreign affairs, and finance.



Provincial Government Plenary Session Constitutional Rule Electoral Rule District Government 
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  1. 1.
    For its text, see The Current Laws of the National Government (Bureau of Legal Affairs of the National Government, 1928), pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Chairman and Standing Members were elected from among the forty-six state councilors.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    It was revised on November 24, 1930 and again on June 15, 1931.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    During that period, the Executive Yuan generally had the following ministries : interior, foreign affairs, military affairs, navy, finance, communications, industries, railways and education. There were a few commissions on Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, overseas Chinese affairs and other matters. The National Reconstruction Commission, the National Military Council and the National Economic Council were directly responsible to the National Government.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    Chien jen is the fourth rank of Chinese government officials ; shan jen being the first rank, dai jen, the second; chain jen, the third; and wain jen, the fifth.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    According to the 1931 Organic Law of the National Government, one half of the Legislative members was to have been elected by the people. But this provision had never been carried out during the effective period of that law.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    The Judicial Yuan was, at that time, composed of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Administrative Court, and the Commission for the Disciplinary Punishment of officials. The Ministry of Justice was sometimes shifted under the Executive Yuan on the ground that it was administrative in nature.Google Scholar
  8. 4.
    The Examining Yuan was to be composed of the Examination Commission and the Board of Personnel.Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    The Board of Auditing has been under the direct control of the Supervisory Yuan. Google Scholar
  10. 2.
    The Examining and Supervisory Yuan were not established at the same time as the other three Yuan. The Supervisory Yuan did not come into existence until February 2, 1931, when Yu Yu-jen succeeded Ts’ai Yüan-p’ei as its President.Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    “Peking” and “Peiping” are used interchangeably in many Western books. When the Nationalists established the Capital in Nanking, they changed the name Peking (Northern Capital) into Peiping (Northern Peace). Being the seat of the central government again, Peking was restored to its original name by the Communists.Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    See Tientsin Ta Kung Pao, November 29, 1930.Google Scholar
  13. 2.
    See the Electoral Rules of the National People’s Convention, Arts, 1, 5, 7, 8, and 13.Google Scholar
  14. 3.
    Art. 3 of the Organic Law of the National People’s Convention, promulgated by the National Government on April 24 and revised on May 4, 1931.Google Scholar
  15. 4.
    For its English translation, see Appendix F.Google Scholar
  16. 1.
    For details of the National People’s Convention, see The Minutes of the National People’s Convention (Nanking: Central Headquarters of the Nationalist Party, 1931).Google Scholar
  17. 1.
    The National People’s Convention created a special committee to examine the various proposals submitted by the representatives for inclusion in the Provisional Constitution. The author’s primary recollections, as a member of that committee, are of the many sharp and enlightening debates. Compromises were the usual results. For example, because during the period of the Peking Government educational funds were regularly diverted to other purposes with a consequent adverse effect on the progress of education, some members of the committee strongly urged the independence of the educational funds. On the other hand, others condemned this suggestion as unreasonable on the following grounds: first, the Nationalist Government would never repeat the abuses of the Peking Government, and so such provision was by no means necessary; secondly, there were many other matters no less important than education, such as communications, economic reconstruction, and the like, and if educational funds should be isolated in the national treasury, why should not the others be similarly treated, an arrangement which would result in the Ministry of Finance having nothing to do. As the only means of ending the prolonged debate and of forcing a conclusion, a compromise was reached — Art. 52 of the Constitution: “The Central and local governments shall provide adequate funds for necessary educational expenses and shall also safeguard the security of funds which are by law specially set apart [for educational purposes].”Google Scholar
  18. 1.
    The Ministry of Justice was originally a component part of the Judicial Yuan. A change took place on January 1, 1932, when it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan. In October 1934, it was returned to the Judicial Yuan. These changes reflect a series of decisions adopted by high Party officials, who, throughout this period, were frankly puzzled with regard to the form of organization indicated.Google Scholar
  19. 1.
    The School was originally under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice; but, since November 17, 1934, it was placed under the direct control of the Judicial Yuan. Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    See The China Year Book, 1936, p. 325.Google Scholar
  21. 1.
  22. 1.
    See the Rules governing the Organization of the National Emergency Conference, promulgated by the National Government on March 17, 1932. {The Collected Laws and Regulations of the Republic of China, edited by the Legislative Yuan and published by Chung-hwa Book Co., 1934, Vol. I, Pt. 2, p. 1086.)Google Scholar
  23. 2.
    For details, see The Minutes of the National Emergency Conference (edited and printed by the Executive Yuan, 1932), p. 76.Google Scholar
  24. 3.
    See, for example, Sun Fo, “Draft Principles of National Salvation,” Shih-shih Hsin Pao, April 27, 1931Google Scholar
  25. 3a.
    Yu Yujen, “The Abandonment of Political Tutelage and the Danger of the Chinese Revolution,” The Central Daily News, May 5. 1932.Google Scholar
  26. 4.
    For details, see The Minutes of the Third Plenary Session of the Fourth National Congress of the Nationalist Party, edited and published by the Secretariat of the Central Headquarters of the Nationalist Party, 1932.Google Scholar
  27. 5.
    The full-scale war between Japan and China started with the Lukou-ch’iao Incident on July 7, 1937. It was generally agreed that Japan purposely planned an armed conflict with the Chinese soldiers in that place so as to use it as a pretext for the furtherance of her invasion of China.Google Scholar
  28. 1.
    Arts. 22–23. For a summary of the opinions on constitutional problems in China by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Sun Fo, then President of the Legislative Yuan, see Wu Ching-hsiung and Huang Kung-chiao, A History of the Constitution-making in China, Vol. II, p. 637–792.Google Scholar
  29. 1.
    For the various drafts, see Wu Ching-hsiung, et al., op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 793–978.Google Scholar
  30. 3.
    For the territorial divisions of the various provinces, see The Year Book of Internal Affairs (Nanking: Ministry of Interior, 1935), pp. B8–B45.Google Scholar
  31. 4.
    Arts. 78–83.Google Scholar
  32. 1.
    Arts. 16–23.Google Scholar
  33. 2.
    For a brief description of the government system of Mongolia and Tibet, see William L. Tung, The Government of China, Vol. II, p. 693.Google Scholar
  34. 3.
    The dates of revisions are as foliows: (1)November 11, 1926; (2)July 8, 1927; (3) October 25, 1927; (4) April 27, 1928; (5) February 3, 1930; and (6) March 23, 1931. For the texts of the organic laws of 1925 and 1931, see ibid., Vol. II, pp. 697–701.Google Scholar
  35. 4.
    The Organic Law of November 11, 1926.Google Scholar
  36. 1.
    The provinces were Anhwei, Kiangsu, Chekiang, Kiangsi, Kwangsi, Kwangtung and Sinkiang. For details, see Ch’ien Tuan-sheng, et al., History of Political Institutions under the Chinese Republic, Vol. II, pp. 518–526.Google Scholar
  37. 1.
    For their texts, see Government Gazette, No. 72 (July 7, 1928).Google Scholar
  38. 2.
    At its meeting on February 12, 1930. See Official Journal of the Legislative Yuan, No. 15.Google Scholar
  39. 3.
    Various proposals for its revision were made since 1932. The Legislative Yuan even prepared a revised draft to that effect. See Official Journal of the Legislative Yuan, Nos. 46, 84.Google Scholar
  40. 1.
    For the various municipalities under the two categories, see Tung, op, cit., Vol. II, pp. 680, 694.Google Scholar
  41. 2.
    For its text, see Government Gazette, No. 92 (September 1928).Google Scholar
  42. 1.
    Formerly there were various ranks of districts according to the classifications of different provinces. See also the Rules for the Classification of Districts, December 23, 1929.Google Scholar
  43. 2.
    For details, see The Complete Collection of Laws and Regulations of the Republic of China (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1936), Vol. I, pp. 538–542.Google Scholar
  44. 3.
    For model districts and areas preparing for the establishment of district governments, see Tung, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 682–683.Google Scholar
  45. 1.
    See the resolution concerning the procedure for the enforcement of local self-government as the foundation of political reconstruction (Tung, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 754–756).Google Scholar
  46. 1.
    A long supporter of the local self-government movement, the author was elected as the first chairman of the Peiping municipal assembly. He found it necessary to spend almost four months at Nanking, capital of the National Government, in long consultation with the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, and the Ministry of Interior, pleading for a revision of the laws and regulations in realtion to the municipal assemblies.Google Scholar
  47. 1.
    For a full discussion of the municipal and district assemblies and the application of local self-government to lower-level units, see Tung, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 686–691.Google Scholar
  48. 2.
    See ibid., pp. 691–693.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • William L. Tung
    • 1
  1. 1.Queens CollegeCity University of New YorkUSA

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