The Registry of Good and Evil

This posting is part of a series which comprise a draft dissertation chapter. Read more about it here. The first posting is found here. The post preceding this one is here.

Enemy Work units targeting puppet armies showed great aptitude in combining the weapons of fear and shame. They also understood that one did not necessarily need to win over a treasonous soldier in a single eloquent appeal through a megaphone. Instead, indirect pressure built over time could eventually wear down an opponent. Nowhere is this better seen in the use of a “black and red point” (黑紅點) system to track the behavior of puppet soldiers. This practice, which was also referred to as the “registry of good and evil” (善惡錄) or the “book of life and death” (生死簿) contained a separate score sheet for each known puppet soldier. In the Luzhong district, Wang Fang implemented the black and red point system for soldiers under Wu Huawen’s command. Whenever a soldier was guilty of an atrocity, an act of pillage, or some other act detrimental to the cause of resistance, they would earn a black point. When they performed an act that aided the resistance, or demonstrated a virtuous character, they were to be awarded a red point. Until they defected to Communist control or the Japanese surrendered, military collaborators and enemy agents could earn a deficit of evil deeds large enough to earn them a death sentence, despite Mao’s directive that puppet soldiers were to be shown mercy regardless of their circumstances. When an enemy agent was executed, the announcement of the death was to be accompanied by a list of acts associated with their black point score, while any red points were to remain a secret.

Besides determining guilt for a future trial—though I have found no reference in postwar trial descriptions that mention the score, the point system could only have a deterrent effect if the score could reach the puppet soldier it tracked. One way this was accomplished was by announcing the black and red point scores directly to the puppets during the nightly megaphone announcements. A more indirect but perhaps more effective way was to pass on updates to the score card not to the soldier, but to his family.

This indirect communication and pressure was achieved through the registration of puppet family members (偽屬登記). By 1944, Binhai military district reported the registration of 1,358 households with relatives in the puppet armies. In Luzhong, 1,295 households were registered and in Jiaodong, 1,895. Registration, which was updated annually, was only the first step. Assemblies of puppet families were called to discuss the impact on the resistance of treasonous military collaboration and, more specifically, the behavior of local puppet soldiers with relatives at the assembly. 120 such meetings were held in Luzhong with over 700 participants. Enemy Work cadres were instructed that the black point crimes of puppet soldier relatives should be read out at the meetings without insult and in a matter-of-fact way. The names of those who committed the acts were not be read out in public. Instead, the families of the puppet soldiers were to be warned privately of the sins of each relative, such that they could bear their family shame in silence and apply pressure on their relatives to return home. Those that did return home were then asked to participate in the rallies and speak to the hardships they suffered as collaborators of the Japanese.

Next: Zhu De and The Prices of Betrayal


  1. I personally like the Characters in parentheses instead of the romanization. I mean, if a person didn’t speak a lick of Chinese, but had to work with scholars who barely knew English (completely hypothetical), all they’d have to do, is point at the word, and everyone’s on the same page. Also, I like your use of traditional, instead of simplified, but maybe I’m some sort of a cultural elitist.

    My question is: Is there any evidence that 汪精衛 had any red points at all?

  2. Thanks for the comment! Good to get some feedback on this!

    There has been a lot of new scholarship on 汪精衛, and I confess I’m not up to date on it. There are lots of stories of clandestine contacts between 軍統 and his regime, but I have never seen much in the way of written evidence for this (not surprising though) – just people’s memoirs. I doubt the CCP kept points for him, though, since this was more of a local effort.

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