On December 5, 1937, Su Xiwen, a Waseda-educated philosopher, inaugurated "the Great Way" (the Dadao) puppet municipal government of Shanghai. Su
In truth, the Dadao puppet government was short-lived, at least in nomenclature. The malodorous characteristics of its leading members, a potpourri of Venerable Mother religious cultists, smugglers, gamblers, narcotics dealers, panderers, and former rickshaw pullers, were liability enough. But just as damaging was the Japanese handlers' contempt for Su Xiwen, whose philosophizing was not taken very seriously after the Special Services brought in a tough north China hanjian named Wang Zihui to run their Shanghai operations.
Meanwhile, the poet Liang Hongzhi, a former Beiyang bureaucrat, had been "casting romantic glances" (song qiubo) at the Japanese, making known his availability as a collaborator. Consequently, after the puppet administrations in north China were incorporated in January 1938 into a single provisional government (Linshi zhengfu, Rinji seifu) under Wang Kemin in Beiping, in south China a reform government (Weixin zhengf u, Ishin seifu) was set up in March 1938 in Nanjing headed by Liang Hongzhi.
The puppet régime announced that it would establish a constitutional government, wipe out single-party dictatorship, exterminate the Communists, safeguard East Asia from "redification" (chihua), consolidate peaceful cooperation between China and Japan, return refugees to their homes, establish peace-preservation organizations (baoan zuzhi) to exterminate bandits and "cleanse the villages" (qing-xiang), stimulate industrial and agricultural production with the help of foreign capital from "friendly countries" (you bang), revamp education to combine traditional moral values and international scientific learning, abolish excessive taxes, encourage men of talent to come forward and freely criticize the government, and severely restrict the corrupt tyranny of petty officials and clerks.
Shanghai sympathizers, together with members of the Special Services Department of the Japanese Central China Area Army garrison in Nandao, tepidly celebrated the establishment of the new reform government on March 28, 1938. The puppet Self-Government Committee held one meeting in the Confucian
Within a month, on April 28, 1938, the reform government had commissioned a new Supervisory Yamen (duban gongshu) to take over the functions of municipal administration formerly wielded by the Dadao puppet régime. Su Xiwen formally recognized the superior legitimacy of the reform government by adopting its flag on May 3, but he continued as head of the Supervisory Yamen until October 15, 1938, when Fu Xiaoan assumed office as mayor of the Shanghai Special Municipality (Shanghai tebie shi). Once ousted, Su Xiwen was named puppet mayor of Hankou but actually repaired to Tokyo—perhaps to evade assassination.