File No. 893.00/1681.

The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State.

No. 841.]

Sir: In compliance with your telegraphic instruction of April 6, 11 p.m., I have the honor to report that the message of President Wilson, according recognition to the Chinese Republic, was delivered to President Yuan Shih-kai on Friday, May 2, at 11 o’clock a.m.

The conditions precedent to recognition laid down in your instruction, referred to above, were that the National Assembly should have convened with a quorum and organized for business by the election of officers. These conditions were not fulfilled until May 1. The Senate completed its organization on April 25; the House did not elect its Speaker until April 30. As soon as this was done, I intimated to the Foreign Office that the Legation was instructed to deliver a message from the President of the United States of America to the President of China when officially informed of the organization of the two Houses of the Assembly. The information was communicated to the Legation the same evening, and I at once wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs asking for the designation of an hour when I might carry out my instructions. He replied at once, fixing [Page 117] Friday, May 2, at 11 a.m. Copies of the notes mentioned are sent inclosed.1

On the 1st of May the House completed its organization by the election of a Vice Speaker.

I was prepared to deliver the message on May 1, since the election of a Vice Speaker could not be considered essential to the working of the House, but the President of the Foreign Office desired to mark the recognition of the Republic by the United States with signal honors and took time to prepare a very elaborate program.

At 10 o’clock a.m. on the 2d of May a state carriage was sent to the Legation with a guard of honor. Accompanied by the staff of the Legation I was driven to the gate of the West Park in which the President’s Palace is located. Police and soldiers were stationed at short intervals along the route and the houses were decorated with flags.

After entering the park we were taken across the lake in the old imperial barges and met at the entrance to the President’s Palace by the master of ceremonies, Mr. Sun Pao-ch’i; by Admiral Ts’ai T’ing-kan, Admiral Cheng, and General Yin Chang, chief of the general staff. A guard in the outer court received us with military honors and the President’s bodyguard of lancers showed similar honors in the inner court.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Tuan Chili Kuei, a representative of the Premier, who was ill; and other officers were waiting in the principal hall of the palace. The President having been announced, I was conducted to an inner reception room and after a bow, which the President acknowledged, I read the message of President Wilson and handed it to President Yuan, who gave it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I then made a brief address, to which the President responded very cordially. I inclose copies of these addresses. Mr. Peck, the assistant Chinese secretary, read the Chinese text of President Wilson’s message and of my own remarks, and President Yuan’s secretary, Mr. Wellington Ku, a graduate of Columbia University, read the English text of the President’s reply. The members of the Legation were all introduced to the President and, after brief conversation, he withdraw. Mr. Lou Tseng-tsiang, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, informed me that the reply of President Yuan to President Wilson had just been telegraphed to Washington and would be presented there.

We were then shown through the grounds and buildings of the West Park and upon our return to the palace President Yuan appeared again and invited us to lunch with him. A military band supplied music during the meal. At its conclusion, a photographer appeared and took several pictures of the company. We then took leave and were escorted back to the Legation. * * *

A simpler procedure would have been more to my taste, but the Chinese are fond of ceremony and display, and in this instance it was perhaps just as well to give prominence to the event because of the rather critical condition of affairs.

The Kuo Min Tang, or Nationalist Party, was attacking the Government very bitterly because of its signature of the reorganization loan with the quintuple group without having first obtained the consent [Page 118] of the National Assembly. Telegrams had been sent to all the Provinces and many strong protests had been received by the Government. It was known, too, that the revolutionary leaders—Dr. Sun Yat-sen, General Huang Hsing and General Chen Chi-mei—at Shanghai were plotting a revolution and had attempted to borrow money and purchase arms for this purpose.

To some critics the United States appeared to be recognizing a Government which was about to be overthrown, but the very fact that the American Government carried out its program of recognition without regard to the plottings of the malcontents served to discredit the latter and had an excellent steadying effect throughout the country, increased the respect of the people for the Republic, encouraged the orderly and law-abiding, and tended to promote a better feeling by withdrawing attention from party politics. * * *

On Saturday, May 3, both Houses of the National Assembly passed resolutions thanking the American Government for its action. These resolutions will be communicated to you through the Chinese Minister in Washington.

In accordance with the instructions contained in your telegram of April 6, I informed all the consuls and the commander in chief of the Asiatic Fleet of my intention to deliver the message of recognition and recommended to them a call at the same hour upon the local authorities.

The consuls-general at Shanghai, Hankow, and Canton have already reported the carrying out of their instructions. Great enthusiasm was shown in Hankow and the neighboring city of Wuchang, where criers with gongs were sent about the streets announcing the recognition of the Republic by the United States of America. At Shanghai, too, there was general rejoicing and a celebration of the occasion by appropriate decoration. The Admiral, however, waited until informed that recognition had taken place and exchanged calls with the local officials on Saturday, May 3.

A Chinese-American association here in Peking has prepared an elaborate program for the celebration of the event on the 8th instant and similar celebrations are to be held throughout the country. All of this will have a good effect upon the relations between the two countries and will, it is hoped, do much to consolidate and strengthen the Republic of China,

I have [etc.]

E. T. Williams.
[Inclosure 1.]

Introductory remarks by the American Chargé d’Affaires.

Mr. President: I rim charged by the Secretary of State with the duty of communicating to Your Excellency a message from the President of the United States of America. I esteem it a high honor and a great privilege to be permitted to fulfill this duty.

[Reading of the message of the President of the United States.]

Concluding remarks by the American Chargé d’Affaires.

Mr. President: Having communicated to Your Excellency the message from the President of the United States giving formal recognition of the Republic, I desire for myself and in behalf of my fellow countrymen resident in China to [Page 119] express the satisfaction which we all feel in the action taken by the American Government.

As citizens of a sister republic, we can not be indifferent to anything which affects the success of republican government in China. We shall watch your progress with sympathetic interest, trusting that the hopes which animated the martyrs of the revolution may find their full fruition in the free institutions now being established. We believe in “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Out of the mists of high antiquity echo the words of the great declaration: “Heaven sees as the people see; Heaven hears as the people hear.”

We rejoice with you to-day in the confident belief that these ancient words have found fulfillment anew; that this new Government, “broad based upon the people’s will,” by the establishment of lasting peace and equal justice, will minister to the highest happiness of the people of China and merit the blessing of Heaven.

[Inclosure 2.]

The response of the President.

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: I have listened with the most profound satisfaction to the welcome message of the President of the United States which you have just read, and the assurances of sympathy which you have so eloquently extended to me. On behalf of the Government and people of China I thank you, and also beg you to transmit my thanks to the President.

Though young in years, the Republic of China is founded on principles of liberty and freedom which are already deep graven on the hearts of the Chinese people. We believe that through the permanent establishment of this form of government we have found the best means of insuring to us, what you have been enjoying through the same means for 140 years, the “unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is equally gratifying and significant that the political ideas and ideals of two great peoples, though separated by a broad ocean and living under different skies, are of one and the same kind. The declaration in our ancient classics and the words of one of your greatest Presidents, both of which you have just recited, show that the Chinese and the Americans are always united in their love of a government based on the people’s will. I am confident in the hope that this common faith in the soundness of republican government will serve to bring China and the United States into a yet closer contact than they are now and to further strengthen the friendly relations which have invariably existed between them.

  1. Not printed.