File No. 893.00/1595.

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

No. 772.]

Sir: I have the honor to report as follows upon the present political situation in China.

the elections.

The recent elections for the national House of Representatives and for the provincial assemblies passed off in most districts very quietly. * * * Some of these assemblies are now in session and have held the senatorial elections. All are expected to make choice within a few days and the National Assembly will perhaps meet about the middle of April.* * *

the advisory council and the president.

The Advisory Council, as the provisional parliament is called, has obstructed the President at every turn. The President having found it difficult to secure the support of the Advisory Council for his policies, has resorted to various methods to overcome the obstruction. At times he has summoned the leaders and reasoned with them; at times he has secured the necessary votes by special favors granted. At times the military have appeared in the galleries of the Council chamber, or the generals have sent strongly worded letters of advice to the Council, which has thus been intimidated into compliance with the President’s views. But for over two months now it has been impossible to secure a quorum for the transaction of business except upon three occasions when bills were brought up which the majority favored. * * *

the constitutional convention.

One subject of disagreement between the President and the Council has been a Government bill to organize a constitutional committee. The provisional constitution provides that the permanent constitution shall be adopted by the National Assembly, which has not yet [Page 95] convened. The Council, therefore, refuses to pass the measure proposed by the President. But the President holds that the appointment of a committee to draft a constitution does not infringe the provisions of the present constitution, inasmuch as the National Assembly will in any event have to pass upon the work of the committee. His measure is urged as a time-saving expedient.* * *

the provinces and peking.

Provincial feeling has always been strong in China. Patriotism has been parochial, rather than national, and the provinces having broken away one by one, as they did in the revolution, from the control of Peking, are reluctant to surrender their independence. * * * It will doubtless be many months before this question can be adjusted, for the jealousy of the provinces towards one another and towards Peking is no less pronounced than was that of our own colonies towards each other and towards the Federal Government in our own early history.

The situation is made more difficult here by the existence of provincial armies controlled by the military governors of the provinces who are not eager to surrender their present power and profits. The Tutu or Military Governor of Kiangsi has, within a few days past, openly defied the authority of the President. * * * There has been a conflict of authority in Shansi, also.* * * An attempt upon the life of the Civil Governor of Fukien was made at Foochow shortly after his arrival, on February 4th. In the same province, a rebellion has been in progress for some months past in the prefecture of Hsing-hua. * * * At the beginning of February, a plot against the Vice President of the Republic was discovered in Wuchang.* * * Other conspiracies have been unearthed in Shanghai and Nanking. * * * Northern Manchuria is over-run with bandits and a mutiny of the troops in the Chien-tao district occurred on February 6th. * * * Honan is infested with robbers, and the authorities appear to be unable to suppress them. Cities that last year were considering the demolition of their walls are now repairing and strengthening them. A serious outbreak occurred recently in southwestern Shansi, and a missionary writing from Ho-tsin says the people are weary of the Republic and are beginning to shave their heads and again grow queues. The war with Tibet drags on in western Szechuen, where the Chinese troops have suffered severe reverses. Large numbers have deserted. Disorders have occurred also in Kueichou and in Shantung.

the mongolian situation.

Of more serious import is the situation in Mongolia. * * * Russians are drilling the Mongol troops and the latter are planning to raid the Chinese settlements in Inner Mongolia at the opening of Spring. * * * Such a conflict, if it lead the Chinese over the border, would furnish all the excuse that Russia would need for attacking China. * * *

I have [etc.]

E. T. Williams.