File No. 893.00/2349

Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State

No. 892

Sir: Supplementing my despatch No. 876 of the 3d instant, relative to political conditions in China, I have the honor to enclose for the information of the Department, copies of further reports from various consular offices,2 also cuttings from the Peking Gazette of January 7 and 10,2 giving translations of telegrams which have passed between the Central Government and the local authorities of various provinces, concerning the Yunnan movement, together with a report of the action taken by the Tsan Cheng Yuan (Council of State). There is also transmitted the substance of telegrams received from the Consulates at Nanking (January 8, 1 p.m.), and Changsha and Canton, dated January 14, 11 a.m. and p.m., respectively; together with a copy of a wireless message received on the 11th instant from the Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. Asiatic Fleet.2

From all these papers, it appears that the official view of the situation remains optimistic. There has been no further defection of military [Page 54] governors, and the military organization as a whole seems to remain loyal to the President. It is evident that the revolutionaries have been but moderately supplied with funds wherewith to purchase the adherence of Government troops. The governors of the different provinces report that they have the situation well in hand, and that they feel confident of their ability to suppress local disorders. The official reports from Yunnan itself indicate that the province is far from being united in the revolutionary cause, and that there are factional struggles going on. The Province of Kweichow, which, during the first days of the movement, was generally believed to be associated with Yunnan, has maintained a more or less neutral attitude: the notables of the province have addressed both the Yunnanese and the Central Government with the request that no troops might be sent into Kweichow, and the military governor has remained loyal, although he has only small forces at hand.

More or less serious local disturbances have taken place in Kwangtung, where native customhouses have been attacked at two points and outbreaks have occurred at several other places: these instances are, however, too sporadic and disconnected to warrant the conclusion that a widespread and systematic revolutionary organization exists, even in Kwangtung.

In the lower Yangtze region quiet has thus far been maintained, with the exception of isolated attempts at assassination and train-wrecking. There is indeed in the Yangtze provinces an undercurrent of strong dissatisfaction with the personal Government of His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai. The men of moderate views in this region, where there is a high level of intelligence and business capacity, feel that the Yuan régime has not succeeded in producing any concrete betterment in national affairs. These moderates are not, however, inclined at the present time to join the radicals in a revolutionary movement: for the sake of peace and normal conditions, they are willing to allow the empire to be established, with the expectation that the Central Government will then address itself to constructive work. While, therefore, the moderates have no enthusiasm for Yuan Shih-kai, they are willing to suffer the change in the hope that improvement may come and under the certain belief that resistance at the present time would bring more evil than good.

Thus, it would seem that the revolutionary movement in Yunnan has not passed beyond the stage of a personal revolt against His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai of a few prominent and able military leaders. The fact that in the three weeks since its start the movement has not spread, would appear to indicate that there had been no systematic organization among the military leaders of different provinces for cooperation. The sporadic outbreaks in Kwangtung and the activities of robber bands in northern Shansi and on the Mongolian frontier, while encouraged by the feeling of uncertainty now existing, cannot be considered as part of a large organized political movement. The Canton disturbances appear to be due to lawless elements who would at any time be ready to take advantage of official weakness; while the raids on the Mongolian boundary are the result of conditions there existent for some time.

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Under the circumstances, the representatives of the Powers in Peking, with whom I have discussed this matter, have expressed the feeling that a delay of recognition of the monarchical government would subserve ho useful purpose, but would serve only to encourage further disturbances on the part of irresponsible elements. If there were evidence of the existence of a large republican party, governed by definite views of public policy, and led by responsible and able men, everyone would desire to have them given a chance to establish and maintain their ascendency in the Government, but no such organization has thus far made its appearance.

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch
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