File No. 893.00/2403

Vice Consul Josselyn to the Secretary of State

No. 556

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that General Lung Chi-kwang declared the independence of Kwangtung Province on the evening of April 6, following the joint representation made to him by the gentry and the commercial and educational communities of the province. There was no disturbance in Canton, but the announcement of the declaration of independence was celebrated by the discharge of innumerable firecrackers. The independence proclamations were posted all over the city. On the following day all the Chinese gunboats in the harbor and the various Government offices bore white flags stating: “General Lung declares the independence of Kwangtung.”

The condition of affairs in Kwangtung Province at the present time is one of extreme uncertainty. Up to now Canton has been free from fighting or disturbance of any sort, but reports from the interior indicate that the conditions there are very bad; in fact, they are reported to be worse than at any time during the first and second revolutions. This is particularly true of the North River region, along the line of the Canton-Hankow Railway. The entire country is infested with robbers, who call themselves “The People’s Army”. On the 7th instant, these bands of robbers drove away the railway guards and government troops from various places along the line, held up one of the trains, took the rifles and ammunition away from the train guards and also a certain sum of money, amounting to about $1,800. They are also reported to have taken possession of the yamen of the Ying Tak magistrate and either driven that functionary away or are holding him as a captive. In consequence of this, all traffic was suspended on the line for two days,—the 8th and 9th. On the 9th, a body of 300 government troops rode up and down the line, and on the 10th traffic was partially resumed. However, the railway officials are very pessimistic about conditions. They state that they can not make their men work under the conditions prevailing at present; that the line is unsafe for trains of any sort; that until the military give notice that permanent protection is established, they cannot be responsible for the safety of any part of the line. On the 11th, both the up and down passenger trains were robbed and there were skirmishes between the robbers and General Lung’s troops at various places on the line.

In connection with the above, I have the honor to state that there is a mission station of the American Southern Baptist Mission located at Ying Tak, on the Canton-Hankow Railway. On the evening of the 9th, no trains having run on that day, I received a telegram from Dr. Beddoe of that mission, asking me to arrange with the [Page 74] governor for a special train to convey all the missionaries at Ying Tak to Canton. I talked with General Lung personally over the telephone that evening, and he promised to do everything possible to have the missionaries brought safely to Canton. However, the next morning, as trains were running and the missionaries reported the conditions as somewhat better, they decided to wait until to-day before leaving Ying Tak.

Reports from missionaries in the Samshui district also indicate that robbers are extremely numerous in that region. Within the last ten days I have twice received requests from missionaries there to have the governor send more troops for the protection of the missions from robbers and thieves.

General Lung Chi-kwang is now waiting for the arrival of Lu Jung-ting and Liang Chi-chao from Kwangsi. A gunboat has been despatched from Canton to meet these officials, and they are due to arrive here very shortly. It is believed that upon their arrival General Lung will turn over charge to Lu, and that he will then leave Canton.

There are at the present time three parties in South China. The first consists of General Lung Chi-kwang and his followers. The second is an outgrowth of the Progressive Party and is composed of the better and more responsible element of the officials, the leaders of which are Lu Jung-ting and. Liang Chi-chao, at present in Kwangsi, and Chen Chun-hsun, ex-viceroy of the Liang Kwang, who is at present in Shanghai but is reported to be leaving for Canton very soon. It is reported that Mr. Chen has been nominated to be the generalissimo of the revolutionary forces, and Chu Chin, formerly a member of the Imperial Party and lately of the Progressive Party, will be the commander in chief of the Kwangtung National Defence Army. Chu Chin arrived in Canton from Hongkong yesterday.

The third party may be called the extreme revolutionists party and is headed by Chun Cheung-ming, who was tutu of Kwangtung at the time of the second revolution. The bands of revolutionary soldiers in the country, who are making the disturbances along the line of the Canton-Hankow Railway and in other places, are supposed to be followers of Chun Cheung-ming. He is believed to be at present in Hongkong. His representative in Canton at present is Wei Pang-ping, who arrived on the gunboat Kiang Ta. He has acted as the representative of the revolutionists, and has issued general notices informing the public not to entertain any alarm and promising complete protection. He has also addressed a telegram to the consular body stating that he is responsible for the safety and good order of Canton, and that the lives and property of foreigners will be protected.

It is rather a difficult matter to forecast in what way these three elements will combine, as the leaders of all three are anxious for position.

General Lung is reported to have borrowed a sum of $70,000, Hongkong currency, from the Canton-Samshui Railway for the purpose of paying his troops.

I have the honor to enclose herewith translation of General Lung Chi-kwang’s Independence Proclamation,2 copy in translation of [Page 75] a circular addressed by General Lung to the various Consuls, and of speeches made by General Lung and former Civil Governor Chang Ming-chi at a meeting held at the former’s office on April 92

A copy of this despatch is being sent to the American Legation at Peking.

I have [etc.]

P. R. Josselyn

The Tutu of Kwangtung to Vice Consul Josselyn

Sir: I have the honor to state that, whereas earnest requests have repeatedly been made by the gentry, commercial and educational communities as well as other public organizations in Canton that this province be declared independent for the sake of averting the calamity of warfare, and maintaining peace; and whereas the above communities have jointly selected me to be the tutu of Kwangtung for the purpose of upholding order, I, in order to preserve the peace of the province, cannot but comply with the request made by the various organizations and, consequently, have this day proclaimed independence.

For your information, I beg to state that I have duly issued instructions to both the civil and military authorities within my jurisdiction that due protection be afforded according to treaties to all foreign merchants and missionaries residing in the various ports of this province. I shall be very much obliged by your conveying the above to the notice of all American merchants and other citizens residing in this province.

With compliments.

(Stamped) Tutu of Kwangtung
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