File No. 793.94/533

Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State

No. 1186

Sir: I have the honor to enclose, for your information, copy of a despatch from the Consulate General at Mukden, which deals with the collision between Chinese and Japanese troops at Chengchiatun and the results arising therefrom:

As a result of the killing of certain Japanese soldiers at Chengchiatun, the Japanese Government, through its Minister here, has on September 2 made certain demands upon the Chinese Government. I am confidentially informed that they are as follows:

  • Group I: Action which it is desirable for the Chinese Government to take—
    The employment of Japanese military advisers in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia;
    The employment of Japanese instructors in military schools;
    Indemnity for the lives of the persons killed; and
    An apology.
  • Group II: Action which the Japanese Government will find itself forced categorically to insist upon—
    That in all localities in Manchuria and Eastern Mongolia where numbers of Japanese sojourn there shall be established a Japanese police service;
    That throughout Manchuria and Eastern Mongolia the Chinese police shall be provided with Japanese advisers;
    That all the officers of the Chinese brigade involved in the Chengchiatun affair shall be dismissed and degraded; and
    That strict orders shall be issued to the military in Manchuria under no circumstances to take action against any Japanese.

As in the case of the demands of 1915, the strictest secrecy was enjoined upon the Chinese Foreign Office by the Japanese Minister.

A certain show of moderation is imparted to this list, undoubtedly with a purpose, by including indemnity and apology under things desirable, but not categorically demanded. The thing that is categorically demanded, i. e. the policing of Manchurian towns by the Japanese and the control by them of the Chinese police forces throughout those regions, strikes a blow against the sovereignty of China in Manchuria which gives this affair a very serious character. The degree to which this is resented by the Chinese is apparent from the newspaper discussions (published in the Peking Gazette) which are enclosed herewith.4

It may be necessary for the Chinese to submit to the demands framed by Japan * * *.

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch
[Page 242]

Consular General Heintzleman to Minister Reinsch

Sir: I have the honor to report that for several months serious disturbances have occurred in a region extending from Ssupingkai to Chengchiatun and from Changchun to Taonanfu far into Mongolia. The developments of the trouble can be traced with exactitude. Its inception was with the Russians who began in April last to supply with arms the various Mongol Banners, some seventee2 in number, inhabiting Kulun or the Hailar district of Heilungkiang. In 191n Barga, which is the popular local name for this region, seceded from China, and though the Chinese by force, bribery and intrigue have ever since attempted to resubjugate the area, it remains practically independent, relying for its existence on its success in playing the three powers one against the other. Although theoretically incorporated in this province and Heilungkiang, the Russians regard it as part of Autonomous Mongolia. The motives underlying Russian action are a desire to consolidate and strengthen those Mongol tribes bordering on Siberia and North Manchuria and thus preserve a semi-independent state already set up through Russian influence which is to serve as a buffer between her and China, and also in opposing the Japanese advance into North Manchuria and Eastern Mongolia. The Japanese, knowing perfectly well all that was going on, determined to turn the situation to their advantage. They encouraged those Mongols of the Korchin Banner, whose land lies around Taonanfu, most of whom they are able to influence, to form a political party, in conjunction with Manchu loyalists, to fight ostensibly for the restoration of the monarchy. To these disorderly elements were joined the ordinary robber bands also organized and equipped by the Japanese. Ssupingkai and Changchun are the principal centers for the recruitment of bandits, where they are protected by the Japanese and supplied with the necessary military outfit. Chengchiatun and Taonanfu may be considered rather as the bases of operations. The latter is the headquarters of the Japanese general secret staff, to which it is said no less than fifty Japanese general staff officers are attached. For the past eighteen months a Japanese consular agent has also been stationed there.

Chinese troops about 23 ying in number under General Wu Hsing-chuan have attempted from Taonanfu to suppress these revolutionists and marauders but in every engagement thus far the Chinese have been worsted. In a recent encounter General Wu was seriously wounded, although the Chinese for obvious reasons have thus far declined to admit it. Additional Chinese troops comprising 22 ying have been despatched from Kirin and Mukden to the fighting zone but they have been unable to relieve the situation. Wherever they met the insurgents (Chinese reports to the contrary) they suffered defeat. It is known to the Chinese authorities that the insurgents are well organized and led by Japanese, and that they follow tactics which only could be possible under expert leaders, and by which the Chinese are always outwitted. The number of the insurgents is given at 3,000. They are equipped with five machines rifles, and they also have in their possession such modern weapons as hand grenades, explosives, Mauser pistols and Japanese rifles. On the 15th instant the insurgents captured Kuochiatien, a town situated west of Changchun. In Changchun anarchical conditions prevail. Murder and plunder are daily occurrences. The Chinese city is, however, well guarded against the insurgents and closed at night. The Japanese observe a cold reserve and do not hinder in the least the free play of the bandits even in their own concession.

In Chengchiatun a fight developed on the 13th instant between the Japenese troops stationed there and the Chinese garrison by which the Japanese were outnumbered and consequently defeated and for a time besieged. Ten Japanese, including a police, were killed. Six, including the lieutenant leading the squad of Japanese soldiers, were wounded, while there are a few missing. The Chinese losses are given as four killed and nine wounded.

The facts preceding this incident are, I have good reason to believe, as follows: The Chinese commander of the local garrison knowing that the Japanese were assisting the insurgents and that the Japanese troops were hindering operations against the insurgents, asked the Japanese commander to withdraw his forces from Chengchiatun temporarily. The Japanese officer replied that he would do so on condition that he received an assurance that the Chinese would protect Japanese life and property. The Chinese officer declined to give this guarantee [Page 243] and renewed his request. A Japanese orderly upon attempting to deliver a further communication on the subject at the Chinese barracks was told the commander was absent. He began to use abusive language to the Chinese guard, who retaliated by beating him. A Japanese police then went to the barracks to demand an explanation. The Chinese refused to listen and leveled their guns at him. He thereupon returned and set out again with a guard of thirty Japanese soldiers under a lieutenant. Upon appearing at the Chinese barracks they attempted to force an entrance when they were resisted by a volley of fire. The Japanese responded but, being outnumbered, were compelled to retire. The fighting continued until the Japanese reached their barracks. The losses on both sides were as described above. Conditions soon became precarious. The Japanese, learning of the incident and realizing that their small contingent was surrounded by 3,000 Chinese troops, sent reinforcements from neighboring towns in quick marching order. * * * The Chinese as well have sent reinforcements to Chengchiatun. The Chinese troops are supplied with ammunition by way of Hsinminfu. The Japanese consider the forces already despatched as too weak and express doubt that they will become masters of the situation. This gives the impression that new reinforcement will be sent.

On receiving news of the conflict, Governor Chang ordered the commander of the Chinese troops at Chengchiatun to cease hostilities and withdraw his troops three miles from the city. In this connection it is significant that while the Chinese troops are being removed the Japanese military forces are being strengthened. General Chang also sent two deputies to the scene to investigate and make a report, while Major Machino, military adviser to the Mukden government, has proceeded to Ssupingkai to discuss the affair with Major-General Fujii, commander of the Japanese railway guard in South Manchuria. Under instructions from Tokyo the Japanese Acting Consul General at Mukden has gone to Chengchiatun to investigate the facts of the case. The Special Delegate for Foreign Affairs called on the 14th instant at the Japanese Consulate General here to express regrets at the occurrence. General Chang also sent telegrams expressing regret to the Governor General of Kwantung and to the Army Department of the Kwantung Government. The magistrate of Chengchiatun, conceiving it to be his duty as a local official, called upon the Japanese Vice Consul to express his regrets at what had occurred. He was accompanied by the chairman of the local chamber of commerce. Upon presenting themselves at the vice consulate, the magistrate was detained and was only released when he offered his son as a substitute, who is now being held as a hostage. The vice Consulate at Chengchiatun is a branch of the Mukden consulate general and was opened August 1, 1916. * * *

I have [etc.]

P. S. Heintzleman
  1. Not printed.