File No. 893.00/2641
Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State
Peking, June 5, 1917.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit for the information of the Department a copy of a declaration of the President’s policy issued by him on May 31.
There is also enclosed a newspaper account of the conflict between the republican and military parties.4 The main points in the situation as it stands at the present time are as follows:
The revolutionary Tuchuns (military governors) are gaining confidence through a more complete organization of their party and on account of the inaction of the President. The seat of their counsels is in Tientsin; the leaders of the military party, of the Chin Pu Tang, of the pro-Japanese party, as well as Liang Shih-yi and his followers, are at present congregated there. They are trying to form a provisional government. As far as personnel is concerned they could probably form a stronger government than any other combination.
The present plan of the militarists is directed toward the object of isolating and strangling Peking. They are in control of the railways leading here. They are preventing the shipment of foodstuffs. They are planning to send troops to be stationed at Fengtai, outside of Peking.
Meanwhile the President and what remains of the constitutional Government are paralyzed, through the lack of military and financial support. As the declaration of the President shows, he has taken a conciliatory and pacific attitude, being firm only when it came to resisting illegal measures. He has relied largely upon the advice of General Wang Shih-chen, Chief of Staff, who is a quiet, just-minded and highly respected man. The President has at no time used tactical advantages through which he might have overthrown the Tuchuns and confounded their counsels. He has quietly relied on the justice [Page 52] of his cause but has not been supported by an organized group of men. The Government itself is thoroughly disorganized; the Ministries are in charge of inferior officials; there are only two substantive Ministers left, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Navy.
Should the militarists be successful in entirely overthrowing the President and his Government, no permanent solution will be afforded. The southern provinces are all opposed to the militarist action and would probably create a separate republic. Even in the north the action of this party would offend the senses of the people and would have the support only of the men actively engaged therein. No permanent government can therefore be expected of the reactionary policy represented by the militarist organization. As they are, however, the only existing powerful organization in China, they have to be reckoned with in any settlement to be made.
I have [etc.]
- Not printed.↩