The Consul General at Shanghai (Sammons) to the Minister in China (Reinsch)25

No. 2760

Sir: I have the honor to report that on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Tong Shao-yi sent me a copy of his telegram to the Diplomatic Body at Peking, giving further views with reference to the Shensi military situation, in connection with the Internal Peace Conference. This telegram has now been embodied in Bulletin No. 21 of the “Intelligence Bureau of the Constitutional Government of China”, as issued yesterday afternoon, a copy of which is enclosed.

This bulletin also contains a lengthy telegram from the Premier at Peking to Mr. Tong Shao-yi, indicating the attitude of the Chinese Government with relation to the War Participation Bureau, and confirming a report made by me some time ago that it was the intention of the Peking authorities to continue the military program, with Japanese financial assistance, until peace was actually signed in Europe.

Naturally, all concerned here are anxious to know why it is necessary to continue this military program until peace is signed, etc., etc., and whether this determination to continue said program was reached at the time of the original secret agreement or more recently; that is to say, during the past month. As it is Mr. Tong’s desire to secure additional publicity regarding Japan’s military program in China, it is understood that he will send a further telegram to Peking, with a view to bringing out further admissions, and, at least, affording himself the opportunity to place before the world what would appear to be the facts with regard to Japan’s readiness to furnish gold, ammunition and rifles—as well as the willingness of the Chinese military autocrats of the North to receive the same. It is believed by the representatives of the South in China, at least, that if it can be shown to the world that Tokyo, through the Japanese military leaders, and not Peking, is controlling the destinies of China, there may be a reaction that will enable those, who stand ready to make a suitable declaration of intentions, to obtain that measure of sympathetic support that will bring about settled conditions [Page 304] and the establishment of a potent civil government which all wellwishers for China’s future desire.

The telegraphic advices received by Mr. Chu Chi-chien, the chief delegate for the North, seem to hearten him, he having been advised by Peking to continue his efforts on behalf of a peaceful settlement, etc., etc.

I have [etc.]

Thomas Sammons

Bulletin No. 21 of the Intelligence Bureau of the Constitutional Government of China

Direct representation to the Peking Government to secure the effective enforcement of the armistice having so far produced no tangible result, the Southern Delegation deemed it advisable to appeal to the Diplomatic Corps in Peking to use its friendly offices towards the removal of the deadlock in the Conference so as to secure early peace to the country.

The following is a translation of the telegraphic appeal dispatched yesterday.

His Excellency Sir John Jordan, Peking.

Although an armistice had long been mutually agreed upon between the North and the South and a special mandate was issued by the Peking Government on the 13th February ordering cessation of hostilities on the part of the Northern forces,26 the Tuchun of Shensi, General Chen Shu-fan, has been continually carrying on offensive warfare against the Constitutionalists’ forces in Shensi, in flagrant violation of a solemn obligation and subversion of military discipline, causing suffering and distress to the people and ruin along the path of his advance. All this is allowed to continue in face of the Peking Government’s peace avowals and the actual convening of the peace conference at Shanghai and the repeated appeals of the Southern Delegation to the Peking Government for effective enforcement of armistice in Shensi. In view of this state of things, the Southern Delegation is in duty bound to protest and to resolve not to proceed further with the peace negotiations, until the cause of the trouble is removed and the armistice given full effect, as demanded not only by the Southern Delegation formally on behalf of the Southwest but by the people of Shensi and the unanimous public opinion of the whole nation as well. Since the Peking Government has not shown any disposition to comply with the unanimous demand of the South or even to faithfully meet its solemn obligation as regards the cessation of hostilities, it is obvious that all effort towards continuing peace negotiations under such conditions would be futile and incompatible with reason. Your Excellency is therefore again appealed [Page 305] to by me on the behalf of the Southwest in the earnest hope that Your Excellency and Their Excellencies, the Ministers of the five friendly Powers, in manifestation of your warm interest in the welfare of the people of our whole nation, will make suitable representation to the Peking Government, to the end that the armistice may be faithfully observed by the North and the Tuchun responsible for its flagrant violation to the dire distress of the Shensi people and to the detriment of the internal peace be forthwith dismissed from office, so that the deadlock in the peace conference may be removed, negotiations resumed and peace restored to the country at an early date. I may also add that on account of the irresponsible attitude of the Peking Government, the Northern Delegates as a body have tendered their resignation.

Tong Shao-yi

Translation of a telegram of the 28th February from Mr. Chien Neng-hsun (Premier of the Peking Government) to Mr. Tong Shao-yi, the Southern Chief Delegate.

Mr. Tong Shao-yi, Shanghai.

Referring to your telegram (addressed to Mr. Hsu Shih-Chang) the question of the War Participation Bureau has been the subject of much criticism in your several telegrams, but our previous telegram in reply thereto dealt with accomplished facts and yet you would characterise my explanations as forced expressions of extenuation. Your telegram of the 27th (Feby. to Mr. Hsu Shih-Chang) is couched in terms even stronger. To carry on a futile debate with arguments going back and forth would needlessly consume valuable time on both sides. And after all what advantage would it bring? I would therefore suggest that you, in a spirit of equanimity, listen to a last word from me on this subject.

The War Participation Bureau was the outcome of (our participation in) the European war. At the time the allied Powers, Great Britain, the United States, et alii, were all willing to loan us arms and funds and ships for transportation. The result of these offers of assistance was the conclusion of the said Japanese loan agreement. This step therefore was in consonance with the united wish of the allied Powers and cannot be regarded as introducing particular foreign influence by us to the detriment of the balance of power between nations.

As the formation of the War Participation Army has been completed, and as the said agreement clearly specified that the termination of the European war is to be the day when the European peace is signed and the forces on both sides are withdrawn, it is to be seen that until that day comes the War Participation Bureau cannot be dissolved and hence the War Participation Loan Agreement must continue to be in effect. The foregoing is therefore valid reason for the continued existence of the War Participation Bureau. When the War is finally brought to a close on the signing of the peace treaty, the War Participation Army will naturally lose its distinctive designation and pass into the control of the Ministry of War. [Page 306] The question of its disbandment or otherwise will, however, be dealt with by the said Ministry in connection with the general scheme of military reduction and retrenchment. The above is the present policy as regards the future disposition of the War Participation Bureau.

As to the remark in your telegram that the people of the nation entertain the most [serious?] misgiving regarding this matter and that the (Peking) Government held something in concealment from the public, may I ask, Misgivings on what account? And, What is held in concealment from the public? Will the consequences be sufficiently great to really compass the downfall of the nation, if the War Participation Bureau is not at once dissolved and the said loan agreement forthwith terminated? Or do you intimate that the Government by some secret act yielded special rights in connection with the War Participation Loan for which we should find difficulty to face the nation?

As to both questions, after examining the real facts, I venture to reply in the negative. I would like to be enlightened, therefore, as to the reasons which lead you so persistently to insinuate doubts regarding the subject.

As to your statements of “Complicity with the evil-doing faction,” “Bringing calamity upon the nation,” and [“]willingly sell the country” etc., I wish to ask—Who compose the evil-doing factions? What nation has suffered calamity? In what respect is the country being sold? It will not do to fill the ears of the nation with empty phraseology.

As to the statement that the War Participation Bureau is an obstacle to the restoration of peace, may I ask if this were so, are we to conclude that the declaration of independence by the Southwest, and the convening of the peace conference between the North and the South were both directed against the War Participation Loan, and that upon the disbandment of the War Participation Army and the termination of the said loan agreement, the unification of the nation would be at once accomplished, thus disposing of all questions at issue? Is this so or not?

Granting that this was not so, and that the (Peking) Government really desired to break up the peace movement, what impelled the Government to resort to such exhaustive measures to bring about the convening of the conference? If the North relied upon military force in its dealing with the Southwest, would it be logical to conclude that with the War Participation Army disbanded, the North would allow itself to await with folded arms its complete subjugation?

The recent initiative taken by the (Peking) Government towards the restoration of peace was prompted by its desire, after mature consideration of the whole situation, to endeavour to rescue the nation from ruin. If no effort is made to examine into the facts or enquire into the circumstances which actually transpired, but simply engage in idle crimination and recrimination, while allowing the important negotiation to stagnate and the light of peace no opportunity to glow, then someone will have to bear the blame. I trust the above expressions of my heart will receive your due consideration.

[Page 307]

Translation of a telegram from Mr. Tong Shao-yi to the Peking Government dated March 1st, 1919.

Mr. Hsu Shih-Chang, Peking.

I have repeatedly telegraphed you requesting for the discontinuation of the War Participation Loan and the cancellation of the Military Agreements. I have hoped that you would take the initiative yourself in order to save the nation from calamity and ruin. And my suggestions are for your own good as well as for the good of the country. I was, therefore, quite surprised to receive a telegram from Chien Neng-Hsun on 28th inst. [ult.] containing so much sentimental talks without any regard for facts. I wonder whether you have read it. My previous telegraphic requests and the arguments of Mr. Chien Neng-Hsun’s telegram can be easily put before the public who is to be the judge of right or wrong. This is not a time for us to indulge in lengthy argumentation. I am afraid, however, that the man at the helm cannot simply try to gloss over remissness of the responsible parties nor will the people of the nation allow themselves to be gagged and look on silently at the commission of these treasonable acts. Those responsible will have to bear the blame, there being no escape. I suggest this for your serious consideration.

Tong Shao-yi

  1. Copy forwarded to the Department by the Consul General under covering letter of same date; received Apr. 7.
  2. See also p. 314.