The Consul General at Shanghai ( Sammons ) to the Minister in China ( Reinsch )27

No. 2771

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of Bulletin No. 22, as issued by the “Intelligence Bureau of the Constitutional Government of China”, on the third instant, which embodies the Manifesto issued, on the second instant, by the Southern peace delegation, to the Chinese press, Provincial legislatures, commercial, educational and other bodies, in explanation of the present situation as regards the peace conference in China.

I have [etc.]

Thomas Sammons

Bulletin No. 22 of the Intelligence Bureau of the Constitutional Government of China

A Manifesto was issued yesterday (March 2nd) by the Southern Peace Delegation to the Chinese press locally and throughout the country, to all the Provincial legislative bodies, as well as the commercial, [Page 308] educational and other organizations, in explanation of the present situation as regards the Peace Conference and in justification of the stand taken by them in this connection.

A translation of the manifesto is given as follows:—

After more than a year of internal strife with which the Republic of China has been inflicted in the midst of the great world conflict then raging, the Military Government pursuant to the trend of public opinion and the disinterested advice of friendly Powers, in a spirit of sincerity, took joint action with the Peking Government in convening a peace conference and delegated to it special representatives with plenary powers in the hope that all fundamental questions at issue might be thoroughly threshed out and settled, so as to attain our object of permanent peace—which action and resolve are, we believe well known to all, at home and abroad.

Unfortunately, complications have sprung up from the two major questions which were the first to receive the attention of the six sessions of the Conference since the 20th of February last, namely the cessation of hostilities in Shensi and the suspension of formation of the War Participation Army. The result is that the [other] fundamental questions are given no opportunity of discussion.

As peace is the objective of the Conference, and as peace and war are logically impossible of simultaneous pursuit, the Peking Government is either manifestly guilty of insincerity, when it attempts to carry on warfare while on the other hand it talks peace; or else its authority carries no weight. If the latter is true a patched-up peace will prove an unhappy one.

It may be observed that on the 16th November last the Peking Government issued a mandate promulgating the armistice, which included Shensi and Fukien in its operation. But under the pretext of fighting to subdue bandits, the invasion of Shensi was made, so that for the past three months or more the inhabitants of Shensi have been inflicted with indescribable miseries resulting therefrom. This state of things dragged on until February 13th, when a mandate was issued ordering cessation of fighting in Shensi, Fukien and Western Hunan, in accordance with the five articles of the modus operandi proposed by General Li Shun, Tuchun of Kiangsu.28 Then it was that the Northern Peace Delegation declared formally at the Conference that the Northern Government would accept full responsibility for the enforcement of the armistice in Shensi from the 13th (February) henceforward. But express mail advices received from the front in Shensi dated between the 14th and 21st (Feb.), all confirm the reports of a general invasion by Northern troops, the loss of positions in the Eastern and Western fronts and even the instability of San Yuen, the headquarters of the Southern forces.

Although this Delegation requested to be placed in direct telegraphic communication with San Yuen as a preliminary step towards [Page 309] the cessation of hostilities, we have up to now received not a single telegram from our friends there.

In this anomalous state of war and peace parley going on simultaneously, how could the undersigned, who have been charged with the duty of negotiating peace, have the face to meet the people of Shensi or the world without self reproach? Consequently, on the 28th February at 9 o’clock in the morning we demanded an answer, within 48 hours (from the Peking Government), to our proposal for the effective enforcement of the armistice and the removal of General Chen Shu-Fan from his office of Tuchun of Shensi, and that if no satisfactory reply or none at all was received within that time limit; it would be conclusive evidence of the want of sincerity on the part of the Peking Government, and in that event the suspension of negotiation would become an unavoidable matter.

The period having expired without receipt of any reply, from tomorrow (the day automatically set for the next session) forward, it will be impossible to proceed with the conference, the Northern Delegation furthermore having already resigned in a body.

We, Tong Shao Yi and the others of the undersigned, being deficient in talent and learning, deeply blame our own selves for the unexpected set-back administered to the universally longed for peace.

Moreover, in view of the Military Government’s earnest desire for peace and its conciliatory spirit and the sincere wish of the undersigned to push forward this peace movement in spite of difficulties, we would have positively refused to see this set-back come to pass, had it not been a case of utter impossibility to proceed under present circumstances.

That the War Participation Army should be dispensed with, the reason is manifestly obvious. For to make peace is to desist from war. At the present juncture of the close of the European war, when it is the purpose of the present Conference to make a start with the scheme of military reduction on a large scale, the North takes occasion to materialize its scheme of increasing its military strength under the pretext of national defence. What other motive could it have in taking such an extraordinary step?

Upon our request to be put in possession of copies of the Sino-Japanese naval and military pacts and their annexes and complete version of the War Participation Loan Agreement, only copies of the military and naval pacts without annexes have been put before the Conference which so far has had no opportunity to take them up in discussion.

In a word, peace can only be attained by (1) getting at the root of all trouble and (2) removing all obstacles. The success of the two steps are dependent upon each other. If the obstacles are not removed, there is no way to get at the root. The first step has hardly been taken so far, but a great upheaval is already in order. Under such circumstances we can do nothing but bear the blame and reproach of the public. But so long as the existence of the nation hangs in the balance and so long as the people are passing through the ordeal of fire and water, we must appeal to our friends for advice and guidance so that we may know what to do and how to proceed. [Page 310] Tong Shao Yi, Chang Shih-Chao, Hu Han-Ming, Miao Chia-Shou, Tseng Yen, Kuo Chun-Shen, Liu Kwang-Lieh, Wang Po-Chun, Peng Yun-xi, Yao Ming-Luen, and Li Shih-Ying.

  1. Copy forwarded to the Department by the Consul General under covering letter of same date; received Apr. 7.
  2. See communication of Feb. 10 from the Consul at Canton to the Minister in China, p. 295.