The Consul General at Canton ( Bergholz ) to the Secretary of State

No. 69

Sir: In my despatch No. 24 of February 17, 1920,7 I had the honor to enclose the terms presented, as a basis for peace, by the Southern Delegates to the Delegates of the North at the Peace Conference held at Shanghai in February of 1919, which ended in failure due to the Chief of the Northern Delegation, Chu Chi Chien, positively refusing to accept Article 5 which provided that the mandate of ex-President Li Yuan Hung dissolving the legally constituted parliament be declared invalid. Mr. Chu, in objecting to this provision, stated that “it is absolutely impossible for the North to recognize Term No. 5, which provides that the Peace Conference shall declare the invalidity of the mandate of Li and if this is not altered, there is no room for the discussion of the other questions.”

I now have the honor to transmit a Memorandum submitted to me, informally, by the Military Government setting forth the terms the Government considers necessary of acceptance by the North and the South as a basis of a permanent peace.

Although the memorandum may represent the views of the Administrative Council and the principal officials at Canton, it fails to state the terms acceptable to the Military Governors as a condition to their surrendering their offices which make them, practically, the dominant power in the State.

A like despatch has been sent to the Legation at Peking.

I have [etc.]

Leo Bergholz
[Page 420]

Memorandum of the Military Government of the Republic of China on Internal Peace

No matter what arrangement is made between Northern and Southern leaders with regard to internal peace, the public will never tolerate any government which does not cancel the Military Pacts made between China and Japan in 1918, 1919, and 1920. The Military Government can not accept the statement of the Peking Government alone with regard to the cancellation of these agreements, since they are bi-lateral and the consent of both parties to the agreements must be obtained before cancellation is genuine. It is possible that Peking will consent to the cancellation of the original pact, but this would be insufficient, since there have undoubtedly been many amendments and additions and new arrangements made under the general heading of Sino-Japanese participation in the defense of China’s frontiers. It is, therefore, necessary that before agreeing to peace, the Southwestern Government shall not only be fully apprised of the contents of all these agreements, but shall actually have copies in their possession. And it should be stipulated that there are no documents withheld from the Military Government.

This is not only necessary as a patriotic measure but also to safeguard the personal reputations of the Directors, now functioning in the Southwestern Government. For the public will hold them up to censure unless they conform to the popular demand that these treaties be published and the radicals will have an opportunity to consolidate their power behind the patriotic demand that the Military Government is selling out to Japan. This must be avoided at all costs.

With regard to the means for peace, I believe that internal peace in China can be made permanent only by entirely ignoring the history of China since 1911. Compromises based upon the existence of two Parliaments, the existence of two cabinets, and the activities of the Peking Government during the lapse of authority of the Constitution, will only lead to a renewed effort of the Constitutional Irreconcilables to strife. What is absolutely necessary now is quick and radical action based upon a desire to save the country. The weakness in the Min Tang Group is that they are serving an idol, the Constitution, without due regard for the realities of the situation. It is, therefore, held that it would be unwise to form a joint-parliament, since such a body lacks public support and does not have sanction either in tradition, law or the will of the people. It is a makeshift which is bound to fail, since the Parliamentarians look upon their offices as a vested right and have no desire to test their popularity by a general election. Nor is it wise to continue governments [Page 421] with Parliaments, since the public is fast being educated to the true spirit of democracy and their demand for democratic institutions will continue to increase from year to year. The student movement as a factor in this situation is not to be ignored and any plan for the unification of China must take into account the democratic elements which have come into existence during the past two years.

It is therefore suggested that the following procedure be adopted as a speedy and permanent method for the unification of the country:

The Peking and Military Governments shall jointly issue a Book containing all the treaties, agreements, notes and memoranda between Peking and all foreign powers exchanged and agreed to during the course of the European War. The Peking and the Military Government[s] shall stipulate that these are the only documents binding on China to the best knowledge of either government and both, and that both of them bind themselves in the case of internal peace, not to declare as effective any documents withheld from this public statement.
The Peking and Military Governments shall recognize Hsu Shih Chang as President of China and shall regard his election as legal. His term of office, however, shall terminate one year and a half from the signing of the agreement of internal peace, but he may be reelected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution discussed hereinafter.
The management of the affairs of China, both for the provinces which now recognize Peking and those recognizing the Military Government shall be vested in a Provisional Cabinet which shall be appointed by the President and approved by both the Old and the Peking Parliaments. This Cabinet shall exist for one year and a half and shall have the power to choose its successors during that period, with the consent of the President.
Immediately upon the ratification of the Cabinet, both the Old and the Peking Parliaments become non-existent and all legislative power is vested in the Cabinet for one year and a half from the date of such ratification.
Immediately upon the ratification of the Cabinet, elections shall be held in all Provinces for Provincial Assemblies. Elections shall be conducted in each Province under the auspices of Election Commissioners appointed by the Cabinet. No man can serve as an election commissioner in the province of his nativity or in any province in which he has held public office during the years of the Republic. Nor shall any man be an election commissioner in a province in which any relation of his or of his wife holds office of high rank. It shall be an offense punishable by immediate dismissal for military or civil officials to coerce, force or dissuade persons in the exercise of the franchise. The provincial elections [Page 422] shall be held in accordance with the traditions and laws of each particular province. The Election Commissioners shall be a Board of Appeal to determine fraud in the elections. The Headquarters of the Board shall be neither Peking nor Canton nor in the Provinces of Chihli or Kwangtung.
Within six months after the ratification of the Cabinet by both Parliaments, the Provincial Assemblies, newly elected shall have met and shall have selected by ballot five representatives from each province who shall be delegates to the Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly shall meet not later than eight months after the ratification of the Cabinet and if possible sooner. It shall meet neither in Peking nor Canton nor in the capital city of any province. It shall within six months from the first day of meeting, draft a Constitution for the Republic of China. The Constituent Assembly may recognize the Provisional Constitution as the basis for their discussions, but they shall not be obliged to do so. All determinations shall be reached by a majority vote of the representatives present. Three quarters of the representatives elected shall constitute a quorum. Should the delegates fail to reach a decision within six months, they may continue to meet only with the consent of the Provincial Assemblies. Should they fail to reach a decision within six months and they resume meetings after this time, six additional months shall be granted to the life of the Cabinet.
When the Constituent Assembly shall have drafted the Constitution, that document shall be transmitted to the Provincial Assemblies and shall be widely published throughout the land. To insure against illiteracy it shall be obligatory for the Constitution to be read aloud in all courthouses, market places, temples and other places where large masses congregate. The constitution shall then be placed before the Provincial Assemblies for ratification. As soon as three-fourths of the Provincial Assemblies have ratified the Constitution, it shall be declared binding upon the land and an election for members of Parliament shall be ordered by the Cabinet in accordance with the Provisions of the Constitution. Immediately after the opening session of Parliament the President and his Cabinet shall resign, but to hold office until their successors are chosen in accordance with the Constitution.
The Cabinet may not during the year and a half of its existence make treaties, loans agreements, or any other arrangements in which the territory, integrity, or rights of the Republic of China are hypothecated. Nor may they negotiate and conclude loans with any one nation. All loans must come from a Consortium of several nations. As soon as the Peking and Military Governments conclude peace a notice to this effect shall be submitted to the Diplomatic Corps at Peking and they shall be requested to transmit the [Page 423] same to their governments and bankers. It shall be understood that all loans and treaties made not in accordance with this proviso shall be subject to repudiation and shall be made at the risk of the foreign nation.