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

No. 144

Sir: Referring to my despatches Nos. 139 and 142 dated September 28th and 29th respectively reporting the revolt against the Military Government of General Lee Fu Lin, Commissioner of Defence of Canton and Waichow with headquarters on the Island of Honam opposite Canton, and of General Wei Pang Ping, Commissioner of Police of Canton, and of their demand upon General Mo, the Military Governor at Canton, for his resignation, I now have the honor to inform the Department that on Thursday, the 30th ultimo, Generals Lee Fu Lin and Wei Pang Ping, and Mr. Huang Chiang, the last named being the personal representative at Canton of General Chen Chiung Ming, visited the French Consul General, in his capacity of Senior Consul, and requested him to call a meeting of the Consular Body to announce to General Mo, the Military Governor, the selection, by his military and political opponents, of Rear Admiral Tang Ting Kwang referred to in my despatch No. 139, as his successor. My Colleagues, the Consuls General of Great Britain, Mr. Herbert Goffe; of Portugal, Dr. da Silva; the Japanese Vice Consul in Chargé, Mr. Morioka; and myself met at the French Consulate-General on the same afternoon and unanimously decided that [Page 479] it was out of the question for us to convey any message to the Military Governor at the request of officials in rebellion against the Military Government. My French Colleague was to announce our decision to Mr. Huang Chiang when he should call the following day. I again renewed my suggestion, mentioned in my despatch No. 142 of September 29, 1920, that the French Consul General should take the opportunity, afforded by the visit of Mr. Huang Chiang, to request him to advise Generals Chen Chiung Ming, Lee Fu Lin, and Wei Pang Ping that the Consular Body would view with much alarm an attack upon, or within this City, owing to the great foreign interests involved. Mr. Beauvais, Dr. da Silva, and Mr. Morioka cordially approved of my suggestion but Mr. Goffe, who had left the meeting just at the time of Dr. da Silva’s arrival, objected, when I later advised him of my proposal, on the ground that he was not present. His withdrawal before he knew the attitude that Dr. da Silva would take should not be permitted to annul the action agreed to, since courtesy required his remaining until all his Colleagues had given expression to their views.

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In Canton there are three elements which can not be ignored. The Kuo Ming Tang, National Party, headed by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, is growing in popularity and strength and is seeking to return to power. The foremost local leader is General Chen Chiung Ming. All the younger elements in Canton are supporters of this party. Another Cantonese political force to be recognized is that led by the Civil Governor, Yang Yung-tai, ex-Chief Justice, Hsu Fu-lin, and others. This group controls the present civil administration and the local legislature. It has the standing support of General Mo and the entire Kwangsi group. The leaders are in constant touch with Generals Tsao Kun and Chang Tso-lin, the two Northern warlords. A third, but not the least political and military element in this province, is the Shiuhing or Li Yao-han clique. Li was formerly allied with Lung Chi-kuang, a former Kwangtung Tutuh who first succeeded in entering this province from Kwangsi through the opening of a way through Shiuhing, where Li was then a defence commissioner. Since the removal of Li Yao-han as the civil governor of Kwangtung, he and his followers have been causing all sorts of trouble for the existing administration. Li and his Lieutenants are now sympathizing with Chen Chiung Ming in the Canton for the Cantonese movement, and some districts have already been occupied by his followers. Li Yao-han’s men consist mostly of bandit bands and have influence far and wide.

Of course, the ultimate solution of all the problems is the adoption of a permanent constitution which would provide for the election of [Page 480] all leading officials by the people so as to shift the fighting for political power from the battle fields to the ballot box.

A copy of this despatch has been forwarded to the Legation at Peking.

I have [etc.]

Leo Bergholz