The Vice Consul in Chargé at Chungking (Bucknell) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 17.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that the Szechuan forces are reported to have been driven out of Hupeh territory and are now within their own borders. A lull in the fighting has occurred, but it is said that the Szechuanese are preparing to launch another offensive when the river falls.
General Yang Sen recently appointed Commander of the Second Army, seems to be a strong man, and very friendly to foreigners, and General Liu’s position seems much stronger because of his support.
Although the merchant vessels are allowed to proceed up or down river, with only an occasional shot being fired at them, H.M.S. Widgeon and Teal, both have had quite a hot action when proceeding to Chungking.
The situation at present is much more quiet, but it is possible that if hostilities are resumed, that all river traffic may be again cut off.
Accompanied by Captain E. W. Hanson, of the U.S.S. Monocacy I called upon General Hsiang early in October, and protested most strongly against the firing on American vessels by his troops. He assured me that the firing was due to ignorance on the part of the Szechuan troops, and that they feared that the foreign vessels might be carrying troops. I assured him that American vessels were, and would continue to be neutral, and requested him to give stringent orders that they should not be fired on in the future. He requested that I instruct American vessels to fly a large white flag with the four characters in black [here follow four Chinese characters] “American merchant vessel”, and informed me that he would wire stringent orders to his troops against firing on vessels bearing this flag.[Page 533]
There has been a great deal of talk about anti foreign feeling in Chungking, but I am of the opinion that the feeling is largely directed against the foreign firms whose ships have sunk junks. I should also think that the recent trouble in Chungking is due in a large measure to the efforts of General Tan Mou-hsin of the First Army to discredit General Liu Hsiang in the eyes of both the foreigners and of the Chinese.
I have [etc.]