893.00/4304: Telegram

The Minister in China (Schurman) to the Secretary of State

164. No fighting so far reported, railway service suspended excepting Peking–Mukden where deranged. Business standstill, prices provisions advancing.

Chang and Wu exchanging telegrams. President telegraphed both on 21st urging peace. Public opinion against Chang for invasion of Chihli and use of force to accomplish unification. General belief Wu will win if fighting comes because he is better general and has best army, occupies best strategic position, and has most support. Chang, in spite of his boast to me in Mukden, gets no support. Other tuchuns either with Wu or neutral.

Diplomatic body on April 13th voted that right to occupy certain points railway conceded in article 9 of the protocol of 1901 is an exclusive right and that occupation of same by Chinese armed force is violation protocol.

Prospect of adjustment without fighting has improved but at one or two points rival armies very close together and conflict might be precipitated, also Wu very short of money levying on the country and cannot long delay action or settlement.

British and French Ministers and Japanese Counsellor in the absence of Obata on my invitation met here 22nd to consider situation and measures of protection. We telegraphed commanders in Tientsin to consult and report. I brought up question of having naval vessels and question of issuing statement by diplomatic body expressing hope as in 1920 that neither party would [omission] troops to Peking. These questions being further considered at conference 23rd held in British Legation, it was agreed to favor last and to communicate individually with naval authorities regarding first. French naval vessel coming soon and probably British.

Emissary of President called on me later and said that it was hoped diplomatic body would take action regarding exclusion of troops from Peking.

[Paraphrase.] It is my recommendation that a cruiser be sent to Chinese waters and that 150 men be landed at Tangku if possible to come unarmed to Peking on leave to be kept at Legation Guard here where arms are available. Military and naval attaches recommend this measure which follows the precedent of 1920. [End paraphrase.]

Following from consulate general at Canton:

“April 23, noon. Northern expedition via Kweilin has been abandoned, still hope to proceed through Kiangsi via Shiuchow. Sun [Page 693] has returned to Canton; Chen has left Canton for Waichow with troops after resigning office. Wu Ting-fang Acting Governor.[”]