393.1123 Lincheng/60: Telegram

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

168. Returned to Peking at 8:15 a.m., 18th, travelling by special train which I secured for myself at Pukow.

I cut short my trip, first, because I was disquieted by the delay in the release of the captives, and, secondly, because I desired to confer with my colleagues regarding naval demonstration as reported to me by the Legation, see Legation’s 159, May 16, 9 a.m. [161, May 16, 3 p.m.]

As regards subject of release of bandits [sic], I had four hours’ conference with Davis and Philoon who under instructions boarded my train at Lincheng evening 17th. They reported that recent [omission] has been due to “great difficulties experienced in arriving at a plan acceptable to all bandit chiefs” among whom “older chiefs who are more of the professional bandit type are inclined towards delay and more unreasonable terms.” A delegate from the bandits arrived at the Chinghsing mines Tsaochuang near Lincheng morning 16th and reported that the bandits had selected their representatives and would be prepared to enter into [negotiations?] 17th.

Davis and Philoon are of opinion that if bandits’ terms are found acceptable release may occur within two or three days, otherwise new negotiations will be necessary and release may not occur for two or three weeks. They are apprehensive that the situation may be complicated by the number of Chinese officials on the spot, these being Military Governor Tien and his followers representing Shantung; the Kiangsu Commissioner of Foreign Affairs and General Chen representing Governor Chi of Nanking; and, thirdly, the Minister of Communications and his party with whom is now associated General Yang I-teh, the uncrowned ruler of Tientsin where the Minister of Communications has his home. Davis and Philoon report that all real negotiations of any material value towards effecting the early release of the prisoners have up to date been conducted by the Kiangsu group with which Roy Anderson has been associated. The bandits asked that Anderson and Commissioner of Foreign Affairs Wen from Nanking should proceed to their headquarters morning 17th but this plan was made impossible by the act of General Yang and the Minister of Communications who sent an advance party of theirs to the robbers at 6 o’clock morning 17th. Yang and Minister stated that if this party reports favorably they themselves would proceed to the bandits’ camp and insist upon the release of all foreign and Chinese captives within three days and that in the event of the bandits not accepting the guarantees offered, [Page 642]they themselves would offer to remain in the bandits’ hands as hostages pending the final putting into effect of the terms.

Delegates of all these officials met me at Lincheng yesterday and presented reports. I urged in reply that they should cooperate harmoniously in effecting the release of the captives and expressed the opinion that international complications would arise if such release were not speedily effected.

I am persuaded that all the Chinese authorities are doing their utmost to effect early release of the captives and the competition now obtaining among them for the credit of the achievement indicates that negotiations have reached a stage when success is probable.

A regular service of supply to the captives has been instituted by Davis and Philoon, and Major Horsfall has been placed in charge of it. By means of it cogs [cots?], mattresses, cooking utensils, mess outfits and other supplies are being sent forward.

Schurman