893.00/5481: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Bell) to the Secretary of State

304. For past month rumors have been current of possibilities of conflict involving Wu Pei-fu; Chi Hsieh-yuan, Inspector General of Kiangsu, Anhui and Kiangsi; Lu Yung-hsiang, Anfu leader and Tuchun of Chekiang in control of Shanghai; and ultimately Chang Tso-lin. Lately and especially within the past few days rumors have crystallized and reports now to hand from reliable sources to the effect that war is quite probable between Chekiang and Kiangsu, men and stores being mobilized and warlike activity increasingly evident in those regions. Real cause for apprehension is not conflict between above Provinces but that if clash occurs there it will almost inevitably bring on a Chihli-Fengtien war.

Factors against present conflict are flood conditions, lack of funds, and mutual jealousies. As however it is impossible to gauge ramifications of Chinese politics which may actuate Wu, Chi, Lu and Chang at any given time, it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty what course events will take although optimistic tone seems to prevail that armed clash will be averted.

Am keeping in as close touch as possible with situation and will report further if and when it seems expedient.