893.00/5490: Telegram

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

318. My 315, August 30, 4 p.m. Following from Cheney4 from Shanghai:

“September 1, noon. I gather from usual source stage all set here for a fight. Efforts of peacemakers will fail. They have not offered Chi control of Shanghai and he is prepared to fight for it. Lu not sanguine of military success but thinks he will get better terms if he puts up a fight. Expected hostilities will open about September 4th.

On August 28th Wu asked Chi to hold off for one week to enable him to complete arrangements for mobilization against Fengtien. Chi has acceded so ball may be expected to open near here about Thursday. Lu has funds to finance his campaign derived from contributions raised by his subordinates and a small dole from Mukden. Chang is giving money cautiously to Lu through third party here.

Littles left last night. I sail Wednesday. Goodbye to all.”

Above-mentioned source believed to be G. E. Sokolsky who had interview for North China Daily News with Marshal Chi at Nanking, August 27th, of which following are pertinent excerpts and of whose credibility military attaché’s office thinks [highly?]:

“Everybody talks about the unification of China but what are the facts? We have been negotiating for almost 10 years. We are still negotiating. No authority is recognized.

[Page 365]

The time comes when there must be action. Kiangsu has always recognized itself as being a part of the Republic of China and loyal to it. General Lu considers Chekiang independent of the Republic of China. The fact that the most important commercial city in China, Shanghai, is a buffer between Kiangsu and Chekiang makes for danger to the whole country. Shanghai is historically, traditionally, and geographically a city of Kiangsu. By a political accident the control of Shanghai has become vested in so-called independent officials of Chekiang. This has led to grave political difficulties as every Chinese and foreigner knows.

According to the peace agreement (of that year) Chekiang should have disarmed rebel troops of Fukien. These rebel troops are now being used to attack Kiangsu. General Lu has broken the peace agreement by these activities.

Anyone who has studied my career will realize I am not impetuous. I would not take this step unless I had the authority to do so and the consent of my colleagues. This effort is designed only to establish what is right, namely, the inclusion politically of Shanghai in Kiangsu, as Shanghai is geographically a part of Kiangsu. My colleagues in the Government and in the neighboring provinces desire that I should take this step, and I have their hearty support and cooperation.

Y our newspaper may assure the people of Shanghai that my troops will be orderly. I love peace. I am ready to make peace but China must be unified and if it is necessary to unify China by war then there must be war.”

I have it from reliable source that Peking Government has raised $3,000,000 within last few days partly from railroads; $1,000,000 given to General Feng Yu-hsiang, disposition of rest unknown.
I repeat statement in my 304, August 26, 3 p.m., that impossible to forecast with any degree of certainty what course events will take but in view of Cheney’s telegram, other information, and general undercurrent of opinion locally, am inclining more and more to belief that Marshal Chi, Wu, and Peking Government intend to eliminate Lu and return Shanghai before many days and possibly at this time and are setting stage for such eventuality.
I also fear that Chang Tso-lin will attack Wu Pei-fu in the rear in which case the whole of China [will] be the melting pot. General Connor and Captain Smith are both in Mukden and I hope to have reliable information from them regarding Chang’s intentions in a few days.
  1. Col. Sherwood A. Cheney, military attaché at Peking.