893.00/5501: Telegram

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

332. My 318, September 2, 5 p.m. Following on general situation:

Presidential mandate of September 7th quotes telegram to President from Marshal Chi describing rebellious attitude of General [Page 369] Lu Yung-hsiang as defying Central Government and in company with Ho Feng-lin mobilizing rebel forces for attack on Kiangsu, launching said attack on September 4th to which Kiangsu troops had to offer armed resistance for sake of self-defense and requesting that a punitive order be immediately issued by the President. The mandate then states same request made by Wu Pei-fu; Wang Cheng-pin, Deputy Inspector General of Chihli, Honan and Shantung; Hsiao Yao-han, Inspector General Hupeh and Hunan; Wang Hwai-ching, Inspector General Jehol, Chahar and Suiyuan; and Feng Yu-hsiang, Inspector General the Army. After reviewing deplorable situation caused by continued disorder and floods and pointing out that Kiangsu military authorities had been instructed not to take any rash action, Presidential mandate decrees that Lu Yung-hsiang and Ho Feng-lin are now detailed from respective offices and deprived of all ranks and decorations; Marshal Chi ordered to mobilize troops to suppress rebels and cope with situation at his discretion and to do best to bring war to close as soon as possible and that proper measures should be adopted for protection of all Chinese and foreign life and property.
Military situation. Troops of Kiangsu and Chekiang at war on front from Liuho on Yangtze through Hwangtu and Kunshan on Nanking-Shanghai Railway to Suchow on east side of Taihu and at Ihsing on west side of Taihu. Kiangsu being reenforced by small number of inferior troops from Shantung and Honan. Respective strengths of opposing forces estimated at 60,000. Fighting so far only skirmishes and confined to vicinity of Shanghai.
Captain Baldwin is being sent by military attaché to Mukden to observe and report situation which according to 330, September 8, 11 a.m., appears to be assuming more threatening aspect.
Far Eastern Times September 3rd contained an alleged letter to President Tsao from Minister for Foreign Affairs Chang,5 dated August 30th, sharply critical in tone of Peking administration arraigning Tsao Kun government for lack of thought for people and further impairment of China’s present international position if Government goes to war for selfish motives and advising President to stop troops’ movements directed against Chekiang and threatening armed intervention unless advice taken. Replying to my telegram regarding authenticity of above letter, consul at Mukden reported on September 4th that commissioner of foreign affairs at Mukden stated that letter similar to one published but without threat of armed intervention was sent to President Tsao by Marshal Chang.
Apparently in connection with a recent movement reported from time to time in the press that certain radical Chinese wish to proclaim September 7th as a day of national humiliation since Boxer protocol signed on that date,6 printed handbills headed “To Foreigners” [were distributed?] yesterday in the Legation Quarter and vicinity north of Chienmen warning foreign diplomats and citizens that Chinese can no longer tolerate further acts of violence and insults by our Governments and threatening our lives if we do not give up predatory treaties which strangle China and protocol of 1901. I do not attach any great importance to this occurrence but send it for what it may be worth as straw in the wind.

In order to save time and relieve Legation in present understaffed condition I have directed consular officers at Shanghai and Nanking to telegraph direct to Department information concerning Kiangsu- Chekiang situation which they might deem essential Department should know, telegraphing only to the Legation other information in that regard which necessary for me to know but not essential for the Department.

  1. Apparently refers to commissioner for foreign affairs in Chang Tso-lin’s government at Mukden.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1901, Appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.