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

No. 1161

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s Instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,20 I have the honor to submit the following summary of events and conditions in China during July, 1927.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

From a military point of view, the condition of relative stability which characterized the month of June was not radically modified during July. The Nanking-Shansi-Fengtien peace conferences, to which reference was made in the Legation’s monthly report for June, continued intermittently during the month, apparently without concrete result, while Feng Yu-hsiang maintained his characteristic position of tentative alliance with every group except the Fengtien party.

In Shantung, between July 5th and 8th, Chen Yi-yen, a subordinate of Sun Chuan-fang, in command of some 10,000 troops astride the Tsingtao railway at Kaomi, declared himself a Nationalist and attempted to secure Tsingtao. The forces at the latter place remained loyal, and prompt action by Sun from the West put an end to the sporadic effort. This uprising, however, furnished the occasion for the garrisoning of the Kiaotsi railway and of Tsinanfu by Japanese troops, as well as the strengthening of the Japanese forces in China by an additional reinforced brigade. At Tsinan, the Japanese residents greeted the troops with enthusiasm, while the Chinese inhabitants, particularly the merchant class, would seem to have been frankly relieved by their arrival. No anti-Japanese demonstrations took place.

[Page 20]

Relations between the Hankow and the Nanking régimes, during July, appeared as formerly both strained and obscure. With Feng Yu-hsiang observing the situation from the Hupeh-Hunan border, troop movements took place from Hankow and Nanking to the critical area near Kiu-kiang but there was no decisive clash. Chiang Kai-shek’s preoccupation with events along the Yangtze and his withdrawal of troops from the northern front, on that account, may be considered, in part at least, to be responsible for an advance on the part of the Shantung armies in South Shantung and Northern Kiangsu where, at the end of the month, they were engaged in driving back Nationalist delaying detachments and in coping with various local elements of unrest. The most serious fighting of the month appears to have occurred in the vicinity of Hsuchowfu, which was occupied by the 5th and 6th Chihli-Shantung armies on July 24th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Conditions at Hankow

New difficulties were created for the Hankow régime, during July, by reason of an intensification of the dissension between the conservatives and the radicals. The radicals appear to have been pressing for a campaign against Chiang Kai-shek, a move opposed by the conservatives, who were endeavoring to find ways and means of driving out the Russians.

On July 13th Mr. Lockhart telegraphed the Legation that T. V. Soong had arrived there the night before from Shanghai to assume charge of the Ministry of Finance and that on the same evening an important conference of leaders had taken place, dominated by the faction which is seeking to rid Hankow of the Russians.

On July 20th Mr. Lockhart stated that the resignation of Eugene Chen appeared to be imminent then and that he was making certain personal arrangements which seemed to indicate his entertaining the expectation of leaving Hankow shortly. Mr. Lockhart added that Sun Fo, in a public statement made at that time, had definitely aligned himself with the conservatives; that several of the prominent leaders would probably soon be in the Chiang Kai-shek camp; and that Madam Sun Yat-sen had left Hankow, ostensibly for Ruling, where Borodin and other leaders of the Hankow government were then engaged in a conference in which an effort was being made to outline that government’s future course. The whole communist organization apparently was crumbling. Picket and various labor union headquarters had been closed, and a strict surveillance was being maintained by the 35th Army under Ho Chien, martial law prevailing in the native city at night.

[Page 21]

On July 20tn a joint telegram was received by the Hankow government from Feng Yu-hsiang, Hsu-chien, and H. H. Kung proposing a conference at Kaifeng between the Hankow and Nanking factions to settle their differences and to unite on a northern drive. This conference, however, did not take place.

Summarizing the important developments of the end of the month at Hankow, with due allowance for constantly changing conditions, Mr. Lockhart informed the Legation, on July 27th, that the position of the conservative wing of the Kuomintang was distinctly stronger. Pessimism in government circles had given way to optimism and the effort to purge the party of radicals appeared to be succeeding. As far as politics were concerned, there was no substantial difference between the Hankow and Nanking governments, the main obstacle between them being apparently personal animosity on the part of a few leaders at Hankow toward Chiang Kai-shek. Moderately extensive military preparations had been made during the month for a drive against Chiang, but the plan had the earmarks of being primarily designed to frighten the latter into a compromise arrangement favorable to the Hankow régime. Chen admitted to Mr. Lockhart that the Hankow government was in straitened circumstances financially and the bold scheme to endeavor to oust Chiang and repossess the Nanking and Shanghai areas was largely based, in Mr. Lockhart’s opinion, on the dire need for fresh revenues and the necessity of proving unmistakably, to Feng Yu-hsiang and to others, that the real authority of the Nationalist government was centered at Hankow.

Speculation was rife during July regarding Borodin’s movements. Mr. Lockhart reported the revolutionist’s apparently definitive departure for Russia, after a number of false starts, on July 27th, by special train on the Peking-Hankow railway. Borodin carried with him three passenger automobiles, five motor trucks following him the next day, since he was said to have planned to travel overland through Shensi and Mongolia. As indicated by Mr. Lockhart, Borodin’s apparently permanent withdrawal, while dampening the artificial revolutionary spirit at Hankow, would make it possible more clearly to distinguish between that pervading influence which had been extensively propagated by the Russians, and the spirit of true Chinese nationalism which, should it exist in the substantial proportions claimed, would assert itself and be easily recognized.

Further evidence of the ascendancy of the conservative elements was contained in a telegram of July 30th from Mr. Lockhart in which he stated that General Galen was arranging to leave Hankow by the same means and route used by Borodin and that he was expected to do so within a week from that time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

Ferdinand Mayer
  1. Not printed.