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

No. 965

Sir: Pursuant to the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,7 I have the honor to present herewith a summary of events and conditions in China during February, 1926 [1927].

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Large numbers of Fengtien and Shantung troops were despatched southwards during the first days of February, presumably in preparation for the much heralded offensive against the Nationalist Armies. On February 17th, Marshal Chang Tso-lin addressed a series of telegrams to the military leaders of the Ankuochun, as well as to Wu Pei-fu and other prominent militarists in Honan, announcing that he was about to launch an offensive with the object of recapturing Hankow and Wuchow from the Cantonese. Marshal Wu and his officers were assured that, when the Cantonese had been defeated, Honan Province would be evacuated of Fengtien troops. It is understood that, at a conference of Wu’s principal generals, there was outspoken opposition to receiving support from Marshal Chang Tso-lin and, at the same time, Wu insisted that with the troops under his command he could retake Hankow unaided.

Although Marshal Chang Tso-lin and his military entourage in Peking continued to express their opposition to the Canton regime, it is significant that General Yang Yu-ting, who is still looked upon as Marshal Chang’s chief adviser, has repeatedly hinted at the possibility of a truce with the Nationalists.

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After continued successes in Chekiang during the early part of February, culminating in the reported capture of Chuchow by the Northern troops, and the retreat of the Kuomintang Army beyond the borders of Chekiang, it was learned that the Northern troops were suffering reverses; and on February 18th a division of the Nationalist Army captured Hangchow. The defending troops evacuated the city before the attacking forces had entered it and there was no fighting of any consequence. Sun’s forces withdrew in great confusion, some units fleeing into Anhwei, although the main body of his troops fell back to Singkiang [Sungkiang?], Kiangsu, where a stand was effected more because of the failure of the Southerners to pursue the attack than of any ability on the part of the defeated forces to check the victorious advance of the Cantonese.

Following shortly after Sun’s defeat at Hangchow, the Military Governor of Anhwei, Chen Tai-yuan, declared his intention of maintaining an attitude of neutrality, and of defending his territory against aggression from any source. It is not considered improbable, however, that Chen will surrender to the South. As soon as the reports of Sun’s decisive defeat at Hangchow were definitely confirmed, the forces of Chang Tsung-chang, which had been concentrated in large numbers at Pukow, began to advance into Kiangsu to take over the defense of Shanghai. Sun was reported to have expressed a desire to retire into private life and to have handed over the conduct of all military operations in Kiangsu to his erstwhile enemy, Chang Tsung-chang. It is estimated that Chang Tsung-chang has approximately 40,000 troops between Nanking and the Sinkiang [Sunghiang?] front.

Whatever truth there may be in the reports regarding Sun’s future plans, his elimination from any active participation in military affairs for the present, at least, seems certain.

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I have [etc.]

J. V. A. MacMurray
  1. Not printed.