893.00 P.R./9

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

No. 1602

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,55 I have the honor to submit the following summary, [Page 160] with index, of events and conditions in China during July, 1928:

There were no important military movements during the month; some engagements of local importance are understood to have occurred in Szechuan, but in general such movements as took place were merely in the nature of a realignment of forces.

Towards the end of the month a group of the Nationalist army, composed in part from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd armies, was advanced along the Peking-Shanhaikuan motor road and the Peking-Mukden Railway, in order adequately to cover the Chihli-Shantung remnants and to watch the newly incorporated units which had been taken into the Nationalist army on the fall of the Peking-Tientsin area. No serious fighting occurred.

Conditions on the upper Yangtze continued chaotic, the Szechuan militarists stopping and commandeering foreign vessels without convoy, and firing on ships under convoy. The Wuhan cities attempted to retain their autonomy in taxation matters, alleging that their expenditures exceeded their tax receipts. Many cases of illegal taxation were reported.

The occupation of American and other foreign mission property in the Yangtze River Valley and in Honan continued throughout July. On July 24th [28th?], in accordance with instructions from the Department of State, I addressed a note to the Nationalist Government,56 calling attention to the fact that not only property which was formerly occupied by Nationalist troops was still being held, but in many places mission property which had so far been left untouched was being demanded by the local military.

Politically, with the exception of the denouncement of various Sino-foreign treaties, and the conclusion of the Sino-American tariff treaty,57 the month may be termed one of stock-taking and preparation, all eyes being turned toward the coming plenary conference of the Kuomintang early in August. It is anticipated that the real test of the party will then occur, as it has been announced that the program prepared by Ch’en Kung-po,58 Ku Meng-yü,59 and others of the radical wing is to be given special consideration. The hope is widely expressed that the conclusion of the Sino-American treaty will strengthen the hands of the moderate element of the Kuomintang and aid them in recovering full ascendancy in the party struggles.

[Page 161]

Meeting of the Nationalist Military Leaders in Peking

When the month opened three of the Nationalist Army Group Commanders, Chiang Kai-shek, Yen Hsi-shan, and Li Tsung-jen were already in Peking. It was reported and denied on several occasions that Marshal Feng Yü-hsiang would also arrive, but on July 5th there was no indication as to what course he intended to pursue. On the morning of July 6th, just in time for the memorial services, Feng Yü-hsiang arrived by special train and motored immediately out to the temple at Pi Yün Szu in the Western Hills near Peking and joined the three other commanders there in offering sacrifices to the spirit of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. General Chiang read a report of the steps leading to the successful conclusion of the northern expedition, which was followed by three minutes’ silent prayer for those killed in the revolution. General Chiang was so overcome with emotion during the ceremony that he collapsed before the coffin of Sun Yat-sen sobbing, whereupon Marshal Feng lifted him up and supported him away.

The ceremony was followed by an informal conference of the four leaders. Meetings of this nature continued throughout the stay in Peking of various leaders. It was understood that the chief subjects under consideration were the course to be pursued with regard to Manchuria, and demobilization of the Nationalist forces.

Disbandment of Troops

For years the cherished dream of Chinese of all classes, with the exception of the militarists themselves, has been the ultimate disbandment of the hordes of soldiery which over-run the country. Therefore, it is only natural that immediately upon the fall of Peking to the Nationalists, agitation should recrudesce for drastic reductions in the armed forces. A memorandum on the subject, alleged to have been prepared by General Chiang Kai-shek himself, was presented by General Ho Ying-ch’ing, the Nationalist Chief of Staff, at the weekly Sun Yat-sen meeting in Nanking, on July 2nd. In the memorandum were four specific suggestions:

All appointments and transfers of officers to be made by the Nationalist Government;
No interference in administrative affairs to be allowed by military officers;
The establishment of guarantees for the payment of the armed forces;
The Nationalist Government to be in complete control over all phases of military education, which should be uniform for all units;
The actual disbandment to start with the First Army Group, i. e., that of General Chiang Kai-shek.

This publication resulted in similar memoranda from all of the prominent Nationalist military leaders. Marshal Feng Yü-hsiang on July 5th, in a telegram to the Nationalist Government, suggested that all posts above the rank of division commander be abolished and that a disbandment commission be formed immediately, but held out for the disbandment of all the weak and badly trained units of the army irrespective of their commanders first. Generals Yen Hsi-shan and Li Tsung-jen also gave out their views on disbandment.

Marshal Feng’s plan, if carried out, would be highly advantageous to himself, since, as is well known, the Kuominchun is by far the best disciplined Chinese military force in China, and would then form the largest and most influential part of the reorganized army.

This all-important subject undoubtedly was one of the principal topics discussed at the alleged conference of the “Big Four”. No report has been issued officially, but it is noted that a further statement on disarmament was given out by Marshal Feng, in which his first claims were somewhat modified. In any case no positive action can be looked for on this question until after the next Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of the Nationalist Party in August. It is pertinent, however, to remark that from all reports, far from there being any attempt at disbandment, efforts for recruitment are still under way in the North and Yangtze provinces.

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

Conditions in Manchuria

On July 3rd General Chang Hsueh-liang was formally chosen as Commander-in-Chief for Manchuria at a meeting of the Fengtien Party. He announced his intention to establish a form of popular government in Manchuria, and stated his readiness to negotiate with the Nationalist authorities. Peace delegates actually appeared in Peking, and it was reported that, while desiring to retain a somewhat autonomous position with regard to the rest of China, many of the Fengtien leaders were quite prepared to hoist the Nationalist flag and render lip service to the three principles. These peace negotiations were broken off as a result of the Japanese warning elsewhere referred to in this report.

The report of the Sino-Japanese committee for investigating the bombing of Marshal Chang Tso-lin’s train was submitted, but left unsigned by the Chinese members, and both sides are apparently trying to hush the affair.

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

[Page 163]

Conditions in Shantung

On July 16th, in accordance with the previously announced decision of the Japanese Government, the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Shantung began. This movement was completed by July 28th, and included 5,700 men, leaving approximately 13,200 troops in Tsingtao, Tsinan, and the railway zone. During July several incidents occurred showing the antipathy of the Chinese to the Japanese troops. One rather serious affair took place in which alone there were thirty Japanese casualties. However, the Japanese official attitude with regard to these incidents has been one of calm.

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

I have [etc.]

J. V. A. MacMurray
  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 580, July 28, 1928, from the Minister in China, p. 251.
  3. See pp. 449 ff.
  4. Editor of The Revolutionary Critic, a Chinese weekly newspaper.
  5. Formerly Minister of Education in the Hankow Nationalist Government.