893.00 P.R./29

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

No. 38

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,2 I have the honor to submit the following summary, with index, of events and conditions in China during January, 1930:

The suppression of the Kuominchun revolt in November last, followed by the success of the Central Government in December in preventing the threatened establishment of an independent régime in Canton and in holding in check the T’ang Sheng-chih and Shih Yu-san revolts, enabled Nanking to enter and (since January was a relatively quiet month) to pass through the period under review with a somewhat misleading air of strength and stability. Not far below the surface simmered customary possibilities for future trouble as evidenced, for example, by the fact that the menace to Canton presented by the insurgents of Kwangsi remained in existence and that Shih Yu-san, although officially pardoned for the mutiny of his troops at Pukow and therefore supposedly restored to a position of trust, continued to be a refractory element astride the Tientsin-Pukow railroad. The Kuominchun, also, although quiescent, was potentially rebellious.

Marshal Yen Hsi-shan’s gradual and non-spectacular assumption of independent control over the territory north of the Yellow River (other than Manchuria) was the most important single element making for uncertainty in the politico-military situation. In controlling the revenues and the civil and military appointments of that area his power presumably was exercised in his capacity of Vice Commander-in-Chief of the land, sea, and air forces of the National Government, whereby the fiction of authority centralized at Nanking was maintained. [Page 2]However, were he to establish himself at Peiping, as it was rumored in January that he was about to do, the act in its moral effect and in point of fact would be a long step toward an open break between the North and the South. Rumors too numerous to be disregarded were current in January that General Chiang Kai-shek desired to combat Yen’s influence by entering into friendly relations with Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, General Chiang’s recent chief antagonist. Although no inconvenient questions of principle would interfere, such a development from a physical point of view was complicated by the fact that Yen practically held Feng in detention near Taiyuanfu.

The total of the forces under arms in China, not including irregulars, was estimated by the Military Attaché to be 2,050,700 men, at the end of the month, grouped roughly as follows:

Nationalist forces 406,000
Chiang Kai-shek, Commander-in-Chief
Yen Hsi-shan, Vice Commander-in-Chief
Newly organized troops under the Central Government 205,500
Provincial Garrison forces 30,600
(These units are not included among the Central Government troops because they are used primarily as forces for bandit suppression.)
First Group of Armies 144,000
(Old Chiang Kai-shek divisions)
Total Government troops, including Provincial Garrison forces, and the First Group of Armies 786,100
Second Group of Armies 249,000
(Feng Yu-hsiang troops)
Third Group of Armies 181,000
Yen Hsi-shan, Commander-in-Chief
Shang Chen, Second in command
Provincial Garrison Forces—
Ku Jen-fa in Shansi 64,000
Total Third Group of Armies 245,000
Miscellaneous Units nominally under the National Government’s control 368,500
(In Kwangsi, Yunnan, Kweichow, Sinkiang, Chekiang, and in Szechwan—the total in Szechwan being 264,000)
Northeastern Frontier Defense Forces 402,100
Chang Hsueh-liang, Commander-in-Chief
Wan Fu-lin and Chang Tso-hsiang, Deputy Commanders.

[Page 3]

During January, the Chinese Government announced the decision commencing with February 1st to collect customs duties on imports from abroad on a gold basis. The action was taken as a result of the recent severe decline in the gold exchange value of silver which caused the Chinese Government much concern during the month and which resulted in its sustaining heavy losses in making payments against foreign gold loans.

T’ang Sheng-chih Revolt

The following account of the end of the T’ang Sheng-chih revolt is taken from a despatch by the Consul General at Hankow:

“The first week of January marked the beginning of the collapse of Tang Sen-chih’s revolt in Honan. The outcome of the conflict between the revolting troops and the National Army was somewhat doubtful at the beginning of the month, but the large force despatched from Hankow up the Peiping-Hankow Railway under the command of General Liu Chi and the pressure from the north by General Yen Hsi-shan’s troops proved entirely too much for Tang Sen-chih, who ultimately found himself maneuvered into such a difficult position that no avenue of escape was open…

“… While in the early stages of the Honan trouble General Yen Hsi-shan took no active part in the suppression of the rebel move by Tang Sen-chih, it is quite clear that it was partially through Yen’s assistance in the first week of January that the elimination of Tang Sen-chih was brought about …”

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

I have [etc.]

For the Minister:
Mahlon F. Perkins

Counselor of Legation
  1. Not printed; it instructed the Minister to supplement his political reports by a brief monthly summary of events and conditions in China.