893.00 P.R./30

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

No. 116

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,3 I have the honor to submit the following summary, with index, of events and conditions in China during February, 1930:

The month was one of troop movements and telegrams. There was no serious fighting in any part of China with the exception of the disarming of the troops of General Kao Kuei-tzu by the Nationalists in Shantung Province, and the continuation of the half-hearted campaign of the Cantonese armies around Wuchow in an endeavor to suppress the Kwangsi-Ironside revolt.

[Page 4]

On February 3rd General Chiang Kai-shek announced that he would leave Nanking for Canton the following week to investigate conditions in South China. It was presumed that he really hoped to inject new life into the southern campaign by changing some of the officers in command. However, on the 7th, the Generalissimo stated that he had decided to defer his departure until he had received a report on the situation in Fukien Province. There followed a calm of three days, and on February 9th a telegraphic controversy commenced between Generals Chiang Kai-shek and Yen Hsi-shan and continued through the month. This battle of words may result in a spring campaign of the first magnitude. Inasmuch as the messages exchanged by China’s two chief military leaders held the attention of the public during the entire month, and as they may prove to be of serious consequence, I venture to tabulate them as follows:

1. February 9th.

Chiang Kai-shek to Yen Hsi-shan, announcing his plan to proceed to Kwangtung to direct military operations against the Ironside and Kwangsi rebels.

2. February 10th.

A circular telegram signed by the Presidents of the Five Ministries, to military leaders throughout the country, emphasizing the need for peaceful unification as the only hope for China, and assailing in strong terms those who stir up dissensions in troubled waters.

3. February 10th.

Yen Hsi-shan to Chiang Kai-shek, declaring that “force cannot be depended upon as an ultimate arbiter” and recommending “that we both retire for the benefit of the country”.

4. February 12th.

Chiang Kai-shek to Yen Hsi-shan, declaring that the unification of China by peaceful means is one of his cherished dreams; that he desires to retire to private life, but cannot do so until the revolt in Kwangsi has been suppressed, and that he hopes that General Yen will continue to cooperate with the Government in solving China’s problems.

5. February 15th.

Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang to Generals Chiang Kai-shek and Yen Hsi-shan, urging a peaceful settlement of the differences between Yen and Chiang.

6. February 15th.

A circular telegram from General Chiang Kai-shek to military leaders throughout the country, stressing the point that enforcement of the Government’s disbandment program and the suppression of internal disturbances is essential to the maintenance of peace and the unification of China.

7. February 19th.

Yen Hsi-shan to Chiang Kai-shek declaring that, with the exception of the communists, all members of the Kuomintang should unite in [Page 5] dealing with national affairs “in accordance with the will of the majority”.

8. February 20th.

From the Chiefs of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Yuans to General Yen Hsi-shan, urging him to “ponder carefully before acting”.

9. February 21st.

Chiang Kai-shek to Yen Hsi-shan, charging Yen of having mobilized his army for the purpose of fighting the Central Government. Yen is instructed in this telegram to demobilize his troops and to release General Feng Yu-hsiang in order that he may keep his pledge to travel abroad.

10. February 24th.

Yen Hsi-shan to Chiang Kai-shek. This, the most important of a series of telegrams issued during the month, was supposed to have been signed, not only by Yen Hsi-shan, but also by Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, Li Tsung-jen, and forty-two other generals. Later some of the generals denied having affixed their signatures to the document. The message expresses the hope that party differences will be settled by a vote of all members of the Kuomintang.

It appears that General Yen Hsi-shan and the Shansi faction depend for military support upon the Kuominchun and the former Kuominchun units under Generals Han Fu-chu, Shih Yu-san, and Sun Tien-ying. Politically, there are indications of a general community of purpose between the old-style militarists, including the Anfu clique and the Peiyang military party, the more progressive conservatives represented by General Yen and the Shansi faction, and the radical militarists and politicians, including Wang Ching-wei and the Kuomintang Leftists.

Reports from Mukden tend to confirm the belief that Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang will maintain an attitude of neutrality. It is likewise thought that General Ch’en Tiao-yuan, now in control of Shantung Province, will remain loyal to the Central Government.

Although little or no actual fighting took place during February, extensive movements of troops were the order of the day, especially along the Yangtze. Chiang Kai-shek, during the month, concentrated the main body of his dependable troops in the general area of Hsuchow-Pengpu, and Yen Hsi-shan stationed five divisions in the Chengchow-Tsaochow-Taming area and another three divisions along the Tsin-Pu Railway near the Hopei-Shantung border. All his forces are now being mobilized. Government forces are in contact with Shih Yu-san and Sun Tien-ying on the Kiangsu-Honan-Anhwei frontier where fighting seems imminent. These troops are supported by Han Fu-chu in the Kaifeng area. Leading elements of the Kuominchun have arrived at Kunghsien on the Lung-Hai Railway and in the vicinity of Siangyang in the Han River valley. The fact that so many [Page 6] troops were moved down river from Hankow, leaving that city exposed to an attack from the Kuominchun, caused considerable speculation as to the plans of the Nationalists.

On February 28th Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang left Chien-An village where he had been residing as a “guest” of Marshal Yen Hsi-shan, and, escorted by the Marshal, proceeded to Taiyuanfu where he established his residence at the headquarters of the Shansi leader.

The situation in Shantung Province during the month under review was somewhat obscure. It is believed that General Ch’en Tiao-yuan, hemmed in by the forces of both Chiang Kai-shek and Yen Hsi-shan, found himself in such a precarious and difficult position that he was forced to temporize with both factions, his sympathies probably being with the northerners. However, as the Central Government began to mass troops along the southern section of the Tsin-Pu Railway as soon as General Shih Yu-san’s forces moved to Honan, General Ch’en gave definite indications of having chosen to remain loyal to the Nanking Government by disarming the troops of General Kao Kuei-tzu, under the pretext that General Kao had been carrying on correspondence with Generals Shih Yu-san, Han Fu-chu, and Yen Hsi-shan.

During the month a series of conferences were held at Mukden for the purpose of considering the reorganization of the Manchurian armies, the general political situation in China, and the affairs of the Chinese Eastern Railway. These conferences, which were attended by Chang-Tso-hsiang, Wan Fu-lin, and T’ang Yu-lin, Vice Commanders of the northeastern frontier defense forces and heads of the provincial governments of Kirin, Heilungchiang, and Jehol, respectively, continued throughout the month, but have not apparently come to any definite decision with respect to the matters enumerated above. However, it is probable that Mukden will remain neutral should civil war be resumed in intra-mural China or at least until it may become evident which faction will meet with success. Manchurian authorities have resisted any attempt of the northerners to seize the rolling stock of the Peking-Mukden Railway and have concentrated all available goods and passenger cars on sidings at Chinwangtao. It is reported that the Manchurian troops stationed between Lanchow [Lwanchow] and Shanhaikwan have been greatly increased in numbers.

The attitude of the Canton military clique with respect to the Chiang Kai-shek/Yen Hsi-shan controversy is likewise obscured by the fact that no important representative was sent from Kwangtung to the Kuomintang Congress which opened at Nanking on March 1st, as also by the fact that no public proclamation of loyalty to the Nanking Government has been made by General Ch’en Chi-t’ang or Lin Yunkoy, Mayor of Canton.

The military situation in South China remains practically unchanged. At the end of the month Kwangtung Province was free of [Page 7] forces hostile to the Cantonese régime. General Ch’en Chi-t’ang continues to maintain headquarters at Wuchow, where he is supported by several military planes and a number of river gunboats. Communist bands with anti-Christian and anti-foreign tendencies have captured the city of Lungchow on the French Indo-China frontier, as well as Poseh and Taipingfu, two important cities of Kwangsi Province.

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

I have [etc.]

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.