893.00 P.R./37

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

No. 456

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,32 I have the honor to submit the following summary of events and conditions in China during August, 1930:

The most definite accomplishment of the month in the continuing civil war was the taking of Tsinan, Shantung, by Southern forces on August 15th. South of Tsinan on the Tientsin-Pukow railway, and between the Yellow river and the Tsinan-Tsingtao railway, a few isolated Shansi units held out. Generally speaking however Shantung passed into the control of the Nanking Government. In the Chefoo area of the province, General Liu Chen-nien maintained his independent attitude, but he did so with increasing difficulty. He was embarrassed in August by an order from Nanking to take part in a campaign against Shansi elements and being unwilling to obey and unable openly to defy the central government he is reported to have instigated and caused to be published fictitious reports of brigand activity in eastern Shantung as a situation supposedly demanding his prior attention. His prolonged hesitation to cast in his lot with one side or the other, while at the same time accepting money and munitions from both, apparently is proving more and more exasperating and he is said to have been marked for elimination at the first convenient opportunity by North and South alike.

Notwithstanding the advantage of Nanking’s virtual control of Shantung, it was recognized that the issue in the conflict would remain in doubt as long as the Kuominchun under Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, a force of some 200,000 disciplined and well-equipped troops in strongly entrenched positions, remained undefeated on the Lung-Hai front. They were not seriously engaged in August, but it appeared that General Chiang Kai-shek was planning a large-scale offensive against Marshal Feng in September.

The loss of Tsinan may have been one of the reasons why the Northern coalition redoubled its efforts to gain the support of the Mukden faction. Many rumors were current during August respecting the latter’s impending participation, but most of them were to the effect that when Mukden entered the campaign it would do so on the side of the National Government. Some significance was attached, in this relation, to the fact that Hu Je-yu, a Nanking appointee who assumed office as mayor of Tsingtao on September 1st, was a “sworn brother” [Page 35] of Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang. However, the young Marshal did not depart from his neutral attitude toward the conflict and apparently had no intention of doing so. He could, of course, dictate his own terms were he to decide to take part.

The Northern coalition brought to completion its plans for the creation of a formal government, thereby departing from its original intention to take such action only after a decisive military victory. As dealt with more fully below, the Kuomintang conference, which met in Peiping several times in August, decided to inaugurate (early in September) a “National Government” along the lines of that existing at Nanking and headed by a State Council of which Marshal Yen Hsi-shan was to be the chairman. One of the gestures of the Northern leaders during the month along this line was to issue a “list of the diplomatic corps” containing the names of the foreign representatives accredited to the “Republic of China.” The list was distributed among the various foreign Legations in Peiping with the request that the “Foreign Office” be apprized of such corrections or alterations as might be necessary.

The communist and/or bandit disturbances, especially prevalent in the Yangtze Valley, referred to in the summary for July, were almost as frequent during the period under review. Changsha, Hunan, which was captured and looted by communists at the end of July, was retaken by General Ho Chien, chairman of the Hunan provincial government, early in August. The city however was not freed of the menace of a possible recapture at any moment by undefeated communist bands in its vicinity reported to total 30,000 or 40,000 men.

An unimportant but spectacular incident was the bombing of Peiping at the end of August by two Nanking airplanes which flew over from Tsinan. Several bombs were dropped on the city but little material damage was done and there was no loss of life.

Enlarged Plenary Session

As indicated in the Legation’s summary for July, an inaugural meeting of the “Enlarged Plenary Session of the Central Headquarters of the Kuomintang” was held in Peiping during that month. This conference, which was believed to give expression to the desires of fifty per cent of the members of the party, was brought into being by the Northern leaders with the hope of invalidating the work of the Kuomintang as carried on under the leadership of General Chiang Kai-shek. The Northern leaders hoped thereby to give greater substantiality to their own political activities. The conference had the active support of Mr. Wang Ching-wei, the leader of the Left Wing of the party.

The first formal meeting was held on August 7th. Three other formal meetings were held during the period under review. The [Page 36] following is a summary of the manifesto issued after the first formal meeting:

A people’s conference will be called within the shortest possible time in accordance with the wishes of the late Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
In the tutelary, or political training period, a provisional code will be promulgated by the Kuomintang government. The difference between the provisional code and the constitution, which will be adopted when the country is ready for a democratic government, is that the former is flexible and the latter fixed.
The masses will be trained to self-government in accordance with the principles laid down in the Chien Kuo Ta Kang, or “the General Outline of the National Reconstruction,” by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
The functions of the government and the Kuomintang will be definitely defined.
The hsien primaries, the provisional assemblies, and the national convention will be called.
Officials will not be restricted to Kuomintang members. Non-party men, who understand the San Min Chu I, will be enlisted to serve the Kuomintang government according to their ability.
There will not be a highly centralized government. The duties of the national and the provincial governments will be defined.

At the fifth formal meeting of the Enlarged Plenary Session, held on September 1st, the “General Outline of Organization of the National Government” was promulgated. The National Government is headed by a State Council of seven members: Marshal Yen Hsi-shan (chairman), Mr. Tang Shao-yi, Dr. Wang Ching-wei, Marshal Feng Yu-hsiang, Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang, General Li Tsung-jen, and Mr. Hsieh Ch’ih. The last-named is the leader of the Right Wing, or Western Hills Clique. Mr. Tang Shao-yi’s adherence was doubtful and Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang had not indicated his acceptance. The local propaganda organs announced that the “long-desired Government in Peiping may now be considered an accomplished fact.” There was some talk of changing the name of Peiping to Peking again and placing the city, at any rate temporarily during the continuance of the anti-Chiang Kai-shek campaign, in a “metropolitan area.”

Military Forces in China

According to a report by the Legation’s Military Attaché, there were some 2,500,000 men under arms in China in August.…

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

Estimated total of the forces under arms in China, in August, not including irregulars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,524,200.

In July the figure was 2,486,200; in May 2,445,200; in February 2,102,700, and so on, showing a steady increase. In August, 1929, the figure was just under 2,000,000.

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Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.