893.00 P.R./32

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

No. 202

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

Hostile military operations in the civil war between North and South China resulting from the breach between Nanking and Taiyuanfu were restricted, during the period under review, to minor skirmishing. The announced aims of the two groups continued as before, on the part of General Chiang Kai-shek, as the “President” of the Republic, to maintain unity by the suppression of insurgency, and on the part of Marshal Yen Hsi-shan, as the leader of the Northwest, to bring about the establishment of a “legal” government by the elimination from power of the allegedly corrupt Chiang family. Neither of these aims arouse any enthusiasm in the Chinese people as a whole who have little confidence in those who would mould their destinies and who only desire, as a rule in vain, that their peaceful pursuits should not be interrupted.

Although there was little actual fighting, there was a good deal of military preparation and preliminary maneuvering. The Northern [Page 11] coalition, after practically clearing Honan of Nanking supporters, penetrated into Shantung, Hupeh, and Anhwei. There was an apparent intention, especially noticeable early in the month, to avoid serious contact with the Nanking forces until the Kuominchun should have emerged from the northwest and effected complete concentration at Chengchow, the junction in Honan of the Kin-Han and Lung-Hai Railways. The central Government, on the other hand, did not appear, during April, to have departed from its original plan of remaining on the defensive in the Hsuchow, Kiangsu, area. Without weakening the main concentration at Hsuchow, there was also evidence of Nanking’s desire to reinforce its position at Wuhan, Hupeh, either for the purpose of defense against a possible northern diversion in that direction, or to cut off Marshals Yen Hsi-shan and Feng Yuhsiang from the mountains in the event of their becoming too extended in the plains. The two leaders were scheduled to meet in military conference early in May at Chengchow and it was expected that events would move more rapidly thereafter.

The Mukden Government, resisting solicitations for support from both sides, remained noncommittal during April. And it was not certain whether Mr. Wang Ching-wei, the influential head of the Left Wing, would leave his political refuge in the British colony of Hongkong to come to Peiping to strengthen the Northern coalition by his active support.

Military Forces

According to a report of April 21st by the office of the Legation’s Military Attaché, there were some 2,300,000 men under arms in China in April. This total may be divided roughly as follows:

a. central government forces

Chiang Kai-shek Commander-in-Chief
Ho Ying-chin Chief of Staff
First Army—Han Fu-chu 86,000
Second Army—Liu Chih 142,000
Third Army—Ho Cheng-chun 164,000
Supplementary Army—Chen Tiao-yuan 28,000
Certain units not included in the above four armies because they are used chiefly for maintenance of peace and order or as forces for bandit suppression 295,100
Total 715,100

b. anti-government forces

[Page 12]
Yen Hsi-shan Commander-in-Chief
Feng Yu-hsiang } Deputy Commanders
Li Tsung-jen
First Group of Armies—Pai Chung-hsi 60,000
Second Group of Armies—Lu Chung-lin 262,000
Third Group of Armies—Hsu Yung-chang 271,000
Forth Group of Armies—Shih Yu-san 60,000
Miscellaneous troops in the Anti-Government movement 219,000
Total 872,000

c. miscellaneous units

(Nominally under the Nanking Government’s control)

In Yunnan, Kweichow, and Shinkiang 56,500
In Szechwan 264,000
Total 320,500

d. northeastern frontier defense forces

Chang Hsueh-liang Commander-in-Chief
Wan Fu-lin } Deputy Commanders
Chang Tso-hsiang
Fentieng Forces 227,600
Kirin—Chang Tso-hsiang 96,000
Heilungkiang—Wan Fu-lin 37,000
Jehol—Tang Yu-lin 48,500
Total 409,100
Total forces under arms in China, not including irregulars 2,316,700

Establishment of a “Foreign Office” at Peiping

During April, Marshal Yen Hsi-shan opened in the former Waichiaopu building in Peiping a local “Foreign Office” under the direction of a Mr. Chu Ao-hsiang10 who styled himself “Chief of the Diplomatic Bureau of the General Headquarters of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces of the Republic of China”. This step, however, was not held to foreshadow the creation of a separatist government for North China, it being understood that such action, if taken at all, would only follow substantial military successes in the field.

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

Unsettled Conditions in China

A report, of April 7th, dealing with banditry and communist disorders, by the office of the Legation’s Military Attaché, called attention to the fact that, due to the opposition of the Northern coalition to [Page 13] the Nanking Government, the latter’s most dependable troops had been withdrawn from their normal garrison areas into the concentration effected for the immediate defense of the capital. A serious situation was thereby created inasmuch as even before this emergency the central Government had been unable to maintain order over large areas under its nominal control.

Generally disorderly conditions were especially prevalent in southern China during the month and the Legation suggested that the Department, in addition to informing the Catholic authorities whose missionaries were stationed in Kiangsi, make the existing conditions known to the interested mission boards in general, with a view to having American citizens in the affected areas withdraw from exposed points until quieter times. The Legation was influenced in this regard by the belief that it was unreasonable to make demands upon the Nanking Government that troops be maintained to protect scattered groups of American residents at remote points in the interior of the country at a time when that Government was fighting for its existence and must concentrate its forces.

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

I have [etc.]

For the Minister:
Mahlon F. Perkins

Counselor of Legation
  1. Not printed.
  2. Also known as Chu Ho-hsiang and Tchou Ngao-hsiang.