The Consul General at Tientsin (Lockhart) to the Chargé in China (Gauss)33

No. L–831

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. L–821 of November 16, 1934,34 concerning rumored secret Sino-Japanese understanding effecting an extension of the area of the demilitarized zone, and further in connection with the political situation in North China, to report that statements made to a member of the staff of this Consulate General yesterday and the day before in conversations with well-informed subordinate members of the local Provincial and Municipal Governments, indicate that the Chinese have reached an accord with Japan on several long-pending issues affecting the political and military situation in North China. The more important of these statements of alleged fact and of opinion, all of which are here set down only for what they may be worth, may be summarized as follows:

An agreement has been reached between the Japanese and Chinese authorities in North China, the Chinese acceding to all Japanese demands. The Japanese procured this agreement after continuous secret negotiations extending over several months, particularly [Page 321] sharp pressure being brought to bear on the Chinese during recent weeks and after General Chiang K’ai-shek’s visit to “Huapei”.35
The agreement covers the restoration of through postal facilities with “Manchoukuo”; the extension of through train service from Mukden to Paot’ou in Suiyuan; the establishment of some sort of military mission at and of some kind of military supervision over Kalgan; and, it is believed, other concessions to the Japanese, some of which at least touch upon industrial and trade expansion in this area.
No “quid pro quo” was offered the Chinese.
The negotiations were carried on by the Chinese on this basis: in each case, the Chinese authorities sought to determine by discussions among themselves and with the Japanese upon which of the various Japanese demands it was the intent of the Japanese authorities to insist, and having determined them, Chinese assent was given.
The agreement reached is independent of the “voluntary” undertaking on the part of the Chinese that no troops will be moved north or east of the Peiping-Liaoning Railway Line between Tientsin and Peiping or of the Peiping-Suiyuan Road to the northwest of Peiping. This plan has been accepted by the Japanese. Troops now north and east of the lines laid down are gradually to be withdrawn.
The enlargement of the municipal areas of Peiping and Tientsin was ordered by General Chiang; the Japanese authorities approve of the project and are interested in its accomplishment.*
Japanese officialdom, civil and military, in North China is highly organized, even the lowest ranking among them being charged with specific tasks in the penetration of North China. Many local Chinese officials are regularly approached by particular members of the Japanese military with propositions anent the necessity of closer and more harmonious relations between Japan and North China.
Japanese agents are spread throughout Inner Mongolia and Shansi. General Chiang had planned to visit Pailingmiao, the seat of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Council, and there meet the Te Wang on his own ground, but he desisted on the advice of Chinese and Mongolian representatives in Peiping, who told him that the influence in Pailingmiao of the Japanese agents and advisers there was so great that his visit would occasion embarrassment.
Intra-mural North China is being flooded with Jehol opium, morphine from beyond Shanhaikuan, and smuggled arms. The activities of Japanese agents and the steady inflow of Japanese money are contributing to the disorder in this disrupted area, and the maintenance of peace and order is becoming increasingly difficult.
General Chiang K’ai-shek’s recent visit to North China was intended as a “rear-guard” action to cover a withdrawal from North China. It is his present object to avoid war at any cost: he realizes that he could not defeat Japan and it is believed to be his opinion that no action taken now could change the fact that sometime within the next three or four years Japan will occupy Hopei, Shansi, Chahar, and Suiyuan.
This belief is held to be a logical deduction from the present course of events. The interest of Japan in North China is strategic [Page 322] rather than territorial. If Japan sought territorial expansion only it would apply its whole energies to the pacification and absorption of “Manchoukuo” instead of continuing to aggravate world opinion by the attempt to add North China to the areas under its control. Japan seeks rather a hinterland from which to draw war materials and a direct route to Lake Baikal in a war with the Soviet Union, which the Japanese military authorities and many ranking Chinese officials, feel to be inevitable.
Japan’s first act after the opening of this war would be to occupy all North China.
Chinese officials in this area quite generally view the present situation of Huapei to be much more precarious than was that of the Three Eastern Provinces before September 18, 1931.
They are also agreed in feeling that the only possible end to the continuing encroachments of the Japanese is war. If Japan is not destroyed in the coming Russo-Japanese War, or if that war is late in coming, then China herself must fight Japan.
A growing majority among them are agreed that General Chiang K’ai-shek alone can give China the united rule necessary to the long and difficult preparation for war. This view is bitterly opposed in Kwangtung and the Soviet areas, but it has recently won a very important supporter in the person of General Yen Hsi-shan.
If unity is essential, it is also absolutely necessary that a respite be gained. The fallen boxer must lie flat on the canvas, in the forlorn hope that he may find the strength to rise before the count is done. This is the view of Wang Ching-wei and of his followers, but they have split into two camps on the method through which the precious months and years of semi-security are to be gained.
The Jih P’ai (Japanese Party) urged a diplomatic retreat, while the Ying-Mei P’ai (Anglo-American Party) opposed it. The Japanese Party is now everywhere in the ascendant, and its able leader, T’ang Yu-jen, is virtually in complete control of the foreign affairs of China.
When even Huang Fu would not take the responsibility for the acceptance of Japanese demands, T’ang himself came on November 21 to Peiping “to see a sick uncle”. After three days of negotiations he agreed to the terms laid down.
The Anglo-American Party has no program, and its only present tenet is that no agreement with the Japanese is worth anything; that even the recognition of “Manchoukuo” would avail nothing.
A member of that party has suggested that “Huapei” be put under the protection of the League of Nations, and policed by an international force; but he realizes that no power in the world today has the desire, or if it has the desire, the courage, to override the objections which Japan would raise to an arrangement so obviously to her disadvantage. Nor would it be possible to convince Southern China that the request itself was wise.
As this suggestion itself indicates, the effect of the conviction of the inevitableness of disaster upon the morale of Northern Chinese is marked.

In connection with the above, permit me to invite the attention of the Legation to the fact that it is believed to represent a faithful summary [Page 323] of the views of several usually well-informed members of the younger official set in Tientsin who have in the past proved to be reliable sources of information, but this Consulate General can accept no responsibility for the accuracy or truth either of their information or the soundness of the opinions expressed.

Respectfully yours,

F. P. Lockhart
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Tientsin in his despatch No. D–677, November 28; received December 28.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Reference to “North China”.
  4. See also despatch No. L–882 of November 28, 1934. [Footnote in the original; despatch not printed.]