The Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Chinese Embassy 19
“For defiance of military orders and plot to stage a revolt the New Fourth Army has been disarmed and Commander Yeh Ting has been placed under arrest to face court martial,” announced a spokesman of the Military Council. This was entirely a question of military discipline, it was emphasized. The High Command was compelled to take action, because of the refusal of the New Fourth Army to move into the designated areas as ordered.
Early last December the High Command ordered the New Fourth Army south of the Yangtse River to move northward until it crossed the Yellow River by January 31st for operations against the Japanese. The region between Fan-chang and Tung-ling south of Wuhu, Anhwei, was designated as the route for the Army to cross the Yangtse. To the contrary, the New Fourth Army at King-hsien, sixty kilometers south of Wuhu, started moving in a southerly direction toward Tai-ping, the objective being to press an attack on General Shangkwan Yun-hsiang’s headquarters.
It happened that the Fortieth Division transferred from southern Kiang-su was on its way northward for reorganization. Having learned the route taken by the Fortieth Division and its arrival at San-chi, fifty kilometers south of King-hsien, on New Year’s day, the entire New Fourth Army slipped through to Mao-lin, forty kilometers [Page 466] south of King-hsien on the night of January fourth. It spread out in three forces to waylay the Fortieth Division. Taken completely unawares, the Fortieth Division fought in self-defense whereupon General Ku Chu-tung, Commander-in-Chief of the Third War Area, ordered disciplinary measures to be taken.
By January twelfth, the entire New Fourth Army was disbanded and Yeh Ting arrested. Furthermore, by order of the Military Council, the said Army as a unit has been abolished. The Chief of Staff of the New Fourth Army, Chao Ling-po, was among those arrested. According to his statement, as soon as order for the New Fourth Army’s removal was received, Yeh Ting decided to ignore it. While demanding a million dollars from the Government, the New Fourth Army collected its main force at King-hsien and Fan-Chang. Then on pretext of the Japanese blockade, they decided not to cross the Yangtse as ordered, but to penetrate into south Kiang-su.
The plan was to move into Kin-tan, Tan-yang, Ku-yung, Lang-chi and Li-yang to create a special area there with the ultimate objective of setting up a base at Nanking, Shanghai, and Hangchow, thus forming a triangular area to defy the Government. On January 3rd they decided to attack the Fortieth Division, and planned to destroy it first and then attack points in the vicinity of Ning-kuo in southern Anhwei, raid the military store there and assault General Shangkwan Yun-hsiang’s headquarters. Later the left wing would advance to Lang-chi towards Li-yang and attack other Chinese units. When such a situation was created, the New Fourth Army hoped to coerce the Government into accepting their demands.
The speedy liquidation of the crisis, according to the spokesman was largely due to the fact that officers of the New Fourth Army decided not to side with the rebels but to join the loyal Government troops.
- Copy of telegram transmitted to the Department by the Chinese Embassy, January 21, 1941.↩