The Fight For The Republic in China
by Bertram Lenox Putnam Weale
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Respecting Parliament, its re-assembly was one of the two most important conditions by means of which the political differences between the North and the South last year were healed. The dissolution of Parliament would mean the violation of the terms of settlement entered into between the North and the South last year and an open challenge to the South. Would the South remain silent respecting this outrageous measure? If the South rises in arms against this measure, what explanation can the Central Government give? It will only serve to hasten the split between the North and the South. From a legal point of view, the Power of Government is vested in the Provisional Constitution. When the Government exercises power which is not provided for by the Constitution, it simply means high treason.

Some one has suggested that it would not be an illegal act for the Government to dissolve Parliament, since it is not provided in the Provisional Constitution as to how Parliament should be dissolved, nor does that instrument specifically prohibit the Government from dissolving Parliament. But this is a misinterpretation. For instance, the Provisional Constitution has not provided that the President shall not proclaim himself Emperor, nor does it prohibit him from so doing. According to such interpretation, it would not be illegal, if the President were to proclaim himself Emperor of the country.

In short, the action taken by Ni Shih-chung and others is nothing short of open rebellion. From the legal point of view, any suggestion of compromise would be absurd. It has already been a fatal mistake for the President to have allowed them to do what they like, and if he again yields to their pressure by dissolving Parliament, he will be held responsible, when the righteous troops rise and punish the rebels. If the President, deceived by ignoble persons, take upon himself to dissolve the assembly, his name will go down in history as one committing high treason against the Government, and the author of the break between the North and the South. The President has been known as the man by whose hands the Republic was built. We have special regard for his benevolent character and kind disposition. We are reluctant to see him intimidated and misled by evil counsels to take a step which will undo all his meritorious services to the county and shatter the unique reputation he has enjoyed.

The unrolling of these dramatic events was the signal for the greatest subterranean activity on the part of the Japanese, who were now everywhere seen rubbing their hands and congratulating themselves on the course history was taking. General Tanaka, Vice-Chief of the Japanese General Staff, who had been on an extensive tour of inspection in China, so planned as to include every arsenal north of the Yangtsze had arrived at the psychological moment in Peking and was now deeply engaged through Japanese field-officers in the employ of the Chinese Government, in pulling every string and in trying to commit the leaders of this unedifying plot in such a way as to make them puppets of Japan. The Japanese press, seizing on the American Note of the 5th June as an excuse, had been belabouring the United States for some days for its "interference" in Chinese affairs, and also for having ignored Japan's "special position" in China, which according to these publicists demanded that no Power take any action in the Far East, or give any advice, without first consulting Japan. That a stern correction will have to be offered to this presumption as soon as the development of the war permits it is certain. But not only Japanese military officers and journalists were endlessly busy: so-called Japanese advisers to the Chinese Government had done their utmost to assist the confusion. Thus Dr. Ariga, the Constitutional expert, when called in at the last moment for advice by President Li Yuan-hung had flatly contradicted Dr. Morrison, who with an Englishman's love of justice and constitutionalism had insisted that there was only one thing for the President to do—to be bound by legality to the last no matter what it might cost him. Dr. Ariga had falsely stated that the issue was a question of expediency, thus deliberately assisting the forces of disruption. This is perhaps only what was to be expected of a man who had advised Yuan Shih-kai to make himself Emperor—knowing full well that he could never succeed and that indeed the whole enterprise from the point of view of Japan was an elaborate trap.

The provincial response to the action taken on the 13th June became what every one had expected: the South-western group of provinces, with their military headquarters at Canton, began openly concerting measures to resist not the authority of the President, who was recognized as a just man surrounded by evil-minded persons who never hesitated to betray him, but to destroy the usurping generals and the corrupt camarilla behind them; whilst the Yangtsze provinces, with their headquarters at Nanking, which had hitherto been pledged to "neutrality," began secretly exchanging views with the genuinely Republican South. The group of Tientsin generals and "politicals," confused by these developments, remained inactive; and this was no doubt responsible for the mad coup attempted by the semi-illiterate General Chang Hsun. In the small hours of July 1st General Chang Hsun, relying on the disorganization in the capital which we have dealt with in our preceding account entered the Imperial City with his troops by prearrangement with the Imperial Family and at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 1st July the Manchu boy-emperor Hsuan Tung, who lost the Throne on the 12th February, 1912, was enthroned before a small assembly of Manchu nobles, courtiers and sycophantic Chinese. The capital woke up to find military patrols everywhere and to hear incredulously that the old order had returned. The police, obeying instructions, promptly visited all shops and dwelling-houses and ordered every one to fly the Dragon Flag. In the afternoon of the same day the following Restoration Edict was issued, its statements being a tissue of falsehoods, the alleged memorial from President Li Yuan-hung, which follows the principal document, being a bare-faced forgery, whilst no single name inserted in the text save that of Chang Hsun had any right to be there. There is also every reason to believe that the Manchu court party was itself coerced, terror being felt from the beginning regarding the consequences of this mad act which was largely possible because Peking is a Manchu city.


Issued the 13th day of the 5th Moon of the 9th year of Hsuan Tung.

While yet in our boyhood the inheritance of the great domain was unfortunately placed in our possession; and since we were then all alone, we were unable to weather the numerous difficulties. Upon the outbreak of the uprising in the year of Hsin Hai, (1911) Our Empress, Hsiao Ting Chin, owing to her Most High Virtue and Most Deep Benevolence was unwilling to allow the people to suffer, and courageously placed in the hands of the late Imperial Councillor, Yuan Shih-kai, the great dominion which our forefathers had built up, and with it the lives of the millions of Our People, with orders to establish a provisional government.

The power of State was thus voluntarily given to the whole country with the hope that disputes might disappear, disturbances might stop and the people enabled to live in peace. But ever since the form of State was changed into a Republic, continuous strife has prevailed and several wars have taken place. Forcible seizure, excessive taxation and bribery have been of everyday occurrence. Although the annual revenue has increased to 400 millions this amount is still insufficient to meet the needs. The total amount of foreign obligations has reached a figure of more than ten thousand millions yet more loans are being contracted. The people within the seas are shocked by this state of affairs and interest in life has forsaken them. The step reluctantly taken by Our Empress Hsiao Ting Chin for the purpose of giving respite to the people has resulted untowardly in increasing the burdens of Our People. This indeed Our Empress Hsiao Ting Chin was unable to foresee, and the result must have made her Spirit in Heaven to weep sorely. And it is owing to this that we have been praying to Heaven day and night in the close confines of the palace, meditating and weeping in silent suffering.

Recently party strife has resulted in war and the country has remained too long in an unsettled condition. The Republic has fallen to pieces and means of remedy have been exhausted.

Chang Hsun, Feng Kuo-chang and Lu Yung-ting have jointly memorialized the Throne stating that the minds of people are disturbed and they are longing to see the old regime restored, and asking that the throne be reoccupied in order to comfort the people.

Chu Hung-chi and others have also memorialized us stating that the country is in imminent danger and that the people have lost their faith in the Republic, and asking that we ascend the Throne in obedience to the mandate of Heaven and man.

Li Yuan-hung has also memorialized the throne, returning the great power of State to us in order to benefit the country and save the people.

A perusal of the said memorials, which are worded in earnest terms, has filled our heart with regret and fear. On the one hand We, being yet in Our boyhood, are afraid to assume the great responsibilities for the existence of the country but on the other hand We are unwilling to turn our head away from the welfare of the millions simply because the step might affect Our own safety.

After weighing the two sides and considering the mandates of Heaven and man, we have decided reluctantly to comply with the prayers, and have again occupied the Court to attend to the affairs of State after resuming possession of the great power on the 13th day of the 5th moon of the 9th year of Hsuan Tung.

A new beginning will be made with our people. Hereafter the principles of morality and the sacred religion shall be our constitution in spirit, and order, righteousness, honesty and conscience will be practised to rebind the minds of the people who are now without bonds. People high and low will be uniformly treated with sincerity, and will not depend on obedience of law alone as the means of co-operation. Administration and orders will be based on conscientious realization and no one will be allowed to treat the form of State as material for experiment. At this time of exhaustion when its vitality is being wasted to the last drop and the existence of the country is hanging in the balance, we, as if treading on thin ice over deep waters, dare not in the slightest degree indulge in license on the principle that the Sovereign is entitled to enjoyment. It is our wish therefore that all officials, be they high or low, should purify their hearts and cleanse themselves of all forms of old corruption; constantly keeping in mind the real interests of the people. Every bit of vitality of the people they shall be able to preserve shall go to strengthen the life of the country for whatever it is worth. Only by doing so can the danger be averted and Heaven moved by our sincerity.


Herewith we promulgate the following principal things, which we must either introduce as reforms or abolish as undesirable in restoration.

1. We shall obey the edict of Emperor Teh Tsung Chin (Kuang Hsu), namely, that the sovereign power shall be controlled by the Court (state) but the detailed administration shall be subject to public opinion. The country shall be called The Empire of Ta Ching; and the methods of other constitutional monarchies shall be carefully copied.

2. The allowance for the Imperial House shall be the same as before, namely, $4,000,000 per year. The sum shall be paid annually and not a single cent is to be added.

3. We shall strictly obey the instructions of our forefathers to the extent that no member of the imperial family shall be allowed to interfere with administrative affairs.

4. The line of demarcation between Man (Manchu) and Han (Chinese) shall be positively obliterated. All Manchurian and Mongolian posts which have already been abolished shall not be restored. As to intermarriage and change of customs the officials concerned are hereby commanded to submit their views on the points concerning them respectively.

5. All treaties and loan agreements, money for which has already been paid, formally concluded and signed with any eastern and western countries before this 13th day of the 5th Moon of the 9th year of Hsuan Tung, shall continue to be valid.

6. The stamp duty which was introduced by the Republic is hereby abolished so that the people may be relieved of their burdens. As to other petty taxes and contributions the Viceroys and Governors of the provinces are hereby commanded to make investigations and report on the same for their abolition.

7. The criminal code of the Republic is unsuited to this country. It is hereby abolished. For the time being the provisional criminal code as adopted in the first year of Hsuan Tung shall be observed.

8. The evil custom of political parties is hereby forbidden. Old political offenders are all pardoned. We shall, however, not be able to pardon those who deliberately hold themselves aloof and disturb peace and order.

9. All of our people and officials shall be left to decide for themselves the custom of wearing or cutting their queues as commanded in the 9th moon of the 3rd year of Hsuan Tung.

We swear that we and our people shall abide by these articles. The Great Heaven and Earth bear witness to our words. Let this be made known to all.

Counter-signed by Chang Hsun, Member of the Imperial Privy Council.


In a memorial submitted this day, offering to return the sovereign power of State and praying that we again ascend the throne to control the great empire, Li Yuan-hung states that some time ago he was forced by mutinous troops to steal the great throne and falsely remained at the head of the administration but failed to do good to the difficult situation. He enumerates the various evils in the establishment of a Republic and prays that we ascend the throne to again control the Empire with a view that the people may thereby be saved. As to himself he awaits punishment by the properly instituted authorities, etc. As his words are so mournful and full of remorse they must have been uttered from a sincere heart. Since it was not his free choice to follow the rebellion, the fact that he has returned the great power of administration to us shows that he knows the great principle of righteousness. At this time of national danger and uncertainty, he has taken the lead of the people in obeying their sovereign, and decided before others the plan to save the country from ruin. The merit is indeed great, and we are highly pleased with his achievement. Li Yuan-hung is hereby to have conferred on him the dignity of Duke of the first class so as to show our great appreciation. Let him accept our Edict and for ever receive our blessings.

Counter-signed by Chang Hsun, Member of the Privy Council.


At this time of restoration a Privy Council is hereby established in order that we may be assisted in our duties and that responsibility may be made definite. Two Under-Secretaries of the Council are also created. Other officials serving outside of the capital shall remain as under the system in force during the first year of Hsuan Tung. All civil and military officials who are now serving at their various posts are hereby commanded to continue in office as hitherto.

Counter-signed by Chang Hsun.

(Hereafter follow many appointments of reactionary Chinese officials.)

The general stupefaction at the madness of this act and the military occupation of all posts and telegraph-offices in Peking allowed 48 hours to go by before the reaction came. On the 2nd July Edicts still continued to appear attempting to galvanize to life the corpse of Imperialism and the puzzled populace flew the Dragon Flag. On the morning of the 3rd, however, the news suddenly spread that President Li Yuan-hung, who had virtually been made a prisoner in the Presidential Palace, had escaped at nine o'clock the night before by motorcar accompanied by two aides-de-camp, and after attempting to be received at the French Hospital in the Legation Quarter, had proceeded to the Japanese Legation where he was offered a suitable residence. On the evening of the 3rd the Japanese Legation issued the following official communique (in French) defining its attitude:


President Li, accompanied by two members of his staff, came at 9.30 on the evening of July 2 to the residence of General Saito, Military Attache of the Japanese Legation, and asked protection from him. He arrived in a spontaneous manner and without previous notice.

Under these circumstances, the Imperial Japanese Legation, following international usage, has decided to accord him the necessary protection and has placed at his disposal a part of the military barracks.

The Legation further declares that as long as President Li remains there, it will not permit any political action on his part.

Following this sensational development it became known that President Li Yuan-hung had completely frustrated the efforts of the Imperialists by sending away a number of important telegraphic Mandates by courier to Tientsin as well as the Presidential Seal. By a masterly move in one of these Mandates General Tuan Chi-jui was reappointed Premier, whilst Vice-President Feng Kuo-chang was asked to officiate as President, the arrangements being so complete as at once to catch Chang Hsun in his own net.

Here is the text of these four historically important messages:

(1) Dated July 1. To-day Inspector General Chang Hsun entered the city with his troops and actually restored the monarchy. He stopped traffic and sent Liang Ting-fen and others to my place to persuade me. Yuan-hung refused in firm language and swore that he would not recognize such a step. It is his hope that the Vice-President and others will take effective means to protect the Republic.

Li Yuan-hung.

(2) Dated July 1. As Heaven does not scorn calamity so has the monarchy been restored. It is said that in an edict issued by the Ching House it is stated that Yuan-hung had actually memorialized to return the power of State to the said House. This is an extraordinary announcement. China changed from autocracy to a Republic by the unanimous wish of the five races of the country. Since Yuan-hung was entrusted by the people with the great responsibilities it is his natural duty to maintain the Republic to the very end. Nothing more or less than this will he care to say. He is sending this in order to avoid misunderstanding.

Li Yuan-hung.

(3) The President to the Vice-President.

To the Vice-President Feng at Nanking—It is to be presumed that the two telegrams sent on the 1st have safely reached you. I state with deepest regret and greatest sorrow that as the result of my lack of ability to handle the situation the political crisis has eventually affected the form of government. For this Yuan-hung realizes that he owes the country apology. The situation in Peking is daily becoming more precarious. Since Yuan-hung is now unable to exercise his power the continuity of the Republic may be suddenly interrupted. You are also entrusted by the citizens with great responsibilities; I ask you to temporarily exercise the power and functions of the President in your own office in accordance with the provisions of Article 42 of the Provisional Constitution and Article 5 of the Presidential Election Law. As the means of communication is effectively blocked it is feared that the sending of my seal will meet with difficulty and obstruction. Tuan Chih-chuan (Tuan Chi-jui) has been appointed Premier, and is also ordered to temporarily protect the seal, and later to devise a means to forward it on to you. Hereafter everything pertaining to the important question of saving the country shall be energetically pushed by you and Chih-chuan with utmost vigour. The situation is pressing and your duty is clear. In great anxiety and expectation I am sending you this telegram.

Li Yuan-hung.

(4) Dated July 3. To Vice-President Feng, Tu Chuns and Governors of the Provinces, Provincial Assemblies, Inspector General Lu:—I presume that the two telegrams dated 1st and one dated 3rd inst. have safely reached your place. With bitter remorse to myself I now make the statement that the political crisis has resulted in affecting the form of government. Tuan Chih-chuan has been appointed on the 1st inst. as Premier; and the Vice-President has been asked to exercise the power and functions of the President in accordance of office by the Vice-President. Premier Tuan is authorized to act at his discretion. All the seal and documents have been sent to Tientsin, and Premier Tuan has been told to keep and guard the same for the time being. He has also been asked to forward the same to the Vice-President. The body guards of the President's Office have suddenly been replaced and I have been pressed to give up the Three Lakes. Yuan-hung has therefore removed to a sanctuary. As regards the means to save the country I trust that you will consult and work unitedly with Vice-President Feng and Premier Tuan. In great expectation, and with much of my heart not poured out.

Li Yuan-hung.

Meanwhile, whilst these dramatic events were occurring in Peking, others no less sensational were taking place in the provinces. The Tientsin group, suddenly realizing that the country was in danger, took action very swiftly, disclosing that in spite of all disputes Republicanism had become very dear to every thinking man in the country, and that at last it was possible to think of an united China. The Scholar Liang Chi Chao, spokesman of Chinese Liberalism, in an extraordinarily able message circularized the provinces in terms summarizing everything of importance. Beginning with the fine literary flight that "heaven has refused to sympathize with our difficulties by allowing traitors to be born" he ends with the astounding phrase that although he had proposed to remain silent to the end of his days, "at the sight of the fallen nest he has, however, spat the stopper out of his throat," and he calls upon all China to listen to his words which are simply that the Republic must be upheld or dissolution will come.

Arms now united with Literature. General Tuan Chi-jui, immediately accepting the burden placed on him, proceeded to the main entrenched camp outside Tientsin and assumed command of the troops massed there, issuing at the same time the following manifesto:


To Vice-President Feng Kuo-chang, Inspector General of Wumin, Tu Chuns, Governors, Tu-tungs....

Heaven is chastening this country by the series of disturbances that have taken place. Chang Hsun, filled with sinister designs, has occupied the capital by bringing up his troops under the pretext of effecting a compromise with the astounding result that last night the Republican form of government was overthrown. The question of the form of Government is the very fundamental principle on which the national existence depends. It requires assiduous efforts to settle the form of government and once a decision has been reached on the subject, any attempt to change the same is bound to bring on unspeakable disasters to the country. To-day the people of China are much more enlightened and democratic in spirit than ever before. It is, therefore, absolutely impossible to subjugate the millions by holding out to the country the majesty of any one family.

When the Republic of China was being founded, the Ching House, being well aware of the general inclinations of modern peoples, sincerely and modestly abdicated its power. Believing that such spirit deserved handsome recognition the people were willing to place the Ching House under the protection of special treatment and actually recorded the covenant on paper, whereby contentment and honour were vouchsafed the Ching House. Of the end of more than 20 dynasties of Chinese history, none can compare with the Ching dynasty for peace and safety.

Purely for sake of satisfying his ambitions of self-elevation Chang Hsun and others have audaciously committed a crime of inconceivable magnitude and are guilty of high treason. Like Wang Mang and Tung Tso he seeks to sway the whole nation by utilizing a young and helpless emperor. Moreover he has given the country to understand that Li Yuan-hung has memorialized the Ching House that many evils have resulted from republicanism and that the ex-emperor should be restored to save the masses. That Chang Hsun has been guilty of usurpation and forging documents is plain and the scandal is one that shocks all the world.

Can it be imagined that Chang Hsun is actuated by a patriotic motive? Surely despotism is no longer tolerated in this stage of modern civilization. Such a scheme can only provoke universal opposition. Five years have already passed since the friendly Powers accorded their recognition of the Chinese Republic and if we think we could afford to amuse ourselves with changes in the national fabric, we could not expect foreign powers to put up with such childishness. Internal strife is bound to invite foreign intervention and the end of the country will then be near.

Can it be possible that Chang Hsun has acted in the interest of the Ching House? The young boy-emperor lives in peace and contentment and has not the slightest idea of ever ruling China again. It is known that his tutors have been warning him of the dangers of intriguing for power. That the boy-emperor has been dragged on the throne entirely against his own wishes is undeniable. History tells us that no dynasty can live for ever. It is an unprecedented privilege for the Ching dynasty to be able to end with the gift of special treatment. How absurd to again place the Tsing house on the top of a high wall so that it may fall once more and disappear for ever.

Chi-jui, after his dismissal, resolved not to participate in political affairs, but as he has had a share, however insignificant, in the formation of the Chinese Republic, and having served the Republic for so long he cannot bear to see its destruction without stretching out a helping hand. Further, he has been a recipient of favours from the defunct dynasty, and he cannot bear to watch unmoved, the sight of the Ching House being made the channel of brigandage with suicidal results. Wherever duty calls, Chi-jui will go in spite of the danger of death. You, gentlemen, are the pillars of the Republic of China and therefore have your own duties to perform. In face of this extraordinary crisis, our indignation must be one. For the interest of the country we should abide by our oath of unstinted loyalty; and for the sake of the Tsing House let us show our sympathy by sane and wise deeds. I feel sure you will put forth every ounce of your energy and combine your efforts to combat the great disaster. Though I am a feeble old soldier, I will follow you on the back of my steed.


Following the publication of this manifesto a general movement of troops began. On the 5th July the important Peking-Tientsin railway was reported interrupted forty miles from the capital—at Langfang which is the station where Admiral Seymour's relief expedition in 1900 was nearly surrounded and exterminated. Chang Hsun, made desperate by the swift answer to his coup, had moved out of Peking in force stiffening his own troops with numbers of Manchu soldiery, and announcing that he would fight it out to the bitter end, although this proved as false as the rest had been. The first collision occurred on the evening of the 5th July and was disastrous for the King-maker. The whole Northern army, with the exception of a Manchu Division in Peking, was so rapidly concentrated on the two main railways leading to the capital that Chang Hsun's army, hopelessly outnumbered and outmanoeuvred, fell back after a brief resistance. Chang Hsun himself was plainly stupefied by the discovery that imperialism of the classic type was as much out of date in the North as in the South; and within one week of his coup he was prepared to surrender if his life and reputation were spared. By the 9th July the position was this: the Republican forces had surrounded Peking: Chang Hsun had resigned every appointment save the command of his own troops: the Manchu Court party had drafted a fresh Edict of Renunciation, but being terrorized by the pigtailed troops surrounding the Palace did not dare to issue it.

The usual bargaining now commenced with the Legation Quarter acting as a species of middleman. No one was anxious to see warfare carried into the streets of Peking, as not only might this lead to the massacres of innocent people, but to foreign complications as well. The novelty had already been seen of a miniature air-raid on the Imperial city, and the panic that exploding bombs had carried into the hearts of the Manchu Imperial Family made them ready not only to capitulate but to run away. The chief point at issue was, however, not the fate of the monarchy, which was a dead thing, but simply what was going to happen to Chang Hsun's head—a matter which was profoundly distressing Chang Hsun. The Republican army had placed a price of L10,000 on it, and the firebrands were advocating that the man must be captured, dead or alive, and suffer decapitation in front of the Great Dynastic Gate of the Palace as a revenge for his perfidy. Round this issue a subtle battle raged which was not brought to a head until the evening of the 11th July, when all attempts at forcing Chang Hsun to surrender unconditionally having failed, it was announced that a general attack would be made on his forces at daylight the next morning.

Promptly at dawn on the 12th July a gun-signal heralded the assault. Large Republican contingents entered the city through various Gates, and a storm of firing aroused terror among the populace. The main body of Chang Hsun's men, entrenched in the great walled enclosure of the Temple of Heaven, were soon surrounded, and although it would have been possible for them to hold out for several days, after a few hours' firing a parley began and they quietly surrendered. Similarly in the Imperial city, where Chang Hsun had taken up his residence, this leader, in spite of his fire-eating declarations, soon fled to the Legation Quarter and besought an asylum. His men held out until two in the afternoon, when their resistance collapsed and the cease-fire sounded. The number of casualties on both sides was infinitesimal, and thus after eleven days' farce the Manchu dynasty found itself worse off than ever before. It is necessary, however, not to lose sight of the main problem in China, which is the establishment of a united government and a cessation of internecine warfare,—issues which have been somewhat simplified by Chang Hsun's escapade, but not solved. That a united government will ultimately be established is the writer's belief, based on a knowledge of all the facts. But to attain that further provincial struggles are inevitable, since China is too large a unit to find common ground without much suffering and bitterness. President Li Yuan-hung having declared that nothing would induce him to resume office, Vice-President Feng Kuo-chang has become the legal successor and has quietly assumed office. Chang Hsun's abortive coup has already cleared the air in North China to this extent: that the Manchu Imperial Family is to be removed from Peking and the Imperial allowance greatly reduced, whilst the proscription of such out-and-out imperialists as Kang Yu-wei has destroyed the last vestiges of public support. Finally the completion of China's foreign policy, i.e. the declaration of war against Germany and Austria, has at last been made on the 14th August, 1917, and a consistent course of action mapped out.


[25] The final text of the Permanent Constitution as it stood on the 28th May, 1917, will be found in the appendix. Its accuracy has been guaranteed to the writer by the speakers of the two Houses.

[26] Since this was written certain diplomatists in Peking have been forced to resign.



The careful narrative we have made—supported as it is by documents—of the history of China since the inception of the Republic six years ago should not fail to awaken profound astonishment among those who are interested in the spread of good government throughout the world. Even casual readers will have no difficulty in realizing how many lives have been lost and how greatly the country has been crippled both owing to the blind foreign support given to Yuan Shih-kai during four long and weary years and to the stupid adhesion to exploded ideas, when a little intelligence and a little generosity and sympathy would have guided the nation along very different paths. To have to go back, as China was forced to do in 1916, and begin over again the work which should have been performed in 1912 is a handicap which only persistent resolution can overcome; for the nation has been so greatly impoverished that years must elapse before a complete recovery from the disorders which have upset the internal balance can be chronicled: and when we add that the events of the period May-July, 1917, are likely still further to increase the burden the nation carries, the complicated nature of the outlook will be readily understood.

Happily foreign opinion has lately taken turn for the better. Whilst the substitution of a new kind of rule in place of the Yuan Shih-kai regime, with its thinly disguised Manchuism and its secret worship of fallen gods, was at first looked upon as a political collapse tinged with tragedy—most foreigners refusing to believe in an Asiatic Republic—the masculine decision of the 9th February, 1917, which diplomatically ranged China definitely on the side of the Liberal Powers, has caused something of a volte face. Until this decision had been made it was the fashion to declare that China was not only not fit to be a Republic but that her final dissolution was only a matter of time. Though the empire disappeared because it had become an impossible rule in the modern world—being womanish, corrupt, and mediaeval—to the foreign mind the empire remained the acme of Chinese civilization; and to kill it meant to lop off the head of the Chinese giant and to leave lying on the ground nothing but a corpse. It was in vain to insist that this simile was wrong and that it was precisely because Chinese civilization had exhausted itself that a new conception of government had to be called in to renew the vitality of the people. Men, and particularly diplomats, refused to understand that this embodied the heart and soul of the controversy, and that the sole mandate for the Republic, as well as the supreme reason why it had to be upheld if the country was not to dissolve, has always lain in the fact that it postulates something which is the very antithesis of the system it has replaced and which should be wholly successful in a single generation, if courage is shown and the whip unflinchingly used.

The chief trouble, in the opinion of the writer, has been the simplicity of the problem and not its complexity. By eliminating the glamour which surrounded the Throne, and by kicking away all the pomp and circumstance which formed the age-old ritual of government, the glaring simplicity and barrenness of Chinese life—when contrasted with the complex West—has been made evident. Bathed in the hard light of modern realities, the poetic China which Haroun al-Raschid painted in his Aladdin, and which still lives in the beautiful art of the country, has vanished for ever and its place has been taken by a China of prose. To those who have always pictured Asia in terms of poetry this has no doubt been a very terrible thing—a thing synonymous with political death. And yet in point of fact the elementary things remain much as they have always been before, and if they appear to have acquired new meaning it is simply because they have been moved into the foreground and are no longer masked by a gaudy superstructure.

For if you eliminate questions of money and suppose for a moment that the national balance-sheet is entirely in order, China is the old China although she is stirred by new ideas. Here you have by far the greatest agricultural community in the world, living just as it has always lived in the simplest possible manner, and remitting to the cities (of which there are not ten with half-a-million inhabitants) the increment which the harvests yield. These cities have made much municipal progress and developed an independence which is confessedly new. Printing presses have spread a noisy assertiveness, as well as a very critical and litigious spirit, which tends to resent and oppose authority.[27] Trade, although constantly proclaimed to be in a bad way, is steadily growing as new wants are created and fashions change. An immense amount of new building has been done, particularly in those regions which the Revolution of 1911 most devastated. The archaic fiscal system, having been tumbled into open ruin, has been partially replaced by European conceptions which are still only half-understood, but which are not really opposed. The country, although boasting a population which is only some fifty millions less than the population of the nineteen countries of Europe, has an army and a police-force so small as to allow one to say that China is virtually disarmed since there are only 900,000 men with weapons in their hands. Casting about to discover what really tinges the outlook, that must simply be held to be the long delay the world has made in extending the same treatment to China as is now granted to the meanest community of Latin America. It has been almost entirely this, coupled with the ever-present threat of Japanese chauvinism, which has given China the appearance of a land that is hopelessly water-logged, although the National Debt is relatively the smallest in the world and the people the most industrious and law-abiding who have ever lived. In such circumstances that ideas of collapse should have spread so far is simply due to a faulty estimate of basic considerations.

For we have to remember that in a country in which the thoroughly English doctrine of laissez faire has been so long practised that it has become second nature, and in which the philosophic spirit is so undisputed that the pillars of society are just as much the beggars who beg as the rich men who support them, influences of a peculiar character play an immense role and can be only very slowly overcome. Passivity has been so long enthroned that of the Chinese it may be truly said that they are not so much too proud to fight as too indifferent,—which is not a fruitful state of affairs. Looking on the world with callous detachment the masses go their own way, only pausing in their work on their ancient Festival days which they still celebrate just as they have always celebrated them since the beginning of their history. The petty daily activities of a vast legion of people grouped together in this extraordinary way, and actuated by impulses which seem sharply to conflict with the impulses of the other great races of the world, appear incredible to Westerners who know what the outer perils really are, and who believe that China is not only at bay but encircled—caught in a network of political agreements and commitments which have permanently destroyed her power of initiative and reduced her to inanition. To find her lumbering on undisturbed, ploughing the fields, marrying and giving in marriage, buying, selling, cursing and laughing, carrying out rebellions and little plots as though the centuries that stretch ahead were still her willing slaves, has in the end become to onlookers a veritable nightmare. Puzzled by a phenomenon which is so disconcerting as to be incapable of any clear definition, they have ended by declaring that an empty Treasury is an empty rule, adding that as it is solely from this monetary viewpoint that the New China ought to be judged, their opinion is the one which will finally be accepted as authoritative. The situation is admittedly dangerous; and it is imperative that a speedy remedy be sought; for the heirs and assigns of an estate which has been mismanaged to the brink of bankruptcy must secure at all costs that no public receivership is made.

What is the remedy? That must consist simply enough in attacking the grand simplicities directly; in recognizing, as we have clearly shown, that the bases of Chinese life having collapsed through Euro-Japanese pressure, the politico-economic relationship between the Republic and the world must be remodelled at the earliest possible opportunity, every agreement which has been made since the Treaties of 1860 being carefully and completely revised.[28]

To say this is to give utterance to nothing very new or brilliant: it is the thought which has been present in everyone's mind for a number of years. So far back as 1902, when Great Britain negotiated with China the inoperative Mackay Commercial Treaty, provision was not only made for a complete reform of the Tariff—import duties to be made two and a half times as large in return for a complete abolition of likin or inter-provincial trade-taxation—but for the abolition of extraterritoriality when China should have erected a modern and efficient judicial system. And although matters equally important, such as the funding of all Chinese indemnities and loans into one Consolidated Debt, as well as the withdrawal of the right of foreign banks to make banknote issues in China, were not touched upon, the same principles would undoubtedly have been applied in these instances, as being conducive to the re-establishment of Chinese autonomy, had Chinese negotiators been clever enough to urge them as being of equal importance to the older issues. For it is primarily debt, and the manipulation of debt, which is the great enemy.

Three groups of indebtedness and three groups of restrictions, corresponding with the three vital periods in Chinese history, lie to-day like three great weights on the body of the Chinese giant. First, there is the imbroglio of the Japanese war of 1894-5; second, the settlement following the Boxer explosion of 1900; and third, the cost of the revolution of 1911-1912. We have already discussed so exhaustively the Boxer Settlement and the finance of the Revolutionary period that it is necessary to deal with the first period only.

In that first period China, having been rudely handled by Japan, recovered herself only by indulging in the sort of diplomacy which had become traditional under the Manchus. Thankful for any help in her distress, she invited and welcomed the intervention of Russia, which gave her back the Liaotung Peninsula and preserved for her the shadow of her power when the substance had already been so sensationally lost. Men are apt to forget to-day that the financial accommodation which allowed China to liquidate the Japanese war-debt was a remarkable transaction in which Russia formed the controlling element. In 1895 the Tsar's Government had intervened for precisely the same motives that animate every State at critical times in history, that is, for reasons of self-interest. The rapid victory which Japan had won had revived in an acute form the whole question of the future of the vast block of territory which lies south of the Amur regions and is bathed by the Yellow Sea. Russian statesmen suddenly became conscious that the policy of which Muravieff-Amurski in the middle of the nineteenth century had been the most brilliant exponent—the policy of reaching "warm water"—was in danger of being crucified, and the work of many years thrown away. Action on Russia's part was imperative; she was great enough to see that; and so that it should not be said that she was merely depriving a gallant nation of the fruits of victory and thereby issuing to her a direct challenge, she invited the chief Powers in Treaty relations with China to co-operate with her in readjusting what she described as the threatened balance. France and Germany responded to that invitation; England demurred. France did so because she was already the devoted Ally of a nation that was a guarantee for the security of her European frontiers: Germany because she was anxious to see that Russia should be pushed into Asiatic commitments and drawn away from the problems of the Near East. England on her part very prudently declined to be associated with a transaction which, while not opposed to her interests, was filled with many dubious elements.

It was in Petrograd that this account was liquidated. The extraordinary chapter which only closed with the disastrous Peace of Portsmouth opened for Russia in a very brilliant way. The presence in Moscow of the veteran statesman Li Hung-chang on the occasion of the Tsar's Coronation afforded an opportunity for exhaustively discussing the whole problem of the Far East. China required money: Russia required the acceptance of plans which ultimately proved so disastrous to her. Under Article IV of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (April, 1895) China had agreed to pay Japan as a war-indemnity 200 million Treasury taels in eight instalments: that is 50 million taels within six months, a further 50 millions within twelve months, and the remaining 100 millions in six equal instalments spread over seven years, as well as an additional sum of 50 millions for the retrocession of the Liaotung Peninsula.

China, therefore, needed at once 80 million taels. Russia undertook to lend her at the phenomenally low rate of 4 per cent. the sum of L16,000,000 sterling—the interest and capital of which the Tsar's Government guaranteed to the French bankers undertaking the flotation. In return for this accommodation, the well known Russo-Chinese Declaration of the 24th June (6th July), 1895, was made in which the vital article IX states that—"In consideration of this Loan the Chinese Government declares that it will not grant to any foreign Power any right or privilege of no matter what description touching the control or administration of the revenues of the Chinese Empire. Should, however, the Chinese Government grant to any foreign Power rights of this nature, it is understood that the mere fact of having done so will extend those rights to the Russian Government."

This clause has a monumental significance: it started the scramble in China: and all the history of the past 22 years is piled like a pyramid on top of it. Now that the Romanoffs have been hurled from the throne, Russia must prove eager to reverse the policy which brought Japan to her Siberian frontiers and which pinned a brother democracy to the ground.

For China, instead of being nearly bankrupt as so many have asserted, has, thanks to the new scale of indebtedness which the war has established, become one of the most debt-free countries in the world, her entire national debt (exclusive of railway debt) amounting to less than 150 millions sterling, or seven shillings per head of population, which is certainly not very terrible. No student who has given due attention to the question can deny that it is primarily on the proper handling of this nexus of financial interests, and not by establishing any artificial balance of power between foreign nations, that the peace of the Far East really hinges. The method of securing national redemption is ready-made: Western nations should use the Parliament of China as an instrument of reform, and by limiting themselves to this one method secure that civil authority is reinforced to such a point that its behests have behind them all the wealth of the West. In questions of currency, taxation, railways and every other vexatious problem, it is solely by using this instrument that satisfactory results can be attained.[29] For once Chinese realize that parliamentary government is not merely an experimental thing but the last chance the country is to be given to govern itself, they will rally to the call and prove that much of the trouble and turmoil of past years has been due to the misunderstanding of the internal problem by Western minds which has incited the population to intrigue against one another and remain disunited. And if we insist that there is urgent need for a settlement of these matters in the terms we have indicated, it is because we know very precisely what Japanese thought on this subject really is.

What is that thought—whither does it lead?

It may be broadly said that Japanese activities throughout the Far East are based on a thorough and adequate appreciation of the fact that apart from the winning of the hegemony of China, there is the far more difficult and knotty problem of overshadowing and ultimately dislodging the huge network of foreign interests—particularly British interests—which seventy-five years of Treaty intercourse have entwined about the country. These interests, growing out of the seed planted in the early Canton Factory days, had their origin in the termination by the act of the British Government of the trading monopoly enjoyed until the thirties of last century by the East India Company. Left without proper definition until the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 had formally won the principle of trading-rights at five open ports, and thus established a first basis of agreement between England and China (to which all the trading powers hastened to subscribe), these interests expanded in a half-hearted way until 1860, when in order to terminate friction, the principle of extraterritoriality was boldly borrowed from the Turkish Capitulations, and made the rock on which the entire fabric of international dealings in China was based. These treaties, with their always-recurring "most-favoured nation" clause, and their implication of equal treatment for all Powers alike, constitute the Public Law of the Far East, just as much as the Treaties between the Nations constitute the Public Law of Europe; and any attempt to destroy, cripple, or limit their scope and function has been very generally deemed an assault on all the High Contracting Parties alike. By a thoroughly Machiavellian piece of reasoning, those who have been responsible for the framing of recent Japanese policy, have held it essential to their plan to keep the world chained to the principle of extraterritoriality and Chinese Tariff and economic subjection because these things, imposing as they necessarily do restrictions and limitations in many fields, leave it free to the Japanese to place themselves outside and beyond these restrictions and limitations; and, by means of special zones and secret encroachments, to extend their influence so widely that ultimately foreign treaty-ports and foreign interests may be left isolated and at the mercy of the "Higher machinery" which their hegemony is installing. The Chinese themselves, it is hoped, will be gradually cajoled into acquiescing in this very extraordinary state of affairs, because being unorganized and split into suspicious groups, they can be manipulated in such a way as to offer no effective mass resistance to the Japanese advance, and in the end may be induced to accept it as inevitable.

If the reader keeps these great facts carefully in mind a new light will dawn on him and the urgency of the Chinese question will be disclosed. The Japanese Demands of 1915, instead of being fantastic and far-fetched, as many have supposed, are shown to be very intelligently drawn-up, the entire Treaty position in China having been most exhaustively studied, and every loophole into the vast region left untouched by the ex-territorialized Powers marked down for invasion. For Western nations, in spite of exorbitant demands at certain periods in Chinese history, having mainly limited themselves to acquiring coastal and communication privileges, which were desired more for genuine purposes of trade than for encompassing the destruction of Chinese autonomy, are to-day in a disadvantageous position which the Japanese have shown they thoroughly understand by not only tightening their hold on Manchuria and Shantung, but by going straight to the root of the matter and declaring on every possible occasion that they alone are responsible for the peace and safety of the Far East—and this in spite of the fact that their plan of 1915 was exposed and partially frustrated. But the chief force behind the Japanese Foreign Office, it should be noted, is militarist; and it is a point of honour for the Military Party to return to the charge in China again and again until there is definite success or definite failure.

Now in view of the facts which have been so voluminously set forth in preceding chapters, it is imperative for men to realize that the struggle in the Far East is like the Balkan Question a thing rooted in geography and peoples, and cannot be brushed aside or settled by compromises. The whole future of Chinese civilization is intimately bound up with the questions involved, and the problem instead of becoming easier to handle must become essentially more difficult from day to day. Japan's real objective being the termination of the implied trusteeship which Europe and America still exercise in the Far East, the course of the European war must intimately effect the ultimate outcome. If that end is satisfactory for democracies, China may reasonably claim to share in the resulting benefits; if on the other hand the Liberal Powers do not win an overwhelming victory which shall secure the sanctity of Treaties for all time, it will go hard for China. Outwardly, the immediate goal which Japan seeks to attain is merely to become the accredited spokesman of Eastern Asia, the official representative; and, using this attorneyship as a cloak for the advancement of objects which other Powers would pursue on different principles, so impregnably to entrench herself where she has no business to be that no one will dare to attempt to turn her out. For this reason we see revived in Manchuria on a modified scale the Eighteenth Century device, once so essential a feature of Dutch policy in the struggle against Louis XIV, namely the creation of "barrier-cities" for closing and securing a frontier by giving them a special constitution which withdraws them from ordinary jurisdiction and places foreign garrisons in them. This is precisely what is going on from the Yalu to Eastern Mongolia, and this procedure no doubt will be extended in time to other regions as opportunities arise. Already in Shantung the same policy is being pursued and there are indications that it is being thought of in Fuhkien; whilst the infantry garrison which was quietly installed at Hankow—600 miles up the Yangtsze river—at the time of the Revolution of 1911 is apparently to be made permanent. Allowing her policy to be swayed by men who know far too little of the sea, Japan stands in imminent danger of forgetting the great lesson which Mahan taught, that for island-peoples sea-power is everything and that land conquests which diminish the efficacy of that power are merely a delusion and snare. Plunging farther and farther into the vast regions of Manchuria and Mongolia which have been the graves of a dozen dynasties, Japan is displaying increasing indifference for the one great lesson which the war has yielded—the overwhelming importance of the sea.[30] Necessarily guardian of the principles on which intercourse in Asia is based, because she framed those principles and fought for them and has built up great edifices under their sanction, British sea-power—now allied for ever, let us hope, with American power—nevertheless remains and will continue to remain, in spite of what may be half-surreptitiously done to-day, the dominant factor in the Far East as it is in the Far West. Withdrawn from view for the time being, because of the exigencies of the hour and because the Anglo-Japanese Alliance is still counted a binding agreement, Western sea-power nevertheless stands there, a heavy cloud in the offing, full of questionings regarding what is going on in the Orient, and fully determined, let us pray, one day to receive frank answers. For the right of every race, no matter how small or weak, to enjoy the inestimable benefits of self-government and independence may be held to have been so absolutely established that it is a mere question of time for the doctrine not only to be universally accepted but to be universally applied. In many cases, it is true, the claims of certain races are as yet incapable of being expressed in practical state-forms; but where nationalities have long been well-defined, there can be no question whatsoever that a properly articulated autonomy must be secured in such a way as to preclude the possibility of annexations.

Now although in their consideration of Asia it is notorious that Western statesmen have not cared to keep in mind political concepts which have become enthroned in Europe, owing to the fact that an active element of opposition to such concepts was to be found in their own policies, a vast change has undoubtedly been recently worked, making it certain that the claims of nationalism are soon to be given the same force and value in the East as in the West. But before there can be any question of Asia for the Asiatics being adopted as a root principle by the whole world, it will have to be established in some unmistakable form that the surrender of the policy of conquest which Europe has pursued for four centuries East of the Suez Canal will not lead to its adoption by an Asiatic Power under specious forms which hide the glittering sword. If that can be secured, then the present conflict will have truly been a War of Liberation for the East as well as for the West. For although Japan has been engaged for some years in declaring to all Asiatics under her breath that she holds out the hand of a brother to them, and dreams of the days when the age of European conquests will be nothing but a distant memory, her actions have consistently belied her words and shown that she has not progressed in political thought much beyond the crude conceptions of the Eighteenth Century. Thus Korea, which fell under her sway because the nominal independence of the country had long made it the centre of disastrous international intrigues, is governed to-day as a conquered province by a military viceroy without a trace of autonomy remaining and without any promise that such a regime is only temporary. Although nothing in the undertakings made with the Powers has ever admitted that a nation which boasts of an ancient line of kings, and which gave Japan much of her own civilization, should be stamped under foot in such manner, the course which politics have taken in Korea has been disastrous in the extreme ever since Lord Lansdowne in 1905, as British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, pointed out in a careful dispatch to the Russian Government that Korea was a region which fell naturally under the sway of Japan. Not only has a tragic fate overcome the sixteen million inhabitants of that country, but there has been a covert extension of the principles applied to them to the people of China.

Now if as we say European concepts are to have universal meaning, and if Japan desires European treatment, it is time that it is realized that the policy followed in Korea, combined with the attempt to extend that treatment to soil where China rightly claims undisputed sovereignty, forms an insuperable barrier to Japan being admitted to the inner council of the nations.[31] No one wishes to deny to Japan her proper place in the world, in view of her marvellous industrial progress, but that place must be one which fits in with modern conceptions and is not one thing to the West and another to the East. Even the saying which was made so much of during the Russian war of 1904, that Korea in foreign hands was a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan—has been shown to be inherently false by the lessons of the present struggle, the Korean dagger-point being 120 sea miles from the Japanese coast. Such arguments clearly show that if the truce which was hastily patched up in 1905 is to give way to a permanent peace, that can be evolved only by locking on to the Far East the principles which are in process of being vindicated in Europe. In other words, precisely as Poland is to be given autonomy, so must Korea enjoy the same privileges, the whole Japanese theory of suzerainty on the Eastern Asiatic Continent being abandoned. To re-establish a proper balance of power in the Far East, the Korean nation, which has had a known historical existence of 1,500 years, must be reinstated in something resembling its old position; for Korea has always been the keystone of the Far Eastern arch, and it is the destruction of that arch more than anything else which has brought the collapse of China so perilously near.

Once the legitimate aspirations of the Korean people have been satisfied, the whole Manchurian-Mongolian question will assume a different aspect, and a true peace between China and Japan will be made possible. It is to no one's interest to have a Polish question in the Far East with all the bitterness and the crimes which such a question must inevitably lead to; and the time to obviate the creation of such a question is at the very beginning before it has become an obsession and a great international issue. Although the Japanese annexation may be held to have settled the question once and for all, we have but to point to Poland to show that a race can pass through every possible humiliation and endure every possible species of truncation without dying or abating by one whit its determination to enjoy what happier races have won.

The issue is a vital one. China by her recent acts has given a categorical and unmistakable reply to all the insidious attempts to place her outside and beyond the operation of international law and all those sanctions which make life worth living; and because of the formal birth of a Foreign Policy it can be definitely expected that this nation, despite its internal troubles and struggles, will never rest content until she has created a new nexus of world-relationships which shall affirm and apply every one of the principles experience elsewhere has proved are the absolute essentials to peace and happiness. China is already many decades ahead of Japan in her theory of government, no matter what the practice may be, the marvellous revolution of 1911 having given back to this ancient race its old position of leader in ideas on the shores of the Yellow Sea. The whole dream Japan has cherished, and has sought to give form to during the war, is in the last analysis antiquated and forlorn and must ultimately dissolve into thin air; for it is monstrous to suppose, in an age when European men have sacrificed everything to free themselves from the last vestiges of feudalism, that in the Far East the cult of Sparta should remain a hallowed and respected doctrine. Japan's policy in the Far East during the period of the war has been uniformly mischievous and is largely responsible for the fierce hatreds which burst out in 1917 over the war issue; and China will be forced to raise at the earliest possible moment the whole question of the validity of the undertakings extorted from her in 1915 under the threat of an ultimatum. Although the precise nature of Anglo-Japanese diplomacy during the vital eleven days from the 4th to the 15th August, 1914 [i.e. from the British declaration of war on Germany to the Japanese ultimatum regarding Kiaochow] remains a sealed book, China suspects that Japan from the very beginning of the present war world-struggle has taken advantage of England's vast commitments and acted ultra vires. China hopes and believes that Britain will never again renew the Japanese alliance, which expires in 1921, in its present form, particularly now that an Anglo-American agreement has been made possible. China knows that in spite of all coquetting with both the extreme radical and military parties which is going on daily in Peking and the provinces the secret object of Japanese diplomacy is either the restoration of the Manchu dynasty, or the enthronement of some pliant usurper, a puppet-Emperor being what is needed to repeat in China the history of Korea. Japan would be willing to go to any lengths to secure the attainment of this reactionary object. Faithful to her "divine mission," she is ceaselessly stirring up trouble and hoping that time may still be left her to consolidate her position on the Asiatic mainland, one of her latest methods being to busy herself at distant points in the Pacific so that Western men for the sake of peace may be ultimately willing to abandon the shores of the Yellow Seas to her unchallenged mastery.

The problem thus outlined becomes a great dramatic thing. The lines which trace the problem are immense, stretching from China to every shore bathed by the Pacific and then from there to the distant west. Whenever there is a dull calm, that calm must be treated solely as an intermission, an interval between the acts, a preparation for something more sensational than the last episode, but not as a permanent settlement which can only come by the methods we have indicated. For the Chinese question is no longer a local problem, but a great world-issue which statesmen must regulate by conferences in which universal principles will be vindicated if they wish permanently to eliminate what is almost the last remaining international powder-magazine. A China that is henceforth not only admitted to the family of nations on terms of equality but welcomed as a representative of Liberalism and a subscriber to all those sanctions on which the civilization of peace rests, will directly tend to adjust every other Asiatic problem and to prevent a recrudescence of those evil phenomena which are the enemies of progress and happiness. Is it too much to dream of such a consummation? We think not. It is to America and to England that China looks to rehabilitate herself and to make her Republic a reality. If they lend her their help, if they are consistent, there is still no reason why this democracy on the shores of the Yellow Sea should not be reinstated in the proud position it occupied twenty centuries ago, when it furnished the very silks which clothed the daughters of the Caesars.


[27] The growth of the Chinese press is remarkable. Although no complete statistics are available there is reason to believe that the number of periodicals in China now approximates 10,000, the daily vernacular newspapers in Peking alone exceeding 60. Although no newspaper in China prints more than 20,000 copies a day, the reading public is growing at a phenomenal rate, it being estimated that at least 50 million people read the daily publications, or hear what they say,—a fact which is deemed so politically important that all political parties and groups have their chains of organs throughout the country.

[28] The mediaeval condition of Chinese trade taxation is well illustrated by a Memorandum which the reader will find in the appendix. One example may be quoted. Timber shipped from the Yalu river, i.e. from Chinese territory, to Peking, pays duties at five different places, the total amount of which aggregates 20 per cent. of its market value; whilst timber from America, with transit dues and Peking Octroi added, only pays 10 per cent.! China is probably the only country that has ever existed that discriminates against its own goods and gives preference to the foreigner,—through the operation of the Treaties.

[29] We need only give a single example of what we mean. If, in the matter of the reform of the currency, instead of authorizing trade-agencies, i.e. the foreign Exchange Banks, to make a loan to China, which is necessarily hedged round with conditions favourable to such trade-agencies, the Powers took the matter directly in their own hands; and selecting the Bank of China—the national fiscal agent—as the instrument of reform agreed to advance all the sums necessary, provided a Banking Law was passed by the Parliament of China of a satisfying nature, and the necessary guarantees were forthcoming, it would soon be possible to have a uniform National Currency which would be everywhere accepted and lead to a phenomenal trade expansion. It should be noted that China is still on a Copper Standard basis,—the people's buying and selling being conducted in multiples of copper cent-pieces of which there has been an immense over-issue, the latest figures showing that there are no less than 22,000,000,000 1-cent, ten cash pieces in circulation or 62 coins per head of population—roughly twenty-five millions sterling in value,—or 160,000 tons of copper! The number of silver dollars and subsidiary silver coins is not accurately known,—nor is the value of the silver bullion; but it certainly cannot greatly exceed this sum. In addition there is about L15,000,000 of paper money. A comprehensive scheme of reform, placed in the hands of the Bank of China, would require at least L15,000,000; but this sum would be sufficient to modernize the currency and establish a universal silver dollar standard.

The Bank of China requires at least 600 branches throughout the country to become a true fiscal agent. It has to-day one-tenth of this number.

[30] It should be carefully noted that not only has Japan no unfriendly feelings for Germany but that German Professors have been appointed to office during the war. In the matter of enemy trading Japan's policy has been even more extraordinary. Until there was a popular outcry among the Entente Allies, German merchants were allowed to trade more or less as usual. They were not denied the use of Japanese steamers, shipping companies being simply "advised" not to deal with them, the two German banks in Yokohama and Kobe being closed only in the Autumn of 1916. It was not until April, 1917, that Enemy Trading Regulations were formally promulgated and enforced,—that is when the war was very far advanced—the action of China against Germany being no doubt largely responsible for this step.

That the Japanese nation greatly admires the German system of government and is in the main indifferent to the results of the war has long been evident to observers on the spot.

[31] A very remarkable confirmation of these statements is afforded in the latest Japanese decision regarding Manchuria which will be immediately enforced. The experience of the past three years having proved conclusively that the Chinese, in spite of their internal strife, are united to a man in their determination to prevent Japan from tightening her hold on Manchuria and instituting an open Protectorate, the Tokio Government has now drawn up a subtle scheme which it is believed will be effective. A Bill for the unification of administration in South Manchuria has passed the Japanese Cabinet Conference and will soon be formally promulgated. Under the provisions of this Bill, the Manchuria Railway Company will become the actual organ of Japanese administration in South Manchuria; the Japanese Consular Service will be subordinate to the administration of the Railway; and all the powers hitherto vested in the Consular Service, political, commercial, judicial and administrative, will be made part of the organization of the South Manchuria Railway. This is not all. From another Japanese source we learn that a law is about to take effect by which the administration of the South Manchuria Railway will be transferred directly to the control of the Government-General of Korea, thus making the Railway at once an apparently commercial but really political organization. In future the revenues of the South Manchuria Railway are to be paid direct to the Government-General of Korea; and the yearly appropriation for the upkeep and administration of the Railway is to be fixed at Yen 12,000,000. These arrangements, especially the amalgamation of the South Manchuria Railway, are to take effect from the 1st July, 1917, and are an attempt to do in the dark what Japan dares not yet attempt in the open.



(1) The so-called Nineteen Articles, being the grant made by the Throne after the outbreak of the Wuchang Rebellion in 1911 in a vain attempt to satisfy the nation.

(2) The Abdication Edicts issued on the 12th February, 1912, endorsing the establishment of the Republic.

(3) The terms of abdication, generally referred to as "The articles of Favourable Treatment," in which special provision is made for the "rights" of Manchus, Mongols, Mohammedans and Tibetans, who are considered as being outside the Chinese nation.


1. The Ta-Ching Dynasty shall reign for ever.

2. The person of the Emperor shall be inviolable.

3. The power of the Emperor shall be limited by a Constitution.

4. The order of the succession shall be prescribed in the Constitution.

5. The Constitution shall be drawn up and adopted by the National Assembly, and promulgated by the Emperor.

6. The power of amending the Constitution belongs to Parliament.

7. The members of the Upper House shall be elected by the people from among those particularly eligible for the position.

8. Parliament shall select, and the Emperor shall appoint, the Premier, who will recommend the other members of the Cabinet, these also being appointed by the Emperor. The Imperial Princes shall be ineligible as Premier, Cabinet Ministers, or administrative heads of provinces.

9. If the Premier, on being impeached by Parliament, does not dissolve Parliament he must resign but one Cabinet shall not be allowed to dissolve Parliament more than once.

10. The Emperor shall assume direct control of the army and navy, but when that power is used with regard to internal affairs, he must observe special conditions, to be decided upon by Parliament, otherwise he is prohibited from exercising such power.

11. Imperial decrees cannot be made to replace the law except in the event of immediate necessity in which case decrees in the nature of a law may be issued in accordance with special conditions, but only when they are in connection with the execution of a law or what has by law been delegated.

12. International treaties shall not be concluded without the consent of Parliament, but the conclusion of peace or a declaration of war may be made by the Emperor if Parliament is not sitting, the approval of Parliament to be obtained afterwards.

13. Ordinances in connection with the administration shall be settled by Acts of Parliament.

14. In case the Budget fails to receive the approval of Parliament the Government cannot act upon the previous year's Budget, nor may items of expenditure not provided for in the Budget be appended to it. Further, the Government shall not be allowed to adopt extraordinary financial measures outside the Budget.

15. Parliament shall fix the expenses of the Imperial household, and any increase or decrease therein.

16. Regulations in connection with the Imperial family must not conflict with the Constitution.

17. The two Houses shall establish the machinery of an administrative court.

18. The Emperor shall promulgate the decisions of Parliament.

19. The National Assembly shall act upon Articles 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 18 until the opening of Parliament.



We (the Emperor) have respectfully received the following Imperial Edict from Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager Lung Yu:—

As a consequence of the uprising of the Republican Army, to which the different provinces immediately responded, the Empire seethed like a boiling cauldron and the people were plunged into utter misery. Yuan Shih-kai was, therefore, especially commanded some time ago to dispatch commissioners to confer with the representatives of the Republican Army on the general situation and to discuss matters pertaining to the convening of a National Assembly for the decision of the suitable mode of settlement. Separated as the South and the North are by great distances, the unwillingness of either side to yield to the other can result only in the continued interruption of trade and the prolongation of hostilities, for, so long as the form of government is undecided, the Nation can have no peace. It is now evident that the hearts of the majority of the people are in favour of a republican form of government: the provinces of the South were the first to espouse the cause, and the generals of the North have since pledged their support. From the preference of the people's hearts, the Will of Heaven can be discerned. How could We then bear to oppose the will of the millions for the glory of one Family! Therefore, observing the tendencies of the age on the one hand and studying the opinions of the people on the other, We and His Majesty the Emperor hereby vest the sovereignty in the People and decide in favour of a republican form of constitutional government. Thus we would gratify on the one hand the desires of the whole nation who, tired of anarchy, are desirous of peace, and on the other hand would follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Sages, who regarded the Throne as the sacred trust of the Nation.

Now Yuan Shih-kai was elected by the Tucheng-yuan to be the Premier. During this period of transference of government from the old to the new, there should be some means of uniting the South and the North. Let Yuan Shih-kai organize with full powers a provisional republican government and confer with the Republican Army as to the methods of union, thus assuring peace to the people and tranquillity to the Empire, and forming the one Great Republic of China by the union as heretofore, of the five peoples, namely, Manchus, Chinese, Mongols, Mohammedans, and Tibetans together with their territory in its integrity. We and His Majesty the Emperor, thus enabled to live in retirement, free from responsibilities, and cares and passing the time in ease and comfort, shall enjoy without interruption the courteous treatment of the Nation and see with Our own eyes the consummation of an illustrious government. Is not this highly advisable?

Bearing the Imperial Seal and Signed by Yuan Shih-kai, the Premier; Hoo Wei-teh, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chao Ping-chun, Minister of the Interior; Tan Hsuen-heng, Acting Minister of Navy; Hsi Yen, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Works and Commerce; Liang Shih-yi, Acting Minister of Communications; Ta Shou, Acting Minister of the Dependencies.

25th day of the 12th moon of the 3rd year of Hsuan Tung.


We have respectfully received the following Imperial Edict from Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager Lung Yu:—

On account of the perilous situation of the State and the intense sufferings of the people, We some time ago commanded the Cabinet to negotiate with the Republican Army the terms for the courteous treatment of the Imperial House, with a view to a peaceful settlement. According to the memorial now submitted to Us by the Cabinet embodying the articles of courteous treatment proposed by the Republican Army, they undertake to hold themselves responsible for the perpetual offering of sacrifices before the Imperial Ancestral Temples and the Imperial Mausolea and the completion as planned of the Mausoleum of His Late Majesty the Emperor Kuang Hsu. His Majesty the Emperor is understood to resign only his political power, while the Imperial Title is not abolished. There have also been concluded eight articles for the courteous treatment of the Imperial House, four articles for the favourable treatment of Manchus, Mongols, Mohammedans, and Tibetans. We find the terms of perusal to be fairly comprehensive. We hereby proclaim to the Imperial Kinsmen and the Manchus, Mongols, Mohammedans, and Tibetans that they should endeavour in the future to fuse and remove all racial differences and prejudices and maintain law and order with united efforts. It is our sincere hope that peace will once more be seen in the country and all the people will enjoy happiness under a republican government.

Bearing the Imperial Seal and Signed by Yuan Shih-kai, the Premier; Hoo Wei-teh, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chao Ping-chun, Minister of the Interior; Tan Hsuen-heng, Acting Minister of the Navy; Hsi Yen, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Works and Commerce; Liang Shih-yi, Acting Minister of Communications; Ta Shou, Acting Minister of the Dependencies.

25th day of the 12th moon of the 3rd year of Hsuan Tung.


We have respectfully received the following Edict from Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager Lung Yu:—

In ancient times the ruler of a country emphasized the important duty of protecting the lives of his people, and as their shepherd could not have the heart to cause them injury. Now the newly established form of government has for its sole object the appeasement of the present disorder with a view to the restoration of peace. If, however, renewed warfare were to be indefinitely maintained, by disregarding the opinion of the majority of the people, the general condition of the country might be irretrievably ruined, and there might follow mutual slaughter among the people, resulting in the horrible effects of a racial war. As a consequence, the spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors might be greatly disturbed and millions of people might be terrorized. The evil consequences cannot be described. Between the two evils, We have adopted the lesser one. Such is the motive of the Throne in modelling its policy in accordance with the progress of time, the change of circumstances, and the earnest desires of Our People. Our Ministers and subjects both in and out of the Metropolis should, in conformity with Our idea, consider most carefully the public weal and should not cause the country and the people to suffer from the evil consequences of a stubborn pride and of prejudiced opinions.

The Ministry of the Interior, the General Commandant of the Gendarmerie, Chiang Kuei-ti, and Feng Kuo-chang, are ordered to take strict precautions, and to make explanations to the peoples so clearly and precisely as to enable every and all of them to understand the wish of the Throne to abide by the ordinance of heaven, to meet the public opinion of the people and to be just and unselfish.

The institution of the different offices by the State has been for the welfare of the people, and the Cabinet, the various Ministries in the Capital, the Vice-royalties, Governorships, Commissionerships, and Taotaiships, have therefore been established for the safe protection of the people, and not for the benefit of one man or of one family. Metropolitan and Provincial officials of all grades should ponder over the present difficulties and carefully perform their duties. We hereby hold it the duty of the senior officials earnestly to advise and warn their subordinates not to shirk their responsibilities, in order to conform with Our original sincere intention to love and to take care of Our people.

Bearing the Imperial Seal and Signed by Yuan Shih-kai, the Premier; Hoo Wei-teh, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chao Ping-chun, Minister of the Interior; Tan Hsuen-heng, Acting Minister of the Navy; Hsi Yen, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Works and Commerce; Liang Shih-yi, Acting Minister of Communications; Ta Shou, Acting Minister of the Dependencies.

25th day of the 12th moon of the 3rd year of Hsuan Tung.


N.B. These terms are generally referred to in China as "The Articles of Favourable Treatment."

A.—Concerning the Emperor.

The Ta Ching Emperor having proclaimed a republican form of government, the Republic of China will accord the following treatment to the Emperor after his resignation and retirement.

Article 1. After abdication the Emperor may retain his title and shall receive from the Republic of China the respect due to a foreign sovereign.

Article 2. After the abdication the Throne shall receive from the Republic of China an annuity of Tls. 4,000,000 until the establishment of a new currency, when the sum shall be $4,000,000.

Article 3. After abdication the Emperor shall for the present be allowed to reside in the Imperial Palace, but shall later remove to the Eho Park, retaining his bodyguards at the same strength as hitherto.

Article 4. After abdication the Emperor shall continue to perform the religious ritual at the Imperial Ancestral Temples and Mausolea, which shall be protected by guards provided by the Republic of China.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse