China, Japan and the U.S.A. - Present-Day Conditions in the Far East and Their Bearing - on the Washington Conference
by John Dewey
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Present-day Conditions in the Far East and Their Bearing on the Washington Conference



Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University

New Republic Pamphlet No. 1

Published by the REPUBLIC PUBLISHING CO., INC. 421 West Twenty-first Street New York City 1921


Introductory Note

The articles following are reprinted as they were written in spite of the fact that any picture of contemporary events is modified by subsequent increase of knowledge and by later events. In the main, however, the writer would still stand by what was said at the time. A few foot notes have been inserted where the text is likely to give rise to misapprehensions. The date of writing has been retained as a guide to the reader.


On Two Sides of the Eastern Seas

It is three days' easy journey from Japan to China. It is doubtful whether anywhere in the world another journey of the same length brings with it such a complete change of political temper and belief. Certainly it is greater than the alteration perceived in journeying directly from San Francisco to Shanghai. The difference is not one in customs and modes of life; that goes without saying. It concerns the ideas, beliefs and alleged information current about one and the same fact: the status of Japan in the international world and especially its attitude toward China. One finds everywhere in Japan a feeling of uncertainty, hesitation, even of weakness. There is a subtle nervous tension in the atmosphere as of a country on the verge of change but not knowing where the change will take it. Liberalism is in the air, but genuine liberals are encompassed with all sorts of difficulties especially in combining their liberalism with the devotion to theocratic robes which the imperialist militarists who rule Japan have so skilfully thrown about the Throne and the Government. But what one senses in China from the first moment is the feeling of the all-pervading power of Japan which is working as surely as fate to its unhesitating conclusion—the domination of Chinese politics and industry by Japan with a view to its final absorption. It is not my object to analyze the realities of the situation or to inquire whether the universal feeling in China is a collective hallucination or is grounded in fact. The phenomenon is worthy of record on its own account. Even if it be merely psychological, it is a fact which must be reckoned with in both its Chinese and its Japanese aspects. In the first place, as to the differences in psychological atmosphere. Everybody who knows anything about Japan knows that it is the land of reserves and reticences. The half-informed American will tell you that this is put on for the misleading of foreigners. The informed know that it is an attitude shown to foreigners only because it is deeply engrained in the moral and social tradition of Japan; and that, if anything, the Japanese are more likely to be communicative—about many things at least—to a sympathetic foreigner, than to one another. The habit of reserve is so deeply embedded in all the etiquette, convention and daily ceremony of living, as well as in the ideals of strength of character, that only the Japanese who have subjected themselves to foreign influences escape it—and many of them revert. To put it mildly, the Japanese are not a loquacious people; they have the gift of doing rather than of gab.

When accordingly a Japanese statesman or visiting diplomatist engages in unusually prolonged and frank discourse setting forth the aims and procedures of Japan, the student of politics who has been long in the East at once becomes alert, not to say suspicious. A recent illustration is so extreme that it will doubtless seem fantastic beyond belief. But the student at home will have to take these seeming fantasies seriously if he wishes to appreciate the present atmosphere of China. Cables have brought fragmentary reports of some addresses of Baron Goto in America. Doubtless in the American atmosphere these have the effect of reassuring America as to any improper ambitions on the part of Japan. In China, they were taken as announcements that Japan has about completed its plans for the absorption of China, and that the lucubration preliminary to operations of swallowing are about to begin. The reader is forgiven in advance any scepticism he feels about both the fact itself and the correctness of my report of the belief in the alleged fact. His scepticism will not surpass what I should feel in his place. But the suspicion aroused by such statements as this and the recent interview of Foreign Minister Uchida and Baron Ishii must be noted as evidences of the universal belief in China that Japan has one mode of diplomacy for the East and another for the West, and that what is said in the West must be read in reverse in the East.

China, whatever else it is, is not the land of privacies. It is a proverb that nothing long remains secret in China. The Chinese talk more easily than they act—especially in politics. They are adepts in revealing their own shortcomings. They dissect their own weaknesses and failures with the most extraordinary reasonableness. One of the defects upon which they dwell is the love of finding substitutes for positive action, of avoiding entering upon a course of action which might be irrevocable. One almost wonders whether their power of self-criticism is not itself another of these substitutes. At all events, they are frank to the point of loquacity. Between the opposite camps there are always communications flowing. Among official enemies there are "sworn friends." In a land of perpetual compromise, etiquette as well as necessity demands that the ways for later accommodations be kept open. Consequently things which are spoken of only under the breath in Japan are shouted from the housetops in China. It would hardly be good taste in Japan to allude to the report that influential Chinese ministers are in constant receipt of Japanese funds and these corrupt officials are the agencies by which political and economic concessions were wrung from China while Europe and America were busy with the war. But in China nobody even takes the trouble to deny it or even to discuss it. What is psychologically most impressive is the fact that it is merely taken for granted. When it is spoken of, it is as one mentions the heat on an unusually hot day.

In speaking of the feeling of weakness current in Japan about Japan itself, one must refer to the economic situation because of its obvious connection with the international situation. In the first place, there is the strong impression that Japan is over-extended. Even in normal times, Japan relies more upon production for foreign markets than is regarded in most countries as safe policy. And there is the belief that Japan must do so, because only by large foreign sellings—large in comparison with the purchasing power of a people still having a low standard of life—can it purchase the raw materials—and even food—it has to have. But during the war, the dependence of manufacturing and trade at home upon the foreign market was greatly increased. The domestic increase of wealth, though very great, is still too much in the hands of the few to affect seriously the internal demand for goods. Item one, which awakens sympathy for Japan as being in a somewhat precarious situation.

Another item concerns the labor situation. Japan seems to feel itself in a dilemma. If she passes even reasonably decent factory laws (or rather attempts their enforcement) and regulates child and women's labor, she will lose that advantage of cheap labor which she now counts on to offset her many disadvantages. On the other hand, strikes, labor difficulties, agitation for unions, etc., are constantly increasing, and the tension in the atmosphere is unmistakable. The rice riots are not often spoken of, but their memory persists, and the fact that they came very near to assuming a directly political aspect. Is there a race between fulfillment of the aspirations of the military clans who still hold the reins, and the growth of genuinely democratic forces which will forever terminate those aspirations? Certainly the defeat of Germany gave a blow to bureaucratic militarism in Japan which in time will go far. Will it have the time required to take effect on foreign policy? The hope that it will is a large factor in stimulating liberal sympathy for a Japan which is beginning to undergo the throes of transition.

As for the direct international situation of Japan, the feeling in Japan is that of the threatening danger of isolation. Germany is gone; Russia is gone. While those facts simplify matters for Japan somewhat, there is also the belief that in taking away potential allies, they have weakened Japan in the general game of balance and counter-balance of power. Particularly does the removal of imperialistic Russia relieve the threat on India which was such a factor in the willingness of Great Britain to make the offensive-defensive alliance. The revelation of the militaristic possibilities of America is another serious factor. Certainly the new triple entente cordiale of Japan, Italy and France is no adequate substitute for a realignment of international forces in which a common understanding between Great Britain and America is a dominant factor. This factor explains, if it does not excuse, some of the querulousness and studied discourtesies with which the Japanese press for some months treated President Wilson, the United States in general and its relation to the League of Nations in particular, while it also throws light on the ardor with which the opportune question of racial discrimination was discussed. (The Chinese have an unfailing refuge in a sense of humor. It was interesting to note the delight with which they received the utterance of the Japanese Foreign Minister, after Japanese success at Paris, that "his attention had recently been called" to various press attacks on America which he much deprecated). In any case there is no mistaking the air of tension and nervous overstrain which now attends all discussion of Japanese foreign relations. In all directions, there are characteristic signs of hesitation, shaking of old beliefs and movement along new lines. Japan seems to be much in the same mood as that which it experienced in the early eighties before, toward the close of that decade, it crystallized its institutions through acceptance of the German constitution, militarism, educational system, and diplomatic methods. So that, once more, the observer gets the impression that substantially all of Japan's energy, abundant as that is, must be devoted to her urgent problems of readjustment.

Come to China, and the difference is incredible. It almost seems as if one were living in a dream; or as if some new Alice had ventured behind an international looking-glass wherein everything is reversed. That we in America should have little idea of the state of things and the frame of mind in China is not astonishing—especially in view of the censorship and the distraction of attention of the last few years. But that Japan and China should be so geographically near, and yet every fact that concerns them appear in precisely opposite perspective, is an experience of a life time. Japanese liberalism? Yes, it is heard of, but only in connection with one form which the longing for the miraculous deus ex machina takes. Perhaps a revolution in Japan may intervene to save China from the fate which now hangs over her. But there is no suggestion that anything less than a complete revolution will alter or even retard the course which is attributed to Japanese diplomacy working hand in hand with Japanese business interests and militarism. The collapse of Russia and Germany? These things only mean that Japan has in a few years fallen complete heir to Russian hopes, achievements and possessions in Manchuria and Outer Mongolia, and has had opportunities in Siberia thrown into her hands which she could hardly have hoped for in her most optimistic moments. And now Japan has, with the blessing of the great Powers at Paris, become also the heir of German concessions, intrigues and ambitions, with added concessions, wrung (or bought) from incompetent and corrupt officials by secret agreements when the world was busy with war. If all the great Powers are so afraid of Japan that they give way to her every wish, what is China that she can escape the doom prepared for her? That is the cry of helplessness going up all over China. And Japanese propagandists take advantage of the situation, pointing to the action of the Peace Conference as proof that the Allies care nothing for China, and that China must throw herself into the arms of Japan if she is to have any protection at all. In short, Japan stands ready as she stood ready in Korea to guarantee the integrity and independence of China. And the fear that the latter must, in spite of her animosity toward Japan, accept this fate in order to escape something worse swims in the sinister air. It is the exact counterpart of the feeling current among the liberals in Japan that Japan has alienated China permanently when a considerate and slower course might have united the two countries. If the economic straits of Japan are alluded to, it is only as a reason why Japan has hurried her diplomatic coercion, her corrupt and secret bargainings with Chinese traitors and her industrial invasion. While the western world supposes that the military and the industrial party in Japan have opposite ideas as to best methods of securing Japanese supremacy in the East, it is the universal opinion in China that they two are working in complete understanding with one another, and the differences that sometimes occur between the Foreign Office in Tokyo and the Ministry of War (which is extra-constitutional in its status) are staged for effect.

These are some of the aspects of the most complete transformation scene that it has ever been the lot of the writer to experience. May it turn out to be only an extraordinary psychological experience! But in the interests of truth it must be recorded that every resident of China, Chinese or American, with whom I have talked in the last four weeks has volunteered the belief that all the seeds of a future great war are now deeply implanted in China. To avert such a calamity they look to the League of Nations or to some other force outside the immediate scene. Unfortunately the press of Japan treats every attempt to discuss the state of opinion in China or the state of facts as evidence that America, having tasted blood in the war, now has its eyes on Asia with the expectation later on of getting its hands on Asia. Consequently America is interested in trying to foster ill-will between China and Japan. If the pro-American Japanese do not enlighten their fellow-countrymen as to the facts, then America ought to return some of the propaganda that visits its shores. But every American who goes to Japan ought also to visit China—if only to complete his education.

May, 1919.


Shantung, As Seen From Within


American apologists for that part of the Peace Treaty which relates to China have the advantage of the illusions of distance. Most of the arguments seem strange to anyone who lives in China even for a few months. He finds the Japanese on the spot using the old saying about territory consecrated by treasure spent and blood shed. He reads in Japanese papers and hears from moderately liberal Japanese that Japan must protect China, as well as Japan, against herself, against her own weak or corrupt government, by keeping control of Shantung to prevent China from again alienating that territory to some other power.

The history of European aggression in China gives this argument great force among the Japanese, who for the most part know nothing more about what actually goes on in China than they used to know about Korean conditions. These considerations, together with the immense expectations raised among the Japanese during the war concerning their coming domination of the Far East and the unswerving demand of excited public opinion in Japan during the Versailles Conference for the settlement that actually resulted, give an ironic turn to the statement so often made that Japan may be trusted to carry out her promises. Yes, one is often tempted to say, that is precisely what China fears, that Japan will carry out her promises, for then China is doomed. To one who knows the history of foreign aggression in China, especially the technique of conquest by railway and finance, the irony of promising to keep economic rights while returning sovereignty lies so on the surface that it is hardly irony. China might as well be offered Kant's Critique of Pure Reason on a silver platter as be offered sovereignty under such conditions. The latter is equally metaphysical.

A visit to Shantung and a short residence in its capital city, Tsinan, made the conclusions, which so far as I know every foreigner in China has arrived at, a living thing. It gave a vivid picture of the many and intimate ways in which economic and political rights are inextricably entangled together. It made one realize afresh that only a President who kept himself innocent of any knowledge of secret treaties during the war, could be naive enough to believe that the promise to return complete sovereignty retaining only economic rights is a satisfactory solution. It threw fresh light upon the contention that at most and at worst Japan had only taken over German rights, and that since we had acquiesced in the latter's arrogations we had no call to make a fuss about Japan. It revealed the hollowness of the claim that pro-Chinese propaganda had wilfully misled Americans into confusing the few hundred square miles around the port of Tsing-tao with the Province of Shantung with its thirty millions of Chinese population.

As for the comparison of Germany and Japan one might suppose that the objects for which America nominally entered the war had made, in any case, a difference. But aside from this consideration, the Germans exclusively employed Chinese in the railway shops and for all the minor positions on the railway itself. The railway guards (the difference between police and soldiers is nominal in China) were all Chinese, the Germans merely training them. As soon as Japan invaded Shantung and took over the railway, Chinese workmen and Chinese military guards were at once dismissed and Japanese imported to take their places. Tsinan-fu, the inland terminus of the ex-German railway, is over two hundred miles from Tsing-tao. When the Japanese took over the German railway business office, they at once built barracks, and today there are several hundred soldiers still there—where Germany kept none. Since the armistice even, Japan has erected a powerful military wireless within the grounds of the garrison, against of course the unavailing protest of Chinese authorities. No foreigner can be found who will state that Germany used her ownership of port and railway to discriminate against other nations. No Chinese can be found who will claim that this ownership was used to force the Chinese out of business, or to extend German economic rights beyond those definitely assigned her by treaty. Common sense should also teach even the highest paid propagandist in America that there is, from the standpoint of China, an immense distinction between a national menace located half way around the globe, and one within two days' sail over an inland sea absolutely controlled by a foreign navy, especially as the remote nation has no other foothold and the nearby one already dominates additional territory of enormous strategic and economic value—namely, Manchuria.

These facts bear upon the shadowy distinction between the Tsing-tao and the Shantung claim, as well as upon the solid distinction between German and Japanese occupancy. If there still seemed to be a thin wall between Japanese possession of the port of Tsing-tao and usurpation of Shantung, it was enough to stop off the train in Tsinan-fu to see the wall crumble. For the Japanese wireless and the barracks of the army of occupation are the first things that greet your eyes. Within a few hundred feet of the railway that connects Shanghai, via the important center of Tientsin, with the capital, Peking, you see Japanese soldiers on the nominally Chinese street, guarding their barracks. Then you learn that if you travel upon the ex-German railway towards Tsing-tao, you are ordered to show your passport as if you were entering a foreign country. And as you travel along the road (remembering that you are over two hundred miles from Tsing-tao) you find Japanese soldiers at every station, and several garrisons and barracks at important towns on the line. Then you realize that at the shortest possible notice, Japan could cut all communications between southern China (together with the rich Yangste region) and the capital, and with the aid of the Southern Manchurian Railway at the north of the capital, hold the entire coast and descend at its good pleasure upon Peking.

You are then prepared to learn from eye-witnesses that when Japan made its Twenty-one Demands upon China, machine guns were actually in position at strategic points throughout Shantung, with trenches dug and sandbags placed. You know that the Japanese liberal spoke the truth, who told you, after a visit to China and his return to protest against the action of his government, that the Japanese already had such a military hold upon China that they could control the country within a week, after a minimum of fighting, if war should arise. You also realize the efficiency of official control of information and domestic propaganda as you recall that he also told you that these things were true at the time of his visit, under the Terauchi cabinet, but had been completely reversed by the present Hara ministry. For I have yet to find a single foreigner or Chinese who is conscious of any difference of policy, save as the end of the war has forced the necessity of caution, since other nations can now look China-wards as they could not during the war.

An American can get an idea of the realities of the present situation if he imagines a foreign garrison and military wireless in Wilmington, with a railway from that point to a fortified sea-port controlled by the foreign power, at which the foreign nation can land, without resistance, troops as fast as they can be transported, and with bases of supply, munitions, food, uniforms, etc., already located at Wilmington, at the sea-port and several places along the line. Reverse the directions from south to north, and Wilmington will stand for Tsinan-fu, Shanghai for New York, Nanking for Philadelphia with Peking standing for the seat of government at Washington, and Tientsin for Baltimore. Suppose in addition that the Pennsylvania road is the sole means of communication between Washington and the chief commercial and industrial centers, and you have the framework of the Shantung picture as it presents itself daily to the inhabitants of China. Upon second thought, however, the parallel is not quite accurate. You have to add that the same foreign nation controls also all coast communications from, say, Raleigh southwards, with railway lines both to the nearby coast and to New Orleans. For (still reversing directions) this corresponds to the position of Imperial Japan in Manchuria with its railways to Dairen and through Korea to a port twelve hours sail from a great military center in Japan proper. These are not remote possibilities nor vague prognostications. They are accomplished facts.

Yet the facts give only the framework of the picture. What is actually going on within Shantung? One of the demands of the "postponed" group of the Twenty-one Demands was that Japan should supply military and police advisers to China. They are not so much postponed but that Japan enforced specific concessions from China during the war by diplomatic threats to reintroduce their discussion, or so postponed that Japanese advisers are not already installed in the police headquarters of the city of Tsinan, the capital city of Shantung of three hundred thousand population where the Provincial Assembly meets and all the Provincial officials reside. Within recent months the Japanese consul has taken a company of armed soldiers with him when he visited the Provincial Governor to make certain demands upon him, the visit being punctuated by an ostentatious surrounding of the Governor's yamen by these troops. Within the past few weeks, two hundred cavalry came to Tsinan and remained there while Japanese officials demanded of the Governor drastic measures to suppress the boycott, while it was threatened to send Japanese troops to police the foreign settlement if the demand was not heeded.

A former consul was indiscreet enough to put into writing that if the Chinese Governor did not stop the boycott and the students' movement by force if need be, he would take matters into his own hands. The chief tangible charge he brought against the Chinese as a basis of his demand for "protection" was that Chinese store-keepers actually refused to accept Japanese money in payment for goods, not ordinary Japanese money at that, but the military notes with which, so as to save drain upon the bullion reserves, the army of occupation is paid. And all this, be it remembered, is more than two hundred miles from Tsing-tao and from eight to twelve months after the armistice. Today's paper reports a visit of Japanese to the Governor to inform him that unless he should prevent a private theatrical performance from being given in Tsinan by the students, they would send their own forces into the settlement to protect themselves. And the utmost they might need protection from, was that the students were to give some plays designed to foster the boycott!

Japanese troops overran the Province before they made any serious attempt to capture Tsing-tao. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that they "took" the Chinese Tsinan before they took the German Tsing-tao. Propaganda in America has justified this act on the ground that a German railway to the rear of Japanese forces would have been a menace. As there were no troops but only legal and diplomatic papers with which to attack the Japanese, it is a fair inference that the "menace" was located in Versailles rather than in Shantung, and concerned the danger of Chinese control of their own territory. Chinese have been arrested by Japanese gendarmes in Tsinan and subjected to a torturing third degree of the kind that Korea has made sickeningly familiar. The Japanese claim that the injuries were received while the men were resisting arrest. Considering that there was no more legal ground for arrest than there would be if Japanese police arrested Americans in New York, almost anybody but the pacifist Chinese certainly would have resisted. But official hospital reports testify to bayonet wounds and the marks of flogging. In the interior where the Japanese had been disconcerted by the student propaganda they raided a High School, seized a school boy at random, and took him to a distant point and kept him locked up several days. When the Japanese consul at Tsinan was visited by Chinese officials in protest against these illegal arrests, the consul disclaimed all jurisdiction. The matter, he said, was wholly in the hands of the military authorities in Tsing-tao. His disclaimer was emphasized by the fact that some of the kidnapped Chinese were taken to Tsing-tao for "trial."

The matter of economic rights in relation to political domination will be discussed later in this article. It is no pleasure for one with many warm friends in Japan, who has a great admiration for the Japanese people as distinct from the ruling military and bureaucratic class, to report such facts as have been stated. One might almost say, one might positively say from the standpoint of Japan itself, that the worst thing that can be charged against the policy of Japan in China for the last six years is its immeasurable stupidity. No nation has ever misjudged the national psychology of another people as Japan has that of China. The alienation of China is widespread, deep, bitter. Even the most pessimistic of the Chinese who think that China is to undergo a complete economic and political domination by Japan do not think it can last, even without outside intervention, more than half a century.

Today, at the beginning of a new year, (1920) the boycott is much more complete and efficient than in the most tense days of last summer. Unfortunately, the Japanese policy seems to be under a truly Greek fate which drives it on. Concessions that would have produced a revulsion of feeling in favor of Japan a year ago will now merely salve the surface of the wound. What would have been welcomed even eight months ago would now be received with contempt. There is but one way in which Japan can now restore herself. It is nothing less than complete withdrawal from Shantung, with possibly a strictly commercial concession at Tsing-tao and a real, not a Manchurian, Open Door.

According to the Japanese-owned newspapers published in Tsinan, the Japanese military commander in Tsing-tao recently made a speech to visiting journalists from Tokyo in which he said: "The suspicions of China cannot now be allayed merely by repeating that we have no territorial ambitions in China. We must attain complete economic domination of the Far East. But if Chino-Japanese relations do not improve, some third party will reap the benefit. Japanese residing in China incur the hatred of the Chinese. For they regard themselves as the proud citizens of a conquering country. When the Japanese go into partnership with the Chinese they manage in the greater number of cases to have the profits accrue to themselves. If friendship between China and Japan is to depend wholly upon the government it will come to nothing. Diplomatists, soldiers, merchants, journalists should repent the past. The change must be complete." But it will not be complete until the Japanese withdraw from Shantung leaving their nationals there upon the footing of other foreigners in China.


In discussing the return to China by Japan of a metaphysical sovereignty while economic rights are retained, I shall not repeat the details of German treaty rights as to the railway and the mines. The reader is assumed to be familiar with those facts. The German seizure was outrageous. It was a flagrant case of Might making Right. As von Buelow cynically but frankly told the Reichstag, while Germany did not intend to partition China, she also did not intend to be the passenger left behind in the station when the train started. Germany had the excuse of prior European aggressions, and in turn her usurpation was the precedent for further foreign rape. If judgments are made on a comparative basis, Japan is entitled to all of the white-washing that can be derived from the provocations of European imperialistic powers, including those countries that in domestic policy are democratic. And every fairminded person will recognize that, leaving China out of the reckoning, Japan's proximity to China gives her aggressions the color of self-defence in a way that cannot be urged in behalf of any European power.

It is possible to look at European aggressions in, say, Africa as incidents of a colonization movement. But no foreign policy in Asia can shelter itself behind any colonization plea. For continental Asia is, for practical purposes, India and China, representing two of the oldest civilizations of the globe and presenting two of its densest populations. If there is any such thing in truth as a philosophy of history with its own inner and inevitable logic, one may well shudder to think of what the closing acts of the drama of the intercourse of the West and East are to be. In any case, and with whatever comfort may be derived from the fact that the American continents have not taken part in the aggression and hence may act as a mediator to avert the final tragedy, residence in China forces upon one the realization that Asia is, after all, a large figure in the future reckoning of history. Asia is really here after all. It is not simply a symbol in western algebraic balances of trade. And in the future, so to speak, it is going to be even more here, with its awakened national consciousness of about half the population of the whole globe.

Let the agreements of France and Great Britain made with Japan during the war stand for the measure of western consciousness of the reality of only a small part of Asia, a consciousness generated by the patriotism of Japan backed by its powerful army and navy. The same agreement measures western unconsciousness of the reality of that part of Asia which lies within the confines of China. An even better measure of western unconsciousness may be found perhaps in such a trifling incident as this:—An English friend long resident in Shantung told me of writing indignantly home concerning the British part in the Shantung settlement. The reply came, complacently stating that Japanese ships did so much in the war that the Allies could not properly refuse to recognize Japan's claims. The secret agreements themselves hardly speak as eloquently for the absence of China from the average western consciousness. In saying that China and Asia are to be enormously significant figures in future reckonings, the spectre of a military Yellow Peril is not meant nor even the more credible spectre of an industrial Yellow Peril. But Asia has come to consciousness, and her consciousness of herself will soon be such a massive and persistent thing that it will force itself upon the reluctant consciousness of the west, and lie heavily upon its conscience. And for this fact, China and the western world are indebted to Japan.

These remarks are more relevant to a consideration of the relationship of economic and political rights in Shantung than they perhaps seem. For a moment's reflection will call to mind that all political foreign aggression in China has been carried out for commercial and financial ends, and usually upon some economic pretext. As to the immediate part played by Japan in bringing about a consciousness which will from the present time completely change the relations of the western powers to China, let one little story testify. Some representatives of an English missionary board were making a tour of inspection through China. They went into an interior town in Shantung. They were received with extraordinary cordiality by the entire population. Some time afterwards some of their accompanying friends returned to the village and were received with equally surprising coldness. It came out upon inquiry that the inhabitants had first been moved by the rumor that these people were sent by the British government to secure the removal of the Japanese. Later they were moved by indignation that they had been disappointed.

It takes no forcing to see a symbol in this incident. Part of it stands for the almost incredible ignorance which has rendered China so impotent nationally speaking. The other part of it stands for the new spirit which has been aroused even among the common people in remote districts. Those who fear, or who pretend to fear, a new Boxer movement, or a definite general anti-foreign movement, are, I think, mistaken. The new consciousness goes much deeper. Foreign policies that fail to take it into account and that think that relations with China can be conducted upon the old basis will find this new consciousness obtruding in the most unexpected and perplexing ways.

One might fairly say, still speaking comparatively, that it is part of the bad luck of Japan that her proximity to China, and the opportunity the war gave her to outdo the aggressions of European powers, have made her the first victim of this disconcerting change. Whatever the motives of the American Senators in completely disassociating the United States from the peace settlement as regards China, their action is a permanent asset to China, not only in respect to Japan but with respect to all Chinese foreign relations. Just before our visit to Tsinan, the Shantung Provincial Assembly had passed a resolution of thanks to the American Senate. More significant is the fact that they passed another resolution to be cabled to the English Parliament, calling attention to the action of the American Senate and inviting similar action. China in general and Shantung in particular feels the reinforcement of an external approval. With this duplication, its national consciousness has as it were solidified. Japan is simply the first object to be affected.

The concrete working out of economic rights in Shantung will be illustrated by a single case which will have to stand as typical. Po-shan is an interior mining village. The mines were not part of the German booty; they were Chinese owned. The Germans, whatever their ulterior aims, had made no attempt at dispossessing the Chinese. The mines, however, are at the end of a branch line of the new Japanese owned railway—owned by the government, not by a private corporation, and guarded by Japanese soldiers. Of the forty mines, the Japanese have worked their way, in only four years, into all but four. Different methods are used. The simplest is, of course, discrimination in the use of the railway for shipping. Downright refusal to furnish cars while competitors who accepted Japanese partners got them, is one method. Another more elaborate method is to send but one car when a large number is asked for, and then when it is too late to use cars, send the whole number asked for or even more, and then charge a large sum for demurrage in spite of the fact the mine no longer wants them or has cancelled the order. Redress there is none.

Tsinan has no special foreign concessions. It is, however, a "treaty port" where nationals of all friendly powers can do business. But Po-shan is not even a treaty port. Legally speaking no foreigners can lease land or carry on any business there. Yet the Japanese have forced a settlement as large in area as the entire foreign settlement in the much larger town of Tsinan. A Chinese refused to lease land where the Japanese wished to relocate their railway station. Nothing happened to him directly. But merchants could not get shipping space, or receive goods by rail. Some of them were beaten up by thugs. After a time, they used their influence with their compatriot to lease his land. Immediately the persecutions ceased. Not all the land has been secured by threats or coercion; some has been leased directly by Chinese moved by high prices, in spite of the absence of any legal sanction. In addition, the Japanese have obtained control of the electric light works and some pottery factories, etc.

Now even admitting that this is typical of the methods by which the Japanese plant themselves, a natural American reaction would be to say that, after all, the country is built up industrially by these enterprises, and that though the rights of some individuals may have been violated, there is nothing to make a national, much less an international fuss about. More or less unconsciously we translate foreign incidents into terms of our own experience and environment, and thus miss the entire point. Since America was largely developed by foreign capital to our own economic benefit and without political encroachments, we lazily suppose some such separation of the economic and political to be possible in China. But it must be remembered that China is not an open country. Foreigners can lease land, carry on business, and manufacture only in accord with express treaty agreements. There are no such agreements in the cases typified by the Po-shan incident. We may profoundly disagree with the closed economic policy of China, or we may believe that under existing circumstances it represents the part of prudence for her. That makes no difference. Given the frequent occurrence of such economic invasions, with the backing of soldiers of the Imperial Army, with the overt aid of the Imperial Railway, and with the refusal of Imperial officials to intervene, there is clear evidence of the attitude and intention of the Japanese government in Shantung.

Because the population of Shantung is directly confronted with an immense amount of just such evidence, it cannot take seriously the professions of vague diplomatic utterances. What foreign nation is going to intervene to enforce Chinese rights in such a case as Po-shan? Which one is going effectively to call the attention of Japan to such evidences of its failure to carry out its promise? Yet the accumulation of precisely such seemingly petty incidents, and not any single dramatic great wrong, will secure Japan's economic and political domination of Shantung. It is for this reason that foreigners resident in Shantung, no matter in what part, say that they see no sign whatever that Japan is going to get out; that, on the contrary, everything points to a determination to consolidate her position. How long ago was the Portsmouth treaty signed, and what were its nominal pledges about evacuation of Manchurian territory?

Not a month will pass without something happening which will give a pretext for delay, and for making the surrender of Shantung conditional upon this, that and the other thing. Meantime the penetration of Shantung by means of railway discrimination, railway military guards, continual nibblings here and there, will be going on. It would make the chapter too long to speak of the part played by manipulation of finance in achieving this process of attrition of sovereignty. Two incidents must suffice. During the war, Japanese traders with the connivance of their government gathered up immense amounts of copper cash from Shantung and shipped it to Japan against the protests of the Chinese government. What does sovereignty amount to when a country cannot control even its own currency system? In Manchuria the Japanese have forced the introduction of several hundred million dollars of paper currency, nominally, of course, based on a gold reserve. These notes are redeemable, however, only in Japan proper. And there is a law in Japan forbidding the exportation of gold. And there you are.

Japan itself has recently afforded an object lesson in the actual connection of economic and political rights in China. It is so beautifully complete a demonstration that it was surely unconscious. Within the last two weeks, Mr. Obata, the Japanese minister in Peking, has waited upon the government with a memorandum saying that the Foochow incident was the culminating result of the boycott; that if the boycott continues, a series of such incidents is to be apprehended, saying that the situation has become "intolerable" for Japan, and disavowing all responsibility for further consequences unless the government makes a serious effort to stop the boycott. Japan then immediately makes certain specific demands. China must stop the circulation of handbills, the holding of meetings to urge the boycott, the destruction of Japanese goods that have become Chinese property—none have been destroyed that are Japanese owned. Volumes could not say more as to the real conception of Japan of the connection between the economic and the political relations of the two countries. Surely the pale ghost of "Sovereignty" smiled ironically as he read this official note. President Wilson after having made in the case of Shantung a sharp and complete separation of economic and political rights, also said that a nation boycotted is within sight of surrender. Disassociation of words from acts has gone so far in his case that he will hardly be able to see the meaning of Mr. Obata's communication. The American sense of humor and fair-play may however be counted upon to get its point.

January, 1920.


Hinterlands in China

One of the two Presidents of China—it is unnecessary to specify which—recently stated that a renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance meant a partition of China. In this division, Japan would take the north and Great Britain the south. Probably the remark was not meant to be taken literally in the sense of formal conquest or annexation, but rather symbolically with reference to the tendency of policies and events. Even so, the statement will appear exaggerated or wild to persons outside of China, who either believe that the Open Door policy is now irrevocably established or that Japan is the only foreign Power which China has to fear. But a recent visit to the south revealed that in that section, especially in Canton, the British occupy much the same position of suspicion and dread which is held by the Japanese in the north.

Upon the negative side, the Japanese menace is negligible in the province of Kwantung, in which Canton is situated. There are said to be more Americans in Canton than Japanese, and the American colony is not extensive. Upon the positive side the history of the Cassell collieries contract is instructive. It illustrates the cause of the popular attitude toward the British, and quite possibly explains the bitterness in the remark quoted. The contract is noteworthy from whatever standpoint it is viewed, whether that of time, of the conditions it contains or of the circumstances which accompany it.

Premising that the contract delivers to a British company a monopoly of the rich coal deposits of the province for a period of ninety years and—quite incidentally of course—the right to use all means of transportation, water or rail, wharves and ports now in existence, and also to "construct, manage, superintend and work other roads, railways waterways as may be deemed advisable"—which reads like a monopoly of all further transportation facilities of the province—first take up the time of the making of the contract. It was drawn in April, 1920 and confirmed a few months later. It was made, of course, with the authorities of the Kwantung province, subject to confirmation at Peking. During this period, Kwantung province was governed by military carpet-baggers from the neighboring province of Kwangsei, which was practically alone of the southern provinces allied with the northern government, then under the control of the Anfu party. It was matter of common knowledge that the people of Canton and of the province were bitterly hostile to this outside control and submitted to it only because of military coercion. Civil strife for the expulsion of the outsiders was already going on, continually gaining headway, and a few months later the Kwangsei troops were defeated and expelled from the province by the forces of General Chen, now the civil governor of Kwantung, who received a triumphal ovation upon his entrance into Canton. At this time the present native government was established, a change which made possible the return of Sun Yat Sen and his followers from their exile in Shanghai. It is evident, then, that the collieries contract giving away the natural resources of the people of the province, was knowingly made by a British company with a government which no more represented the people of the province than the military government of Germany represented the people of Belgium during the war.

As to the terms of the contract, the statement that it gave the British company a monopoly of all the coal mines in the province, was not literally accurate. Verbally, twenty-two districts are enumerated. But these are the districts along the lines of the only railways in the province and the only ones soon to be built, including the as yet uncompleted Hankow-Canton railway. Possibly this fact accounts for the anxiety of the British partners in the Consortium that the completion of this line be the first undertaking financed by the Consortium. The document also includes what is perhaps a novelty in legal documents having such a momentous economic importance, namely, the words "etc." after the districts enumerated by name.

For this concession, the British syndicate agreed to pay the provincial government the sum of $1,000,000 (silver of course). This million dollars is to bear six per cent interest to the company, and capital and interest are to be paid back to the company by the provincial government out of the dividends (if any) it is to receive. The nature of these "dividends" is set forth in an article which should receive the careful attention of promoters elsewhere as a model of the possibilities of exploiting contracts. The ten million capital is divided equally into "A" shares and "B" shares. The "A" shares go unreservedly to the directors of the company, and three millions of the "B" shares are to be allotted by the directors of the company at their discretion. The other two million are again divided into equal portions, one portion representing the sum advanced by the company to the province and to be paid back as just specified, while the other million—one-tenth of the capitalization—is to be a trust fund the dividends of which are to go for the "benefit of the poor people of the province" and for an educational fund for the province. But before any dividends are paid upon the "B" shares, eight per cent dividends are to be paid upon the "A" shares and a dollar a ton royalty upon all coal mined. Those having any familiarity with the coal business with its usual royalty of about ten cents a ton can easily calculate the splendid prospects of the "poor people" and the schools, prospects which represent the total return to the provinces of a concession of untold worth. The contract also guarantees to the company the assistance of the provincial government in expropriating the owners of all coal mines which have been granted to other companies but not yet worked. These technical details make dry reading, but they throw light upon the spirit with which the British company undertook its predatory negotiations with a government renounced by the people it professed to govern. In comparison with the relatively crude methods of Japan in Shantung, they show the advantages of wide business experience.

As for the circumstances and context which give added menace to the contract, the following facts are significant. Hong Kong, a British crown colony, lies directly opposite the river upon which Canton is situated. It is the port of export and import for the vast districts served by the mines and railways of the province. It is unnecessary to point out the hold upon all economic development which is given through a monopolistic control of coal. It is hardly too much to say that the enforcement of the contract would enable British interests in Hong Kong to control the entire industrial development of the most flourishing of the provinces of China. It would be a comparatively easy and inexpensive matter to provide the main land with a first class modern harbor and port near Canton. But such a port would tend to reduce the assets of Hong Kong to the possession of the most beautiful scenery in the world. There is already fear that a new harbor will be built. Many persons think that the concession of building such railways etc., "as are deemed advisable for the purpose of the business of the company and to improve those now existing" is the object of the contract, even more than the coal monopoly. For the British already own a considerable part of the mainland, including part of the railway connecting the littoral with Canton. By building a cross-cut from the British owned portion of this railway to the Hankow-Canton line, the latter would become virtually the Hankow-Hong Kong line, and Canton would be a way-station. With the advantages thus secured, the project for building a new port could be indefinitely blocked.

During the period in which the contract was being secured, a congress of British Chambers of Commerce was held in Shanghai. Resolutions were passed in favor of abolishing henceforth the whole principle of special nationalistic concessions, and of cooperating with the Chinese for the upbuilding of China. At the close of the meeting the Chairman announced that a new era for China had finally dawned. All of the British newspapers in China lauded the wise action of the Chambers. At the same time, Mr. Lamont was in Peking, and was setting forth that the object of the Consortium was the abolition of further concessions, and the uniting of the financial resources of the banks in the Consortium for the economic development of China itself. By an ironical coincidence, the Hong Kong-Shanghai Bank, which is the financial power behind the contract and the new company, is the leading British partner in the Consortium. It is difficult to see how the British can henceforth accuse the Japanese of bad faith if any of the banking interests of that country should enter upon independent negotiations with any government in China.

By the time the scene of action was transferred to Peking in order to secure the confirmation of the central government, the Anfu regime was no more, and as yet no confirmation has been secured. The new government at Canton has declined to recognize the contract as having any validity. An official of the Hong Kong government has told an official of the Canton government that the Hong Kong government stands behind the enforcement of the contract, and that Kwantung province is a British Hinterland. Within the last few weeks the Governor of Hong Kong and a leading Chinese banker of Hong Kong who is a British subject have visited Peking. Rumors were rife in the south as to the object of the visit. British sources published the report that one object was to return Weihaiwei to China—in case Peking agreed to turn over more of the Kwantung mainland to Hong Kong as a quid pro quo. Chinese opinion in the south was that one main object was to secure the Peking confirmation of the Cassell contract, in which case $900,000 more would be forthcoming, $100,000 having been paid down when the contract was signed with the provincial government. Peking does not recognize the present Canton government but regards it as an outlaw. The crowd that signed the contract is still in control of the neighboring province of Kwangsei and they are relied upon by the north to effect the military subjugation of the seceded province. Fighting has already, indeed, begun, but the Kwangsei militarists are badly in need of money; if Peking ratifies the contract, a large part of the funds will be paid over to them—all that isn't lost by the wayside to the northern militarists.[1] Meantime British news agencies keep up a constant circulation of reports tending to discredit the Kwantung government, although all impartial observers on the spot regard it as altogether the most promising one in China.

[1] Since the text was written, the newspapers have stated that the Peking Government has officially refused to validate the agreement.

These considerations not only throw light on some of the difficulties of the functioning of the Consortium, but they give an indispensable background for judging the actual effect of the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. By force of circumstances each government, even against its own wish, will be compelled to wink at the predatory policies of the other; and the tendency will be to create a division of spheres of influence between the north and south in order to avoid more direct conflicts. The English liberals who stand for the renewal of the alliance on the ground that it will enable England to exercise a check on Japanese policies, are more naive than was Mr. Wilson with his belief in the separation of the economic and political control of Shantung.

It cannot be too often repeated that the real point of friction between the United States and Japan is not in California but in China. It is silly—unless it is calculated—for English authorities to keep repeating that under no circumstances does the alliance mean that Great Britain would support Japan in a war with the United States. The day the alliance is renewed, the hands of the militarists in Japan will be strengthened and the hands of the liberals—already weak enough—be still further weakened. In consequence, all the sources of friction in China between the United States and Japan will be intensified. I do not believe in the predicted war. But should it come, the first act of Japan—so everyone in China believes—will be to seize the ports of northern China and its railways in order to make sure of an uninterrupted supply of food and raw materials. The act would be justified as necessary to national existence. Great Britain in alliance with Japan would be in no position to protest in anything but the most perfunctory way. The guarantee of such abstinence would be for Japan the next best thing to open naval and financial support. Without the guarantee they would not dare the seizure of Chinese ports. In recent years diplomatists have shown themselves capable of unlimited stupidity. But it is not possible that the men in the British Foreign Office are not aware of these elementary facts. If they renew the alliance they knowingly take the responsibility for the consequences.

May 24, 1921.


A Political Upheaval in China

Even in America we have heard of one Chinese revolution, that which thrust the Manchu dynasty from the throne. The visitor in China gets used to casual references to the second revolution, that which frustrated Yuan Shi Kai's aspirations to be emperor, and the third, the defeat in 1917 of the abortive attempt to put the Manchu boy emperor back into power. And within the last few weeks the (September 1920) fourth upheaval has taken place. It may not be dignified by the name of the fourth revolution, for the head of the state has not been changed by it. But as a manifestation of the forces that shape Chinese political events, for evil and for good, perhaps this last disturbance surpasses the last two "revolutions" in significance.

Chinese politics in detail are highly complicated, a mess of personalities and factions whose oscillations no one can follow who does not know a multitude of personal, family and provincial histories. But occasionally something happens which simplifies the tangle. Definite outlines frame themselves out of the swirling criss-cross of strife, intrigue and ambition. So, at present, the complete collapse of the Anfu clique which owned the central government for two years marks the end of that union of internal militarism and Japanese foreign influence which was, for China, the most marked fruit of the war. When China entered the war a "War Participation" army was formed. It never participated; probably it was never meant to. But its formation threw power wholly into the hands of the military clique, as against the civilian constitutionalists. And in return for concessions, secret agreements relating to Manchuria, Shantung, new railways, etc., Japan supplied money, munitions, instructors for the army and a benevolent supervision of foreign and domestic politics. The war came to an unexpected and untimely end, but by this time the offspring of the marriage of the militarism of Yuan Shi Kai and Japanese money and influence was a lusty youth. Bolshevism was induced to take the place of Germany as a menace requiring the keeping up of the army, and loans and teachers. Mongolia was persuaded to cut her strenuous ties with Russia, to renounce her independence and come again under Chinese sovereignty.

The army and its Japanese support and instruction was, accordingly, continued. In place of the "War Participation" army appeared the "Frontier Defense" army. Marshal Tuan, the head of the military party, remained the nominal political power behind the presidential chair, and General Hsu (commonly known as little Hsu, in distinction from old Hsu, the president) was the energetic manager of the Mongolian adventure which, by a happy coincidence, required a bank, land development companies and railway schemes, as well as an army. About this military centre as a nucleus gathered the vultures who fed on the carrion. This flock took the name of the Anfu Club. It did not control the entire cabinet, but to it belonged the Minister of Justice, who manipulated the police and the courts, persecuted the students, suppressed liberal journals and imprisoned inconvenient critics. And the Club owned the ministers of finance and communications, the two cabinet places that dispense revenues, give out jobs and make loans. It also regulated the distribution of intelligence by mail and telegraph. The reign of corruption and despotic inefficiency, tempered only by the student revolt, set in. In two years the Anfu Club got away with two hundred millions of public funds directly, to say nothing of what was wasted by incompetency and upon the army. The Allies had set out to get China into the war. They succeeded in getting Japan into control of Peking and getting China, politically speaking, into a seemingly hopeless state of corruption and confusion.

The militaristic or Pei-Yang party was, however, divided into two factions, each called after a province. The Anwhei party gathered about little Hsu and was almost identical with the Anfus. The Chili faction had been obliged, so far as Peking was concerned, to content itself with such leavings as the Anfu Club tossed to it. Apparently it was hopelessly weaker than its rival, although Tuan, who was personally honest and above financial scandal, was supported by both factions and was the head of both. About three months ago there were a few signs that, while the Anfu Club had been entrenching itself in Peking, the rival faction had been quietly establishing itself in the provinces. A league of Eight Tuchuns (military governors of the provinces) came to the assistance of the president against some unusually strong pressure from the Anfu Club. In spite of the fact that the military governor of the three Manchurian provinces, Chang Tso Lin, popularly known as the Emperor of Manchuria, lined up with this league, practically nobody expected anything except some manoeuvering to get a larger share of the spoils.

But late in June the president invited Chang Tso Lin to Peking. The latter saw Tuan, told him that he was surrounded by evil advisers, demanded that he cut loose from little Hsu and the Anfu Club, and declared open war upon little Hsu—the two had long and notoriously been bitter enemies. Even then people had great difficulty in believing that anything would happen except another Chinese compromise. The president was known to be sympathetic upon the whole with the Chili faction, but the president, if not a typical Chinese, is at least typical of a certain kind of Chinese mandarin, non-resistant, compromising, conciliating, procrastinating, covering up, evading issues, face-saving. But finally something happened. A mandate was issued dismissing little Hsu from office, military and civil, dissolving the frontier defense corps as such, and bringing it under the control of the Ministry of War (usually armies in China belong to some general or Tuchun, not to the country). For almost forty-eight hours it was thought that Tuan had consented to sacrifice little Hsu and that the latter would submit at least temporarily. Then with equally sensational abruptness Tuan brought pressure to bear on the president. The latter was appointed head of a national defense army, and rewards were issued for the heads of the chiefs of the Chili faction, nothing, however, being said about Chang Tso Lin, who had meanwhile returned to Mukden and who still professed allegiance to Tuan. Troops were mobilized; there was a rush of officials and of the wealthy to the concessions of Tientsin and to the hotels of the legation quarter.

This sketch is not meant as history, but simply as an indication of the forces at work. Hence it is enough to say that two weeks after Tuan and little Hsu had intimidated the president and proclaimed themselves the saviors of the Republic, they were in hiding, their enemies of the Chili party were in complete control of Peking, and rewards from fifty thousand dollars down were offered for the arrest of little Hsu, the ex-ministers of justice, finance and communications, and other leaders of the Anfu Club. The political turnover was as complete as it was sensational. The seemingly impregnable masters of China were impotent fugitives. The carefully built up Anfu Club, with its military, financial and foreign support, had crumbled and fallen. No country at any time has ever seen a political upheaval more sudden and more thoroughgoing. It was not so much a defeat as a dissolution like that of death, a total disappearance, an evaporation.

Corruption had worked inward, as it has a way of doing. Japanese-bought munitions would not explode; quartermasters vanished with the funds with which stores were to be bought; troops went without anything to eat for two or three days; large numbers, including the larger part of one division, went over to the enemy en masse; those who did not desert had no heart for fighting and ran away or surrendered on the slightest provocation, saying they were willing to fight for their country but saw no reason why they should fight for a faction, especially a faction that had been selling the country to a foreign nation. In the manner of the defeat of the Anfu clique at the height of its supremacy, rather than in the mere fact of its defeat, lies the credit side of the Chinese political balance sheet. It is a striking exhibition of the oldest and best faith of the Chinese—the power of moral considerations. Public opinion, even that of the coolie on the street, was wholly against the Anfu party. It went down not so much because of the strength of the other side as because of its own rottenness.

So far the results are to all appearances negative. The most marked is the disappearance of Japanese prestige. As one of the leading men in the War Office said: "For over a year now the people have been strongly opposed to the Japanese government on account of Shantung. But now even the generals do not care for Japan any more." It is hardly logical to take the easy collapse of the Japanese-supported Anfu party as a proof of the weakness of Japan, but prestige is always a matter of feeling rather than of logic. Many who were intimidated to the point of hypnotism by the idea of the irresistible power of Japan are now freely laughing at the inefficiency of Japanese leadership. It would not be safe to predict that Japan will not come back as a force to be reckoned with in the internal as well as external politics of China, but it is safe to say that never again will Japan figure as superman to China. And such a negation is after all a positive result.

And so in its way is the overthrow of the Anwhei faction of the militarist party. The Chinese liberals do not feel very optimistic about the immediate outcome. They have mostly given up the idea that the country can be reformed by political means. They are sceptical about the possibility of reforming even politics until a new generation comes on the scene. They are now putting their faith in education and in social changes which will take some years to consummate themselves visibly. The self-styled southern republican constitutional party has not shown itself in much better light than the northern militarist party. In fact, its old leader Sun Yat Sen now cuts one of the most ridiculous figures in China, as shortly before this upheaval he had definitely aligned himself with Tuan and little Hsu.[2]

[2] This was written of course several months before Sun Yat Sen was reinstated in control of Canton by the successful revolt of his local adherents against the southern militarists who had usurped power and driven out Sun Yat Sen and his followers. But up to the time when I left China, in July of this year, it was true that the liberals of northern and central China who were bitterly opposed to the Peking Government, did not look to the Southern Government with much hope. The common attitude was a "plague upon both of your houses" and a desire for a new start. The conflict between North and South looms much larger in the United States than it did in China.

This does not mean, however, that democratic opinion thinks nothing has been gained. The demonstration of the inherent weakness of corrupt militarism will itself prevent the development of any militarism as complete as that of the Anfus. As one Chinese gentleman said to me: "When Yuan Shi Kai was overthrown, the tiger killed the lion. Now a snake has killed the tiger. No matter how vicious the snake may become, some smaller animal will be able to kill him, and his life will be shorter than that of either lion or tiger." In short, each successive upheaval brings nearer the day when civilian supremacy will be established. This result will be achieved partly because of the repeated demonstrations of the uncongeniality of military despotism to the Chinese spirit, and partly because with every passing year education will have done its work. Suppressed liberal papers are coming to life, while over twenty Anfu subsidized newspapers and two subsidized news agencies have gone out of being. The soldiers, including many officers in the Anwhei army, clearly show the effects of student propaganda. And it is worth while to note down the name of one of the leaders on the victorious side, the only one whose troops did any particular fighting, and that against great odds in numbers. The name is Wu Pei Fu. He at least has not fought for the Chili faction against the Anwhei faction. He has proclaimed from the first that he was fighting to rid the country of military control of civil government, and against traitors who would sell their country to foreigners. He has come out strongly for a new popular assembly, to form a new constitution and to unite the country. And although Chang Tso Lin has remarked that Wu Pei Fu as a military subordinate could not be expected to intervene in politics, he has not as yet found it convenient to oppose the demand for a popular assembly. Meanwhile the liberals are organizing their forces, hardly expecting to win a victory, but resolved, win or lose, to take advantage of the opportunity to carry further the education of the Chinese people in the meaning of democracy.

August, 1920.


Divided China


In January 1920 the Peking government issued an edict proclaiming the unification of China. On May 5th Sun Yat Sen was formally inaugurated in Canton as president of all China. Thus China has within six months been twice unified, once from the northern standpoint and once from the southern. Each act of "unification" is in fact a symbol of the division of China, a division expressing differences of language, temperament, history, and political policy as well as of geography, persons and factions. This division has been one of the outstanding facts of Chinese history since the overthrow of the Manchus ten years ago and it has manifested itself in intermittent civil war. Yet there are two other statements which are equally true, although they flatly contradict each other and the one just made. One statement is that so far as the people of China are concerned there is no real division on geographical lines, but only the common division occurring everywhere between conservatives and progressives. The other is that instead of two divisions in China, there are at least five, two parties in both the north and south, and another in the central or Yangtse region,[3] each one of the five splitting up again more or less on factional and provincial lines. And so far as the future is concerned, probably this last statement is the most significant of the three. That all three statements are true is what makes Chinese politics so difficult to understand even in their larger features.

[3] Since the writing of this and the former chapter there are some signs that Wu Pei Fu wants to set up in control of the middle districts.

By the good fortune of circumstances we were in Canton when the inauguration occurred. Peking and Canton are a long way apart in more than distance. There is little exchange of actual news between the two places; what filters through into either city and gets published consists mostly of rumors tending to discredit the other city. In Canton, the monarchy is constantly being restored in Peking; and in Peking, Canton is Bolshevized at least once a week, while every other week open war breaks out between the adherents of Sun Yat Sen, and General Chen Kwang Ming, the civil governor of the province. There is nothing to give the impression—even in circles which accept the Peking government only as an evil necessity—that the pretensions of Sun Yat Sen represent anything more than the desires of a small and discredited group to get some slight power for themselves at the expense of national unity. Even in Fukien, the province next north of Kwantung, one found little but gossip whose effect was to minimize the importance of the southern government. In foreign circles in the north as well as in liberal Chinese circles upon the whole, the feeling is general that bad as the de facto Peking government may be, it represents the cause of national unity, while the southern government represents a perpetuation of that division of China which makes her weak and which offers the standing invitation to foreign intrigue and aggression. Only occasionally during the last few months has some returned traveller timidly advanced the opinion that we had the "wrong dope" on the south, and that they were really trying "to do something down there."

Consequently there was little preparation on my part for the spectacle afforded in Canton during the week of May 5th. This was the only demonstration I have seen in China during the last two years which gave any evidence of being a spontaneous popular movement. New Yorkers are accustomed to crowds, processions, street decorations and accompanying enthusiasm. I doubt if New York has ever seen a demonstration which surpassed that of Canton in size, noise, color or spontaneity—in spite of tropical rains. The country people flocked in in such masses, that, being unable to find accommodation even in the river boats, they kept up a parade all night. Guilds and localities which were not able to get a place in the regular procession organized minor ones on their own account on the day before and after the official demonstration. Making all possible allowance for the intensity of Cantonese local loyalty and the fact that they might be celebrating a Cantonese affair rather than a principle, the scene was sufficiently impressive to revise one's preconceived ideas and to make one try to find out what it is that gives the southern movement its vitality.

A demonstration may be popular and still be superficial in significance. However one found foreigners on the ground—at least Americans—saying that in the last few months the men in power in Canton were the only officials in China who were actually doing something for the people instead of filling their own pockets and magnifying their personal power. Even the northern newspapers had not entirely omitted reference to the suppression of licensed gambling. On the spot one learned that this suppression was not only genuine and thorough, but that it meant a renunciation of an annual revenue of nearly ten million dollars on the part of a government whose chief difficulty is financial, and where—apart from motives of personal squeeze—it would have been easy to argue that at least temporarily the end justified the means in retaining this source of revenue. English papers throughout China have given much praise to the government of Hong Kong because it has cut down its opium revenue from eight to four millions annually with the plan for ultimate extinction. Yet Hong Kong is prosperous, it has not been touched by civil war, and it only needs revenue for ordinary civil purposes, not as a means of maintaining its existence in a crisis.

Under the circumstances, the action of the southern government was hardly less than heroic. This renunciation is the most sensational act of the Canton government, but one soon learns that it is the accompaniment of a considerable number of constructive administrative undertakings. Among the most notable are attempts to reform the local magistracies throughout the province, the establishment of municipal government in Canton—something new in China where local officials are all centrally appointed and controlled—based upon the American Commission plan, and directed by graduates of schools of political science in the United States; plans for introducing local self-government throughout the province; a scheme for introduction of universal primary education in Canton to be completed in three steps.

These reforms are provincial and local. They are part of a general movement against centralization and toward local autonomy which is gaining headway all over China, a protest against the appointment of officials from Peking and the management of local affairs in the interests of factions—and pocketbooks—whose chief interest in local affairs is what can be extracted in the way of profit. For the only analogue of provincial government in China at the present time is the carpet bag government of the south in the days following our civil war. These things explain the restiveness of the country, including central as well as southern provinces, under Peking domination. But they do not explain the setting up of a new national, or federal government, with the election of Mr. Sun Yat Sen as its president. To understand this event it is necessary to go back into history.

In June, 1917, the parliament in Peking was about to adopt a constitution. The parliament was controlled by leaders of the old revolutionary party who had been at loggerheads with Yuan and with the executive generally. The latter accused them of being obstructionists, wasting time in discussing and theorizing when the country needed action. Japan had changed her tactics regarding the participation of China in the war, and having got her position established through the Twenty-one Demands, saw a way of controlling Chinese arsenals and virtually amalgamating the Chinese armies with her own through supervising China's entrance into the war. The British and French were pressing desperately for the same end. Parliament was slow to act, and Tang Shao Yi, Sun Yat Sen and other southern leaders were averse, since they regarded the war as none of China's business and were upon the whole more anti-British than anti-German—a fact which partly accounts for the share of British journals in the present press propaganda against the Canton government. But what brought matters to a head was the fact that the constitution which was about to be adopted eliminated the military governors or tuchuns of the provinces, and restored the supremacy of civil authority which had been destroyed by Yuan Shi Kai, in addition to introducing a policy of decentralization. Coached by members of the so-called progressive party which claimed to be constitutionalist and which had a factionalist interest in overthrowing the revolutionaries who controlled the legislative branch if not the executive, the military governors demanded that the president suspend parliament and dismiss the legislators. This demand was more than passively supported by all the Allied diplomats in Peking with the honorable exception of the American legation. The president weakly yielded and issued an edict dispelling parliament, virtually admitting in the document the illegality of his action. Less than a month afterwards he was a refugee in the Dutch legation on account of the farce of monarchical restoration staged by Chang Shun—who at the present time is again coming to the front in the north as adjutant to the plans of Chang Tso Lin, the present "strong man" of China. Later, elections were held and a new parliament elected. This parliament has been functioning as the legislature of China at Peking and elected the president, Hsu Shi Chang, the head of the government recognized by the foreign Powers—in short it is the Chinese government from an international standpoint, the Peking government from a domestic standpoint.

The revolutionary members of the old parliament never recognized the legality of their dispersal, and consequently refused to admit the legal status of the new parliament, called by them the bogus parliament, and of the president elected by it, especially as the new legislative body was not elected according to the rules laid down by the constitution. Under the lead of some of the old members, the old parliament, called by its opponents the defunct parliament, has led an intermittent existence ever since. Claiming to be the sole authentic constitutional body of China, it finally elected Dr. Sun president of China and thus prepared the act of the fifth of May, already reported.

Such is the technical and formal background of the present southern government. Its attack upon the legality of the Peking government is doubtless technically justified. But for various reasons its own positive status is open to equally grave doubts. The terms "bogus" and "defunct," so freely cast at each other, both seem to an outsider to be justified. It is less necessary to go into the reasons which appear to invalidate the position of the southern parliament because of the belated character of its final action. A protest which waits four years to assert itself in positive action is confronted not with legal technicalities but with accomplished facts. In my opinion, legality for legality, the southern government has a bare shade the better of the technical argument. But in the face of a government which has foreign recognition and which has maintained itself after a fashion for four years, a legal shadow is a precarious political basis. It is wiser to regard the southern government as a revolutionary government, which in addition to the prestige of continuing the revolutionary movement of ten years ago has also a considerable sentimental asset as a protest of constitutionalism against the military usurpations of the Peking government.

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