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Title: China, Japan and the U.S.A. - Present-Day Conditions in the Far East and Their Bearing on the Washington Conference
Author: Dewey, John, 1859-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                    CHINA, JAPAN AND THE U. S. A.

                        Present-day Conditions
                           in the Far East
                         and Their Bearing on
                            the Washington


                              JOHN DEWEY

                      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_

                            Copyright 1921
                     REPUBLIC PUBLISHING CO. INC.

_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

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

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 naïve 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

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

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

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

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 naïve than was Mr. Wilson with
his belief in the separation of the economic and political control of

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

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

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

    [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

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.

It is an open secret that the southern movement has not received the
undivided support of all the forces present in Canton which are
opposed to the northern government. Tang Shao Yi, for example, was
notable for his absence at the time of the inauguration, having found
it convenient to visit the graves of his ancestors at that time. The
provincial governor, General Chen Kwang Ming, was in favor of
confining efforts to the establishment of provincial autonomy and the
encouragement of similar movements in other provinces, looking forward
to an eventual federal, or confederated, government of at least all
the provinces south of the Yangtse. Many of his generals wanted to
postpone action until Kwantung province had made a military alliance
with the generals in the other southwestern provinces, so as to be
able to resist the north should the latter undertake a military
expedition. Others thought the technical legal argument for the new
move was being overworked, and while having no objections to an out
and out revolutionary movement against Peking, thought that the time
for it had not yet come. They are counting on Chang Tso Lin's
attempting a monarchical restoration and think that the popular
revulsion against that move would create the opportune time for such a
movement as has now been prematurely undertaken. However in spite of
reports of open strife freely circulated by British and Peking
government newspapers, most of the opposition elements are now loyally
suppressing their opposition and supporting the government of Sun Yat
Sen. A compromise has been arranged by which the federal government
will confine its attention to foreign affairs, leaving provincial
matters wholly in the hands of Governor Chen and his adherents. There
is still room for friction however, especially as to the control of
revenues, since at present there are hardly enough funds for one
administration, let alone two.


The members of the new southern government are strikingly different in
type from those one meets elsewhere whether in Peking or the
provincial capitals. The latter men are literally mediaeval when they
are not late Roman Empire, though most of them have learned a little
modern patter to hand out to foreigners. The former are educated men,
not only in the school sense and in the sense that they have had some
special training for their jobs, but in the sense that they think the
ideas and speak the language current among progressive folk all over
the world. They welcome inquiry and talk freely of their plans, hopes
and fears. I had the opportunity of meeting all the men who are most
influential in both the local and federal governments; these
conversations did not take the form of interviews for publication, but
I learned that there are at least three angles from which the total
situation is viewed.

Governor Chen has had no foreign education and speaks no English. He
is distinctively Chinese in his training and outlook. He is a man of
force, capable of drastic methods, straightforward intellectually and
physically, of unquestioned integrity and of almost Spartan life in a
country where official position is largely prized for the luxuries it
makes possible. For example, practically alone among Chinese
provincial officials of the first rank he has no concubines. Not only
this, but he proposed to the provincial assembly a measure to
disenfranchise all persons who have concubines. (The measure failed
because it is said its passage would have deprived the majority of the
assemblymen of their votes.) He is by all odds the most impressive of
all the officials whom I have met in China. If I were to select a man
likely to become a national figure of the first order in the future,
it would be, unhesitatingly, Governor Chen. He can give and also
command loyalty--a fact which in itself makes him almost unique.

His views in gist are as follows: The problem of problems in China is
that of real unification. Industry and education are held back because
of lack of stability of government, and the better elements in society
seclude themselves from all public effort. The question is how this
unification is to be obtained. In the past it has been tried by force
used by strong individuals. Yuan Shi Kai tried and failed; Feng Kuo
Chang tried and failed; Tuan Chi Jui tried and failed. That method
must be surrendered. China can be unified only by the people
themselves, employing not force but the methods of normal political
evolution. The only way to engage the people in the task is to
decentralize the government. Futile efforts at centralization must be
abandoned. Peking and Canton alike must allow the provinces the
maximum of autonomy; the provincial capitals must give as much
authority as possible to the districts, and the districts to the
communities. Officials must be chosen by and from the local districts
and everything must be done to encourage local initiative. Governor
Chen's chief ambition is to introduce this system into Kwantung
province. He believes that other provinces will follow as soon as the
method has been demonstrated, and that national unity will then be a
pyramid built out of the local blocks.

With extreme self-government in administrative matters, Governor Chen
will endeavor to enforce a policy of centralized economic control. He
says in effect that the west has developed economic anarchy along with
political control, with the result of capitalistic domination and
class struggle. He wishes to avert this consequence in China by having
government control from the first of all basic raw materials and all
basic industries, mines, transportation, factories for cement, steel,
etc. In this way the provincial authorities hope to secure an equable
industrial development of the province, while at the same time
procuring ample revenues without resorting to heavy taxation. Since
almost all the other governors in China are using their power, in
combination with the exploiting capitalists native and foreign, to
monopolize the natural resources of their provinces for private
profit, it is not surprising that Governor Chen's views are felt to be
a menace to privilege and that he is advertised all over China as a
devout Bolshevist. His views have special point in view of British
efforts to get an economic stranglehold upon the province--efforts
which are dealt with in a prior chapter.

Another type of views lays chief stress upon the internal political
condition of China. Its adherents say in effect: Why make such a fuss
about having two governments for China, when, in point of fact, China
is torn into dozens of governments? In the north, war is sure to break
out sooner or later between Chang Tso Lin and his rivals. Each
military governor is afraid of his division generals. The brigade
generals intrigue against the division leaders, and even colonels are
doing all they can to further their personal power. The Peking
government is a stuffed sham, taking orders from the military
governors of the provinces, living only on account of jealousies among
these generals, and by the grace of foreign diplomatic support. It is
actually bankrupt, and this actual state will soon be formally
recognized. The thing for us to do is to go ahead, maintain in good
faith the work of the revolution, give this province the best possible
civil administration; then in the inevitable approaching débâcle, the
southern government will be ready to serve as the nucleus of a genuine
reconstruction. Meantime we want, if not the formal recognition of
foreign governments, at least their benevolent neutrality.

Dr. Sun still embodies in himself the spirit of the revolution of
1911. So far as that was not anti-Manchu it was in essence
nationalistic, and only accidentally republican. The day after the
inauguration of Dr. Sun, a memorial was dedicated to the seventy-two
patriot heroes who fell in an abortive attempt in Canton to throw off
the Manchu yoke, some six months before the successful revolt. The
monument is the most instructive single lesson which I have seen in
the political history of the revolution. It is composed of seventy-two
granite blocks. Upon each is engraved: Given by the Chinese National
League of Jersey City, or Melbourne, or Mexico, or Liverpool, or
Singapore, etc. Chinese nationalism is a product of Chinese migration
to foreign countries; Chinese nationalism on foreign shores financed
the revolution, and largely furnished its leaders and provided its
organization. Sun Yat Sen was the incarnation of this nationalism,
which was more concerned with freeing China--and Asia--from all
foreign domination than with particular political problems. And in
spite of the movement of events since that day, he remains essentially
at that stage, being closer in spirit to the nationalists of the
European irredentist type than to the spirit of contemporary young
China. A convinced republican, he nevertheless measures events and men
in the concrete by what he thinks they will do to promote the
independence of China from foreign control, rather than by what they
will do to promote a truly democratic government. This is the sole
explanation that can be given for his unfortunate coquetting a year
ago with the leaders of the now fallen Anfu Club. He allowed himself
to be deceived into thinking that they were ready to turn against the
Japanese if he would give them his support; and his nationalist
imagination was inflamed by the grandiose schemes of little Hsu for
the Chinese subjugation of Mongolia.

More openly than others, Dr. Sun admits and justifies the new southern
government as representing a division of China. If, he insists, it had
not been for the secession of the south in 1917, Japan would now be in
virtually complete control of all China. A unified China would have
meant a China ready to be swallowed whole by Japan. The secession
localized Japanese aggressions, made it evident that the south would
fight rather than be devoured, and gave a breathing spell in which
public opinion in the north rallied against the Twenty-one Demands and
against the military pact with Japan. Thus it saved the independence
of China. But, while it checked Japan, it did not checkmate her. She
still expects with the assistance of Chang Tso Lin to make northern
China her vassal. The support which foreign governments in general and
the United States in particular are giving Peking is merely playing
into the hands of the Japanese. The independent south affords the only
obstacle which causes Japan to pause in her plan of making northern
China in effect a Japanese province. A more than usually authentic
rumor says that upon the occasion of the visit of the Japanese consul
general to the new president (no other foreign official has made an
official visit), the former offered from his government the official
recognition of Dr. Sun as president of all China, if the latter would
recognize the Twenty-one Demands as an accomplished fact. From the
Japanese standpoint the offer was a safe one, as this acceptance of
Japanese claims is the one thing impossible to the new government. But
meantime the offer naturally confirms the nationalists of Dr. Sun's
type in their belief that the southern split is the key to maintaining
the political independence of China; or, as Dr. Sun puts it, that a
divided China is for the time being the only means to an ultimately
independent China.

These views are not given as stating the whole truth of the situation.
They are ex parte. But they are given as setting forth in good faith
the conceptions of the leaders of the southern movement and as
requiring serious attention if the situation of China, domestic and
international, is to be understood. Upon my own account, and not
simply as expressing the views of others, I have reached a conclusion
quite foreign to my thought before I visited the south. While it is
not possible to attach too much importance to the unity of China as a
part of the foreign policy of the United States, it is possible to
attach altogether too much importance to the Peking government as a
symbol of that unity. To borrow and adapt the words of one southern
leader, while the United States can hardly be expected to do other
than recognize the Peking as the de facto government, there is no need
to coddle that government and give it face. Such a course maintains a
nominal and formal unity while in fact encouraging the military and
corrupt forces that keep China divided and which make for foreign

In my opinion as the outcome of two years' observation of the Chinese
situation, the real interests of both China and the United States
would be served if, in the first place, the United States should take
the lead in securing from the diplomatic body in Peking the serving of
express notice upon the Peking government that in no case would a
restoration of the monarchy be recognized by the Powers. This may seem
in America like an unwarranted intervention in the domestic affairs of
a foreign country. But in fact such intervention is already a fact.
The present government endures only in virtue of the support of
foreign Powers. The notice would put an end to one kind of intrigue,
one kind of rumor and suspicion, which is holding industry and
education back and which is keeping China in a state of unrest and
instability. It would establish a period of comparative quiet in which
whatever constructive forces exist may come to the front. The second
measure would be more extreme. The diplomacy of the United States
should take the lead in making it clear that unless the promises about
the disbanding of the army, and the introduction of general
retrenchment are honestly and immediately carried out, the Powers will
pursue a harsh rather than a benevolent policy toward the Peking
government, insisting upon immediate payment of interest and loans as
they fall due and holding up the government to the strictest meeting
of all its obligations. The notification to be effective might well
include a virtual threat of withdrawal of recognition in case the
government does not seriously try to put its profuse promises into
execution. It should also include a definite discouragement of any
expenditures designed for military conquest of the south.

Diplomatic recognition of the southern government is out of the
question at present. It is not out of the question to put on the
financial screws so that the southern government will be allowed space
and time to demonstrate what it can do by peaceful means to give one
or more provinces a decent, honest and progressive civil
administration. It is unnecessary to enumerate the obstacles in the
way of carrying out such a policy. But in my judgment it is the only
policy by which the Great Powers will not become accomplices in
perpetuating the weakness and division of China. It is the most
straightforward way of meeting whatever plans of aggression Japan may

May, 1921.


Federalism in China

The newcomer in China in observing and judging events usually makes
the mistake of attaching too much significance to current happenings.
Occurrences take place which in the western world would portend
important changes--and nothing important results. It is not easy to
loosen the habit of years; and so the visitor assumes that an event
which is striking to the point of sensationalism must surely be part
of a train of events having a definite trend; some deep-laid plan must
be behind it. It takes a degree of intellectual patience added to time
and experience to make one realize that even when there is a rhythm in
events the tempo is so retarded that one must wait a long time to
judge what is really going on. Most political events are like daily
changes in the weather, fluctuations back and forth which may
seriously affect individuals but which taken one by one tell little
about the movement of the seasons. Even the occurrences which are due
to human intention are usually sporadic and casual, and the observer
errs by reading into them too much plot, too comprehensive a scheme,
too farsighted a plan. The aim behind the event is likely to be only
some immediate advantage, some direct increase of power, the overthrow
of a rival, the grasping at greater wealth by an isolated act, without
any consecutive or systematic looking ahead.

Foreigners are not the only ones who have erred, however, in judging
the Chinese political situation of the last few years. Beginning two
years ago, one heard experienced Chinese with political affiliations
saying that it was impossible for things to go on as they were for
more than three months longer. Some decisive change must occur. Yet
outwardly the situation has remained much the same not only for three
months but for two years, the exception being the overthrow of the
Anfu faction a year ago. And this occurrence hardly marked a definite
turn in events, as it was, to a considerable extent, only a shifting
of power from the hands of one set of tuchuns to another set.
Nevertheless at the risk of becoming a victim of the fallacy which I
have been setting forth, I will hazard the remark that the last few
months _have_ revealed a definite and enduring trend--that through the
diurnal fluctuations of the strife for personal power and wealth a
seasonal political change in society is now showing itself. Certain
lines of cleavage seem to show themselves, so that through the welter
of striking, picturesque, sensational but meaningless events, a
definite pattern is revealed.

This pattern is indicated by the title of this chapter--a movement
toward the development of a federal form of government. In calling the
movement one toward federalism, there is, however, more of a jump into
the remote future than circumstances justify. It would be more
accurate, as well as more modest, to say that there is a well defined
and seemingly permanent trend toward provincial autonomy and local
self-government accompanied by a hope and a vague plan that in the
future the more or less independent units will recombine into the
United or Federated States of China. Some who look far into the future
anticipate three stages; the first being the completion of the present
secessionist movement; the second the formation of northern and
southern confederations respectively; the third a reunion into a
single state.

To go into the detailed evidence for the existence of a definite and
lasting movement of this sort would presume too much on the reader's
knowledge of Chinese geography and his acquaintance with specific
recent events. I shall confine myself to quite general features of the
situation. The first feature is the new phase which has been assumed
by the long historic antagonism of the north and the south. Roughly
speaking, the revolution which established the republic and overthrew
the Manchus represented a victory for the south. But the
transformation during the last five years of the nominal republic into
a corrupt oligarchy of satraps or military governors or feudal lords
has represented a victory for the north. It is a significant fact,
symbolically at least, that the most powerful remaining tuchun or
military governor in China--in some respects the only powerful one who
has survived the vicissitudes of the last few years--namely Chang Tso
Lin, is the uncrowned king of the three Manchurian provinces. The
so-called civil war of the north and south is not, however, to be
understood as a conflict of republicanism located in the south and
militarism in the north. Such a notion is directly contrary to facts.
The "civil war" till six or eight months ago was mainly a conflict of
military governors and factions, part of that struggle for personal
power and wealth which has been going on all over China.

But recently events have taken a different course. In four of the
southern provinces, tuchuns who seemed all powerful have toppled over,
and the provinces have proclaimed or tacitly assumed their
independence of both the Peking and the former military Canton
governments--the province in which Canton situated being one of the
four. I happened to be in Hunan, the first of the southerly provinces
to get comparative independence, last fall, not long after the
overthrow of the vicious despot who had ruled the province with the
aid of northern troops. For a week a series of meetings were held in
Changsha, the capital of the province. The burden of every speech was
"Hunan for the Hunanese." The slogan embodies the spirit of two powers
each aiming at becoming the central authority; it is a conflict of the
principle of provincial autonomy, represented by the politically more
mature south, with that of militaristic centralization, represented by

As I write, in early September (1921), the immediate issue is obscured
by the fight which Wu Pei Fu is waging with the Hunanese who with
nominal independence are in aim and interest allied with the south.
If, as is likely, Wu Pei Fu wins, he may take one of two courses. He
may use his added power to turn against Chang Tso Lin and the northern
militarists which will bring him into virtual alliance with the
southerners and establish him as the antagonist of the federal
principle. This is the course which his earlier record would call for.
Or he may yield to the usual official lust for power and money and try
once more the Yuan Shi Kai policy of military centralization with
himself as head, after trying out conclusions with Chang Tso Lin as
his rival. This is the course which the past record of military
leaders indicates. But even if Wu Pei Fu follows precedent and goes
bad, he will only hasten his own final end. This is not prophecy. It
is only a statement of what has uniformly happened in China just at
the moment a military leader seemed to have complete power in his
grasp. In other words, a victory for Wu Pei Fu may either accelerate
or may retard the development of provincial autonomy according to the
course he pursues. It cannot permanently prevent or deflect it.

The basic factor that makes one sure that this trend toward local
autonomy is a reality and not merely one of those meaningless
shiftings of power which confuse the observer, is that it is in accord
with Chinese temperament, tradition and circumstance. Feudalism is
past and gone two thousand years ago, and at no period since has China
possessed a working centralized government. The absolute empires which
have come and gone in the last two millenniums existed by virtue of
non-interference and a religious aura. The latter can never be
restored; and every episode of the republic demonstrates that China
with its vast and diversified territories, its population of between
three hundred and fifty and four hundred million, its multitude of
languages and lack of communications, its enormous local attachments
sanctified by the family system and ancestral worship, cannot be
managed from a single and remote centre. China rests upon a network of
local and voluntary associations cemented by custom. This fact has
given it its unparallelled stability and its power to progress even
under the disturbed political conditions of the past ten years. I
sometimes think that Americans with their own traditional contempt for
politics and their spontaneous reliance upon self-help and local
organization are the ones who are naturally fitted to understand
China's course. The Japanese with their ingrained reliance upon the
state have continually misjudged and misacted. The British understand
better than we do the significance of local self-government; but they
are misled by their reverence for politics so that they cannot readily
find or see government when it does not take political form.

It is not too much to say that one great cause for the overthrow of
the Manchus was the fact that because of the pressure of international
relations they attempted to force, especially in fiscal matters, a
centralization upon the provinces wholly foreign to the spirit of the
people. This created hostility where before there had been
indifference. China may possibly not emerge from her troubles a
unified nation, any more than a much smaller and less populous Europe
emerged from the break-up of the Holy Roman Empire, a single state.
Indeed one often wonders, not that China is divided, but that she is
not much more broken up than she is. But one thing is certain.
Whatever progress China finally succeeds in making will come from a
variety of local centres, not from Peking or Canton. It will be
effected by means of associations and organizations which even though
they assume a political form are not primarily political in nature.

Criticisms are passed, especially by foreigners, upon the present
trend of events. The criticisms are more than plausible. It is evident
that the present weakness of China is due to her divided condition.
Hence it is natural to argue that the present movement being one of
secession and general disintegration will increase the weakness of the
country. It is also evident that many of China's troubles are due to
the absence of any efficient administrative system; it is reasonable
to argue that China cannot get even railways and universal education
without a strong and stable central government. There is no doubt
about the facts. It is not surprising that many friends of China
deeply deplore the present tendency while some regard it as the final
accomplishment of the long predicted breakup of China. But remedies
for China's ills based upon ignoring history, psychology and actual
conditions are so utopian that it is not worth while to argue whether
or not they are theoretically desirable. The remedy of China's
troubles by a strong, centralized government is on a par with curing
disease by the expulsion of a devil. The evil of sectionalism is real,
but since it is real it cannot be dealt with by trying a method which
implies its non-existence. If the devil is really there, he will not
be exorcized by a formula. If the trouble is internal, not due to an
external demon, the disease can be cured only by using the factors of
health and vigor which the patient already possesses. And in China
while these factors of recuperation and growth are numerous, they all
exist in connection with local organizations and voluntary
associations. The increasing volume of the cry that the "tuchuns must
go" comes from the provincial and local interests which have been
insulted and violated by a nominally centralized but actually chaotic
situation. After this negative work is completed, the constructive
rebuilding of China can proceed only by utilizing local interests and
abilities. In China the movement will be the opposite of that which
occurred in Japan. It will be from the periphery to the centre.

Another objection to the present tendency has force especially from
the foreign standpoint. As already stated, the efforts of the Manchu
dynasty in its latter days to enhance central power were due to
international pressure. Foreign nations treated Peking as if it were a
capital like London, Paris or Berlin, and in its efforts to meet
foreign demands it had to try to become such a centre. The result was
disaster. But foreign nations still want to have a single centre which
may be held responsible. And subconsciously, if not consciously, this
desire is responsible for much of the objection of foreign nationals
to the local autonomy movement. They well know that it is going to
take a long time to realize the ideal of federation, and meantime
where and what is to be the agency responsible for diplomatic
relations, the enforcing of indemnities and the securing of

In one respect the secessionist tendency is dangerous to China herself
as well as inconvenient to the powers. It will readily stimulate the
desire and ability of foreign nations to interfere in China's domestic
affairs. There will be many centres at which to carry on intrigues and
from which to get concessions instead of one or two. There is also
danger that one foreign nation may line up with one group of
provinces, and another foreign nation with another group, so that
international friction will increase. Even now some Japanese sources
and even such an independent liberal paper as Robert Young's Japan
Chronicle are starting or reporting the rumor that the Cantonese
experiment is supported by subsidies supplied by American capitalists
in the hope of economic concessions. The rumor was invented for a
sinister purpose. But it illustrates the sort of situation that may
come into existence if there are several political centres in China
and one foreign nation backs one and another nation, another.

The danger is real enough. But it cannot be dealt with by attempting
the impossible--namely checking the movement toward local autonomy,
even though disintegration may temporarily accompany it. The danger
only emphasizes the fundamental fact of the whole Chinese situation;
that its essence is time. The evils and troubles of China are real
enough, and there is no blinking the fact that they are largely of her
own making, due to corruption, inefficiency and absence of popular
education. But no one who knows the common people doubts that they
will win through if they are given time. And in the concrete this
means that they be left politically alone to work out their own
destiny. There will doubtless be proposals at the Pacific Conference
to place China under some kind of international tutelage. This chapter
and the events connected with the tendency which it reports will be
cited as showing this need. Some of the schemes will spring from
motives that are hostile to China. Some will be benevolently conceived
in a desire to save China from herself and shorten her period of chaos
and confusion. But the hope of the world's peace, as well as of
China's freedom, lies in adhering to a policy of Hands Off. Give China
a chance. Give her time. The danger lies in being in a hurry, in
impatience, possibly in the desire of America to show that we are a
power in international affairs and that we too have a positive foreign
policy. And a benevolent policy of supporting China from without,
instead of promoting her aspirations from within, may in the end do
China about as much harm as a policy conceived in malevolence.

July, 1921.


A Parting of the Ways for America


The realities of American policy in China and toward China are going
to be more seriously tested in the future than they ever have been in
the past. Japanese papers have been full of protests against any
attempt by the Pacific Conference to place Japan on trial. Would that
American journals were full of warnings that America is on trial at
the Conference as to the sincerity and intelligent goodwill behind her
amiable professions. The world will not stop with the Pacific
Conference; the latter, however important, will not arrest future
developments, and the United States will continue to be on trial till
she has established by her acts a permanent and definite attitude. For
the realities of the situation cannot be exhausted in any formula or
in any set of diplomatic agreements, even if the Conference confounds
the fears of pessimists and results in a harmonious union of the
powers in support of China's legitimate aspirations for free political
and economic growth.

The Conference, however, stands as a symbol of the larger situation;
and its decisions or lack of them will be a considerable factor in the
determination of subsequent events. Sometimes one is obliged to fall
back on a trite phrase. We are genuinely at a parting of the ways.
Even if we should follow in our old path, there would none the less be
a parting of the ways, for we cannot consistently tread the old path
unless we are animated by a much more conscious purpose and a more
general and intelligent knowledge of affairs than have controlled our
activities in the past.

The ideas expressed by an English correspondent about the fear that
America is soon to be an active source of danger in the Far East are
not confined to persons on foreign shores. The prevailing attitude in
some circles of American opinion is that called by President Hibben
cynical pessimism. All professed radicals and many liberals believe
that if our course has been better in the past it has been due to
geographical accidents combined with indifference and with our
undeveloped economic status. Consequently they believe that since we
have now become what is called a world-power and a nation which
exports instead of importing capital, our course will soon be as bad
as that of any of the rest of them. In some quarters this opinion is
clearly an emotional reaction following the disillusionments of
Versailles. In others, it is due to adherence to a formula: nothing in
international affairs can come out of capitalism and America is
emphatically a capitalistic country. Whether or not these feelings are
correct, they are not discussable; neither an emotion nor an absolute
formula is subject to analysis.

But there are specific elements in the situation which give grounds
for apprehension as to the future. These specific elements are capable
of detection and analysis. An adequate realization of their nature
will be a large factor in preventing cynical apprehensions from
becoming actual. This chapter is an attempt at a preliminary listing,
inadequate, of course, as any preliminary examination must be. While
an a priori argument based on a fatalistic formula as to how a
"capitalistic nation" must conduct itself does not appeal to me, there
are nevertheless concrete facts which are suggested by that formula.
Part of our comparatively better course in China in the past is due to
the fact that we have not had the continuous and close alliance
between the State Department and big banking interests which is found
in the case of foreign powers. No honest well-informed history of
developments in China could be written in which the Russian Asiatic
Bank, the Foreign Bank of Belgium, the French Indo-China Bank and
Banque Industrielle, the Yokohama Specie Bank, the Hongkong-Shanghai
Bank, etc., did not figure prominently. These banks work in the
closest harmony, not only with railway and construction syndicates and
big manufacturing interests at home, but also with their respective
foreign offices. It is hardly too much to say that legations and banks
have been in most important matters the right and left hands of the
same body. American business interests have complained an the past
that the American government does not give to American traders abroad
the same support that the nationals of other states receive. In the
past these complaints have centred largely about actual wrongs
suffered or believed to have been suffered by American business
undertakings carried on in a foreign country. With the present
expansion of capital and of commerce, the same complaints and demands
are going to be made not with reference to grievances suffered, but
with reference to furthering, to pushing American commercial interests
in connection with large banking groups. It would take a credulous
person to deny the influence of big business in domestic politics. As
we become more interested in commerce and banking enterprises what
assurance have we that the alliance will not be transferred to
international politics?

It should be noted that the policy of the open door as affirmed by the
great powers--and as frequently violated by them--even if it be
henceforth observed in good faith, does not adequately protect us from
this danger. The open door policy is not primarily a policy about
China herself but rather about the policies of foreign powers toward
one another with respect to China. It demands equality of economic
opportunity for different nations. Were it enforced, it would prevent
the granting of monopolies to any one nation: there is nothing in it
to render impossible a conjoint exploitation of China by foreign
powers, an organized monopoly in which each nation has its due share
with respect to others. Such an organization might conceivably reduce
friction among the great powers, and thereby reduce the danger of
future wars--as long as China herself is impotent to go to war. The
agreement might conceivably for a considerable time be of benefit to
China herself. But it is clear that for the United States to become a
partner in any such arrangement would involve a reversal of our
historic policy in the Far East. It might be technically consistent
with the open door policy, but it would be a violation of the larger
sense in which the American people has understood and praised that
ideal. He is blind who does not see that there are forces making for
such a reversal. And since we are all more or less blind, an opening
of our eyes to the danger is one of the conditions of its not being

One of the forces which is operative is indicated by the phrase that
an international agreement on an economic and financial basis might be
of value to China herself. The mere suggestion that such a thing is
possible is abhorrent to many, especially to radicals. There seems to
be something sinister in it. So it is worth explaining how and why it
might be so. In the first place, it would obviously terminate the
particularistic grabbing for "leased" territory, concessions and
spheres of influence which has so damaged China. At the present time,
the point of this remark lies in its implied reference to Japan, as at
one time it might have applied to Russia. Fear of Japan's aims in
China is not confined to China; the fear is widespread. An
international economic arrangement may therefore be plausibly
presented as the easiest and most direct method of relieving China of
the Japanese menace. For Japan to stay out would be to give herself
away; if she came in, it would subject Japanese activities to constant
scrutiny and control. There is no doubt that part of the fear of Japan
regarding the Pacific Conference is due to a belief that some such
arrangement is contemplated. The case is easily capable of such
presentation as to make it appeal to Americans who are really friendly
to China and who haven't the remotest interest in her economic

The arrangement would, for example, automatically eliminate the
Lansing-Ishii agreement with its embarrassing ambiguous recognition of
Japan's _special_ interests in China.

The other factor is domestic. The distraction and civil wars of China
are commonplaces. So is the power exercised by the military governors
and generals. The greater one's knowledge, the more one perceives how
intimately the former evil is dependent upon the latter. The financial
plight of the Chinese government, its continual foreign borrowings
which threaten bankruptcy in the near future, depend upon militaristic
domination and wild expenditure for unproductive purposes and squeeze.
Without this expense, China would have no great difficulty henceforth
in maintaining a balance in her budget. The retardation of public
education whose advancement--especially in elementary schools--is
China's greatest single need is due to the same cause. So is the
growth in official corruption which is rapidly extending into business
and private life.

In fact, every one of the obstacles to the progress of China is
connected with the rule of military factions and their struggles with
one another for complete mastery. An economic international agreement
among the great powers can be made which would surely reduce and
possibly eliminate the greatest evils of "militarism." Many liberal
Chinese say in private that they would be willing to have a temporary
international receivership for government finance, provided they could
be assured of its nature and the exact date and conditions of its
termination--a proviso which they are sensible enough to recognize
would be extremely difficult of attainment. American leadership in
forming and executing any such scheme would, they feel, afford the
best reassurance as to its nature and terms. Under such circumstances
a plausible case can be made out for proposals which, under the guise
of traditional American friendship for China, would in fact commit us
to a reversal of our historic policy.

There are radicals abroad and at home who think that our entrance into
a Consortium already proves that we have entered upon the road of
reversal and who naturally see in the Pacific Conference the next
logical step. I have previously stated my own belief that our State
Department proposed the Consortium primarily for political ends, as a
means of checking the policy pursued by Japan of making unproductive
loans to China in return for which she was getting an immediate grip
on China's natural resources and preparing the way for direct
administrative and financial control when the day of reckoning and
foreclosure should finally come. I also said that the Consortium was
between two stools, the financial and the political and that up to the
present its chief value had been negative and preventive, and that
jealousy or lack of interest by Japan and Great Britain in any
constructive policy on the part of the Consortium was likely to
maintain the same condition. I have seen no reason thus far to change
my mind on this point, nor in regard to the further belief that
probably the interests of China in the end will be best served by the
continuation of this deterrent function. But the question is bound to
arise: why continue the Consortium if it isn't doing anything? The
pressure of foreign powers interested in the exploitation of China and
of impatient American economic interests may combine to put an end to
the present rather otiose existence led by the Consortium. The two
stools between which the past action of the American government has
managed to swing the Consortium may be united to form a single solid

At the risk of being charged with credulous gullibility, or something
worse, I add that up to the present time the American phase of the
Consortium hasn't shown perceptible signs of becoming a club exercised
by American finance over China's economic integrity and independence.
I believe the repeated statements of the American representative that
he himself and the interests he represents would be glad if China
proved her ability to finance her own public utilities without
resorting to foreign loans. This belief is confirmed by the first
public utterance of the new American minister to China who in his
reference to the Consortium laid emphasis upon its deterrent function
and upon the stimulation it has given to Chinese bankers to finance
public utilities. And it is the merest justice to Mr. Stevens, the
American representative, to say that he represents the conservative
investment type of banker, not the "promotion" type, and that thus far
his great concern has been the problem of protecting the buyer of such
securities as are passed on by the banks to the ultimate investor--so
much so that he has aroused criticism from American business interests
impatient for speedy action. But there is a larger phase of the
Consortium concerning which I think apprehensions may reasonably be

Suppose, if merely by way of hypothesis, that the American government
is genuinely interested in China and in making the policy of the open
door and Chinese territorial and administrative integrity a reality,
not merely a name, and suppose that it is interested in doing so from
an American self-interest sufficiently enlightened to perceive that
the political and economic advancement of the United States is best
furthered by a policy which is identical with China's ability to
develop herself freely and independently: what then would be the wise
American course? In short, it would be to view our existing European
interests and issues (due to the war) and our Far Eastern interests
and issues as parts of one and the same problem. If we are actuated by
the motive hypothetically imputed to our government and we fail in its
realization, the chief reason will be that we regard the European
question and the Asiatic problem as two different questions, or
because we identify them from the wrong end.

Our present financial interest in Europe is enormous. It involves not
merely foreign governmental loans but a multitude of private advances
and commitments. These financial entanglements affect not merely our
industry and commerce but our politics. They involve much more
immediately pressing concerns than to our Asiatic relations, and they
involve billions where the latter involve millions. The danger under
such conditions that our Asiatic relations will be sacrificed to our
European is hardly fanciful.

To make this abstract statement concrete, the firm of bankers, J. P.
Morgan & Co., which is most heavily involved in European indebtedness
to the United States, is the firm which is the leading spirit in the
Consortium for China. It seems almost inevitable that the Asiatic
problem should look like small potatoes in comparison with the
European one, especially as our own industrial recuperation is so
closely connected with European relations, while the Far East cuts a
negligible figure. To my mind the real danger to set out upon selfish
exploitation of China: intelligent self-interest, tradition and the
fact that our chief asset in China is our past freedom from a
predatory course, dictate a course of cooperation with China. The
danger is that China will be subordinated and sacrificed because of
primary preoccupation with the high finance and politics of Europe,
that she will be lost in the shuffle.

The European aspect of the problem can be made more concrete by
reference to Great Britain in particular. That country suffers from
the embarrassment of the Japanese alliance. She has already made it
sufficiently clear that she would like to draw America into the
alliance, making it tripartite, since that would be the easiest way of
maintaining good relations with both Japan and the United States.
There is no likelihood that any such step will be consummated. But
British diplomacy is experienced and astute. And by force of
circumstances our high finance has contracted a sort of economic
alliance with Great Britain. There is no wish to claim superior virtue
for America or to appeal to the strong current of anti-British
sentiment. But the British foreign office exists and operates apart
from the tradition of liberalism which has mainly actuated English
domestic politics. It stands peculiarly for the _Empire_ side of the
British Empire, no matter what party is in the saddle in domestic
affairs. Every resource will be employed to bring about a settlement
at the Pacific Conference which, even though it includes some degree
of compromise on the part of Great Britain, will bend the Asiatic
policy of the United States to the British traditions in the Far East,
instead of committing Great Britain to combining with the United
States in making a reality of the integrity of China to which both
countries are nominally committed. It does not seem an extreme
statement to say that the immediate issues of the Conference depend
upon the way in which our financial commitments in Europe are treated,
either as reasons for our making concessions to European policy or on
the other hand as a means of securing an adherence of the European
powers to the traditional American policy.

A publicist in China who is of British origin and a sincere friend of
China remarked in private conversation that if the United States could
not secure the adherence of Great Britain to her Asiatic policy by
persuasion (he was deploring the Japanese alliance) she might do so by
buying it--through remission of her national debt to us. It is not
necessary to resort to the measure so baldly suggested. But the remark
at least suggests that our involvement in European, especially
British, finance and politics may be treated in either of two ways for
either of two results.


That the Chinese people generally speaking has a less antagonistic
feeling toward the United States than towards other powers seems to me
an undoubted fact. The feeling has been disturbed at divers times by
the treatment of the Chinese upon the Pacific coast, by the exclusion
act, by the turning over of our interest in the building of the
Peking-Canton (or Hankow) railway to a European group, by the
Lansing-Ishii agreement, and finally by the part played by President
Wilson in the Versailles decision regarding Shantung. Those
disturbances in the main, however, have made them dubious as to our
skill, energy and intelligence rather than as to our good-will.
Americans, taken individually and collectively, are to the Chinese--at
least such was my impression--a rather simple folk, taking the word in
its good and its deprecatory sense. In noting the Chinese reaction to
the proposed Pacific Conference, it was interesting to see the
combination of an almost unlimited hope that the United States was to
lead in protecting them from further aggressions and in rectifying
existing evils, with a lack of confidence, a fear that the United
States would have something put over on it.

Friendly feeling is of course mainly based upon a negative fact, the
fact that the United States has taken no part in "leasing"
territories, establishing spheres and setting up extra-national
post-offices. On the positive side stands the contribution made by
Americans to education, especially medical, and that of girls and
women, and to philanthropy and relief. Politically, there are the
early service of Burlinghame, the open door policy of John Hay (though
failure to maintain it in fact while securing signatures to it on
paper is a considerable part of the Chinese belief in our defective
energy) and the part played by the United States in moderating the
terms of the settlement of the Boxer outbreak, in addition to a
considerable number of minor helpful acts. China also remembers that
we were the only nation to take exception to the treaties embodying
the Twenty-one Demands. While our exception was chiefly made on the
basis of our own interests which these treaties might injuriously
affect, a sentiment exists that the protest was a pledge of assistance
to China when the time should be opportune for raising the whole
question. And without doubt the reservation made on May 16, 1915, by
our State Department is a strong card at the forthcoming Conference if
the Department wishes to play it.

From an American standpoint, the open door principle represents one of
the only two established principles of American diplomacy, the other
being, of course, the Monroe Doctrine. In connection with sentimental
or idealistic associations which have clustered about it, it
constitutes us in some vague fashion in both the Chinese and American
public opinion a sort of guardian or at least spokesman of the
interests of China in relation to foreign powers. Although, as was
pointed out in a former chapter, the open door policy directly
concerns other nations in their relation to China rather than China
herself, yet the violation of the policy by other powers has been so
frequent and so much to the detriment of China, that American
interest, prestige and moral sentiment are now implicated in such an
enforcement of it as will redound to the advantage of China.

Citizens of other countries are often irritated by a suggestion of
such a relationship between the United States and China. It presents
itself as a proclamation of superior national virtue under cover of
which the United States aims to establish its influence in China at
the expense of other countries. The irritation is exasperated by the
fact that the situation as it stands is an undoubted economic and
political asset of the United States in China. We may concede without
argument any contention that the situation is not due to any superior
virtue but rather to contingencies of history and geography--in which
respect it is not unlike many things that pass for virtues with
individuals. The contention may be admitted without controversy
because it is not pertinent to the main issue. The question is not so
much how the state of affairs came about as what it now is, how it is
to be treated and what consequences are in flow from it. It is a fact
that up to the present an intelligent self-interest of America has
coincided with the interests of a stable, independent and progressive
China. It is also a fact that American traditions and sentiments have
gathered about this consideration so that now there is widespread
conviction in the American people of moral obligations of assistance
and friendly protection owed by us to China. At present, no policy can
be entered upon that does not bear the semblance of fairness and
goodwill. We have at least so much protection against the dangers
discussed in the prior chapter.

Among Americans in China and presumably at home there is a strong
feeling that we should adopt for the future stronger and more positive
policies than we have maintained in the past. This feeling seems to me
fraught with dangers unless we make very clear to ourselves in just
what respects we are to continue and make good in a more positive
manner our traditional policy. To some extent our past policy has been
one of drifting. Radical change in this respect may go further than
appears upon the surface in altering other fundamental aspects of our
policy. What is condemned as drifting is in effect largely the same
thing that is also praised as non-interference. A detailed settled
policy, no matter how "constructive" it may appear to be, can hardly
help involving us in the domestic policies of China, an affair of
factions and a game which the Chinese understand and play much better
than any foreigners. Such an involvement would at once lessen a
present large asset in China, aloofness from internal intrigues and

The specific protests of Chinese in this country--mainly
Cantonese--against the Consortium seem to me mainly based on
misapprehension. But their _general_ attitude of opposition
nevertheless conveys an important lesson. It is based on a belief that
the effect of the Consortium will be to give the Peking government a
factitious advantage in the internal conflict which is waging in
China, so that to all intents and purposes it will mark a taking of
sides on our part. It is well remembered that the effect of the
"reorganization" loan of the prior Consortium--in which the United
States was _not_ a partner--was to give Yuan Shi Kai the funds which
seated him and the militarist faction after him, firmly in the
governmental saddle. Viewing the matter from a larger point of view
than that of Canton vs. Peking, the most fundamental objection I heard
brought by Chinese against the Consortium was in effect as follows:
The republican revolution in China has still to be wrought out; the
beginning of ten years ago has been arrested. It remains to fight it
out. The inevitable effect of increased foreign financial and economic
interest in China, even admitting that its industrial effect was
advantageous to China, would be to create an interest in _stabilizing_
China politically, which in effect would mean to sanctify the status
quo, and prevent the development of a revolution which cannot be
accomplished without internal disorders that would affect foreign
investments unfavorably. These considerations are not mentioned for
the sake of throwing light on the Consortium: they are cited as an
illustration of the probability that a too positive and constructive
development of our tradition of goodwill to China would involve us in
an interference with Chinese domestic affairs injurious to China's
welfare, to that free and independent development in which we profess
such interest.

But how, it will be asked, are we to protect China from foreign
depredations, particularly those of Japan, how are we to change our
nominal goodwill into a reality, if we do not enter much more positive
and detailed policies? If there was in existence at the present time
any such thing as a diplomacy of peoples as distinct from a diplomacy
of governments, the question would mean something quite different from
what it now means. As things now stand the people should profoundly
distrust the _politicians'_ love for China. It is too frequently the
reverse side of fear and incipient hatred of Japan, colored perhaps by
anti-British feeling.

There should be no disguising of the situation. The aggressive
activities of other nations in China, centering but not exhausted at
this time in Japan, are not merely sources of trouble to China but
they are potential causes of trouble in our own international
relationships. We are committed by our tradition and by the present
actualities of the situation to attempting something positive for
China as respects her international status, to live up to our
responsibility is a most difficult and delicate matter. We have on the
one side to avoid getting entangled in quasi-imperialistic European
policies in Asia, whether under the guise of altruism, of putting
ourselves in a position where we can exercise a more effective
supervision of their behavior, or by means of economic expansion. On
the other side, we have to avoid drifting into that kind of covert or
avowed antagonism to European and Japanese imperialism which will only
increase friction, encourage a combination especially of Great Britain
and Japan---or of France and Japan--against us, and bring war
appreciably nearer.

We need to bear in mind that China will not be saved from outside
herself. Even if by a successful war we should relieve China from
Japanese encroachments, from all encroachments, China would not of
necessity be brought nearer her legitimate goal of orderly and
prosperous internal development. Apart from the question of how far
war can now settle any fundamental issues without begetting others as
dangerous, China of all countries is the one where settlement by
force, especially by outside force, is least applicable, and most
likely to be enormously disserviceable. China is used to taking time
to deal with her problems: she can neither understand not profit by
impatient methods of the western world which are profoundly alien to
her genius. Moreover a civilization which is on a continental scale,
which is so old that the rest of us are parvenus in comparison, which
is thick and closely woven, cannot be hurried in its development
without disaster. Transformation from within is its sole way out, and
we can best help China by trying to see to it that she gets the time
she needs in order to effect this transformation, whether or not we
like the particular form it assumes at any particular time.

A successful war in behalf of China would leave untouched her problems
of education, of factional and sectional forces, of political
immaturity showing itself in present incapacity for organization. It
would affect her industrial growth undoubtedly, but in all human
probability for the worse, increasing the likelihood that she would
enter upon an industrialization which would repeat the worst evils of
western industrial life, without the immunities, resistances and
remedial measures which the West has evolved. The imagination cannot
conceive a worse crime than fastening western industrialism upon China
before she has developed within herself the meaning of coping with the
forces which it would release. The danger is great enough as it is.
War waged in China's behalf by western powers and western methods
would make the danger practically irresistible. In addition we should
gain a permanent interest in China which is likely to be of the most
dangerous character to ourselves. If we were not committed by it to
future imperialism, we should be luckier than we have any right to
hope to be. These things are said against a mental protest to
admitting even by implication the prospect of war with Japan, but it
seems necessary to say them.

These remarks are negative and vague as to our future course. They
imply a confession of lack of such wisdom as would enable me to make
positive definite proposals. But at least I have confidence in the
wisdom and goodwill of the American and other peoples to deal with the
problem, if they are only called into action. And the first condition
of calling wisdom and goodwill into effective existence is to
recognize the seriousness of the problem and the utter futility of
trying to force its solution by impatient and hurried methods.
Pro-Japanese apologetics is dangerous; it obscures the realities of
the situation. An irritated anti-Japanism that would hasten the
solution of the Chinese problem merely by attacking Japan is equally
fatal to discovering and applying a proper method.

More specifically and also more generically, proper publicity is the
greatest need. If, as Secretary Hughes has intimated, a settlement of
the problems of the Pacific is made a condition of arriving at an
agreement regarding reduction and limitation of armaments, it is
likely that the Conference might better never be held. In eagerness to
do something which will pass as a settlement, either China's--and
Siberia's--interests will be sacrificed in some unfair compromise, or
irritation and friction will be increased--and in the end so will
armaments. In any literal sense, it is ridiculous to suppose that the
problems of the Pacific can be settled in a few weeks, or months--or
years. Yet the discussion of the problems, in separation from the
question of armament, may be of great use. For it may further that
publicity which is a pre-condition of any genuine settlement. This
involves the public in diplomacy. But it also involves a wider
publicity, one which will enlighten the world about the facts of Asia,
internal and international.

Scepticism about Foreign Offices, as they are at present conducted, is
justified. But scepticism about the power of public opinion, if it can
be aroused and instructed, to reshape Foreign Office policies means
hopelessness about the future of the world. Let everything possible be
done to reduce armament, if only to secure a naval holiday on the part
of the three great naval powers, and if only for the sake of lessening
taxation. Let the Conference on Problems devote itself to discussing
and making known as fully and widely as possible the element and scope
of those problems, and the fears--or should one call them hopes?--of
the cynics will be frustrated. It is not so important that a decision
in the American sense of the Yap question be finally and forever
arrived at, as it is that the need of China and the Orient in general
for freer and fuller communications with the rest of the world be made
clear--and so on, down or up the list of agenda. The commercial open
door is needed. But the need is greater that the door be opened to
light, to knowledge and understanding. If these forces will not create
a public opinion which will in time secure a lasting and just
settlement of other problems, there is no recourse save despair of
civilization. Liberals can do something better than predicting failure
and impugning motives. They can work for the opened door of open
diplomacy, of continuous and intelligent inquiry, of discussion free
from propaganda. To shirk this responsibility on the alleged ground
that economic imperialism and organized greed will surely bring the
Conference to failure is supine and snobbish. It is one of the factors
that may lead the United States to take the wrong course in the
parting of the ways.

October, 1921.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "China, Japan and the U.S.A. - Present-Day Conditions in the Far East and Their Bearing on the Washington Conference" ***

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