Sih-Gung Cheng.

Modern China, a political study online

. (page 3 of 28)
Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 3 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


dition of peace, and elected General Li Yiian-hung, then
Vice-President of the Republic, as their President. For
this deadlock, Providence found a solution by calling Yiian
Shih-k'ai to heaven. His death in June 191 6 put an end
to the civil struggle, and General Li Yiian-hung succeeded
him in accordance with the Constitution.

The Provisional Constitution proclaimed at Nanking in
1912 and abrogated by Yiian Shih-k'ai was restored, and
the dissolved Parliament once more convoked, in August
1916. The problem of a permanent Constitution was again
brought up for discussion in the lower house, and the Radical
members still insisted on making the legislature all-powerful
and the executive insignificant. The Prime Minister,
General Tuan Ch'i-jui, though he disliked Parliament, was
at first conciliatory ; but by June 191 7, when the proposed
Constitution was on the point of completion, the conflict
between him and Parliament became critical.

General Tuan Ch'i-jui, who had determined on war with
Germany, requested Parliament to sanction his policy, but
the House of Representatives passed a resolution to the
effect that while it was willing to consider the declaration
of war, it would refuse to discuss the matter until the
Cabinet had been reconstructed. The President, acting in
conformity with the spirit of the House, dismissed the
Prime Minister ; but his dismissal was immediately followed
b)- a revolt of several provincial governors who supported



26 Political Situation since 191 1

him. An independent Government was formed in Tientsin,
and provincial troops threatened to march on the capital.
The President, surrounded by more enemies than friends,
called to his help General Chang Hsiin, then commander
of the army in Northern Kiangsu. General Chang's first
demand, as a condition of settlement with the prov'inces in
revolt, was the dissolution of Parliament, to which the
President was forced to agree, though he was convinced that
his action was unconstitutional.

On July 2, 191 7, Chang Hsiin knocked at the door of the
Imperial Palace, and suddenly put the Manchu Emperor
on the throne without the previous knowledge or consent
of the Imperial family. The Dragon flag was once again
hoisted in Peking and the Imperial titles were restored.
The President fled as a refugee to the Japanese Legation
and the troops of General Chang Hsiin occupied the Temple
of Heaven.

General Tuan Ch'i-jui was reappointed Prime Minister
by the President, who also ordered the Vice-President in
Nanking, General Feng Kuo-chang, to act in his capacity
ad interim. General Tuan led an army to attack Peking, and
in five days' time, after some shelling and bombing of the
Palace from aeroplanes, the Imperialists surrendered, and
General Chang Hsiin fled to the Dutch Legation, where he
still remains at the time of writing.

General Li Yiian-hung now resigned the Presidency,
because, in his own words, he had already suffered a great
humiliation by being forced to dissolve Parliament, and had
now fallen into the trap planned by General Chang, whose
mediation he had asked to help him in quelling the revolt.
General Feng Kuo-chang came to Peking to assume office, and
a new Cabinet under General Tuan Ch'i-jui was constituted.



The Revolution 27

When General Tuan Ch'i-jui was dismissed in June, the
governors of four southern provinces, Kwangtung, Kwangsi,
Yunnan, and Kweichou, supported the President and
charged the Prime Minister with inciting the Northern
governors to insurrection in order to coerce the President
and Parliament. On his resumption of office, the South
demanded that Parliament should meet and consider his
reappointment. To this demand General Tuan has not
agreed. A new Parliament has been summoned on a new
election law drafted by a nominative council ; and this
Parliament has even elected a President for the second
Presidential term of the Republic, the first term being filled
by three different persons. In the next section I shall
explain the causes of the war that is now going on between
North and South and the measures that I think necessary
for its termination.

Reviewing the history of China for the past seven years,
I am convinced that the Revolution of 19I1 is not yet over ;
and it is therefore premature to consider whether it has
been a success or a failure. So far, the Revolution of China,
unlike that of Russia or France, has not been followed by
a reign of terror ; and the immunity from this greater
disaster should console the country for the trouble arising
from instability of government and constant petty warfare.
In spite of her internal chaos, her trade has steadily increased
during the last seven years ; and to-day her financial credit
stands higher than ever in European markets. Her com-
mercial prosperity is explained by the fact that the mass
of the Chinese who till the soil and transport goods are
not at all affected by the disturbances, except those in the
fighting areas, which extend over less than one-fiftieth part
of the whole country. The Government may change, both



28 Political Situation since 191 1

in form and in personnel, but the habits of industry and
toil possessed by the Chinese will remain unaltered. The
indifference of the people to political affairs prevents them,
on the one hand, from being useful citizens of a modern
democracy, but, on the other, it maintains social stability
against political disturbance. The future of China depends
upon a trainiHg of her inhabitants that will enable them to
carry on their government free from any exploitation by
political adventurers. We may hope that with the develop-
ment of popular education in the country and with increasing
contact with the West, she will eventually pass through her
transitional stage with safety, and that the ship of State
will be steered out of torrential and dangerous waters into
the smooth and open sea.

§ 2. North mid South

In examining the political differences between the North
and South, it will be necessary to understand their historical
distinction.

The civilization of China begins in the North-western
corner of the Empire now occupied by the provinces of
Shansi and Shensi. In 2200 b.c, when Emperor Yii began
to map the Empire, the dominion of the Chinese throne
did not extend south of the Yellow River. His successors
extended their dominions farther south, but up to the
time of Confucius, 550 b.c, the Empire was still bounded
on the South by the Yangtze River and the regions beyond
it were considered by the inhabitants of the North as
unhealthy and barbarous. At that time, it was not the
Yangtze River, as it is at present, that divided the North
from the South, but the Yellow River, the cradle of
Chinese civilization.



North and South ' 29

The first Emperor of the Ch'in dynasty (221-209 b.c),
with his undaunted energy and strong will, extended his
dominions first to the provinces immediately south of the
Yangtze and then to the Gulf of Hainan in the present
French colony of Tongking. The less civilized tribes,
which inhabited the Southern regions, were subjugated and
ultimately assimilated Chinese culture and thought ; and the
districts conquered were reorganized in administration and
ruled directly by his iron hand from the capital at Si-an-fu,
Military ge;iius and success qualified this first Emperor to
be the real and effective ruler over a very vast dominion,
and brought him to the same height of glory and power as
that attained by Caesar or Bonaparte. From this time
onwards, the North and the South of China were changed
and enlarged in extent ; the dividing line was no longer
the sandy and shallow Yellow River, but the Yangtze-
kiang, which is navigable all the year round and passes through
the most fertile and most productive districts of China.

Throughout almost all the civil wars that have taken
place since the death of the first Emperor, the Yangtze
River has been strategically important ; and the distinction
between the North and the South has become politically
significant. In 221 to 265 a.d., China was divided into
a northern and a southern Kingdom with the Yangtze as
the boundary ; and a third Kingdom, the western, occupied
the source of the river in the province of Szechuan. In
the subsequent years till the foundation of the dynasty of
T'ang (a.d. 618-907) China had been divided into many
rival Kingdoms, the most important of which were, however,
those ruled by the Northern and the Southern dynasties.

The Sung dynasty (960-1127), which succeeded the
T'ang, was much troubled by the invasions of the Kitans,



30 Political Situation since 191 1

the Nuchcns, and the Mongols from the North ; and
a Southern Sung Empire (11 27-1 280) was established with
its capital in Hangchow, when the invading army of the
Golden Hordes had occupied the whole of the northern
plain and captured the capital at Kai-fong-fu. The naval
defence on the Yangtze secured to this Empire a few years'
precarious existence, but the loss of the river to the enemy
brought it to an end. When the Manchus conquered the
North of China in the middle of the seventeenth century
(1644), the South rallied to the falling dynasty of Ming
and defied the Manchu authority for many years before it
was pacified and united to the North.

From what has been said, it will be seen that the North
is more liable to attack from the barbarians outside the.
Great Wall, and the South has therefore often become
a rallying ground for those loyal to the reigning authority.
Free from invasions, the South has developed a literature
and an art even more exquisite and beautiful than those
of the North, from which it received its original civilization.

During the Manchu reign, the South was subject to
further influences, which did not affect the North. The
Southern Chinese were born sailors, filled with the spirit
of adventure. Early in the seventeenth century, they
came into contact with the Portuguese and the Spaniards,
who were then the greatest seafaring peoples in the world.
They imparted to the Southern Chinese foreign concep-
tions of a far wider range than those of the secluded North.
Trade with aliens was viewed with suspicion and contempt
by most people in the North, but practised in the South
with enthusiasm. The nations of the South, among whom
the Cantonese were the leading spirits, showed themselves
adaptable to new situations and began to master the art



North and Sotdh 31

of scientific navigation and the western method of com-
merce. To put the psychological difference between the
peoples of the North and of the South in general terms,
it may be said that the former excel in patience, in caution,
and in deliberation, while the latter are unsurpassed in the
spirit of adventure, in pushfulness, and in resource.

The difference in psychology has perhaps, to a certain
extent, been produced by the difference in climate. The
northern climate is of two extremes — intensely cold in
winter and intensely hot in summer, but it is warm all the
year round in most of the southern provinces. The northern
soil is less fertile because the seasonal rainfall is less plentiful.
In consequence, much wheat but little rice is grown, and
wheat is the staple food in the North just as rice is in the
South. Before the opening of the Imperial Canal which
connected Chekiang with Chili, rice was as scarce in the
North as it was plentiful in the South. Even at the present
day, when communication between the North and the
South, both by land and by sea, is much more convenient
than that in former times, rice is still considered a delicacy
in the North, and is only consumed by the well-to-do.
By the poor, it is considered a more extravagant form of
food than wheat, and less nourishing.

The South has been a manufacturing district since ancient
times, while the North has, till quite recently, remained
agricultural and pastoral. The embroidery, the gorgeous
silk, the magnificent porcelain — all are the produce of the
South, In the North, the produce has been that of a nomad
people — skins, hides, and wool. The exchange of com-
modities between the North and the South has taken place
since early periods, but, apart from a handful of dealers
and business men, the two peoples did not come into contact



32 Political Situation since 191 1

with each other till comparatively recent times. The
vastness of territory and the difficulty of communication
have made it almost inevitable that the North and the South
should have each cultivated its own customs and habits.
Travel was difficult ; newspapers did not exist. Postal
service was primitive ; pilgrimages were few. Under such
circumstances, it was only natural that with the advance
of time the North and the South should have differed
from each other in political thought and in social outlook.

In spite of these divergent forces there is, however,
a single centripetal force which has held the other forces in
control. Before its conquest by the North in the third
century b.c, the South had developed no civilization of its
own. Historians record that its people were then in painted
costumes and wore their hair dishevelled.^ They may have
developed a spoken language, but there is no mention of
their having possessed any system of writing.

The total absence of any preconceived notions facilitated
the flow of Northern civilization into the South. The
ideographic language soon became universal in the South
as well as in the North, and a uniform system of morality
'was introduced and observed throughout the length and
breadth of the Empire. Confucian classics were studied
and preached by scholars in the two halves of the country,
and the classical examination was opened to all candidates
alike, irrespective of the districts where they were born or
brought up. The ceremony of Heaven-worship was per-
formed by the Sovereign for all his subjects, and ancestor-
worship was universally believed in and practised. Above
all, one and the same written language in every corner of

^ The Analects oj Confucius, chapter i8. Legge, supra cit., vol. i,
p. 146.



North and South 33

the Empire produced a unifying effect stronger than any-
thing else.

The benefits due to uniformity of language and civiliza-
tion have, however, been much imperilled by the difference
in Northern and Southern dialects. The natives of the
North could hardly speak to those of the South except by
writing, and writing alone is no easy way of promoting
mutual understanding.

Other causes, too, have been at work to keep the peoples
apart both before and during the Revolution. Those of
the South, especially the Cantonese, owing to their greater
facilities for coming into contact with Europeans through
travel and commerce, have been much more vividly
impressed with the need of introducing Western methods
into the Chinese political regime. The Cantonese were
the first to go abroad to study in Western universities, and
were the first to propagate revolutionary ideas and to
organize revolutionary movements. During the progress of
the Revolution, the South fought for the Republican cause
with determination and of their own will, but many
Northern provinces remained loyal to the Imperial Govern-
ment, and those which severed their allegiance to it were
prompted to do so more by the motive of escaping the
attacks of the Revolutionists than by any sympathy with
them. The North was by no means unresponsive to the
introduction of reforms, and in fact, in the few years pre-
ceding the Revolution, it had witnessed marvellous strides
in modern industry and education, thanks to the exertions
of several enlightened and capable Viceroys ; but it had no
faith in violence and bloodshed, which were characteristic
of the Revolutionists.

The cleavage was also widened by the difference in army

1832.13 jj



34 Political Situation since igii

organization. When the Manchu Government began its
miHtary reform, the Northern province of Chili, under the
Viceroyalty of Yiian Shih-k'ai, was the first to drill its
troops with European officers, to equip them with European
arms, and to supply them with modern mechanical appli-
ances. This army was the pioneer of China's new army,
and is still its model, but it did not develop into a national
force. It has become the army of the North, and the
Southern provinces have armies of their own, equipped by
their own arsenals, and supported by their own finance.
It is true that all the provincial armies are under the control
of the Ministry of War, but the Northern and the Southern
armies have never developed that spirit of comradeship
towards each other which should prevail in a national
force.

During the Revolution, the Southern army threw in its
lot with the Revolutionists, but the Northern was loyal
to the Imperial Government and fought for the Imperial
cause. The rank and file of the Northern army showed
little sympathy with revolutionary doctrines. They would
have fought their opponents to the bitter end, had the
Imperial Government not consented to accept peace.

With the installation of Yiian Shih-k'ai, the creator of
the Northern army, as the President of the Republic, the
Southern army was to a large extent disbanded in pursuance
of his policy of national economy. But at the same time
he reinforced the Northern army with new recruits, with
improved munitions, and also with increased financial
support. To the Southern provinces, the loyalty of which
to his Government he had reasons to suspect, he dispatched
some picked regiments of the Northern army, which he
could trust. The open revolt of the South in 191 3 gave



North and South 35

him the opportunity, long desired, of pouring his own
troops into the provinces which had hitherto been the
stronghold of the Revolutionists ; and the suppression of
the revolt marked the triumph of his policy that peace
should be maintained by the sword, and that the unity of
the country should be secured by destroying his opponents.
Throughout the whole country, provincial governorships
A'ere placed in the hands of his lieutenants with armies
ander their command ; and, through them, he made his
jrders obeyed and his instructions accepted in the pro-
vinces. Attempts at raising a revolt against him were
immediately crushed, and tranquillity was thus maintained
in the country for three or four brief years, with occasional,
but not serious, interruptions.

This policy has survived his death. General Tuan
Ch'i-jui, one of his picked lieutenants trained in his school,
became Prime Minister in the next Government. By follow-
ing the example of his master in distributing provincial
governorships among his Northern military colleagues, and
stationing Northern troops in the South, he endeavoured
to avoid internal insurrection and to exact allegiance from
all the provinces. But the resentment of the Southern
Constitutionalists against his autocratic rule grew and made
itself felt. When Parliament was in session they made
most strenuous efforts to thwart the policy of the Prime
Minister, and to check the authority of provincial governors.
Parliamentary tactics were fully employed to control and,
finally, to overthrow the Cabinet of General Tuan Ch'i-jui.
With his fall, the Northern governors revolted against
Parliament.

General Tuan, though supported by nearly all the
Northern governors, was opposed by several in the South,

D 2



36 Political Situation since 1911

where he had failed to establish his authority and influence.
When the North revolted, the South, including the pro-
vinces of Kwantung, Kwangsi, Kweichou, and Yunnan,
declared itself loyal to the President and Parliament accord-
ing to the Constitution.

The policy of the North was outlined by the Prime
Minister as follows :

' I hope to unite and pacify the country by the aid of
my Northern colleagues. . . . The policy of attacking the
South and the South-West is only adopted because the
Government, in recent years, has exhausted its wisdom and
ability in meeting parliamentary tumults and has been sick
of party compromise. . . . Looking around the country,
I find that only the real force of the Northern mihtarists
can save and protect the country, and enforce the law. . . ,
The break-up of the Northern military party will be
introductory to the break-up of our country, and the
extinction of the force of the North will be an omen of
the extinction of China as an independent state.'

On the other hand, the indictment of the South against
the North was clearly stated by Dr. Wu Ting-fang, one of
its prominent leaders, in the following terms :

' Northern soldiery have been sent to Southern provinces
to overawe the people with the mailed fist when it is
notorious that the people distrust and fear the strange
soldiers. Such stationing of troops reminds one of the
procedure that conquerors adopt towards vanquished
nations and subject races. Where their military power is
insufficient to permit of this, . . . they do not hesitate to
commission a man with a bloody record to lead several
thousand undisciplined hordes to burn and pillage through-
out the provinces, and, as if that were not enough, to let
loose the local brigands for this purpose by furnishing them
with arms and bribes. They know no law save their own
interest. They acknowledge no authority save force. The



North and South 37

highest institutions in the land, Constitution, Parhament,
President, are nothing to them. , . .'

The absence of discipline in the Northern army has, it is
true, led to the sacking and plundering by its troops of
many towns which they have captured from the Southern
army, or through which they have passed en route to the
field. But these outrages are committed, not from the
motive of hatred against the South, but merely from the
desire of getting booty with which to enrich themselves.
This is clearly proved by the fact that, in the course of
their looting, they make no discrimination between Northern
and Southern property.

The North, commanding a greater part of the wealth and
resources of the country, is undoubtedly better equipped
as a fighting unit ; and, having at its service a better
trained army and holding in its hands the machinery of the
Central Government, it is certainly in a position to subdue
the South. But the North is itself divided. The President
(Feng Kuo-chang) and the Prime Minister (General
Tuan Ch'i-jui, now recalled), though both members of the
Northern military party, differ from each other in their
policy towards the South. The former advocates con-
ciliation, and finds his supporters in the governors of the
Central provinces in the Yangtze valley, while the latter is
a champion of suppression, and finds his supporters in the
North. The difference, though it appears to be one of
policy, has a more subtle psychological cause.

The President, a militarist from the North, can hardly
be expected to be in sympathy with the South, but in the
North his power and authority are overshadowed by those
of the Prime Minister, whose leadership is recognized by
all Northern governors. In course of time, if the Prime



38 Political Situation since 191 1

Minister triumphs in his military scheme, the President
will probably be relegated to a feeble and ignominious
position, and will most likely lose the post of Chief Magis-
trate, to which he has only recently been raised, and in
which he desires to remain.^ To strengthen his own
position and to check the increasing power and prestige of
the Prime Minister, he deems it wise to disapprove of the
military policy of the Cabinet. The three Yangtze pro-
vinces, Hupeh, Kiangsu, and Kiangsi, in which his supporters
hold sway, are strategically important to the military
operations of the North ; and by refusing a free passage to
the attacking troops they could hamper their advance and
subject them to great inconvenience in the matter of
supplies and communications. The reverses recently
suffered by the Northern troops in the province of Hunan
were largely due to interruptions of their transport and
interference with their movements in the provinces which
did not co-operate with them in their military enterprise.

The President has, however, so far failed to make his
followers equal in influence and power to those of the
Prime Minister, and there is reason to believe that he has
surrendered himself to the policy of his rival. The sur-
render is perhaps beneficial to the country, as a twofold
division is certainly less perilous than a threefold. But it
does not follow that the North becomes united.

The Prime Minister relies for support on the Northern



Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 3 of 28)