PART II -The Tour of the Delegation in China

AuthorChamberlam, Austen


(1) SHANGHAI, TIEN-TS'I AND PERING The chairman of the delegation (the Viscount Willmgdon) left England on the 15th January, a fea days m advance of his two Blitish colleagues Arrivng at Shanghai by the 'Empress of Asia' on the 24th February, he and Lady Willngdon were met there by Dr Hu Shih (one of the three Chinese delegates) and by Mr R F Johnston, secretary to the delegation, and received a most courteous welcome, not only from His Majesty's consul-general (Mr S Barton, C M G ) and his staff, but also from the local Chinese officials and from representative British and Chinese re3idents During the next few days the party was hospitably entertained by the Chinese Commissoner for Foreign Affairs, by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and others, and left Shanghai on the 28th m the Customs cruiser 'Hai Hsing' as the guests of Sir Francis Aglen, Inspector-General of Customs At Tien-tsm, which was reached on the 3rd March, Lord Wdlmngdon met for the first time Dr V K Ting, one of the Chinese delegates On the following day he left for Peking, after the damage done by a bomb exploson 4n the lne had been repaired, and arrived there at midday His Majesty's Mnister, Sir Ronald Macleay, met the tram on its arnval

at the capital and presented Dr C C Wang, the third of the Chinese delegates The next few days were mainly occupied with official visits So far there was very little on the surface to indicate that civil war was threatening the capital, and when Lord Wilhngdon paid visits of ceremony to the Chief Executive (Marshal Tuan Ch'l-jui) and the Minister of Communications (Kung Hsm-chan) there was no outward sign that the Government was tottering to its fall Although the delegation was not yet complete, and had not begun to hold formal sittings, a good deal of preliminary work was done m Shanghai Tien-tsm and Peking, and many interviews were held with persons who had suggestions or recommendations to put forward with regard to the disposal of the Indemnity funds The chairman found time to make a careful study of the Chihh River Conservancy question, and at Peking he was entertained by a society which had been brought into being for the express purpose of advocating the application of the funds to the construction of railways This was the first indication that Young China was not desirous of devoting the money exclusively to education for It is a significant fact that most of the members of this large and influential society belonged to the class known as 'returned students,' and were already among the leaders of enlightened public opinion i the Chinese capital The enthusiasm of these young men for railways must have been very genume, for it seemed to be in no way damped by the fact that even when they were advocating, m Peking an immediate application of Indemnty funds to railway construction, one of the principal railways m the country-that which connects the capital with its port, Tien-tsn-was operating so spasmodically that it had already ceased to be a trustworthy means of communication A few days later it entered upon a penod of total quiescence (so far as passenger traffic was concerned), mhich did not terminate until, several weeks later, the warring generals had transferred their battlefields to another region Fortunately for the membeis of the delegation who were m Peking, the Minister of Communcations had not yet lost all control of this railway and its rollngstock As trains at this time, however, were liable to be six to ten hours late (on a journey that usually occupies about three hours m all), he was thoughtful enough to provide a special tram to convey Lord Wlllmgdon and his party back to Tien-tsm Had their departure been delayed a few days longer it might have been impossible for them to leave Peklng for several weeks, for evdn the motor-road had fallen into a state of shocking disrepair, and travellers by road were frequently held up and occasionally fired upon by bands of irresponsible soldiers The special tram reached Tien-tsm, only an hour late, on the evening of the 10th March Having come suceessfaly through the penis of a railway journey in what was practically a battle zone, the delegates were a little disconcerted by the nformatin that as fighting was in progress m the neighbourhood of the Tku Forts (where the ships of Marshal Chang Tao-lm were trying to cover

landing opelations m the face of the opposition of the so-called People's Army), and as mines had been laid at the mouth of the Hai Ho, no merchant ships could either go out or come m As the delegates were anxious to return to Shanghai as soon as possible to meet their colleagues who had already arrived from rngland, this was bad news Fortunately, however, the fighting generals and admirals were persuaded to stop the war for a few hours to enable Lord Willmgdon and his party to leave for the south They accordingly embarked on the ' Kapmng ' early on the morning of the 11th The party consisted of Lord and Lady Willmgdon,

Dr V K Ting, Di C C Wang and Mr Johnston and they were accompanied as far as the Taku Bar (beyond the mouth of the river) by His Majesty's consul-general, Mr W P Ker Nothing unusual took place except that the ship was stopped and searched by the agents of the People's Aimv What thev were searching for was not clearly stated The real sufferers from these continuous civil wars whlch have been devastating parts of China dunmg the last decade are the toiling inarticulate farmers who constitute nearly 80 per cent of the population of this vast country Thev are deserving of a better fate than that which has them now m its grip for thev are among the finest peasantry in the world, and have done nothing to bring upon themselves the miseres and disasters that would have driven them to despair long ago had they not been sustained hi their own patience and courage Those whose homes and farmsteads are in the great plains of Chihh and other central provinces and in thP valleys and estuaries of some of China's insubordinate rivers are in the worst situation of all for it is not only civil war, the ceaseless exactions of tyrannous militarists and the rapacity and savagery of their ill-dsciplined soldiery that bring ruin to their lives and...

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