HC Deb 19 March 1928 vol 215 cc11-2
37. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state briefly what is the present military and political situation in China?

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)

The Fourth Plenary Session of the Kuomintang was held at Nanking from the 3rd to the 8th of February with the object of reconciling the various factions and reorganising the Nationalist administration. As a result, there were formed a government council of 49 members and a standing committee of five with Tan Yen-kai as chairman, and a military council of 73 and a standing committee of 12 with Chiang-Kai-shek as chairman. Various ministerial changes were effected, the principal one being the replacement of Dr. C. C. Wu as Minister for Foreign Affairs by Mr. Huang Fu. The situation in mid-China continues very unsettled, and there are no signs of the healing of the breach between Wuhan and Nanking. Efforts were made to put in Tan Yen-kai as head of the civil administration, but the Wuhan party declined to receive him. It was also proposed to organise from Hupeh and Hunan a fourth unit for the northern campaign under this leader, but the attempt had to be abandoned, and His Majesty's Consul-General at Hankow reports that Nanking appears to have given up hope of enlisting support from that region. On the 10th of March the Consul-General at Hankow reported a serious Communist rising in Hunan, where Communists had occupied Liling. A regiment of Cheng Chien's troops sent to suppress them mutinied and joined the Communists, and there was fear that other troops of the same command sent for this purpose would also prove unreliable. The Report further stated that Changsha was a hot-bed of Communism and that Hankow was also badly infected and that, in spite of almost daily raids and executions, the authorities did not feel secure, while in the country districts of Hupeh almost complete anarchy prevailed. The renewed northern campaign was to have opened on the 15th of March with a combined offensive by Chiang Kai-shek, Feng Yu-hsiang and Yen Hsi-shan, but, although General Chiang is reported to have left for the Front, no great activity has been shown by these commanders, each of whom has apparently been waiting for his allies to strike the first blow. According to a Report just received, a severe defeat has been inflicted on Feng Yu-hsiang by the northern forces.