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Progressive Have Upper Hand in Chinese Intestinal Conflict

Roots Tells Political Issues Which Have Cloven China Into Warring Factions


"The present Civil War in China is the first example of the genuine article since the expulsion of the Manchus in 1911," stated J. M. Roots '25 in an interview, with a CRIMSON representative yesterday.

Roots has just returned to Cambridge from his home in Hankow, China, in order to attend the Episcopal Theological School. He is a former CRIMSON editor and has been connected with instruction work in Chinese schools during the past year. He spent the last summer, in Peking and Canton, the respective centers of the warring factions and returned through Soviet Russia to this country.

"The people of China are for the most part exhausted and annoyed by the political unrest that has torn the provinces for the last 15 years," continued Roots, "and the Civil War is an attempt to settle once and for all the bickering between the politicians. The South of China has arrayed itself against the North. The Progressives are opposed to the Conservatives.

Sun Yat-Sen Prime Mover

"The two factions are almost exact opposites. The Cantonese in the South were first organized by the great leader, Sun Yat-Sen. He possessed the ambition to make every Chinese man, woman, and child politically conscious. His task was almost inconceivable to the Western mind. China for 2000 years had been steeped in the Confucian doctrine that 'people can be made to follow but not to know why', and during the Manchu dynasty the notice was posted in tea-houses the country over--'Don't talk politics'.

"Man is by nature a political animal' might have done for the Greeks but not for the Chinese. It was Sun Yat-Sen's task, and is now that of the Canton 'Nationalists', to make this saying apply in contemporary China.

"The Cantonese have always been the most progressive people in China, forming an independently-minded commercial and industrial class in the South, which in 1918 definitely separated from Peking. Under Sun Yat-Sen's leadership these people managed to make their revolution a reality. When their hero died in 1925, the Cantonese carried on his policies. Since Sun Yat-Sen's death, the Southern faction has succeeded in forging their own province into the only real government in China, and two months ago their Revolutionary Army captured by force of arms the three great industrial cities of Central China--Hankow, Hanyang, and Wuchang.

Cantonese on Top

"Today, the Canton Progressives, or Nationalists, whose political driving force is the Kuo-Min-Tang or 'People's Party', are in possession of nearly a third of China. They have succeeded more than any previous ruling group in subordinating the military to the civil departments. Their general, Chiang Kai-shek has proved himself a tactician and politician of rare ability. He has unified a 'solid South' to combat the Northern militarists and to espouse the cause of reform.

"The Northern supporters, on the other hand, are reactionaries. All the Chinese Conservatives, monarchists, and oligarchs have allied themselves in the face of the Cantonese threat. The insurgent generals and their bandit chiefs have cast aside their differences. The armies of the Peking government are composed of a dozen different and unrelated factions, whose only common motive is the resistance of reform.

"In the present death-struggle between Conservative North and Progressive South there is something of the religious fervor of Cromwell's Ironsides, traces of the Liberty, Equality, Fraternity of the Jacobins, oven a hint of the class war of Marx and Lenin. Among the ranks of the Chinest revolutionaries are also certain men suggesting the drill commanders employed by our own patriots of '76, only instead of French and German military experts, the Southern Chinese have chosen instructors and advisers from Soviet Russia.

"In fact the Chinese Revolution of 1926 reminds one of England in 1642, France in 1789, Russia in 1917, any, in short, of Europe's great social or political upheavals. It is a real civil war based on a major issue that transcends for the time being all individual interests. The ultimate question to be decided is whether the Chinese people will continue to allow a handful of scheming politicians and ambitious war-lords to keep them in a state of civil bondage or whether they will embrace the comprehensive program of reform offered by the Cantonese.

"Ever since the foundation of the Republic, 15 years ago last October 10th, the problem of unification has been a thorn in the flesh of patriotic Chinese. China has been divided laterally by the Progressive and Conservative factions, sectionally by rival generals, each with his sphere of influence, his private ambitions, and his protestations of 'loyalty to the Constitution'. Each militarist has made the national chaos an excuse for 'punitive expeditions' against his opponents, while foreign powers have seen in China's disorder a sound reason for declining to treat her as an equal in the family of nations.

"It was in order to unite the people of the provinces that the Canton Revolutionary troops started their campaign against the North last July. They have not yet succeeded in their purpose. They may never succeed. But the Nationalist Government rules at present over a larger area than has any single military or political unit in recent years. The secret of its success is the enthusiastic support of the people.

"Usually, the Chinese countryside has no enthusiasm for the 'cause' of any army. The provincial war-lords carry on their operations at the expense of and therefore in spite of the people, and with the notable exception of Feng's Christian Army, never with their willing support. In Canton, during my three weeks' visit, things were very different. Parades, mass-meetings, continual rounds of demonstration revealed the interest of the city population in the approaching expedition against the North. Members of the labor unions and the Hongkong strikers volunteered for service with the army. The merchants and people of Canton had just over-subscribed a $5,000,000 loan to the Nationalist Government without security other than the word of the officials. In the North soldiers have to be impressed for service and loans are obtained only by offering as security some foreign-controlled enterprise like the railways, or customs.

"General Feng, the Christian who is now allied with the Cantonese, said recently. 'I think the power of the Nationalist armies and the secret of their steadfastness in conflict with superior forces is that they are bound up with the people and are fighting for the national cause.'

"This statement makes clear the fact that the people in the present Civil War realize the issues they are fighting for and are eager to re-establish national unity. Whatever the immediate result of the struggle, there remains the fact that the Nationalist movement has awakened the political consciousness of an important part of this mighty nation of 400,000,000 people.

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