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- The Fight For The Republic In China - 40/86 -


are not of one mind and that troubles are to be apprehended, has lately forced England and Russia to take part in tendering advice to China. In truth, all foreign nations know perfectly well that there will be no trouble, and they are obliged to follow the example of that power. If we accept the advice of other Powers concerning our domestic affairs and postpone the enthronement, we should be recognizing their right to interfere. Hence action should under no circumstance be deferred. When all the votes of the provinces unanimously recommending the enthronement shall have reached Peking, the Government will, of course, ostensibly assume a wavering and compromising attitude, so as to give due regard to international relations. The people, on the other hand, should show their firm determination to proceed with the matter at all costs, so as to let the foreign powers know that our people are of one mind. If we can only make them believe that the change of the republic into a monarchy will not in the least give rise to trouble of any kind, the effects of the advice tendered by Japan will ipso facto come to nought.

At present the whole nation is determined to nominate Yuan Shih- kai Emperor. All civil and military officers, being the natural leaders of the people, should accordingly give effect to the nomination. If this can be done without friction, the confidence of both Chinese and foreigners in the Government will be greatly strengthened. This is why we suggested to you in a previous telegram the necessity of immediately substituting the title of "Emperor" for "President." We trust you will concur in our suggestion and carry it out without delay.

We may add that this matter should be treated as strictly confidential.

A reply is requested.

(Signed)

The die now being cast all that was left to be done was to rush through the voting in the Provinces. Obsequious officials returned to the use of the old Imperial phraseology and Yuan Shih-kai, even before his "election," was memorialized as though he were the legitimate successor of the immense line of Chinese sovereigns who stretch back to the mythical days of Yao and Shun (2,800 B.C.). The beginning of December saw the voting completed and the results telegraphed to Peking; and on the 11th December, the Senate hastily meeting, and finding that "the National Convention of Citizens" had unanimously elected Yuan Shih-kai Emperor, formally offered him the Throne in a humble petition. Yuan Shih-kai modestly refused: a second petition was promptly handed to him, which he was pleased to accept in the following historic document:

YUAN SHIH-KAI's ACCEPTANCE OF THE IMPERIAL THRONE

The prosperity and decline of the country is a part of the responsibility of every individual, and my love for the country is certainly not less than that of others. But the task imposed on me by the designation of the millions of people is of extraordinary magnitude. It is therefore impossible for one without merit and without virtue like myself to shoulder the burdens of State involved in the enhancing of the welfare of the people, the strengthening of the standing of the country, the reformation of the administration and the advancement of civilization. My former declaration was, therefore, the expression of a sincere heart and not a mere expression of modesty. My fear was such that I could not but utter the words which I have expressed. The people, however, have viewed with increasing impatience that declaration and their expectation of me is now more pressing than ever. Thus I find myself unable to offer further argument just as I am unable to escape the position. The laying of a great foundation is, however, a thing of paramount importance and it must not be done in a hurry. I, therefore, order that the different Ministries and Bureaux take concerted action in making the necessary preparations in the affairs in which they are concerned; and when that is done, let the same be reported to me for promulgation. Meanwhile all our citizens should go on peacefully in their daily vocations with the view to obtain mutual benefit. Let not your doubts and suspicions hinder you in your work. All the officials should on their part be faithful at their posts and maintain to the best of their ability peace and order in their localities, so that the ambition of the Great President to work for the welfare of the people may thus be realized. Besides forwarding the memorial of the principal representatives of the Convention of the Representatives of Citizens and that of the provinces and special administrative area to the Cheng Shih Tang and publishing the same by a mandate, I have the honour to notify the acting Li Fan Yuan as the principal representatives of the Convention of the Representatives of Citizens, to this effect.

Cautious to the end, it will be seen that Yuan Shih-kai's very acceptance is so worded as to convey the idea that he is being forced to a course of action which is against his better instincts. There is no word of what came to be called the Grand Ceremony i. e. the enthronement. That matter is carefully left in abeyance and the government departments simply told to make the necessary preparations. The attitude of Peking officialdom is well-illustrated in a circular telegram dispatched to the provinces three days later, the analysis of Japan's relationship to the Entente Powers being particularly revealing. The obsequious note which pervades this document is also particularly noticeable and shows how deeply the canker of sycophancy had now eaten in.

CODE TELEGRAM DATED DECEMBER 14, 1915, FROM THE OFFICE OF COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE LAND AND NAVAL FORCES, RESPECTING CHINA'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS FOREIGN NATIONS

To the Military and Civil Governors of the Provinces:--(To be deciphered with the Hua Code)

On the 11th inst. the acting Legislature Council submitted a memorial to the Emperor, reporting on the number of votes cast by the people in favour of a monarchy and the letters of nomination of Yuan Shih-kai as Emperor received from all parts of the country, and begged that he would ascend the Throne at an early date. His Majesty was, however, so modest as to decline. The Council presented a second memorial couched in the most entreating terms, and received an order to the effect that all the ministries and departments were to make the necessary preparations for the enthronement. The details of this decision appeared in the Presidential Orders of the past few days, so need not be repeated now.

The people are unanimously of the opinion that in a republic the foundation of the state is very apt to be shaken and the policy of the government to be changed; and that consequently there is no possibility of enjoying everlasting peace and prosperity, nor any hope for the nation to become powerful. Now that the form of the state has been decided in favour of a monarchy and the person who is to sit on the Throne agreed upon, the country is placed on a secure basis, and the way to national prosperity and strength is thus paved.

Being the trustworthy ministers and, as it were, the hands and feet of His Majesty, we are united to him by more ties than one. On this account we should with one mind exert our utmost efforts in discharging our duty of loyalty to the country. This should be the spirit which guides us in our action at the beginning of the new dynasty. As for the enthronement, it is purely a matter of ceremony. Whether it takes place earlier or later is of no moment. Moreover His Majesty has always been modest, and does everything with circumspection. We should all appreciate his attitude.

So far as our external relations are concerned, a thorough understanding must be come to with the foreign nations, so that recognition of the new regime may not be delayed and diplomatic intercourse interrupted. Japan, has, in conjunction with the Entente Powers, tendered advice to postpone the change of the Republic into an empire. As a divergence of opinion exists between Japan and the Entente Powers, the advice is of no great effect. Besides, the Elders and the Military Party in Japan are all opposed to the action taken by their Government. Only the press in Tokyo has spread all sorts of threatening rumours. This is obviously the upshot of ingenious plots on the part of irresponsible persons. If we postpone the change we shall be subject to foreign interference, and the country will consequently cease to exist as an independent state. On the other hand, if we proclaim the enthronement forthwith, we shall then be flatly rejecting the advice,--an act which, we apprehend, will not be tolerated by Japan. As a result, she will place obstacles in the way of recognition of the new order of things.

Since a monarchy has been decided to be the future form of the state, and His Majesty has consented to accept the Throne, the change may be said to be an accomplished fact. There is no question about it. All persons of whatever walk of life can henceforth continue their pursuits without anxiety. In the meantime we will proceed slowly and surely with the enthronement, as it involves many ceremonies and diplomatic etiquette. In this way both our domestic and our foreign policies will remain unchanged.

We hope you will comprehend our ideas and treat them as strictly confidential.

(Signed) Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Force.

After this one last step remained to be taken--it was necessary to burn all the incriminating evidence. On the 21st December, the last circular telegram in connection with this extraordinary business was dispatched from Peking, a delightful naivete being displayed regarding the possibility of certain letters and telegrams having transgressed the bounds of the law. All such delinquencies are to be mercifully wiped out by the simple and admirable method of invoking the help of the kitchen-fires. And in this appropriate way does the monster-play end.

CODE TELEGRAM DATED DECEMBER 21, 1915, FROM THE NATIONAL CONVENTION BUREAU, ORDERING THE DESTRUCTION OF DOCUMENTS CONNECTED WITH THE ELECTIONS

To the Military and Civil Governors of the Provinces, the Military Commissioners at Foochow and Kweiyang; the Military Commandants at Changteh, Kweihuating, and Kalgan; and the Commissioner of Defence at Tachienlu:--

(To be deciphered with the Hua Code)

The change in the form of the state is now happily accomplished. This is due not only to the unity of the people's minds, but more especially to the skill with which, in realizing the object of saving the country, you have carried out the propaganda from the


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