CHINA: Bandits, Continued

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Developments of the week in the "bandit story":

1) Serious talk of foreign (American) monetary and military intervention to rescue the prisoners. This is inadvisable except as a last resort because:

a) It will lift responsibility from the Peking Government.

b) It is likely to boom the bandit business.

2) The Governor of Shantung, old-timer Tien, piqued by the failure of his negotiations, attacked the bandit mountain. Shots were fired, lives lost. Tien would like to get credit for settling the affairs, as otherwise he may be made the official goat.

3) There have been at least three new attempts to derail the Peking-Shanghai train de luxe.

4) Two theories, not entirely different, are aired:

a) The bandit raid was part of a huge political plot to make Marshal Tsao Kun (Tsau Kwen) dictator of China. Tsao, an aristocrat, was to play Mussolini au Chinois.

b) Japan.

5) The President of the United States and his Secretary of State refused to become excited. Most observers believe that the prisoners will come out little the worse for Chinese diet. Melodramatic utterances are to be found only in a few organs — like the Chicago Tribune.

Pao-Tzu-Ku is a steep and cloudswept mountain, whose summit has for centuries been a bandit lair. It is near Tsao-Chwang (Zau-jwang), a petty town in southern Shantung, and travelers know that Tsao-Chwang is as famous for its good-humored bandits as its neighboring Chü-fu is sacred for its associations with Confucius. Spring is the bandit season. After a bitter winter and before the summer crops are edible, the bandits take to the adventurous road.

The bandits of Mount Paotzuku were reenforced this year by unpaid mercenaries who deserted from various "war-lords," and by some of the 200,000 Shantung coolies who served as hod-carriers in France. And their methods were brought up to date by one of the soldiers who had seen a wild west moving picture.

Politically all that can be safely said is that the bandit affair may bring on the annual crisis in Peking. Possibly it may arouse the merchants of China to greater political activity through the merchant-guilds, which, beginning with the economic boycott of Japan in 1919, have been developing a national economic consciousness. They expressed themselves in newly formed Chambers of Commerce. China needs more business men in politics, more education everywhere, less foreign intrigue.