Charles Huntziger

Huntziger, Charles

French general (1880-1941). Autograph letter signed ("Huntziger"). Tien-Tsin [Tianjin]. 8vo. 7¼ pp. on bifolia. In French.
$ 3,801 / 3.500 € (95335/BN62778)

Long and highly interesting letter to the historian Hélène de Reinach-Foussemagne (1860-1942) with an analysis of the political situation in China during the Warlord Era and particularly of the Shanghai massacre of 1925 that had sparked the anti-imperialist May Thirtieth Movement. - Huntzinger first congratulates his correspondent on her 1925 biography of Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico, then remarks that he has now spent a year in China as commander of the French concession in Tianjin, a year that passed with "unprecedented speed" due to the political instability of the country.

According to Huntzinger, ever since the ruinous Second Zhili-Fengtian War (September to November 1924) the "situation remained worrying" as the warlords and provincial governments, called Tuchuns, continued to recruit soldiers and stock arsenals, triggering a spiral of escalation: "When they have their army, they naturally want to extend their domination; combinations precede the struggle, betrayals hasten its outcome. Such is the normal rhythm!" More worrying still, from a European colonial perspective, is the "veritable explosion of xenophobic sentiment that has stirred up the whole of China" in the wake of the "Shanghai incidents of this year" - a reference to violence against protesting and striking Chinese workers and students in the British-dominated Shanghai International Settlement. Although this "xenophobic sentiment" was mostly levelled at the British, who "in many respects treat China as a British colony", and thus affected especially the vital port of Hong Kong, Huntzinger warns of schadenfreude "because what affects them today is likely to affect us tomorrow". Particularly alarming to Huntzinger is the growing Soviet influence in China: "Let us not forget, in fact, that the Soviets, who know Asia better than we do, are building up a well-stocked propaganda machine in China, both in terms of men and of money, and are finding it an ideal breeding ground. They have emissaries everywhere. Canton, that revolutionary hotbed so dangerous to our Indo-China, belongs to them; Borodin rules there. Everywhere they preach and organize the crusade against foreigners". - Mikhail Borodin was sent to Guangzhou (Canton), along with his secretary Ho Chi Minh, by the Comintern as an advisor to Sun Yat-sen, based on the agreements of the Sun-Joffe Manifesto of 1923. He successfully negotiated the First United Front between Sun's Kuomintang and the nascent Chinese Communist Party, probably saving the faltering government from collapse. For Huntzinger, worried about French Indochina, the Soviets acted in direct continuation of Tsarist expansionism, inevitably leading to confrontations with the British, French, and Japanese: "Out with the foreigners! We'll replace them in the Far East! is their motto. Only impenetrable Japan is likely to give Moscow a hard time, as it has no intention of being ousted from either Manchuria or North China. But there is plenty of room for two...". - On headed stationery of the Colonel Commandant of the "Corps Français d'Occupation de Chine". Date stamped on receipt ("3 Oct 1925") at upper left-hand corner of first page. Very slightly soiled..

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