National Geographic : 1947 Mar
In Manchuria Now BY W. ROBERT MOORE With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author "' TE'VE a buggy ride for you," said an American colonel at Executive SHeadquarters in Peiping. "There's a special flight going up to Manchuria to morrow. Can you be at the airport by 6 o'clock in the morning?" I could-and was there early. Long after V-J Day, Manchuria was still in turmoil. It had felt the shock of not only one war, but two. In the final days before Japan had sued for peace, the Soviet Union had unleashed a swift attack against Japanese forces stationed here. Then, following the long-delayed Soviet with drawal, both Nationalist and Communist-led Chinese armies had moved in and were chal lenging each other's right to rule these rich northern provinces (page 401). Among the American officers with whom I was to fly north, some were assigned to the task of assisting in evacuating Japanese civil ians back to their defeated homeland. Others were members of a "truce team" to help super vise the fulfillment of cease-fire orders that had been issued to the rival Chinese forces. An Earlier "Mukden Incident" War is not new to Manchuria. I had been in this land beyond the Great Wall just before one other war. Only days before the "Muk den Incident" started, I had ridden over the rails that the Chinese were accused of blowing up on the evening of September 18, 1931, to give Japan her excuse for the conquest of Manchuria and establishment of the puppet State of Manchukuo. Often in the past, warring armies have rocked this "cradle of conflict." From here rose wild Tatar tribes who set up Asian em pires centuries before the American continents were even known. From hereabouts, too, rose the hard-riding Mongols, whose hoofbeats not only shook Asia but made Europe quake. Right at our take-off at the Peiping airport we had a quick glimpse of still another chapter of bygone Manchurian history. Circling for height, we wheeled over the onetime Summer Palace of "Old Buddha," Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi, colorful figure of the Ching, or Manchu, dynasty. Early-morning sunlight flashed on its elabo rate courts, pavilions, temples, and limpid man-made lake. A "woman's $50,000,000 whim" it has been called, but the money which Old Buddha diverted from the Chinese Navy for its building gave Japan one of its first expansion victories in Manchuria and China in 1894-5. Below us, a few moments later, slipped the maze of glittering golden-tiled roofs of the moat-encircled Forbidden City in the heart of Imperial Peking.* Here, from the Dragon Throne within its stately halls, Manchu emperors ruled all China for more than two and a half centuries. Here, too, they grew soft and decadent in luxury and intrigue and finally fell when the pitiful boy-emperor Henry Pu Yi was ousted by republican revolutionaries in 1912. It was this same Pu Yi whom fate overtook the second time after Japanese overlords of Manchuria had reseated him on the throne in the land of his ancestors. The Great Wall from the Air Flying northeastward toward Mukden, we passed high over the mountain barrier that shuts off Manchuria and Jehol Province from North China (map, page 393). Atop its rugged crests I spotted the winding ribbon of the Great Wall, upon which for centuries the Chinese had relied without success to stave off invasions from the north.t Then came the plains, a vast expanse of rolling land patterned with fertile farms. To Mukden, later to Szepingkai, and on to Chang chun we rode above a panorama which, save for the smaller size of the farms, reminded me of our own Middle West. Fifteen years before when I visited Man churia I had seen hordes of peasants from China flocking into this land of plenty. Quit ting crowded Shantung and Hopeh, they had surged northward by steamer, by sailing junks, and by railway. Some even trekked the long, dusty land trail on foot. In the 1920's this mass migration of colo nists into the wide, fertile Manchurian plains * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "The Glory That Was Imperial Peking," by W. Robert Moore, June, 1933; "Approach to Peiping," by Maj. John W. Thomason, Jr., February, 1936; "Peking, the City of the Unexpected," by James Arthur Muller, November, 1920; "Peiping's Happy New Year," by George Kin Leung, December, 1936; "Peacetime Plant Hunting About Peiping," by P. H. and J. H . Dorsett, October, 1937. t See "A Thousand Miles Along the Great Wall of China," by Adam Warwick, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1923.