File No. 893.51/1743


The Japanese Ambassador called upon the Secretary of State and said that the British Ambassador had mentioned to him a conversation with the Secretary relating to cooperation between Americans and Japanese in loans and industrial enterprises in China.

In reply to an inquiry from the Japanese Ambassador the Secretary stated that the American Government was not opposed to cooperation between Americans and Japanese in China provided the parties interested desired to cooperate, that the United States had no political ambitions in the Far East and therefore had no reason to oppose such cooperation. He stated furthermore that the American Government welcomed such cooperation when free from political designs because it tended to the promotion of international friendship. Where cooperation, however, was sought to promote political objects it rather tended to arouse suspicion than to promote friendship.

One thing, the Secretary said, the American Government could not approve—that was the coercion of China.

The conversation was frank and friendly upon both sides.

The Ambassador inquired about the proposal to cooperate in railway building in Manchuria.

The Secretary replied that the Ambassador mast be aware that the American Government recognized that Japan had special interests in Manchuria. Although no declaration to that effect had been made by the United States yet this Government had repeatedly shown a practical recognition of the fact and did not desire to do anything there to interfere with Japan’s interests.

“But,” asked the Ambassador, “was not the proposal made by the American Minister in Peking?” The Secretary said he did not know of it. “Was it not done then in accordance with instructions from the Department of State?” asked the Ambassador. The Secretary said that he did not recollect any such instruction.13

The Secretary called the attention of the Ambassador in this connection to the difference between Manchuria, where Japan’s special interests were conceded, and Shantung where no such special interest was recognized.

The Japanese Ambassador said that Germany had claimed special interests in Shantung. The Secretary replied that the United States had never recognized such claim.

The Ambassador then asked what the attitude of this Government was towards the suggested cooperation of American bankers with the Consortium (the international group that made the Reorganization Loan of 1913).

The Secretary said that he could not approve such cooperation for the reason that it appeared to be a political combination interfering [Page 118] with China’s sovereign rights. He believed that generally speaking international cooperation in China was a good thing but it should be free from political motives.

  1. Comment by E. T. W., Division of Far Eastern Affairs: No such instruction was given, but in a recent telegram, concerning the Japanese protest against the American contract to improve the Grand Canal in Shantung, the American Minister at Peking was instructed that the Department saw no objection to cooperation between Americans and Japanese elsewhere, provided China were willing, but that the American Government considered the improvement of the Grand Canal an exceptional undertaking that should remain solely American—referring to its connection with the famine relief scheme of the American Red Cross. It is presumed that the American Minister, acting upon this suggestion, may have proposed as an alternative to participation in canal improvement the cooperation in Manchuria. As a matter of fact, however, the cooperation in railway building in Manchuria has been discussed previously by Mr. Straight and the Japanese interested.