File No. 793.94/637a
Washington, November 22, 1917, 5 p.m.
On November 12 the Chinese Minister left with me a declaration of his Government concerning the American-Japanese exchange of notes of November 2, as follows: [Quotes declaration of the Chinese Government, printed ante.]
For your information I made substantially the following comment thereon to the Minister: There was no thought or intention to bind China; for that reason I had refrained from consulting him while the negotiations were pending; knowledge of negotiations pending and failure to object before completion might really have bound China; our friendship for China unchanged but the financing of the present war prevented large independent investments in China and made inadvisable attempts to secure such investments by financial competition with Japan; China could not longer, because of those conditions, continue to play the United States against Japan in the matter of such investments; that we were still anxious to manifest our friendship by aiding China financially; which, however, was possible only by some arrangement for cooperation with Japan thereby preventing Japan’s sole appropriation of the Chinese investment field; assumed China preferred us to join with Japan rather than to leave China to that country alone.
He asked what “special interests” meant. I said it was the statement of an axiom; that it was a statement which could not be successfully denied and could be universally applied and that, in view o declaration in last clause of note signed by Ishii, it was advantageous to China for both Governments declared themselves opposed it “any government” infringing China’s independence and territorial integrity, a declaration which applied to the parties to the understanding as well as to others; that such a bargain seemed decidedly in China’s favor; further in reply to his inquiry I stated I believed phrase “territorial propinquity” applied alike to Japan, Russia, France and England and that China might also apply it.
Further, that I believed Chinese Government had acted wisely in presenting memorandum above but that no reservation or caveat could change the natural consequence of propinquity.
Repeat to Peking.