The Minister in China ( Reinsch ) to the Secretary of State

D. No. 2342

Sir: I have the honor to report concerning preparations on the part of the Chinese Government for the coming Peace Conference and to lay before you certain considerations regarding the same.

His Excellency, Lu Cheng-hsiang, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has, been appointed as the head of the Chinese delegation. With him there are to act the present Chinese Ministers to the United States, to Great Britain, and to France; and Mr. Sunchow Wei, formerly Chinese Minister at The Hague. It is probable that an additional diplomat, someone from among the Southern leaders, will be appointed. Among the secretaries and attachés are Dr. Hawkling L. Yen, a graduate of Columbia University, and Captain Ken Wang, a graduate of Princeton University and West Point.

About three weeks ago a member of the Foreign Office called on me and reported the substance of the desiderata of the Chinese Government which he stated had also been telegraphed to the Chinese Minister at Washington with a view to communicating them informally to yourself. The desiderata were arranged under three headings: Territorial [Page 492] Integrity, Restoration of Sovereignty, and Economic Freedom; they include the following:

Under the first heading, the restoration to China of the foreign urban concessions and leased territories;

Under the second heading, the abolition of the restrictions imposed upon China by the Protocol of 1901,4 particularly the withdrawal of the foreign troops from China; and the abolition of consular jurisdiction in China;

Under the third heading, the granting of complete tariff autonomy.

Being asked for my opinion on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I stated that it was but natural for the Chinese Government to aspire to such restorative and liberating action as detailed in the above program. However, in proposing action to be taken at the Conference, the elements of the present international situation and particularly of that in which China finds herself must be carefully considered. I then expressed myself in substance as follows:

The Peace Conference will concern itself, in the first place with the settlement of matters relating to the war. On this score, the Chinese Government would desire to have adjusted such matters as damages for the destruction of Chinese lives on the seas, the proper disposal and adjustment of previous German rights and interests in China, as well as matters growing out of the un-neutral use of Chinese railways by Germany, and the participation of China in the Siberian expedition. These matters have already been discussed and are in the minds of the Chinese delegation.

But when we come to the desiderata as expressed by the Chinese Government in the program mentioned above, we enter upon the second phase of the work of the Peace Conference. It is my belief that it would be wise for the Chinese Government to avoid any attitude which would imply that it has a right to make certain demands or to ask for compensations. Even those Powers which have made the greatest sacrifices in this war do not propose to obtain for themselves advantages as a compensation for what they have contributed—each question is to be settled on its own inherent merits.

It appears to me that the situation in China will be taken up not with the view of rewarding the Chinese Government for its participation in the war, but as a part of the second great object of the Peace Conference; namely, the establishment of such principles and the creation of such institutions as will assure the development of peaceful life and prevent the recurrence of a situation which would bring about again a catastrophe such as we have just experienced. The Chinese Government can, therefore, best contribute to the work of the Conference by viewing its own situation from the vantage ground of the general interests of humanity and civilization. In coming before the Conference, indeed as a loyal associate deserving of friendly consideration, but also as one who is threatened in her own territory and national life to become the object of ambitions and [Page 493] rivalries like those which have brought about the present war and which must at every cost be made impossible if the world is to have peace,—China will have the best chance of obtaining that attention which her situation urgently requires.

The great peril of China lies in the localized preferences or spheres of influence which divide foreign action and policy in China and which threaten to develop rapidly into causes of the most serious friction. Therefore, the essential point to be gained for China at the Peace Conference is to give specific substance to general declarations hitherto made in favor of Independence and Territorial Integrity. The total abolition of the policy of localized preferences is as essential to the peace of the world as it is to the freedom of national development in China. The separatist, economic and political action of the Powers in China must be replaced by the idea of a trusteeship in behalf of an united China exercised in the general interest; that is, the foreign enterprise and expert assistance existing in China must be organized, not to support the growth of different foreign national localized interests, but to support and develop the unified process of Chinese national life. In order that no local preferences may be claimed and that foreign action take on and preserve the character of a trusteeship in behalf of the general interest, it is essential that treaties and agreements kept secret after their conclusion should be denied all validity.

I was assured that the Chinese Government and the Chinese delegation desires to approach the work of the Conference in this spirit and from this point of view, believing that without question the realization of all the detailed desiderata presented would be of no avail should the growth of localized preferences continue. But that, were once the principle of national unity fortified by the abolition of the disintegrating action of localized interests, all the other desiderata would follow to achievement naturally and rapidly. I agreed that, stated by themselves, without the precedent establishment of the general principle, a great deal could be urged against the desiderata. The abolition of Consular jurisdiction and the granting of tariff autonomy are not practicable unless the Government and its action can first be strengthened so as to guarantee legal protection and freedom from abuses in taxation. These things can be only gradually approached and their realization is dependent upon the rapidity with which the action of the Central Government can be strengthened and improved.

I now have the honor to state to you more in detail the conclusion to which I have come after giving this question the most serious consideration and after discussing it from time to time with the best informed among Chinese and foreign officials and experts, including the principal among my colleagues.

A just settlement of the Chinese situation is essential unless the work of the Conference is to fail in protecting the world against a recurrence of the very troubles which brought on the present war. Unless such a settlement can be effected, we must abandon hope that [Page 494] the world can be freed from the curse of militarism. For in that case either the rivalries of Powers having local interests in different parts of China will inevitably lead to armed conflict meanwhile poisoning the international atmosphere; or, should Japan be given a freer hand and should anything be done which could be interpreted as a recognition of a special position of Japan, either in the form of a so-called Monroe Doctrine or in any other way, forces will be set in action which make a huge armed conflict absolutely inevitable within one generation. There is no single problem in Europe which equals in its importance to the future peace of the world, the need of a just settlement of Chinese affairs.

If the poisoning of international relations is to be stopped now and prevented in the future it is essential that the system of localized preferences should be abolished. The existence of these preferences contradicts in detail the general principles of Chinese integrity and independence which have so often been solemnly reiterated; it sets one nation against another and therefore inevitably creates motives of action which are inimical to Chinese unity and progress, to international peace, and to the equal rights of nations. Under the system of localized preferences, the influence and enterprise of foreign nations in China pull in different directions, spend half their energy in blocking each other, fail to develop China constructively as a whole, act in a retarding, reactionary manner, and involve constant friction and danger of world conflict. Instead of that, foreign influence and enterprise ought to be united in the practice of a trusteeship in behalf of the general interest of China and the other nations. Under the present system the main interest of each nation is to fortify its special position and privileges; under the system proposed all nations would be given an equal interest in preventing encroachment and aggression; their interest would become synonymous with the development of a unified China.

If there is to be an end put to the dangerous system of localized preferences, if foreign activities in China are to be co-ordinated with the unified development of Chinese national life and with the equal rights of free nations here, and if the evils of secret intrigue are to be avoided, it is necessary that the Great Powers should agree substantially on the following principles of action:

The Powers engage themselves to give up mutually all claims to exclusive preferences in any part of China and to base their action on the principle that China must be treated as a unit and that foreign action in China will be exercised so as to apply uniformly to all parts of China alike. The Powers pledge themselves that they will insist that activities undertaken on behalf of the Chinese Government by their nationals shall be carried out in every detail in the spirit of trusteeship for China, without an attempt to establish special national [Page 495] interests. The Powers will treat as invalid any agreements relating to China which are not made public upon their conclusion or which aim to establish localized preferences.

In order to invest foreign assistance to the Chinese Government with the character of a trusteeship, the Powers agree to support the following system:

The methods of efficient national administration, in finance, communications, internal improvements, police, etc., are to be determined by national commissions of experts, including Chinese and foreign members. These commissions will standardize methods of administration and assure the application of the methods adopted. They will not interfere with the political action of China, but will confine their work to making effective the duly expressed national will through maintaining efficient and honest administrative action.
The making of contracts and furnishing of supplies are to be open to all responsible competitors on an equal basis, under the uniform standards established by the above commissions within their respective fields.
The sole criterion for the action of the said commissions shall be what is required by the needs of development in all parts of Chinese national life and by the demands of efficiency and honesty in administrative methods.

The giving of assistance in such a manner as outlined above, is the only way in which foreign effort in China, instead of remaining a disintegrating and actually demoralizing force as far as Chinese life is concerned, shall become a constructive agency supporting the development of China as an unified, peaceful, industrial nation. There are but two alternatives: either China will be developed in this spirit with due respect to her own needs and rights, preserving her fundamental traditions, and giving the peaceful spirit of the nation a chance to survive; or China will remain the field of intrigue and will inevitably be forced into partial or total dependence, by means of intrigue and military force, to the end of creating a sinister military regime which cannot fail to disturb the peace of the world and bring about a conflict even more terrible than the one just passed. These words are not said without a sense of responsibility as to what they imply. If no attention is given to this situation or if statesmen are satisfied with the general phrases which have hitherto been used, without insisting that these general principles shall be given their full connotation in action and institutions, then there is no hope for the peace of the world. In framing the public law of the world, the proper safeguarding of freedom and humanity in China is of the utmost moment.

The question has been brought up as to how far these matters can be settled or advantageously discussed at a general conference. Opinion [Page 496] is practically unanimous that if a solution is to be achieved, the main conference must frankly face the situation and lay down adequate principles of action. It may be found that the application of the general principles in detail, is work more appropriate to a special conference. It is, however, indispensable that the general principles should be specifically worked out and expressed in such detail as to form a system of action which would remove the existing evils and provide an adequate guide and restraint for the future.

It may also be suggested that if the principle of unification of China and of the abolition of all local preference, together with the principles of trusteeship and non-secrecy of agreements be established, the creation or evolution of expert administrative commissions may follow gradually, as needed, through special arrangements among the powers chiefly interested. In order to participate in this matter a Power ought to have a sufficiently great interest in Chinese affairs to assure a real sense of responsibility. It has happened in the past that representatives of small powers, only remotely interested, have lent themselves to do work for stronger powers which the latter hesitated themselves to assume the responsibility for.

To support the need of devoting attention, at the Conference, to Chinese affairs, many extracts could be cited from President Wilson’s public utterances. I shall quote only from his address to Congress, February 11, 1918,5 which applies thoroughly to the Far Eastern situation:

“I mean only that those problems each and all affect the whole world; that unless they are dealt with in a spirit of unselfish and unbiased justice, with a view to the wishes, the natural connections, the racial aspirations, the security and the peace of mind of the peoples involved, no permanent peace will have been attained. They cannot be discussed separately or in corners. None of them constitutes a private or separate interest from which the opinion of the world may be shut out. Whatever affects the peace affects mankind, and nothing settled by military force, if settled wrong is settled at all. It will presently have to be reopened.”

For the safe ordering of the future, for the protection of the interests of China and of the friendly powers who have sacrificed their blood and treasure in this war, it is necessary that all treaties and agreements made since August 1, 1914, should be laid on the table in order that it may be ascertained how far they are in conflict with the national rights of China and the general principles of action hitherto solemnly agreed to. Whether this is done at the main conference, or at a conference subsequently convened to carry out the principles adopted in the former, the essential point is that a scrutiny [Page 497] and revision of the arrangements secretly made while the Allies were engaged in a death struggle in Europe, cannot be evaded without great present injustice and peril to the future peace of the world.

It will be possible to give general form to the system above outlined, as applicable to China, by decreeing such principles for all countries where in the past public administration has been partly in the hands of people other than the natives of the respective countries (such as Turkey, Persia, China, and Morocco). It is of course also most desirable that a liberal economic regime, in other words, “the open door policy”, should be applied to all colonial possessions, thereby removing dangerous causes of friction; but the principles applied would naturally require to be given a different form from those respecting countries independently organized though actually in a weak position.

There are herewith enclosed memoranda prepared by experts concerning the action of China after the Peace Conference.

The memorandum prepared by Dr. W. W. Willoughby6 agrees in its main outline with the system proposed in this dispatch. This important subject has been often discussed between Dr. Willoughby and myself, and he is in full accord with my conclusions on the subject. The letter of Dr. W. C. Dennis deals particularly with the question of what action can be taken in the general Conference; he thoroughly believes that the importance of the matter requires that it should be placed among the principal agenda of the Peace Conference.

A memorandum7 of Mr. J. E. Baker, advisor to the Ministry of Communications, contains an attempt to work out more in detail, as applied to the railway system of the country, the principles of international co-operation and trusteeship. The manner of dealing with the railways is of essential importance, as the railways have been in the past the chief instruments for creating local spheres of influence. I have the honor to commend Mr. Baker’s memorandum to your special attention, and I hope to make an additional report relating particularly to the railway situation, in time to be of service. Mr. Baker’s report has been sent to the Department of Commerce by the Acting Commercial Attaché and Trade Commissioner, Mr. Paul P. Whitham, who on November 22nd addressed a special despatch on this matter to the Chief of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. Mr. Whitham urges that the principle of “no special privileges, but equal opportunity to all in China” can be carried out only through such a system as is proposed by Mr. Baker, which, also corresponds to the system of international expert commission recommended in this [Page 498] despatch. There being only a limited number of copies of Mr. Baker’s memorandum available, further copies will be forwarded with the next pouch.

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch
[Enclosure 1]

Memorandum by Dr. W. W. Willoughby

Observations With Regard to China’s Position at the Peace Conference

With the coming of peace a large number of questions of an international significance will demand a settlement. How many of them will be determined in the Peace Conference, and how many will be postponed for consideration in Conference later to be called, it is impossible to say. Special Conferences will probably be called to consider the establishment of a League of Nations, and for the authoritative statement of certain principles of International Law, especially of those dealing with the conduct of war on land, in the air, and on or under the seas. In the judgment of the writer a Special Conference on Far Eastern affairs will be needed in order to apply the general principles which it may be expected the Peace Conference will declare.

Speaking broadly, the international questions which demand a settlement may be grouped as follows:

The Treaty or Treaties of Peace between the Powers party to the Great War. By the terms of these Treaties will be determined what territorial concessions shall be made by Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria, what disposition of these concessions shall be made; what indemnities, if any, shall be paid; what reparation shall be made for injuries inflicted; and what military, political, and commercial guarantees for the future shall be given. All these are matters which will necessarily find their place in the treaties of peace.
Determinations Tending to Establish International Justice and Permanent Peace. The Entente Powers and the United States have fought the war, not for purposes of national aggrandizement, nor solely for their own security, but that political conditions may be established throughout the world which will satisfy the just wishes of national groups and thus lay the basis for national prosperity, permanent international peace, and friendly international cooperation. It may be expected, therefore, that the Peace Conference, in addition to determining the conditions under which peace will be granted to Germany and her Allies, will make some attempt to lay at least the basis for subsequent action which will tend to prevent the recurrence of wars in the future. It is by no means certain, however, how far the Peace Conference can be induced to go outside of Europe and the Near East and concern itself with conditions in the Far East—that is, with matters other than those directly involved in the Great [Page 499] War. This, it does not need to be said, is a matter of vital concern to China, and to this point the writer will presently return.

As regards the grounds upon which China is entitled to a participation in the Peace Conference and the action which she should urge upon that body, the following observations may be made.

the treaty of peace

China has been one of the belligerents, and though her armies have not participated actively in the fighting, certain of her national interests and rights have been directly involved. Military operations have been conducted upon her soil, a considerable number of her citizens have lost their lives as a result of acts upon the part of the enemy; she has taken possession of German and Austrian public property, taken prizes, and interned enemy subjects. Questions have thus been raised which require settlement in the Treaty of Peace. Thus, without attempting an exhaustive enumeration of the questions arising directly out of the war, with which China is concerned, the following may be mentioned.

The future status of the territory of Kiao-Chow formerly leased to Germany, and now in military possession of the Japanese.
The disposition of German rights in Shantung and elsewhere, including the German and Austrian “Concessions” in places like Tientsin, Hankow and other cities.
The revival or permanent abrogation of treaties between China and the Powers with which she has been at war.
Indemnity from Germany and Austria-Hungary for cost of maintaining interned citizens of those countries; also for the lives of Chinese citizens lost upon transports sunk by German or Austrian submarines.
Indemnity for the use by the Germans in violation of treaty, of the Railway in Shantung for other than purely commercial purposes.
Whether the Boxer Indemnity shall continue to be paid by China to Germany and Austria-Hungary.
And, finally, of course, all the questions arising out of the Sino-Japanese military operations which have been and are still being carried on in Manchuria. Among these questions is that of the status of the Chinese Eastern Railway.

The foregoing are matters necessarily and directly involved in any treaty of peace that may be entered into with Germany and her Allies.

determinations tending to establish international justice and permanent peace

It has already been said that the Peace Conference will concern itself not only with arranging the terms of peace between the belligerent [Page 500] powers but with establishing conditions which will render wars less likely in the future, which will secure the realization throughout the world of principles of national right and justice which tend to the maintenance of permanent peace. It will be in pursuance of these great proposes [purposes?] that China must seek for the action upon the part of the Conference which will secure for her the conditions under which her national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the material prosperity of her people may, in the future, be secured. It is therefore of the utmost importance that her Delegation to the Peace Conference should be able to demonstrate to the Conference that in China there now exists a situation which is not only in violation of the fundamental political principles to which America and the Entente Powers are committed, but that there are forces in operation in the Far East, and especially in China, which, if unchecked, will lead to future international strife. The Chinese Delegation should, therefore, be prepared to show, to the point of absolute demonstration, the character and gravity of existing conditions in China, that her sovereignty and territorial integrity are being constantly violated, especially by Japan, and that if aid is not extended by the Powers, those same principles of Prussian militarism and autocracy will be imposed upon the peaceful and democratically minded Chinese people which the Powers have sought to expel from Europe.

The Chinese Delegation should also be prepared to show by accurate statistics and other incontestable data that it is not merely a matter of justice and right that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China should be preserved, but that it is to the material interest of the Powers that China should become a strong, independent, and prosperous state. This will mean the presentation of data which will show not only the possibilities of the Chinese worked [market?] for export and import trade, if freed from all restrictions, but that whenever Japan has been permitted to obtain control, whether in Manchuria or Shantung, the trade of the other Powers has invariably suffered.

It would seem highly desirable therefore that the Chinese Delegation should be provided with data showing in detail the relations between China and Japan during recent years, the controversies that have arisen between the two countries, how they have been settled, and what rights or special principles Japan now claims in China.

action by the conference which china should seek to secure

It is not likely that the Conference, burdened as it will be with many other matters, can be induced to pronounce in specific detail upon conditions in, or relating to, China; but it is to be hoped that the Conference can be persuaded to lay down certain general principles [Page 501] which are to be applied in the Far East, and to provide for the convening in the immediate future, of a special Conference on Far Eastern Affairs whose province it shall be to apply in specific detail the broad principles which the Peace Conference lays down. It thus becomes necessary to consider what should be the character and scope of the principles applicable to China which the Conference should be asked by China to declare. Two of these comprehensive principles are of paramount importance. They are, indeed, in the writer’s opinion, indispensable as a foundation upon which to base all other improvements of China’s present lot. They are as follows:

  • First, that henceforth no recognition shall be given to any claims of individual nations to localized special rights or “Spheres of Interest” of any sort within the borders of the Chinese Republic. And
  • Second, that henceforth no special claims upon China of any sort, not publicly declared within a certain time, shall be recognized as valid by China or by the other Powers. This will mean that at the Conference to be called to consider Far Eastern Affairs, every nation will have to lay upon the table all its claims of special right, privilege or immunity in China, whether based upon treaties, less formal documents or upon mere understandings, so that these claims may then be passed upon,—those without a sufficient basis or fundamentally inequitable to be declared void, and those which, though valid, are in essential conflict with other valid claims or inconsistent with the principles henceforth to be applied, to be modified or abrogated in a manner just to all the parties concerned.

In this connection it will [be] of great advantage to China if the general Conference can be persuaded to declare the doctrine that only a presumptively valid and not a conclusive character shall be ascribed to those international agreements which have been entered into with China since the outbreak of the war in August 1914. In other words, the point may very well be argued that, so abnormal have been international conditions since the outbreak of the war, it will not be just to China and certainly not to the other Powers that recognition should be given to agreements entered into while those other Powers were not in a position to protect their own interests or those of their ally, China. In view of the circumstances under which China was compelled to agree to them, the Sino-Japanese agreements, growing out of the famous Twenty-One Demands of 1915,8 should be especially subject to revision or abrogation. This is a point which the Chinese Delegations should insist upon. But the fundamental matter is to obtain the establishment the Conference that henceforth local “spheres of interest” in China will not be claimed or recognized, and that no claims upon China [Page 502] not publicly made will be accepted as of even persuasive force by other Nations. When these principles have been declared and applied China will be free seek foreign assistance, financial or otherwise, from whatever quarter she will; she will thus be able to set her own house in order and establish public administration upon such a basis that release from limitations upon her fiscal powers and from the exercise within her borders of extraterritorial rights can no longer be denied to her.


In connection with the abolition of special spheres of interests it is highly desirable that the Peace Conference should lay down some general principles upon which to base a recognization [reorganization?] and improvement of China’s present railway situation. Some general scheme should be approved under which all the railways of China can be brought into one national system so that, in the future, new lines will be located where most needed; that contracts for construction and supplies will be open to free competitive bids from all persons or firms without regard to their nationality; and that, in general, the railways may be efficiently operated under a unified overhead control. The scheme should provide that all expert assistance given to China in the operation of her railways, shall be so employed and organized as to produce a uniform system of administration throughout the country, the just interests of China and of the friendly powers being safeguarded, but the ruling principle being that these experts or overhead administrators shall act in a fiduciary capacity as trustees for China as a whole and not for the advancement of the particular interests of the nations of which experts may happen to be citizens.

distinction between the determinations which china may properly ask of the conference as rights due to herself and those which should be urged upon grounds of general concern

China has a right to demand of the Conference that it determine equitably the Chinese interests which have been directly involved in the war. She hardly has the right, however, to demand of the Conference that it grant to her, as of her own right, privileges which she has not previously possessed and which have not been directly involved in the war. To repeat what has been already said, these latter she should ask for only on the ground that they flow from the broad principles which President Wilson has declared and which the Allies have substantially accepted; that they are in consonance with the interests of the Powers; and that their recognition will lend to the preservation of permanent peace. It will be a tactical mistake, [Page 503] therefore, as the writer believes, to bring forward these political or adjustments and reforms as matters which China demands as due primarily to herself. They should be urged as adjustments and reforms demanded by the true interests of the other nations as well as of China herself. It is also absolutely essential that at the same time that the Chinese Delegation ask that present infringements upon her sovereignty, territorial integrity, and fiscal freedom be abolished, that the obligation of China to do what is needed upon her past be freely and fully acknowledged. Thus, for example, it can not be expected that the Nations, however friendly and well disposed, will surrender the right of extraterritoriality with regard to their nationals until there exist in China Courts which by their personnel, organization, procedure, and control by the Central Government, command the respect and confidence of Western Powers. Nor, likewise, can it be expected that these Powers will consent to the abrogation of the present treaty limitations upon the power of the Chinese Government to fix maritime customs rates, until better guarantees than now exist, or at least a better operation of these guarantees are or is provided for.

If it had so happened that China had played a more active part in the War and had made greater sacrifices in men, material and money in its prosecution, or even if China had succeeded in fulfilling more satisfactorily her obligations as an Ally with regard to the internment of alien enemies, liquidation of enemy business concerns etc. she would be in a position to ask of the Conference, as a quid pro quo, that she be relieved by the Allies of certain limitations upon her freedom of national action even though the original imposition of those limitations had had no relation to the War. As it is, she must ask to be released from them not as a right growing out of the war but as dictated by the interests of the other Powers and as in accordance with the general principles to which America and the Entente Powers stand pledged.

What has been already said gives support to the last observation which the writer desires to make in this Memorandum. This is that it be frankly recognized by the members of the Chinese Delegation that its best, indeed practicably to [its?] only, chance of obtaining from the Conference action that will substantially improve its present international and domestic condition, is to persuade the British, French and American Delegations, but especially the American delegation, to urge upon the Conference the action which she, China, desires to have taken. From what the writer can learn, Great Britain will be disposed to accept America’s judgment as to what shall be done in the Far East, and France is almost certain to adopt any Far Eastern policy upon which Great Britain and America are [Page 504] agreed. From a tactical point of view therefore, the Chinese Delegation will be well advised if it makes every possible effort to maintain close, personal, cooperative, working relations between itself and the American and British and French Delegations.

The chief point to be gained will be to convince these Delegations, to awaken in them a true realizing sense and conviction, that unless radical measures are taken to correct present conditions in China a war in the future is certain if Asia is to be saved from subjection to an autocratic and militarized control equally as objectionable and opposed to the interests of the other nations of the World, as was the Prussian political philosophy and militarism which has just been expelled with such vast sacrifices, from Europe. It will be well therefore for the Chinese Delegation to the [be?] prepared to show by cumulative proof of the policy which Japan, by her many acts, has pursued towards China, and to assert the willingness of the Chinese Government to do what is deemed necessary upon its part to make certain that the principles which the Conference may be persuaded to declare will be effectively carried out.

Respectfully submitted,

W. W. Willoughby
[Enclosure 2]

The Legal Adviser to the Chinese Government ( Dennis ) to the American Minister in China ( Reinsch )

Dear Dr. Reinsch: I am sorry that I have delayed so long in endeavoring to comply with your request that I submit for your personal perusal such observations as occur to me in connection with our conversation the other day in regard to China and the peace conference. This delay has been due to the fact that I have been sick and very busy and celebrating all at once.

As to the first question you raised my own opinion is clear. As I said the other day I believe that Eastern questions should be taken up and settled at the same conference which deals with the other questions growing out of the war. This for the following reasons:

(1) The problem of reconstituting the world is one problem which must be settled in accordance with the same general principles everywhere, and I think these principles can best be applied by the same men at the same time. This does not mean that there should not be specialists to deal with each question, but the work of these specialists should be correlated by men whose business it is to see the problem as a whole. The world has accepted President Wilson’s principles of which perhaps the most important is equal and exact justice to all, friend and foe, East and West. Now when we come to redress the [Page 505] wrong done to France in 1870 by the application of certain principles, we want the same principles applied to Germany and Japan in Shantung, to Russia and Japan in Manchuria and Mongolia etc. We don’t want to wait perhaps a year to say to another set of men give China the same treatment that you have just given France.

Again take the question, what shall be done with Germany’s colonies? This should be considered as a whole. The same men who say what shall be done with German East Africa should pass on the disposition of Tsingtao and the Pacific islands. Of course General Smuts should be there to speak for British Africa while others speak for Australia, China, etc. If we are to have a special conference for Asia why not for Africa? All the world is interested in every part of the settlement. As President Wilson said in response to the German proposition as respects dealing with France, Russia etc. separately “these questions cannot be settled in corners” (I quote without looking the passage up.)9 A world war calls in the nature of things for a world settlement.

(2) I believe it would be a great blow to American influence in China if the United States consented to have the Eastern Problem treated separately. China would regard herself (I believe) as abandoned. Japan would take the position that she was thereby confirmed in a special relation to China in a sense that the United States would not be willing to accept. I have never been prouder of my country than when I read President Wilson’s answer to Austria saying that the Czechs etc. and not he must determine their relations to Austria.10 For about the first time in history a great nation which had availed itself of the services of revolutionists in war did not abandon them when it came to making peace. Let us not do anything which even seems to abandon China.

(3) It is pretty generally agreed that with the clearing up of the Near Eastern Question which is certain, or apparently certain, to come about as the result of the war the Far Eastern Question is the next dangerous problem which the world must solve if another war even worse than the last is to be avoided. The whole world is interested in preventing such another catastrophe. This war has shown that in the future the safety of nations rests not in attempting to safeguard neutral rights but in preventing war. Under modern conditions neutrality means little in a great war even if the belligerents try to respect it. We are all in one boat; our safety lies in controlling the ship not in watertight compartments or life-buoys. All the world ought therefore to have a say in the settlement of the Far [Page 506] Eastern Question. The problem of the undeveloped country again reverting to No. (1) above occurs in South America as well as Africa and Asia.

(4) All the great questions raised by the proposed League of Nations concern all the world including China which must eventually at any rate be a member on terms of absolute equality (as I understand those words). And the questions raised by the League are intimately connected with the questions which concern the immediate settlement. China I submit ought to be heard as to all of them.

When I say the nations of the League ought to be on equal terms I do not mean that they ought to have the same influence either in drawing up its constitution or operating it. “Russia and Geneva are equal” in their rights before the International Court etc. In my judgment it would be the essence of inequality to give them the same power in determining matters of policy. But they ought all to have some power and some chance to control their own destiny. Merely formal representation at the world conference in my judgment would not meet this need. The Great Powers acting as trustees for civilization will have to control the conference but all should be fully heard.

As to the second question you suggested I know little of the details of the financial side of the Eastern Question. But I feel that the money which practically every one thinks will have to be loaned to China to finance the reorganization which must come should be loaned by the League or by the direction of the League ultimately. It may be necessary for the United States, England, France and Japan to go ahead and loan the money at once but it ought to be understood that they are doing this for the benefit of the peace and order of the world not for any selfish advantage and that they are ready to render an account of their stewardship. The loans should not be used as a means of forcing the sale of goods etc. I realize this is all easy to say, hard to do. America ought not to be called on to loan her much needed money for others to get all the benefit. But America ought to be willing to ask no more than an even chance to sell her goods etc. The difficulty of course is to work out a practical way of bringing this about. But this should be the ideal. In the past of course there has not even been the slightest pretense at this.

The loans in my judgment should be moderate in amount. If China could get rid of her superfluous armies by paying them off and giving them some useful employment she could afford to go slowly in the matter of “development”. I believe most strongly in the policy of China for the Chinese provided there is enough [Page 507] foreign development for educational purposes. Large loans means longer and stronger foreign control of finance.

Very sincerely,

W. C. Dennis
  1. Foreign Relations. 1901, Appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 108.
  3. Adviser to the Chinese Government.
  4. Not printed.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1915, pp. 79 ff.
  6. For exact wording, see quotation from the President’s speech of Feb. 11, 1918, p. 496.
  7. See Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 368.