Paris Peace Conf. 762.94/2

President Wilson to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I am quite willing to cooperate with the Allies in this matter30 and hope that you will do so in the appropriate way.

Cordially and sincerely yours,

Woodrow Wilson



Early in 1918, the Allied Powers, including the United States, persuaded the Chinese Government to agree to the expulsion of all Germans [Page 527] in China, estimated to number about 3500. Shipping was provided by His Majesty’s Government and the Japanese Government, and the arrangements for their deportation and internment in Australia were completed for the first batch to start on June 22nd. At the last moment however the Supreme War Council at Versailles decided, in view of the pressing need of all available trained troops on the Western front and also on account of a request for the re-examination of the question of deportation put forward by the Belgian Government in consequence of their fears of the reprisals threatened by the German Government that the vessels allotted for the purpose should be diverted to Vladivostok for the transport of Czecho-Slovak troops to Europe, and the deportation of the enemy residents in China was therefore abandoned.

The Chinese Government then proposed to intern the more dangerous enemy subjects at Fangshan south-west of Peking and on Chusan Island off the Chekiang coast. The proposal was approved by the Allied Representatives at Peking, with the exception of the Belgian Minister who feared German reprisals against the population of Belgium. By December so little progress had been made with the internment arrangements by the Chinese Authorities, that it was evident that the policy could never be made a success from the Allied point of view. The Allied communities in China began to clamour for the repatriation of all enemy residents before the conclusion of peace, and at a meeting of the Allied Representatives at Peking on December 13th it was decided to recommend to the respective Allied Governments that all undesirable enemy subjects in China be repatriated. The Representatives stipulated only that the Allied Governments should guarantee to provide the necessary shipping before they approached the Chinese Government. The resolution was worded to cover only “undesirable enemy subjects” to suit the instructions of the United States Minister, which did not permit him to go further. The French Government entirely approved the proposal and His Majesty’s Government held that the expulsion should be enforced against all enemy residents and not only against those regarded as undesirable by the Chinese Government and informed His Majesty’s Minister of their readiness to provide the necessary shipping. The Chinese Government viewed the proposal favourably expressing the hope that in return China would be able to secure the repatriation of a number of Chinese still detained in Germany.

On December 28th His Majesty’s Minister at Peking reported that the United States Minister had been informed by his Government that the question of the repatriation of enemy subjects in China was being reserved for consideration at the Peace Conference and was [Page 528] therefore no longer prepared to join his Allied Colleagues in urging the Chinese Government to apply the measure either to all, or even only to undesirable, enemy residents.

His Majesty’s Government desire to draw attention to the fact that this change of attitude on the part of the United States Minister at Peking on instructions from his Government means that the solution of the question, already agreed upon in principle by the Allied Representatives and the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs must be deferred until it will be too late to give practical effect thereto, as the arrangements for providing shipping and collecting enemy subjects will necessarily take some time and could hardly be accomplished before the signature of peace unless proceeded with forthwith.

The result of postponing the present plan for dealing with enemy subjects in China will be to inflict humiliation on the Allied prestige in that country and to place the Germans in a position to reap the fruit of their hostile activities and resume their commercial enterprises in China on the conclusion of peace. Being on the spot they will moreover be in a more favourable position to seize upon any new openings offered, than the Allied businessmen who have sacrificed their prospects for military duties and whose return to China may be subjected to considerable delays.

  1. See enclosure.
  2. The channels through which this undated British memorandum reached President Wilson are not indicated on the file copy.