Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/20

BC–13

Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, January 28, 1919, at 11 O’clock a.m.

  • [Present]
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson
      • Mr. R. Lansing
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier
      • Mr. L. Harrison
      • Col. Williams
      • Dr. G. L. Beer
      • Professor E. T. Williams
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. Sir R. L. Borden
      • The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes
      • Gen. The Rt. Hon. L. Botha
      • The Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey
      • Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey
      • Captain E. Abraham
      • Mr. E. Phipps
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • M. Pichon
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • Capt. Portier
    • Italy
      • M. Orlando
      • M. Sonnino
      • Count Aldrovandi
      • Major Jones
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino
      • H. E. M. Matsui
      • Viscount Chinda
      • General Nara
      • M. Yamakawa
      • M. Saburi
    • China
      • Dr. C. Thomas Wang
      • Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo
      • M. W. P. Shao

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux

Mandatory System: (a) Attitude of the British Empire Mr. Lloyd George said that on the previous evening he had had an opportunity to consult his Colonial experts. All that he was, for the moment, prepared to say was that in so far as the territories conquered by troops from the United Empire Kingdom (in distinction from those conquered by Dominion troops) were concerned, he saw no insuperable difficulty in reconciling the views of Great Britain with those expressed by President Wilson. There certainly were practical difficulties, but there were always practical difficulties in attempting to realize any ideal. He was trying to formulate a plan which would overcome those difficulties, and he had good hope of success. The Dominions case, however, was a special case, and he hoped that President Wilson would look into it again. He did not think that [Page 750]a special exception in favor of the Dominions would spoil the whole case, possibly the reverse might be true. A scheme might more readily be wrecked by courting resistance than by avoiding difficulties. The contiguity of the territories in question to the Dominions claiming them suggested that they should form an integral part of those countries, more especially as it would be from them that emigration would take place. Another point he would like to put to the Allied Powers, including France, was that there was no large difference between the mandatory principle and the principles laid down by the Berlin Conference, under which Great Britain, France, and Germany held many of their colonies. This Conference had framed conditions about the open door, the prohibition of the arms and liquor traffic, which resembled those President Wilson had in view in many respects, except that no external machinery had been provided for their enforcement. It followed, therefore, that by adopting the mandatory principle wherever possible Great Britain would not be altering her Colonial regime to any appreciable extent. He would be very glad to hear the French view, as France was as much concerned in the question as Great Britain.

M. Clemenceau said that the French Minister for the Colonies would be ready to make a statement on the following day.

M. Pichon said that on the points raised by Mr. Lloyd George he thought there would be no differences between France and Great Britain.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that there were certain Franco-British conventions relating to the German colonies; for instance Togoland.1 He asked whether these conventions should be produced before the Council.

Mr. Lloyd George was of the opinion that any arrangements made during the war should be placed before the meeting.

M. Clemenceau undertook to produce them, and asked whether the Japanese delegates would do likewise.

Baron Makino said that he had no objection to doing so, and would send all such agreements to the Chairman. He would point out, however, that the Japanese conventions were in the form of an exchange of ideas rather than formal conventions.

Mr. Balfour asked whether Baron Makino alluded to the agreement reached in 1917.2

[Page 751]

Baron Makino replied that this was the agreement to which he referred. M. Orlando said that Italy also had a convention with France and Great Britain concerning German colonies.

M. Pichon asked if M. Orlando referred to the Pact of London.3

M. Orlando replied in the affirmative.

President Wilson asked that if drafts were submitted to the Council, no sense of finality should be attached to them.

Mr. Lloyd George entirely agreed. He was much influenced by what the President had said on former occasions, and quite agreed that any proposal submitted should be provisional.

(b) Attitude of New Zealand Mr. Massey said that he had not much to add to the two speeches made on the previous day. He wished, however, to assure President Wilson that though he did not quite take his point of view, he would speak in no spirit of opposition to the idea of the League of Nations. He could not, however, help recalling the precedents of history. Similar attempts had been made before. The most notable instance was that of the Congress of Vienna, where all the nations of Europe had been gathered in order to frame universal peace. The results of its labors had been a failure. He hoped that this Congress would not end in the same way, but it was well to remember that history repeated itself.

He wished to point out that New Zealand and Australia were, so to speak, in the same boat. If Australia were invaded by an enemy power, New Zealand must fall, as her communications would be cut. The converse applied with equal force. The danger to both would doubtless grow less in course of time as the populations of these countries increased.

Samoa was of vital importance to New Zealand. It was situated on the main water route to the South Pacific from the Panama Canal. If, by any chance, Samoa were in hostile hands, New Zealand would be strangled. This eventuality, therefore, was a cause of anxiety to the country he represented, and on this point, despite other differences, all its inhabitants were of one mind. He hoped that he would be able to induce President Wilson to see the question from their standpoint.

One of the main purposes laid down by President Wilson for the mandatory system was the betterment of the inhabitants. He felt he could claim that New Zealand had done in this respect as well as any mandatory power was ever likely to do. New Zealand was not only composed of the two islands generally attributed to her. She also governed the Cook Archipelago, which had been assigned to New [Page 752]Zealand twenty years ago. The experiment made by New Zealand in administering this territory had been highly successful. Schools had been instituted in all the larger islands; agricultural experts had been sent to train the populations, which had now become industrious and productive; hospitals had been set up at Rarotonga, which was the seat of the New Zealand Commissioner and of his staff. The same system had been applied to the natives there as since the treaty of 18404 had been applied to the Maoris. The Maoris of New Zealand were highly respected by the whites, and every trade and profession was open to them. One of his own colleagues in the government, Dr. Pomare, was a Maori. His great knowledge of the Polynesian races had suggested that he should come to the Peace Conference, and, but for the expense of sending an additional minister from New Zealand, he thought that he would have been a most suitable delegate.

When Samoa was taken over at the beginning of the war, the same policy of education and improvement was started there, and had been satisfactory. The Cook Islanders and Samoans were related, and spoke dialects of the same language. If a change were to be made, the inhabitants of Samoa would be dissatisfied.

The difference between the mandatory principle and that instituted by New Zealand was that between leasehold and freehold tenure. No individual would put the same energy into a leasehold as into a freehold. It would be the same with governments.

President Wilson had suggested improvements. He agreed it was necessary to increase production, but certain financing would have to be done. On the credit of a government like Australia, loans could be raised for the development of New Guinea, which, before it could support a civilised population, would require docks, roads, telegraphs, and a number of other improvements. The country itself, when developed, would afford ample security for further loans. Could this process be as successfully set in motion by a mandatory power?

Though it might not be the time to discuss what should be done with the German Empire, he held that Germany was an outlaw among nations, and should be treated as such. Unless broken up, it would become a danger again, and future generations must be safeguarded against its pernicious activities.

Unless these territories were annexed to some strong state, the Germans would attempt to get them back. All knew what German intrigue and peaceful penetration meant. It had occurred even in New Zealand.

[Page 753]

The phrase “division of spoils” had been used. He begged to point out that New Zealand would not obtain much spoil. Her financial burdens incurred during this war were very heavy. At a time when New Zealand was not half developed, it had been called upon to send volunteers immense distances to take the field in Europe. It had done so willingly, and not only lost a valuable portion of its population, but had also incurred 100 millions of debt. There was little prospect of any recoupment of such losses. The financial value of Samoa was a mere trifle in comparison. He appealed to the President to look at the whole question from the New Zealand point of view. He would ask him to recall the period immediately after the American War of Independence. What would Washington have done had it been suggested to him that a mandatory power, or even the colonists themselves as mandatories of a League of Nations, should be given charge of the vast territories in North America not at that time colonised? There was little doubt that the American settlers would have protested at this offer, and rightly so, for, had this taken place, the United States would not have grown into one of the greatest Powers of the World. New Zealand had only fought to protect the citizens of the South Pacific and all decent citizens of the world from future wars.

President Wilson said that for the sake of keeping history straight, he would make a passing comment on one of the remarks just heard. He would not admit that there was any historical precedent for the work now in hand; least of all should the Congress of Vienna be cited as such. The Holy Alliance of that time existed professedly to extend the system of monarchical and arbitrary government in the World. Such, he hoped, was not the purpose of the present conference. It was the Holy Alliance which had provoked in the Western Hemisphere the Monroe Doctrine, which was a protest against the system brought about by the Congress of Vienna. Great Britain had soon dissociated herself from the Holy Alliance and supported the Monroe Doctrine.

The present enterprise was very different from that undertaken at Vienna a century ago, and he hoped that even by reference no odor of Vienna would again be brought into its proceedings.

As to Samoa, he had one remark to make. There was another Power present in the Samoan Islands which was not unfriendly either to Great Britain or to New Zealand. This power had not played the same part as New Zealand in the war in the Southern Pacific, because it was not then at war with Germany. The Power in question was the United States of America. He dared assert, however, that under the regime of the League of Nations there was [Page 754]little chance that any Power would be able to play in Samoa the part played by Germany without attracting the attention of the United States.

M. Clemenceau said that this part of the discussion was now adjourned. The Council would proceed to discuss the question of the German possessions in the Far East, together with the Chinese delegates.

As the question of restitution of the fortress had been raised, he thought it useful to read the words of the Japanese ultimatum to Germany, because it had a bearing on the purpose in hand:—

“Considering it highly important and necessary in the present situation to take measures to remove all causes of disturbance to the peace of the Far East, and to safeguard the general interests contemplated by the agreement of the Alliance between Japan and Great Britain in order to secure a firm and enduring peace in Eastern Asia, the establishment of which is the aim of the said agreement—the Imperial Japanese Government sincerely believe it their duty to give advice to the Imperial German Government to carry out the following two propositions:

(1)
To withdraw immediately from Japanese and Chinese waters German men-of-war and armed vessels of all kinds, and to disarm, at once, those which cannot be withdrawn.
(2)
To deliver on a date not later than the 15th September, 1914, to the Imperial Japanese authorities, without condition and compensation, the entire leased territory of Kiauchow, with a view to eventual restoration of the same to China.”

Since the occupation of Kiauchow, Japan has been in actual possession. In view of all that had passed between the Governments of China and Japan, Baron Makino thought that China fully realized the import of Japanese occupation. The friendly interchange of views on this subject had been entered into, and Japan had agreed to restore Kiauchow as soon as Japan had free disposal of the place. Agreements had also been reached with regard to the (leased) railway.

As notes had been exchanged, he thought that a statement of these engagements5 might be worth the consideration of the members of the Council.

President Wilson asked Baron Makino whether he proposed to lay these notes before the Council.

Baron Makino said that he did not think the Japanese Government would raise any objection, but as the request was an unexpected one he would be compelled to ask its permission.

President Wilson asked on behalf of China if Mr. Koo would do likewise.

[Page 755]

Mr. Koo said that the Chinese Government has no objection to raise.

M. Clemenceau asked both the Japanese and Chinese Delegates to state whether they would make known to the Council the conditions of the restoration agreed between them.

Baron Makino said that he would do so, provided his Government would make no objection. He did not think it would. If it were within his own power, he would produce these documents as soon as possible. There was, however, one point he wished to make clear. Japan was in actual possession of the territory under consideration. It had taken it by conquest from Germany. Before disposing of it to a third party it was necessary that Japan should obtain the right of free disposal from Germany.

President Wilson pointed out that the Council was dealing with territories and cessions previously German without consulting Germany at all.

Baron Makino said that the work now in hand was one of preparation for the presentment of the case to Germany. It followed therefore that the cession of Kiauchow would have to be agreed upon by Germany before it was carried out. What should take place thereafter had already been the subject of an interchange of views with China.

German Leasehold Rights in China Mr. Koo said that he was very glad, on behalf of China, to have the opportunity of putting the case of his country. He had heard with interest the Dominion speakers, who spoke on behalf of a few million people. He felt his own responsibility was enhanced by the fact that he was the spokesman of 400 millions, one quarter of the human race. The Chinese delegation would ask the Peace Conference for the restoration to China of the Leased Territory of Kiauchow, the railway in Shantung, and all other rights Germany possessed in that province before the war. He would confine himself to broad principles in order not to employ too much of the Council’s time. Technical details would be explained in full in a memorandum which he proposed to submit. The territories in question were an integral part of China. There [they?] were part of a province containing 3 million inhabitants, of Chinese in race, language and religion. The history of the lease to Germany was doubtless familiar. The lease had been extorted by force. The German fleet had occupied the coast of Shantung and landing parties had penetrated into the interior. The lease had been extorted as a price for the withdrawal of the expedition. The pretext of this proceeding was the accidental killing of two missionaries in the interior of the country in a manner quite beyond the control of the Chinese Government. [Page 756]On the principles of nationality and of territorial integrity principles accepted by this Conference, China had a right to the restoration of these territories. The Chinese delegation would feel that this was one of the conditions of a just peace. If, on the other hand, the Congress were to take a different view and were to transfer these territories to any other Power, it would, in the eyes of the Chinese Delegation, be adding one wrong to another. The Shantung province, in which Kiauchow and the railway to Chinanfu were situated, was the cradle of Chinese civilisation, the birthplace of Confucius and Mencius, and a Holy Land for the Chinese. This province had always played a very important part in the development of China. Economically, it was a densely populated country, with 36 million people in an area of only 35,000 square miles. The density of the population produced an intense competition and rendered the country quite unsuitable for colonisation. The introduction of a Foreign Power could only lead to the exploitation of the inhabitants, and not to genuine colonisation. Strategically, Kiauchow commanded one of the main gateways of North China. It controlled one of the shortest approaches from the sea to Pekin, namely, the railway to Chinanfu which, at its junction with the railway from Tientsing, led straight to the capital. In the interest of Chinese national defence which in time would be organised, the Chinese Delegation would be unable to admit that any Foreign Power had claims to so vital a point. China was fully cognisant of the services rendered to her by the heroic Army and Navy of Japan in rooting out German power from Shantung. China was also deeply indebted to Great Britain for helping in this task at a time of great peril to herself in Europe. China also was not forgetful of the services rendered her by the troops of the other Allies in Europe, which had held in check an enemy who might otherwise have easily sent reinforcements to the Far East and thereby prolonged hostilities there. China appreciated these services all the more because the people in Shantung had also suffered and sacrificed in connection with the military operations for the capture of Kiauchow, especially in regard to requisitions for labour and supplies of all kinds. But, grateful as they were, the Chinese Delegation felt that they would be false to their duty to China and to the world if they did not object to paying their debts of gratitude by selling the birthright of their countrymen, and thereby sowing the seeds of discord for the future. The Chinese Delegation therefore trusted that the Conference, in considering the disposal of the leased territory and other rights held by Germany in Shantung, would give full weight to the fundamental and transcendent rights of China, the rights of political sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Baron Makino said that he had listened with great attention to [Page 757]what had fallen from his Chinese colleague concerning the direct restitution of Kiauchow to China. In the statement put forward on the previous day, he had explained the reasons for which the Japanese Government had undertaken the reduction of this German stronghold.

Mr. Koo said that the Chinese Delegation did not adopt quite the same view as Baron Makino. He was well aware that Japan after her undertaking in 1914—which he was glad to note had just been renewed by Baron Makino—would not retain the territory.

But there was a choice between direct and indirect restitution. Of the two China would prefer the first. It was always easier to take one step than two if it led to the same place. They had always considered all the Conventions made with Japan as provisional and subject to revision by the Peace Conference. Before becoming a belligerent China had agreed to accept all the conditions made to Germany by Japan.

China’s entry into the war, however, had completely altered her status. None of the previous arrangements precluded China either from declaring war on Germany, or from being represented at the Peace Conference. Nor could they preclude her now from demanding from Germany direct restitution of her rights. China’s belligerency had in itself put an end to the leases obtained by Germany in Chinese territory. Furthermore, there was a clause in the lease to the effect that Germany could not transfer her rights to another power.

(The meeting then adjourned.)

  1. The text of the Togoland agreement made in August 1914 is given in “Rapport au Ministre des Colonies sur l’administration des territoires oceupés du Togo, de la conquête au ler juillet 1921”, Journal Officiel de la République francaise, August 25, 1921, p. 9873.
  2. H. W. V. Temperley (ed.), A History of the Peace Conference of Paris (London, 1924), vol. vi, p. 634.
  3. Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915.
  4. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xxix, p. 1111.
  5. For the text of these notes and the engagements entered into, see Foreign Relations, 1915, pp. 177 and 198