Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/121


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s Residence, Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Friday, 25 April, 1919, at 6.30 p.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson
    • The British Empire
      • Mr. Lloyd George
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. Secretary.
      • Professor P. J. Mantoux. Interpreter.

1. Guarantees for the Execution of the Peace Treaty M. Clemenceau handed to Mr. Lloyd George a Peace Treaty new set of articles concerning the guarantees for the execution of the Peace Treaty with Germany. (Appendix I.) President Wilson, he said, had agreed to these.

Mr. Lloyd George said he considered Clause 2 (c) to be a very dangerous one, although he realised M. Clemenceau’s difficulties. He undertook to examine the question.

2. The Language of the Peace Treaty Sir Maurice Hankey said that Mr. Hurst, the British Representative on the Drafting Committee, had told him that the Drafting Committee was now waiting for more material on which to work. Mr. Hurst had represented to him that a decision in regard to the language of the Peace Treaty was urgently required. In reply to President Wilson, he said that the Italian representative had throughout pressed strongly that Italian, as well as French and English, should be the official languages in the Peace Treaty. On the previous day, however, M. Orlando had stated that he could not say definitely whether Italy would be present at Versailles to meet the Germans. Moreover, Mr. Hurst informed him that the Italian representative had withdrawn from the Drafting Committee and there was no one on that Committee who could put the clauses into Italian. In view of the uncertainty as to whether the Italians would be at Versailles at all; in view of the withdrawal of the Italian representative from the Drafting Committee; and in view of the very short time available for printing and setting up the Peace Treaty, he said the Drafting Committee urgently required a decision.

[Page 245]

(It was agreed that the Peace Treaty should be printed in the French and English languages, which should be the official languages of the Treaty.)

3. The Supreme Council had before them the following documents:—

Kiauchau and shantung A letter from the Marquis Saionji to M. Clemenceau, asking him to press on the settlement of this question. (Appendix II.)

A Report by the Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Council. (Appendix III.)

A Statement by the Chinese Delegation. (Appendix IV.)

President Wilson said that this question was almost as difficult as the Italian question. After calling attention to the reports mentioned above, he asked if the British and French were bound to transfer Kiauchau and Shantung to Japan.

Mr. Lloyd George said that sooner or later they were.

M. Clemenceau agreed.

President Wilson said that, on a previous occasion, Mr. Lloyd George had said that he was in a position to insist in common that the islands south of the Equator, Kiauchau and Shantung should be transferred in trust to the Allied and Associated Powers.

Mr. Lloyd George said he had discussed the question with Mr. Balfour, who had made a useful suggestion. His suggestion had been that we were bound to transfer the German rights in Shantung and Kiauchau to Japan, but we should like to talk over the terms on which Japan would hand them back to China. That proposal would meet the Japanese sentiments of pride, which compelled them to insist on the transfer of Kiauchau and Shantung to them and not to the Allied and Associated Powers. There was something to be said for Japan in this respect, since the Far East was the only sphere in which Japan was greatly concerned. She was not much concerned in the Western settlement. Then there was a suggestion which had been made by the Chinese and excepting for their first proposal, Mr. Balfour thought the Japanese might accept it and he thought there was something to be said for starting on that basis.

President Wilson pointed out that the treaty between China and Japan gave to Japan more and not less than Germany had had. In fact, Japan would practically hand back nothing to China. In the meantime, if his information was correct, Japan had gained possession of the foreshore of Kiauchau bay.

Mr. Lloyd George said that we ought to discuss with Japan the conditions in which she would cede the territory to China. Undoubtedly, we should get the conditions which were best for China. He felt that he must point out that, if it had not been for Japanese intervention, the Germans would still have been in Shantung. The [Page 246] Chinese did nothing to help get rid of them. We must not forget that Japan had rendered considerable assistance in the war.

Sib Maurice Hankey, at Mr. Lloyd George’s request, explained the naval assistance that Japan had given. By capturing Kiauchau, she had deprived Germany of her naval base in the Far East and her ships had had to leave the Pacific and had eventually been brought to action and sunk off the Falkland Islands. Japan, after helping to clear the seas and to escort the troops from Australia and New Zealand, had continued to police the Far East, thus setting free cruisers for operations elsewhere and particularly in the North Sea. She had also sent 12 or more destroyers to the Mediterranean.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that, but for the assistance of Japan, it would have been difficult to transport the Australian and New Zealand troops.

President Wilson doubted if the Germans would have remained in possession of Kiauchau even if Japan had not captured it. The representatives of Japan had said they were willing to discuss with the other Powers the renunciation of the unusual rights which the Powers possessed in China. This would be a great relief to China, although these rights possessed no practical importance to the Powers. If China [Japan?] would agree to discuss with us the terms on which these rights could be ceded to China, then we could agree as an inducement to liberal terms to allow Kiauchau and Shantung to be ceded direct to Japan.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the British Government could not agree to Japan having a special position in Shantung as well as a general position in the Yangtse Kiang. The Japanese, however, wanted special powers for exploitation in the territories they occupied.

President Wilson said his object was to take the chains off China.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the difficulty was that we could not allow other nations to co-operate in the Yangtse Kiang, although we should like to, since we had not sufficient capital ourselves for development. The reason we could not do so was because we should have to allow the Japanese in.

President Wilson said that he understood this and that the Japanese were apt to make special arrangements, which excluded other people.

Mr. Lloyd George said that when the British built railways they handed them over to China. The Japanese, however, were apt to keep the railways and exploit them.

President Wilson pointed out that the larger part of Japanese territory was barren and consequently they required room for their population. They had found some space in Korea and Manchuria but they were now seeking more in China.

[Page 247]

Mr. Lloyd George suggested the best plan to be for someone to sound the Japanese before they saw the Supreme Council.

President Wilson suggested that they should be told that the Allied and Associated Powers could not consent to the return of Kiauchau and Shantung to the Japanese on the terms on which they had agreed with China. He suggested that Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour should see Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda.

(Mr. Lloyd George undertook that Mr. Balfour should see the Japanese Representatives, and instructed Sir Maurice Hankey to inform Mr. Balfour accordingly.)

4. Archangel Mr. Lloyd George informed President Wilson that he had now ascertained the numbers of British troops sent to Archangel, which reached a total of 5,000.

5. Syria There was some discussion on the question as to whether the Syrian Commission should start.

The following decisions were reached:—

The French Government should immediately nominate their representatives.
The Commission should start as soon as possible.
No announcement should be made until the Germans had come to Versailles.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 25 April, 1919.

Appendix I to IC–176F

Articles Concerning the Guarantees of Execution of the Treaty

—As a guarantee of the execution by Germany of the present treaty, German territories west of the Rhine, including the bridgeheads, are to be occupied by allied and associated forces during fifteen years.
—If the conditions of the treaty are executed by Germany, occupation to be successively reduced according to following schedule:
—to be evacuated after 5 years: the bridgehead of Cöln and the territories north of a line running along the Roer, then along the railroad: Jülich, Düren, Euskirchen, Rheinbach, then the road Rheinbach to Sinzig, and reaching the Rhine at the confluence with the Ahr river (the roads, railroads and localities above mentioned included in the occupied territory.)
—to be evacuated after 10 years: the bridgehead of Coblentz and the territories north of line to be drawn from the intersection between the frontiers of Belgium, Germany and Holland, running about 4 kilometres south of Aix-la-Chapelle, then to and following the crest of Forst Gemund, then east of the railroad of the Urft [Page 248] Valley, then along Blankenheim, Valdorf, Dreis, Ulmen to and following the Mosel from Bremm to Nehren, then passing along Kappel, Simmern, then following the ridge of the heights between Simmern and the Rhine and reaches the river at Bacharach (all localities, valleys, roads and railroads above mentioned included in the occupied territory.)
—to be evacuated after fifteen years the bridgehead of Mainz, the bridgehead of Kehl and the remainder of German territories still occupied. If at that time the guarantees against unprovoked aggression by Germany are not considered satisfactory by the present allied and associated Governments, Germany consents to accept such similar guarantees as they may require.
—In case, either during or after this fifteen years delay, the Interallied Commission of Reparations recognise that Germany refuse to execute the whole or part of the conditions agreed upon by her according to the present treaty, the reoccupation by Allied and Associated forces of part or the whole of the areas defined by article 2 will take place immediately.
—If, before fifteen years, Germany meets all the engagements taken by her according to the terms of the present treaty, the withdrawal of the Allied and Associated troops would immediately follow.

Appendix II to IC–176F


Marquis Saionji to the President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau)

Mr. President: The Chiefs of Government of the Great Powers having already heard the Delegates of China on the subject of the question of the Province of Shantung, I wish to express in the name of the Japanese Delegation, the desire to see as soon as possible a further meeting to expedite the definitive settlement of this question.

Considering the peculiar importance of this question for Japan, I would be grateful, Mr. President, if you would keep us, so far as possible, informed of all steps in its furtherance.

Accept [etc.]

[Page 249]

Appendix III

Report of Committee on Shantung and Kiachow

[Same as appendix II to IC–176C, printed on page 227.]

Appendix IV to IC–176F

Chinese Statement

In regard to the Kiaoehow-Shantung settlement, the Chinese Delegates have carefully considered the question which the Council of Four put to them at its meeting of April 22nd,2 namely, Which China would prefer—the treaty with Japan, or the transfer to Japan of the German rights? If they find neither alternative acceptable, it is only because they see difficulties in both. To hold China to the treaty and notes of 1915 would be to give countenance to serious encroachments on Chinese sovereignty committed without provocation and consummated only after the delivery of an ultimatum on China; while to substitute Japan for Germany in Shantung would be to create a graver situation because of Japan’s propinquity to China, and because of her domination of Manchuria, which lies closely to the north of Shantung.

As regards the notes of 1918, they grew out of treaty and notes of 1915. They were made by China out of a desire to relieve the tense situation in Shantung Province. The presence of the Japanese troops along the railway and the establishment of Japanese civil administration offices in the interior of Shantung evoked such opposition from the people thereof that the Chinese Government were obliged to take some step to induce Japan to withdraw her troops and remove her civil administration establishments, pending a settlement of the whole question by the Peace Conference.

The Chinese Delegates regret that there exist certain secret agreements between France and Japan, and between Great Britain and Japan, pledging to support Japan’s claims to the German rights in Shantung. China was not consulted when they were made; nor was she informed of their contents when she was invited to join the War. But she, on her part, has been a loyal co-belligerent on the side of the Allies. Is it just that her rights and her future welfare should be thus sacrificed to the policy of aggrandizement of Japan?

The Chinese Delegates desire to point out that since the said agreements were made, France, Great Britain and Japan as well as China and other Allied and Associated Powers have all accepted, as the basis of the peace now being made, certain principles with which [Page 250] the said agreements appear to be in conflict. As it is an established principle that a subsequent act supersedes a previous one in case of their incompatibility, the agreements in question would appear to be no longer applicable to the claims of Japan.

The Chinese Delegates are in full accord with the desire of the Council to uphold, as a principle, the sanctity of accepted obligations, but they question themselves whether there is not a higher obligation resting on the Council now to remove serious obstacles to the maintenance of a durable peace in the Far East as elsewhere. The Council now has the solution of the Kiaochow-Shantung question in its hands; if it makes a settlement compatible with justice, it means peace in the Far East at least for half a century; and if it declines to make a just settlement merely because of the existence of certain obligations either imposed on China by threat of force or contracted by France and Great Britain in circumstances since entirely changed, it may be sowing seeds of a grave discord in the years soon to come.

Besides, China is now at the parting of the ways. She has come to the West to ask for justice. If she should fail to get it, her people would, perhaps, attribute the failure not so much to Japan’s insistence on her own claims as to the attitude of the West, which declined to lend a helping hand to China merely because some of its leading Powers had privately pledged to support Japan.

Appreciative, however, of the sympathetic interest of the Council of Four in this question and desirous to aid it in every way possible in its earnest effort to find a solution at once compatible with China’s welfare and conducive to peace in the Far East, the Chinese Delegates beg leave to submit the following four propositions as a settlement thereof:

Germany renounces to the Five Allied and Associated Powers her holdings, rights and privileges in Shantung for restoration to China.
Japan, being in possession of the said holdings, rights and privileges, engages to effect the said restoration to China within one year after the signature of the treaty of peace with Germany.
China agrees to make a pecuniary compensation to Japan for the military expenses incurred in the captun of Tsingtao, the amount of the said compensation to be determined by the Council of Four.
China agrees to open the whole of Kiaochow Bay as a commercial port, and to provide a special quarter, if desired, for the residence of the citizens and subjects of the treaty powers.

  1. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  2. See IC–175E, p. 142.