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.
United States of America
- President Wilson
The British Empire
- Mr. Lloyd George
- M. Clemenceau
- Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. Secretary.
- Professor P. J. Mantoux. Interpreter.
- United States of America
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 Hurst informed him that the Italian representative had withdrawn from the Drafting Committee and there was no one on that Committee who could put the clauses into Italian.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.[Page 249]