741.9411/28a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis)


471. Our 6038, October 2, 1919, 6 p.m. In spite of the formation of the League of Nations it seems likely that Great Britain and Japan will renew their Alliance. We are hopeful, however, that in making this renewal Great Britain will insist upon including in the terms of the Alliance such provisions as shall safeguard the principle of equal opportunity in China and the rights of China more effectively. We also hope that it will be indicated that the Alliance is not aimed at America. Although the Department does not consider this an appropriate or opportune time to take this matter up officially, we wish you to frankly inform us of your views as to whether it would be practical for you to suggest to the Foreign Office in an unofficial and personal manner that the Alliance might be changed in the way we have suggested, which would be a great aid to Anglo–American cooperation in the Far East and be very pleasing to American public opinion.

Specifically we suggest the following modifications:

To place in the preamble which states the respective interests of Great Britain and Japan in the Far East a clause including the substance of the final paragraph of the notes exchanged between Secretary Lansing and Ambassador Ishii87 which is as follows:88

“They mutually declare that they are opposed to the acquisition by any Government of any special rights or privileges that would affect the independence [Page 681]or territorial integrity of China or that would deny to the subjects or citizens of any country the full enjoyment of equal opportunity in the commerce and industry of China.”

To enlarge the exception found in article IV of the Anglo–Japanese Alliance so that it will include the Treaty for the Advancement of Peace, known as the Bryan Treaty, which was concluded between the United States and Great Britain on September 15, 1914.89

The inclusion of article IV in the present agreement was due to the fact that the negotiation of the Knox Treaty of General Arbitration was pending at the time, and it was intended by the provisions of article IV to remove the United States from the application of the Alliance. The Knox Treaty having failed of ratification, due to the action of the United States Senate, the purpose for which the exception was made would be fulfilled if its provisions were so extended as to include the treaty of September 15, 1914.

The suggestion might also be made, although in a less positive way, that since the orientation of Japan’s foreign policy is seemingly unstable, a limitation of five years upon the duration of the agreement might well be made again, instead of ten years, so that the British Government might have a less remote chance to influence the course of Japan’s actions in the Far East.

The consortium negotiations have revealed, it is felt, a common purpose held by America and Great Britain to resist the trend toward extending to China policies of special interests which tend to infringe upon Chinese rights and upon the Open Door policy. We hope that sentiment in Great Britain will respond to the proposal that in the Anglo–Japanese Alliance the principles which form the basis of the existing sympathetic Anglo–American cooperation should be more explicitly recognized.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1917, pp. 264 265.
  2. The quotation from the Lansing–Ishii notes which follows is not paraphrased.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1914, p. 304.