793.94/2964: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Shaw) to the Secretary of State

822. From Ambassador Dawes. Following is report from Sweetser:

“Sze opened this morning’s meeting of the Drafting Committee with a statement that new complications seemed to be arising in Manchuria and that events might quite well swamp the negotiations in Paris. In reply to his question as to whether the observers had sent any definite news on Japan’s reported withdrawal, Cecil stated that the British Military Attaché with the Japanese had just reported that he had witnessed the withdrawal of [from?] Hsinmin, and Massigli stated that reports from French observers with both forces stated that the advance had not only stopped but withdrawal had begun though it was not yesterday clear whether this tendency was provisional or permanent.

Cecil then replied to Sze’s request for information as to the plan concerning observers by stating that the members of the Council [Page 599] desired to have a definite though fluid organization working upon the control of the diplomatic representatives at Peiping and able to go from place to place to work in unison and to collate reports.

He agreed with Olds’ definition that this would be a sort of flying squadron of observers able to go to any spot of danger working under the orders of the Governments and reporting to those Governments, which in turn would report to the Council. In reply to Sze’s question whether he might have the names and posts of the observers, Cecil said he was willing to give all details possible, that at the moment the British had observers at Mukden, Chinchow and Tsitsihar and that in addition there were at Chinchow the French Consul General from Mukden and a military officer; the German Consul General from Mukden; the Italian Consul General from Tientsin and the American Military Attaché and a language officer. As regards cooperation Massigli stated that the Chinese General at Chinchow had already convened a meeting of observers and established contact. Sze pointed out however that yesterday’s Japanese note seemed to put in jeopardy the whole principle of this system which constituted a very valuable guarantee for China.

Sze then made an important general declaration that China’s chief interest is in withdrawal and that if the fact of partial withdrawal can be established she would not insist on full immediate withdrawal. He did not give further details beyond indicating the importance he attached to some immediate Japanese action in this respect.

A detailed discussion then followed on China’s suggested amendments to the resolution. The Leger proposal aimed to prevent the appointment of the commission from being used to delay evacuation was discussed from two viewpoints. First, the Chinese wished to have it rephrased so as not to give the impression that the commission should investigate only China’s obligations regarding security but should also discuss Japanese obligations as well. Several drafts were suggested to meet this difficulty. Second was the more serious question as to whether this provision should be embodied in the resolution or in the President’s declaration. Cecil seemed to feel that the Chinese purpose might be better attained in the latter way which would naturally allow greater detail and explicitness than the former. Sze however supported strongly by both Olds and Willoughby urged as a matter of prime importance to China that this provision be included in the resolution itself which seemed to him the more binding and which certainly would be the document scanned by Chinese opinion. If an actual tune limit were not fixed the Chinese must have something very substantial giving hope of early withdrawal. The Committee took no decisions, Cecil however suggesting the possible compromise of including the provision in the resolution but handing its substance to the Chinese in advance to be telegraphed to Nanking. In this same connection Sze urged that while he of course himself understood that the President of the Council could convene that body at any moment of emergency and that a regular session was scheduled for mid-January, still it would help his public opinion if the precedent followed in the resolutions of September and October could be repeated and some public indication of an early meeting given. It was thought [Page 600] that satisfaction could be given to this request by the President stating that the Council remained seized of the question, entrusts its President with following it, and will meet again in extraordinary session, if necessary, before the January session.

The next most important point raised by the Chinese was the addition of the sentence ‘any question which by international law is solely within the domestic jurisdiction of either party, may be considered by the commission only with the consent of such party.’ Cecil reacted very strongly against this suggestion, which he felt would cripple, if not destroy, the commission. It was impossible he thought to draw a formula which would really distinguish between domestic and international issues without threatening the commission’s whole competence. The Committee had tried to meet this difficulty, however, by limiting the questions to those ‘affecting international relations.’ Massigli pointed out that what was desired was to get a photographic impression of the situation; a clause so ambiguous as Sze’s might be used to exclude almost everything.

As to the numbers of the commission, Sze expressed the opinion that three members would not be sufficient with so large an area and so many subjects to be covered. China would really like 9 or 11 members. Cecil reacted immediately against this, however, on the double ground that it would not lead to rapid and effective decision nor insure the high type of membership desired. Massigli added that many members meant many views and that the commission would after all report to the Council which is a large body. Olds thought three too small in view of possible sickness and the necessity of dividing up the work. Cecil concluded that he had never considered more than five.

Following this discussion Cecil informed Sze that he gathered from neutral sources that the system of government in Manchuria had broken down. He asked him to turn over in his mind whether he had any suggestion to offer to meet this suggestion. The Council seemed to be evolving a system for limiting military aggression but had as yet done nothing to meet the problem of lawless bands roaming the country, as is a quite familiar phenomenon following military occupation.

After Sze’s withdrawal Cecil stated he had just received an embarrassing letter from Ito to the effect that after his return from yesterday’s meeting, he had received new instructions from Tokyo. He enclosed a memorandum which seemed to go back upon much of the progress made yesterday and which sought anew to include in the text of the resolution the right of the Japanese to take such measures as necessary for protection against bandits. Cecil thought such a provision would be fatal and that the Council neither would nor could agree to it. In view, however, of the fact that this letter and memorandum was felt to put the Committee back where it had been before Ito’s memorandum and discussion of yesterday, it was decided to see him again this afternoon.”

  • [Dawes]
  • Shaw
  1. Telegram in five sections.