Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson) of a Conversation With the British Minister in China (Lampson) 88

I asked Sir Miles whether he had any recent information in regard to conditions along the Peking-Mukden Railway, and more specifically in the area which was to have been mutually evacuated under the truce signed at Tangku.

Sir Miles said that he had no information.

I stated that my information was somewhat vague; that the terms of the truce had been published by the Japanese. So far as I knew, I had seen no official publication by the Chinese, although I had obtained an official copy in the Chinese language from Vice Minister Liu, and upon comparing it with the text published by the Japanese found them to agree. I said that it seemed to me that the text followed pretty closely the text of the truce agreement which had been signed under our supervision at Shanghai on May 5th of last year, except that there was no neutral commission to supervise its performance.

I added that publication of the terms by the Japanese seemed to me to place the onus upon the Japanese of proving that the terms were not being sincerely complied with in so far as the Chinese were concerned. The terms, according to my reading of them, certainly called for evacuation by both sides. In so far as my information went, the Chinese had evacuated the area, while the Japanese had not. I was informed that the Japanese still maintained a force of over a thousand men at Miyun; that they had small forces at other places in the area; and that they were supporting, indirectly, if not directly, the so-called “Manchukuo” or renegade troops of Shih Yu-san and Li Chi-chun now located in the area between Shanhaikwan and Tangshan.

Sir Miles stated that he had been very anxious to keep aloof from the whole situation there. He referred to the conversation which I had had with Mr. Holman of the British Legation regarding the proposal of our respective military units at Tientsin to seek to get a train through to Shanhaikwan. He said that Mr. Holman had [Page 371] reported my views and that he at that time agreed with my views and had instructed Holman so to inform the military.

I told Sir Miles that my feeling about the matter was that we did not wish our troops to go to Chinwangtao either with the permission or under the protection of the Japanese. Sir Miles stated that that was his own attitude in regard to his troops, and that furthermore he felt that, as a military matter, it would be a grave mistake to allow British forces to go to Chinwangtao and Shanhaikwan and there get cut off.

With reference to the proposal which the Japanese military at Tientsin had made to several of the military detachments of the other powers, offering them an opportunity to join in despatching a train to explore the situation between Tientsin and Tangshan, Sir Miles stated that his military had taken the same attitude that our military had taken, and had refused to join in the undertaking. He supposed that the Japanese had put this plan into operation for the purpose of showing their determination to assist directly in the business of opening up communications along the railway.

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch No. 2203, July 15; received August 12.