893.515/764: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

15. An emissary came to me last evening at the instance of a responsible official87 and, describing his conversation as preliminary in character and the responsible official’s use of him as due to long friendship between me and the emissary, said that due to continued pressure Chinese Government was faced with the probable early necessity of making decisions which would mark a definite turning point in the history of China and create complications involving all nations interested in the East. He implied that these decisions might conceivably result in the working out of an alliance between China and Japan. He suggested that Japan might extend to the whole of China the set-up already established in “Manchukuo,” alliance and all, with Japan developing and using China for aggressive carrying out of Japan’s policies in the Philippines and in Siberia. The alternative, continued resistance to Japanese pressure, was mentioned but not discussed. (I think there is doubtless present in the responsible official’s mind a realization that chances of Chinese obtaining financial aid as a result of Leith-Ross mission is conditioned upon China’s making peace with Japan more or less at Japan’s terms. In this connection one should recall Cadogan’s message to the Chinese Government reported in the Legation’s 106, March 4, 4 p.m., paragraph 9.88)

Admitting that the British Government could hardly be expected to make a specific reply to a more or less hypothetical question the emissary stated that the responsible official had asked him to inquire as to the probable attitude of the United States in the event of a decision by China such as that described above. (The emissary did not [Page 354]say but I inferred that the responsible official may be preparing arguments to meet some such decision as that described above and which is being forced upon the Government by leaders within the Government who despair of any settlement problems raised by Japanese activities short of complete submission entitled to a Japanese desire to destroy the political and economic destiny of China. The responsible official must in this connection be considered as one of several outstanding civilian leaders who have endeavored to introduce reforms and reconstruction in China with the aid of European and American advisers. They have also been prominent in acquiring and maintaining an active opposition to the Japanese. I, therefore, inferred that he was seeking some statement from me that might reenforce his argument.)

I told my visitor that he knew as well as I that I could hardly place such a question before the Department and expect a categorical reply. He could not tell me of any specifically increased pressure made by the Japanese that should bring on a crisis such as Kung seemed to fear. (Purchase [Pressure?] perhaps is the one created by the resignation of Wang Ching-wei and his followers in the Government and his return to office perhaps conditioned on an understanding that at the forthcoming plenary session in December a decision will be made as to whether they will continue the policy of resistance or follow a policy of submission.) I said to him that I was of course in no position to make any statement as to what the reaction of American Government to the Chinese Government’s decision would be and I was sure that the American Government would not care to influence that decision one forcing on the other not knowing the conditions prevalent within and without the Government here that would in the end crown such a decision with success or failure. I said however that any one conversant with recent state papers and documents emanating from the American Government might at least consider such factors as calculated to influence American policy in the East and I cited the Department’s letter to Senator Borah February 1932,89 granting commonwealth government status to the Philippines90 and the recently adopted neutrality resolution.91

Copy by mail to Peiping and Tokyo.

  1. Arthur H. Young, American adviser to the Chinese Ministry of Finance, was sent by Finance Minister H. H. Kung (893.515/765).
  2. Post, p. 551.
  3. See telegram No. 50, February 24, 1932, 2 p.m., to the Consul General at Shanghai, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 83.
  4. Act approved March 24, 1934; 48 Stat. 456.
  5. Approved August 31, 1935; 49 Stat. 1081.