500.A15A5/597: Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation to the London Naval Conference (Davis) to the Secretary of State

34. In the course of a conversation yesterday with Craigie,2 a full report of which is contained in a memorandum being mailed,3 he told me in strict confidence that he had learned that the Japanese and Chinese are now actively engaged in negotiating a pact of nonaggression which Chiang Kai Shek4 had proposed himself, that the Japanese Foreign Office is reported to favor it and to be pressing the matter but that the military group in Japan is opposed because it would put an end to their operations in China.

Craigie added that if such an agreement were reached as would seem probable in the near future, it would automatically settle the Manchurian question if the situation were thus to be accepted by the Chinese.

Craigie said that speaking personally his idea is that if we are to get a naval agreement with Japan,5 it will be necessary to have some political basis and if such a pact of nonaggression were consummated, the Japanese, British, and ourselves might then enter into a pact of nonaggression in the Pacific which could give to the Japanese justification for entering a naval agreement to maintain the present status [Page 2]quo. I told Craigie I doubted if it were practicable now to try to reach any political agreement as it would raise questions that are now insoluble. Furthermore, that his suggestion raised some very serious questions that would require careful consideration before determining whether or not they would have political association, that it was doubtful if the pact of nonaggression would give China anything more than the Nine Power Pact6 had given in the way of protection, and that it might also seem ridiculous for us to enter into such a treaty with Japan which would in effect approve the past violation of the Nine Power Pact. Craigie stated that the British position is that the Nine Power Pact is still in force in effect and that he thought his suggestion should be carefully considered. He also said that if anything further came of his ideas the Foreign Secretary,7 himself, would take occasion to talk with me on the subject.

We realize the objections to excluding other interested powers from any nonaggression pact and of course will not give any encouragement to this idea. I seriously doubt if Eden, himself, would entertain such a limited pact which might have such far reaching consequences.

  1. Robert Leslie Craigie, British Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Dated January 6, not printed.
  3. President of the Chinese Executive Yuan (Premier).
  4. For correspondence regarding naval discussions, see vol. i, pp. 22 ff.
  5. Signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 276.
  6. Anthony Eden.