The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 12—1:25 p.m.]
261. 1. Foreign Office spokesman last evening made following statement to the press:
“According to the reports received, the Japanese military have, in violation of the arrangement reached for the suspension of hostilities at Lukouchiao, refused to carry out the complete withdrawal of their troops to the designated points. They have maintained more than 200 troops at Wulitien and have further effected a concentration of over 1,000 men at Tawayao, both points being a little to the northeast of Lukouchiao.
Beginning from 6 o’clock p.m., yesterday (July 10) the Japanese troops have launched a series of fierce attacks on the Chinese soldiers at Lukouchiao. In the meantime large numbers of Japanese troops have been ordered to the Peiping-Tientsin area from their stations both at home and in Manchuria, such military activities, indicating [Page 149]as they do that a large scale military campaign was contemplated, have further increased the tension brought about by the Lukouchiao incident. For this the responsibility rests solidly with the Japanese.
The Lukouchiao affair, it may be recalled, broke out late in the night of July 7, when a number of Japanese troops were engaged in illegal maneuvers at Lukouchiao. In the course of their war exercises the Japanese demanded to enter the walled city of Wanping for a search on the pretext that one of their men has been missing. How this could have happened is beyond comprehension.
Upon the demand being refused by the Chinese authorities, the Japanese immediately launched an artillery attack upon the city, thus giving rise to the outbreak of hostilities. It appears quite obvious that the Japanese troops acted in accordance with a preconceived plan.
It is to be pointed out here that the presence of foreign troops at Lukouchiao is without treaty sanction, and still less the holding of maneuvers there. The acting on the part of the Japanese troops is undoubtedly illegal. Acting in self-defense, the Chinese troops at Lukouchiao have put up a stern resistance. At the same time the Foreign Ministry lodged a vigorous protest with the Japanese Embassy demanding the immediate cessation of military activities on the front of the Japanese troops and reserving for China the right to make legitimate demands.
Meanwhile, the Chinese local authorities have been engaged in patient negotiations with the Japanese with a view to an early amicable settlement of the affair. Our firm determination and painstaking efforts to preserve the peace must be obvious to all impartial observers.
On the evening of July 8 an understanding was reached by the two parties on the following: (1) cessation of military activities on both sides; (2) withdrawal of troops on both sides to their original positions; and (3) Lukouchiao (bridge) to be guarded, as heretofore, by Chinese soldiers.
But unfortunately the tranquility thus restored was short-lived. As indicated by subsequent developments, the Japanese military, instead of showing the least sincere efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement, appear to have entered into the understanding with no other object than that of gaining time to call up reinforcements from [for?] a fresh offensive.
The policy of China is, internally, economic reconstruction and, externally, the maintenance of peace. So far as our relations with Japanese are concerned our policy is to seek a peaceful settlement, through diplomatic channels, of all outstanding issues on the basis of equality and reciprocity. Such being the case, the Chinese Government earnestly desires that the Japanese will immediately cease all military activities and, in accordance with the understanding previously reached, withdraw their troops from the scene of the conflict.
Furthermore, with a view to avoiding the possibility of future conflict, it is also to be desired that the Japanese will refrain from staging troops or holding military maneuvers in those parts of China where no foreign troops are allowed.
The carrying out of the above measures may be confidentially expected to bring about an improvement in the situation and facilitate the liquidation of the unfortunate affair. On the other hand, failure [Page 150]to take such action is likely to further aggravate the situation and increase the danger to the peace of Eastern Asia, in which everything [case?] the heavy responsibility will rest with Japan.”
2. Sent to the Department. By mail to Shanghai, Tokyo.