Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

After the Chinese Ambassador49 had spoken to me on another subject, during his call, he referred to the recent démarche handed to Ambassador Johnson by the Chinese Foreign Office, suggesting the idea of mediation by this government between China and Japan. He stated that his government had called this to his attention and he was wondering what we might have in mind in that connection. I replied that I would be glad to propound a question to the Ambassador, and that question was—what, in the Ambassador’s judgment, would be best for China? Would it be desirable on China’s part for an approach to be made to Japan for mediation without the slightest knowledge as to what Japan’s future plans relative to occupation and otherwise remaining in China would be in the event of mediation? The Ambassador said that if he might express his personal opinion he would readily say that this preliminary question as to Japan’s future intentions in China would be absolutely necessary. I replied that of course this Government has made many offers of mediation to both governments and that we have said repeatedly to the Japanese officials that we stand ready to exercise our good offices in this respect whenever it may be desirable on the part of the governments of China and Japan. The Ambassador said that his government might desire us to feel out the situation in respect to mediation at Tokyo. I repeated what I had just said, and added that, naturally, Japan knows when she might be willing to accept mediation and she knows of our standing offer, and that she will undoubtedly determine what her future policy will be with reference to the occupation of China, its extent and nature, before she will be ready to agree to mediation. Finally, I said, “You can say to your government, if you desire, what your individual views are with respect to the preliminary question I propounded at the outset, and then you can add that this Government has been keeping in mind all phases of the mediation question since the outbreak of hostilities and that it continues to do so, but that this does not necessarily mean that there are in immediate prospect any new developments.” I commented that the Ambassador could himself judge as well as we could as to this latter possibility and when same might occur.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. C. T. Wang.