798.94/14615: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva ( Bucknell ) to the Secretary of State

8. Wellington Koo24 addressed the Council this afternoon and gave an optimistic picture of the military situation in China. He stressed the determination of China to continue resistance to Japan and described Japanese objectives as conquest of China, subjugation of Asia and finally domination of the world. He described Japanese overtures of peace such as those outlined by Konoye25 as but sugar-coated and designed to give Japan sufficient pause to enable her not only to enjoy fruits of recent successes but to provide breathing space to prepare for further aggressions. Among other things he charged Japan was attempting to debauch Chinese people by all forms of drugs and vice and cited “impartial evidence” of American and European residents and tourists in China in support of his charges.

He described the deliberate attacks by Japan on foreign trade and investments in China and referred to repeated protests by Governments of the United States, Great Britain and France, quoting largely [Page 331] from the American note of December 3126 and from the recent British note. He insisted that it has been clearly shown that unless the Chinese people remain masters of their own destiny it would be impossible to safeguard legitimate western rights and interests and that respect for China’s sovereignty and maintenance of the open door are twin pillars of the Nine Power Treaty signed at Washington.27 He quoted at length from the President’s message to Congress of January 428 and said the President “has spoken with Statesmanlike courage and farsightedness against international aggression and has proffered the cooperation of the American people in support of the cause of democracy and peace”. Again quoting the President as saying that “there are measures short of war that are capable of exerting pressure against the aggressor” he asked for a boycott of Japanese goods and asked the Council to recommend an embargo on shipments to Japan of airplanes and petroleum. He also requested the Council to recommend member states to extend financial and economic assistance, and described as necessary an assurance for facilities of transit and transportation of Chinese war material. He concluded by asking that the Council institute a committee of coordination to produce the maximum effect of any measures taken by the governments of states whether members or nonmembers of the League, whether of assistance to China or of pressure against Japan. If a general committee was considered unfeasible for the moment then his friends would welcome a limited committee of coordination to be composed of the representatives of governments particularly interested in the Far East.

The Council decided to adjourn consideration of the request until a further meeting.

  1. V. K. Wellington Koo, Chinese Ambassador in France and Chinese representative at the Council of the League of Nations.
  2. Prince Fumimaro Konoye, Japanese Prime Minister; for his statement of December 22, 1938, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 482.
  3. Note No. 1153, dated December 30, 1938, delivered December 31; Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 820.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 276.
  5. Congressional Record, vol. 84, pt 1, p. 74.