The British Embassy to the Department of State


His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have learnt that on May 6th a Japanese military spokesman at Tientsin issued a communiqué of which the following is a translation as quoted by the Peking Chronicle:

“With steady progress of Japan’s crusade, the establishment of a new order in East Asia is being expedited while the political situation as well as affairs in other fields of activities in North China have undergone epochal changes, and a new history is being written in this part which forms an area of close connexion among Japan, Manchukuo and China. Amidst this state of affairs foreign diplomatic institutions created upon the basis of the treaty in the days of Boxer rebellion continue their existence in Peking, while at Tientsin the foreign concessions maintain their positions like so many oases by virtue of [Page 171] extra-territorial rights, and large foreign troops are being stationed in the area despite the fact that the main duties of these troops lies in the safeguarding of communications lines. We cannot but regard this state of affairs as a sign of an anachronism.”

While his Majesty’s Government do not consider that there is any need to be unduly alarmed at this further evidence of a concerted plan to increase pressure on foreign interests in China, they feel that to allow it to pass unnoticed might encourage the Japanese to proceed to more concrete steps. His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo has therefore been instructed to take a suitable opportunity of indicating to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs his surprise at this statement of the military spokesman and to ask for an assurance that the views expressed therein were not those of the Japanese Government. Sir Robert Craigie is at the same time to make it clear that His Majesty’s Government would not for one moment be prepared to consider the unilateral modification either by the Japanese Government or by the puppet government set up by them of the existing status of the Legation Quarter in Peking or of the Tientsin concession, which is based on established treaty rights.

His Majesty’s Government are aware that the United States Government have already made representations and have received an assurance from the Japanese Government regarding the International Settlement at Shanghai.55 They feel however that parallel action by the United States Government in respect of North China would be of the greatest value in view of the fact that Japanese pressure may ultimately prove to be strongest in that part of China. His Majesty’s Embassy is therefore instructed to express the hope that the United States Ambassador in Tokyo may be authorized to make representations to the Japanese Government in respect of the Legation Quarter at Peking parallel to those which Sir Robert Craigie has been instructed to make.

The French Government are being similarly approached with the suggestion that their Ambassador in Tokyo should be instructed also to make parallel representations in regard to Peking and Tientsin.

  1. See pp. 1 ff.