893.102 Tientsin/247: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

1124. The Chief of the Far Eastern Division at the Foreign Office66 said to me this afternoon that he was decidedly concerned over the situation at Tientsin. He feels that the British may not be acting wisely in refusing to turn over to the Japanese the four Chinese terrorists who are detained in the British Concession. The French Consul General at Tientsin has cabled his opinion that a way should be found to meet the Japanese demand, adding that this view is in fact shared by his British colleague. It is felt here that the British might do better to leave the solution of this problem in the hands of their Consul General who is on the ground and in touch with all phases of the situation rather than attempt to handle it from the [Page 180] Foreign Office in London. The French are expressing this point of view to the British.

Chauvel read me a cablegram received from the French Ambassador at Tokyo67 dated June 9 expressing the view that the Japanese Government is deliberately seeking to create all possible difficulties for the British while at the same time making every effort to avoid difficulties with France and the United States. The objective is to drive a wedge between the British on the one hand and the Americans and French on the other. The Ambassador reported that he had been “discreetly and distantly” approached by Japanese officials with the general proposition that if things get worse for the British, they might get better for the French. He added that the Dutch Minister68 had been approached along the same lines.

Chauvel said that in a conversation this morning with the British Embassy the latter also had stated their belief that British interests were now being singled out as the target for Japanese attacks. Chauvel added that he thought it would be extremely unfortunate if the question of the foreign Concessions were to be thrown open again because of this incident at Tientsin. When this question had arisen at Kulangsu and Shanghai it had been effectively dealt with by the action of the Western Powers. It seemed unwise to provoke a showdown now at Tientsin because in the first place the merits of the case seem doubtful and in the second place the location of the Concession, where large naval vessels cannot approach it, render difficult the landing of effective assistance.

  1. Jean Chauvel.
  2. Charles Arsène-Henry.
  3. J. C. Pabst.