Statement by the Secretary of State (Hull) on North China, December 5, 1935

In reply to inquiries by press correspondents regarding the "autonomy movement" in North China, Chinese and Japanese activities in relation thereto, and the American Government's attitude, the Secretary of State said:

"There is going on in and with regard to North China a political struggle which is unusual in character and which may have far-reaching effects. The persons mentioned in reports of it are many; the action is rapid and covers a large area; opinions with regard to it vary; what may come of it no one could safely undertake to say; but, whatever the origin, whoever the agents, be what they may the methods, the fact stands out that an effort is being made-and is being resisted-to bring about a substantial change in the political status and condition of several of China's northern Provinces.

"Unusual developments in any part of China are rightfully and necessarily of concern not alone to the Government and people of China but to all of the many powers which have interests in China. For, in relations with China and in China, the treaty rights and the treaty obligations of the 'treaty powers' are in general identical. The United States is one of those powers.

"In the area under reference the interests of the United States are similar to those of other powers. In that area there are located, and our rights and obligations appertain to, a considerable number of American nationals, some American property, and substantial American commercial and cultural activities. The American Government is therefore closely observing what is happening there.

"Political disturbances and pressures give rise to uncertainty and misgiving and tend to produce economic and social dislocations. They make difficult the enjoyment of treaty rights and the fulfillment of treaty obligations.

"The views of the American Government with regard to such matters, not alone in relation to China but in relation to the whole world, are well known. As I have stated on many occasions, it seems to this Government most important in this period of world-wide political unrest and economic instability that governments and peoples keep faith in principles and pledges. In international relations there must be agreements and respect for agreements in order that there may be the confidence and stability and sense of security which are essential to orderly life and progress. This country has abiding faith in the fundamental principles of its traditional policy. This Government adheres to the provisions of the treaties to which it is a party and continues to bespeak respect by all nations for the provisions of treaties solemnly entered into for the purpose of facilitating and regulating, to reciprocal and common advantage, the contacts between and among the countries signatory."

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 301-02.

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