The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson), [Telegram]

FEBRUARY 12, 1932-2 p.m.

11. Reference Department's 9, February 12, noon. There follows the text of a draft concerning which I have just talked with Sir John Simon. Please deliver a copy to Sir John before he leaves Geneva, explaining that this is merely a rough draft; that I shall be working further on it; that I shall welcome his comments and suggestions.

"To the nations who are either signatories or adherents of the so-called Nine Power Treaty 'regarding principles and policies to be followed in matters concerning China':

"The (blank) Governments, signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty, pursuant to Article seventh thereof, desire to communicate to their fellow signatories and adherents to this Treaty their views as to certain matters which have recently occurred within the territory of the Republic of China.

"I. This Treaty was concluded in 1922 in the city of Washington at a conference, participated in by many powers, at which the policy of these powers towards the Republic of China was fully discussed and the attitude which they should hereafter adopt towards the Republic of China was set forth in this treaty. The treaty represented the culmination of a policy towards China which had been developed between these powers for many years, known as the Open Door policy. In the first article of that Treaty the Contracting Powers, other than China, agreed:

"1. To respect the sovereignty, the independence, and the territorial and administrative integrity of China.
"2. To provide the fullest and most unembarrassed opportunity to China to develop and maintain for herself an effective and stable government.'

"The Treaty thus represents a carefully developed and matured international policy intended to afford to the people of China the fullest possible opportunity of developing, without molestation, their sovereignty and independence among the nations of the world, according to the modern and enlightened standards believed now to maintain among the peoples of this earth. It was known that China was in the process of developing the free institutions of a self-governing Republic after her recent revolution from an autocratic form of government; that she would require many years of both economic and political effort to that end, and that the process would necessarily be a very long one. The Treaty was thus a deliberate covenant of selfdenial among the signatory powers of all acts of aggression which were calculated to interfere with that development. But it was believed, and a study of the Treaty reveals that faith, that only by such a process of development could the fullest interests, not only of China but of all nations having intercourse with her, best be served.

"II. Six years later the general policy upon which the Nine-Power Treaty was based received a powerful reinforcement in the execution, by substantially all the nations of the world, of the Pact of Paris. These two treaties represent successive steps taken for the purpose of aligning the conscience and public opinion of the world in favor of a system of orderly development by the law of nations, including the settlement of all controversies by the methods of justice and peace instead of by arbitrary force. The program for the protection of China from outside aggression is an essential part of any such development. The signatories and the adherents of the Nine-Power Treaty rightly felt that the orderly and peaceful development of the four hundred millions of people inhabiting China was necessary to the peaceful welfare of the people of the entire world and that no program for the welfare of the world as a whole could afford to neglect the protection of the development of China.

"III. Although they have withheld adverse judgment pending the investigation which is to be made by the commission appointed by the League of Nations under the resolution of December 9, the nations of the world have watched with apprehension the events in Manchuria which have taken place during recent months. This apprehension was based upon the tragic experience of the last two decades which have made manifest the fact that in case of war no nation is immune from the danger of becoming involved in the conflict, however remote in its inception. The recent spread of these disturbances in Manchuria to the area of Shanghai, involving as it does the direct threat of danger to the interests of many nations, is further powerful evidence of this fact.

"IV. The rapid development of events in Shanghai seems to the (blank) Governments to give full cause for the deepest apprehension of all nations who have been interested in the policy of the two treaties to which we have referred. It is unnecessary to attempt to analyze the origin of the controversy or to apportion the blame between the two nations which unhappily are involved. For it is clear beyond peradventure that a situation has now developed which can not under any circumstances be reconciled with the covenants and the obligations of these two treaties and which is wholly abhorrent to the enlightened purpose for which they were conceived. There is now assembled in the port of Shanghai a Japanese force including over forty vessels of war and reenforced by a large expeditionary force of land troops. The very size of such an expedition is not only disproportionate to its avowed objective of protecting life and property in the city of Shanghai but is in itself provocative of counter-violence. Military airplanes have been bombing areas densely populated by helpless civilians of a nation with whom their operators are not ostensibly at war. Many miles away from the city where the alleged violence against Japanese nationals occurred, the Japanese Government is now engaged in military operations on a large scale. It is inconceivable that if the leaders of these two nations had been fully and equally imbued with the purpose underlying these treaties and had been adequately mindful of the covenants therein such a situation could have been allowed to develop or that at some stage a solution of their controversies could not have been otherwise achieved.

"V. The effect of this development of violence has been to threaten the very existence of the treaties themselves. This has been shown by the following occurrences which have greatly accentuated the concern of the (blank) Governments:

"(1) In rejecting a recent proffer of good offices from the British, the American and the French Governments submitted at the request of Japan, the Japanese Government has taken the position that it would not consent to the participation even as observers of any third nations in the discussions of questions arising between Japan and China in regard to that portion of China known as Manchuria. This would seem to deny to any other power even a signatory of the NinePower Treaty the right to participate even as an observer in negotiations involving rights and obligations comprised within that Treaty.

"(2) Again on February 8, 1932, the Foreign Office of the Japanese Government at Tokyo issued to the press of the world a suggested proposal that there should be created a system of 'demilitarized zones' around the principal commercial cities of China, out of which the forces of the Government of China should be excluded. The representative of the Japanese Foreign Office in advancing this proposal frankly affirmed that it was contrary to the Nine-Power Treaty but asserted that ten years' trial had proved that treaty to be ineffective.

"VI. The (blank) Governments do not concede that the Nine-Power Treaty is ineffective or inoperative or that it is to be discarded. They do not concede that such a situation as has arisen in Shanghai is inevitable, provided the covenants of the Nine-Power Treaty and the Pact of Paris are faithfully observed by those who have covenanted to observe them. They are unwilling to consent that the enlightened policy which has heretofore marked the efforts of the nations of the earth towards China and towards each other should be repudiated or abandoned without their most earnest reprobation. They do not intend to forego their legitimate prerogative, in view of their treaty rights and obligations, to participate together with the other powers concerned in any negotiations whereby those rights and obligations and the policies which they represent may be affected. They take this occasion to express these views in order that there may be no misunderstanding. They avail themselves of the opportunity afforded by the terms of Article seven of the Nine-Power Treaty to express frankly and without reserve their views upon these occurrences at Shanghai and their belief that if the covenants and policies of the Nine-Power Treaty and the Pact of Paris be allowed to be repudiated or repealed, the loss to all the nations of the world will be immeasurable. For this reason they further notify their fellow signatories and adherents to those treaties that they for themselves and each of them do not propose to recognize as valid any treaty, agreement, arrangement or situation which may be entered into or created in China by means of acts or policies which are in violation of the covenants of those treaties."


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. 164-167.

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