Sih-Gung Cheng.

Modern China, a political study online

. (page 19 of 28)
Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 19 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

246 New Problems since the War

centres along the Tsingtao-Tsinanfu railway line. These
actions are neither in accordance with treaty obligation nor
justified by her claim to inherit German rights. They are
merely encroachments on the sovereignty of China and not
excusable on any ground.

Before discussing the future status of Kiaochow, it will
be well to consider who has the power to sanction the
transfer of a lease. It has already been stated that the
leased territory remains under the dominion of the lessor,
and that the lessee has only the power of carrying out its
administration for the duratio'n of the lease. It follows that
the lessee has no right to alienate the territory held under
lease. In the treaty with Germany it is definitely expressed
that Germany engages at no time to sub-let the territory
leased from China to another Power, ' and should she at
some future time express the wish to return Kiaochow Bay
to China before the expiration of the lease, China engages
to refund to Germany the expenditure she has incurred at
Kiaochow '. In truth, the lease is untransferable, and
Germany, though vanquished by Japan, has no right to
transfer Kiaochow to the victor.

Realizing this situation, Japan concluded a treaty with
China a few months after the capture of Tsingtau, to the
effect that :

' The Chinese Government agrees to give full assent to
all matters upon which the Japanese Government may
hereafter agree with the German Government relating to
the disposition of all rights, interests, and concessions which
Germany, by virtue of treaties or otherwise, possesses in
relation to the province of Shantung.'

In this connexion it should be said that it is unreasonable
to tie the hands of China by making it obligatory on her

Kiaochow Question 247

to give ' full assent ' to any arrangement that may be arrived
at. The conditions of the lease on which she agreed in 1898
are not necessarily acceptable to her at the present time.
The opportunity of altering thqm should not be denied her
when a new treaty is negotiated to authorize a transfer of
the lease to another Power. Moreover, as a territorial
sovereign having full power to dispose of her own property,
she is entitled to cancel the lease and to repossess herself
of the territory, in case the lessee is prevented from exercising
the delegated power over it till the end of the stipulated
term of the lease. She is under no obligation to grant Japan
any of the advantages formerly enjoyed by Germany. There
is no force in the argument that, as Japan has shed her
blood and treasure in the capture of Kiaochow from Ger-
many, she is entitled to some compensation from China.
The attack on Tsingtao was uninvited, and, in the domain
of law, created a breach of China's neutrality. On that
account, China is not only free to refuse any grant of com-
pensation to Japan, but is entitled to some compensation
for the violation. If Japan wants compensation, she must
demand it from Germany and not from China.

In addition to the above treaty, the following notes were
exchanged between China and Japan on May 25, 191 5 :

' When, after the termination of the present war, the
leased territory of Kiaochow Bay is completely left to the
free disposal of Japan, the Japanese Government will
restore the said leased territory to China under the following
conditions :

' I. The whole of Kiaochow Bay to be opened as a com-
mercial port.

' 2. A concession under the exclusive jurisdiction of
Japan to be established at a place designated by the Japanese

248 New Problems since the War

' 3. If the foreign powers desire it, an international
settlement may be established.

' 4. As regards the disposal to be made of the buildings
and properties of Germany, and the conditions and pro-
cedure relating thereto, the Japanese Government and the
Chinese Government shall arrange the matter by mutual
agreement before the restoration.'

The proposal of restoring Kiaochow to China confirms
the pledge of Japan as expressed in her ultimatum to
Germany, but it will be erroneous to infer from it that she
gives up her interest in the territory of Kiaochow. On the
contrary, the operation of the four conditions will enable
her to acquire all the rights, privileges, interests^ and
advantages formerly enjoyed by the Germans without openly
proclaiming herself their successor.^ According to a map
prepared by the Japanese Government, a concession under
her exclusive jurisdiction as contemplated in condition 2
will include the Customs, wharf, harbour, railway terminus,
and the land to be reclaimed from the seas adjoining the
properties now owned by the Asiatic Petroleum and the
Standard Oil Companies, who have already been offered

^ In a leased territory the lessee may station troops and erect forti-
fications, but in a concession he may not. It is not clear whether Japan
will withdraw her troops and remove her batteries in Kiaochow, when
it is converted into a Japanese Concession, but in the Agreement between
China and Japan signed September 191 8, Japan only undertook to
withdraw her troops from the districts along the Tsingtao-Tsinanfu
Railway and not those in Tsingtao. If she may still station troops in
Tsingtao, when it is restored to China its position will not differ from
that of a piece of territory leased to Japan. In fact, Japan would in
that case profit by making Tsingtao her Concession and not her leased
territory, because she would enjoy all the rights for an indefinite period,
whereas under the lease she would only enjoy them till the end of 1997,
when the original lease to Germany will expire.

Kiaochow Question 249

substantial compensation with a grant of other pieces of
land ; and this exclusive policy of Japan will not be inter-
fered with by the establishment of an International Settle-
ment, because she is to have the prior right of designating
the Concession under her own control. The Settlement
will, as it is proposed, occupy the residential quarter of the
town and, in the words of Mr. Robert Young, it ' will
wither away and die of inanition ', as it is deprived of all
commercial facilities and means of producing revenue. Its
prospect is made even more hopeless by the fourth con-
dition w^hich, stipulating for further agreement between
China and Japan on the disposition of the German Govern-
ment properties, would transfer to Japan with the nominal
consent of China all the important works in the International
Settlement such as the slaughter-house, the electric light,
the Government administrative offices, schools, courts, and
prisons. Moreover, ' large purchases of former German
property in the residential section are already being made
by the Japanese, who, by the time an international settle-
ment was formed, would be in a position to control it as
well as that apportioned as an exclusive Japanese Con-
cession '.^

The control of Kiaochow by Japan will be further
strengthened by her control over the two railway lines —
one from Tsinanfu to Shunteh in the province of Chili on
the Peking-Hanko\v line, and the other from Kaomi to
Hsuchow in the province of Kiasgsu on the Tientsin-Pukow
line — the right to finance and construct which was granted
to her by China in September 191 8.- Although the terms

^ Contemporary Review, March 1919. 'Japan at Kiaochou and the
Peace Conference ', by Robert Young.

- See below, Appendix IV.

250 New Problems since the War

of the contract for these railways have not as yet been
concluded, it may be reasonably presumed that Japanese
engineers and accountants will be employed and that
Japanese creditors will have control over the lines and their
properties during the currency of the loans. Chinese
Directors will probably be appointed, but in practice they
will be outwitted by the Japanese and will have no voice
in the management or construction, and the whole concern
will not differ from a concession to Japan. The conces-
sionaire will be in a position to control the rich coal and
iron districts through which the railways pass, and may at
some future date, under one pretence or another, demand
from China the right to exploit them. Kiaochow will then
be supplied with mineral produce, as well as innumerable
other articles, from the hinterland for the convenience of
Japanese merchants and shipowners. Japan may be generous
enough to open the railway traffic to merchants of other
nationalities on the same terms as to those of her own, but
if the South Manchurian experience is repeated, she will
subsidize her own citizens by secret preferential treatment
which is not only denied but even unknown to merchants
hailing from other lands. Under these circumstances it will
be easy to bring Shantung into her sphere of interest and
thence to penetrate into the neighbouring provinces, and
finally to realize her ambition of controlling the coastal
districts of China.

In view of these dangers, the Chinese delegates to the
Peace Conference brought their case relating to Kiaochow
to the Council of Ten on January 25, 1919. Above all,
they asserted that Kiaochow should be restored to China
because it was inhabited by the Chinese and was an important
district in a province which was the cradle of the Chinese

Kiaochow Question 251

civilization. Further, they refused to acknowledge the legal
validity of the treaties and agreements with Japan affecting
Shantung, and fortified their attitude by the following
arguments :

(i) China had declared war on Germany since August
1 91 7 and had abrogated all her treaties with Germany,
including the Lease Convention and the railway and mining
agreements. As the treaty of 1898, on which the treaty
signed and the notes exchanged with Japan in 191 5 relating
to Shantung are based, had now ceased to be valid, it
followed that everything derived from it was ipso facto

(2) Even if it was said that this argument was of no avail,
it could be easily seen that the treaty of 1915^, relating to
Shantung, and the conditions concerning the restoration of
Kiaochow had only been accepted as a temporary settlement,
because it was implied in the treaty itself that the whole
question would be examined at the conclusion of the war.
China had agreed to give her full consent to any agreement
that might be arrived at, but had not undertaken not to
participate in the negotiations preceding the agreement.
Now that she was authorized to appear at the Peace Con-
ference to plead her own case, she had the right to determine
the conditions on which, and on which alone, she would
give her full consent.

(3) China demanded direct restitution of Kiaochow by
Germany and not through the agency of Japan. This pro-
cedure, she believed, was only proper in view of her belli-
gerency -against Germany and would save the trouble of
taking two steps to make the transfer, when it could be
effected by one.

(4) In presenting this demand she was not ignoring

252 New Problems since the War

the sacrifice made by Japan in capturing Kiaochow from
Germany ; but, on legal grounds, she could not confer
on Japan any compensation because the attack, as already
explained, constituted an act of violation of China's neu-
trality. To cultivate goodwill and friendship with Japan
she would open Kiaochow of her own free will to Japanese
trade, and establish an International Settlement for the
convenience of her subjects as well as those of other States.
There was no need of a Concession under the exclusive
jurisdiction of Japan, because a special area, with its govern-
ment in the hands of the foreign residents, would afford
the Japanese all the security and comfort which they

(5) Although the agreement on the Tsingtao-Shunteh
and the Kaomi-Hsuchow Railways had been concluded after
.Vugust 191 7 and was not affected by China's action against
Germany, it should be cancelled, because it was only con-
cluded by China in order to induce Japan to withdraw her
troops from the districts along the Tsingtao-Tsinanfu Rail-
way, and to abolish her Civil Administration centres. The
intrusions of Japanese soldiers and officials had outraged the
feelings of the Chinese in the Shantung province and had
nearly brought about a riot which, as the Chinese Govern-
ment feared, might have produced very serious consequences
on the relations between the two countries. The agreement
was then accepted by China as a means of temporarily
removing the causes of popular dissatisfaction, pending the
settlement of the Kiaochow problem at the Peace Con-
ference. It should be remembered that Japan had originally
no right to station troops or establish Civil Administration
Bureaux in Shantung, and if she was not requested by China
to pay a compensation for this usurpation of rights, she should

Kiaochow Question 253

at least withdraw and abolish them without demanding
anything from China.

The Japanese delegates not only refused to accept the
arguments of the Chinese, but they were infuriated at the
fact that the case was brought before the Conference at
all. Pressure was brought to bear on the Government in
Peking, asking it to instruct its delegates in Paris to change
their attitude towards Japan. Had it not been for the
intervention of the American Minister in Peking on behalf
of China, Japan might have served her another ultimatum.
The whole American delegation in Paris, from President
Wilson downwards, appreciated the points of view of the
Chinese and the justice of their claims. Great Britain and
France, while they were sympathetic with China so far as
the principles of justice and nationality were concerned,
failed to see their way to help her because they had been
engaged to support Japan by the secret treaties signed in
February 17 and March i, 1917/ which, it is needless to say,
had till then never been notified to the Chinese delegates.

In April 25-30, 191 9, when the question of Kiaochow
was brought before the Council of Four for final decision,
people in authoritative quarters, especially the Americans,
were very hopeful that it would be decided in China's
favour. By this time, the Italian delegation had withdrawn
from the Conference owing to the disputes on Fiume, and
Japan, taking advantage of the embarrassing situation of
Mr. Wilson, threatened to follow the example of Italy,
should she not be given satisfaction. Moreover, she warned
the Council that, as she had already been defeated on the
proposal of racial equality, she could not possibly acquiesce
in another reverse without injuring her honour and pride.
^ See below, Appendix III.

254 ^^"^ Problems since the War

Great Britain and France had always reminded Mr. Wilson
of their support to Japan according to the terms of the
secret agreements, and it was feared that should Japan be
allowed to withdraw, they would align themselves against the
President. The consequence would probably be a break-up
of the Conference, and at a time when the whole world was
longing for peace such a break-up would be too dreadful
an event even for a man so strong-willed as Mr. Wilson.

On May i, 1919, the Chinese delegates were verbally
informed of the outline of the decision, transferring, ' with-
out any reservation ', all the rights formerly belonging to
Germany to Japan. ^

In Section VIII, Part IX, of the Treaty presented to the
German Delegates on May 14, it is provided that

' Germany renounces in favour of Japan, all her rights,
title and privileges — particularly those concerning the
territory of Kiaochow, railways, mines, and submarine
cables — which she acquired in virtue of the Treaty con-
cluded by her with China on March 6th, 1898, and of all
other arrangements relative to the Province of Shantung.'

The Chinese delegates protested against the decision, but
offered dn May 24 to sign the treaty with a reservation
regarding the clauses relating to Shantung, so as to defend
their rights and yet not to make an open breach with the
Allies. Informed on June 24 by the Secretary-General of
the Conference that no reservation was permitted, they
suggested ' that they should sign the treaty while making

^ The Japanese delegates verbally undertook to restore voluntarily
the territory of Kiaochow and the rest of Shantung Peninsula in full
sovereignty to China. It remains to be seen whether Japan will carry
out her undertaking. Even if she does, it does not make any difference,
for reasons explained on pp. 248-50.

KiaochoK' Question 255

a separate declaration in writing that such a signature should
be subject to a reservation which would enable China, after
signing, to ask for the reconsideration of the Shantung
question '. This proposal was again rejected. The Delega-
tion, however, later sought to secure a modification of
wording ' so that the signing of the Treaty by the Chinese
might not be understood as precluding China from asking
at a suitable moment for a reconsideration of the Shantung
question '. This last attempt at compromise again failed and
the delegates decided not to appear at Versailles on June 28,

It is held, however, that China should have signed the
treaty under all circumstances so as to accede to the Covenant
of the League of Nations, which will be in the position to
redress the injustice inflicted on her by the Peace Con-
ference. China has faith in the League, but she fears that
as the first business of the League will be to enforce the
Peace Treaty, it will enforce the clauses relating to the
Shantung settlement, should she sign the treaty without
reservation. There is no hope that the Executive Council
of the League would revise or cancel these clauses after they
have been legally accepted by China. In 191 5, when she
was forced by an ultimatum to accept the Japanese demands,
she was advised by some allied diplomats that she would
have her grievance adjusted by the Peace Conference, should
she consent to sign a treaty with Japan giving her satisfaction
for the moment. At the Conference, she was told that
a treaty once signed must be enforced, irrespective of the
circumstances under which the signature was got. She took
this painful lesson into her heart and is now convinced that
she will be in a stronger position to appeal to the League
should she be free of any legal tie. Moreover, she is hoping

256 New Problems since the War

to join the League by signing the treaty with Austria, of
which the Covenant of the League will also form the opening

§ 2. China in the War

The attitude of China towards the present war before her
entry into it was easy to explain. To the bulk of the Chinese,
a Briton did not differ from a Turk, or a German from an
Italian ; and a struggle between different European countries
was a matter of little interest. As for the members of the
Government, they were convinced that they ought to main-
tain an impartial and strict neutrality, as they had no more
grievance against one belligerent than against the other.
Great European Powers seemed to them to be all warlike,
as evinced in their several wars with China and in the
diplomatic pressure they had brought to bear on her.

No doubt it was clear to them that in August 1914 Great
Britain and France were unprepared for war and Germany
ready for it, and that the Allies unsheathed the sword to
defend their own territorial and political rights, whereas
Germany was out for vanity and gain. But China, it was
thought, was too distant from the aggressor to be affected
by his ambition, even if he realized his vision of a European
domination. Moreover, all European Powers had always
presented a more or less united front in their dealings with
China, and there were serious objections against her joining
one Coalition of Powers against another.

With the progress of the war, a steadily increasing interest
was taken by a small number of intellectual Chinese in its
causes and effects, and in its political bearings on the future
relations of China with other States. As happened in many
other countries, the military party, who were mostly trained

China in the War 257

in Germany, admired the efficiency and thoroughness of
her army and were fully persuaded of its invincibility. The
admiration was turned into fear of German revenge when
a warning came from some politicians on the side of the
Allies that for considerations of honour and justice as well
as of material interests China, if she ever departed from
neutrality, was bound to join the Allies against the Central

In November 191 5 it was reported that President Yiian
Shih-k'ai approached the Allies with a proposal that China
should make a declaration of war in their favour. The
report was promptly denied, but those who were qualified
to speak said that the proposal was made and discussed, but
that it failed to be carried out owing to the opposition of

It was not till the rupture of diplomatic relations between
Germany and the United States in February 1917 that
China once again considered the desirability of entering the
war. The President of the United States called upon all
neutrals to join him in a protest against the unrestricted
submarine warfare announced by the German Government
on February i, 1917 ; and China answered by dispatching
a note to Germany, asking her to abandon the policy of
a ruthless warfare on sea and warning her that, should the
request not be complied with, she would be compelled to
sever the existing diplomatic relations with her. In view
of the importance of the note and the moral that it carried
with it, it is worth while to quote it in full :

' A telegraphic communication has been received from the
Chinese Minister at Berlin transmitting a note from the
German Government dated February ist, 1917, which
makes known that the measures of blockade newly adopted

1832.13 Q

258 New Problems since the War

by the Government of Germany will, from that date,
endanger the navigation of neutral merchant vessels in
certain prescribed zones.

' The new measures of submarine warfare, inaugurated
by Germany, imperilling the lives and property of Chinese
citizens to even a greater extent than the measures pre-
viously taken, which have already cost so many human lives
to China, constitute a violation of the principles of public
international law at present in force ; the tolerance of
their application would have as a result the introduction
into international law of arbitrary principles incompatible
with even legitimate commercial intercourse between neutral
states, and between neutral states and belligerent powers.

' The Chinese Government, therefore, protests ener-
getically to the Imperial German Government against the
measures proclaimed on February ist, and sincerely hopes
that, with a view to respecting the rights of neutral States
and to maintaining the friendly relations between those two
countries, the said measures will not be carried out.

' In case, contrary to its expectations, its protest be
ineffectual, the Government of the Chinese Republic will
be constrained, to its profound regret, to sever the diplo-
matic relations at present existing between the two countries.
It is unnecessary to add that the attitude of the Chinese
Government has been dictated purely by a desire to further
the cause of the world's peace and to maintain the sanctity
of international law.'

In fact, it was only a Confucian courtesy characteristic of
Chinese diplomacy that prompted the Peking Government
to lodge a protest before the formal severance of diplomatic
relations. It was evident to every one that China, with her
military weakness and her financial stringency, was not in
a position to dictate to the German Government. Protests
from a secondary Power had hardly any weight in the Federal
Council at Berlin ; and it was fully anticipated that China,
having taken a bold step in denouncing a German policy.

China in the War 259

was fully prepared to make a further move which would
lead to her entry into the war.

On March 10, a month after the dispatch of the Chinese
note, the following reply was received from the German
Government :

' The Imperial German Government expresses its great
surprise at the action threatened by the Government of
the Republic of China in its Note of protest. Many other
countries have also protested, but China, which has been
in friendly relations with Germany, is the only State which
has added a threat to its protest. The surprise is doubly
great, because of the fact that, as China has no shipping
interests in the seas of the barred zones, she will not suffer

' The Government of the Republic of China mentions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 19 of 28)