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the future” and that the Japanese Government had made no promises to do so.

This statement, which seemed in contradiction of the ultimatum to Germany, was made in the Japanese Diet. It was followed upin January, 1915, by the famous “Twentyone Demands" made upon the Government at Peking. It is needless to go into these demands further than to quote the first to which China was to subscribe.


“The Chinese Government agrees that when the Japanese Government hereafter approaches the German Government for the transfer of all rights and privileges of whatsoever nature enjoyed by Germany in the Province of Shantung, whether secured by treaty or in any other manner, China shall give her full assent thereto."

The important point to be noted in this demand is that Japan did not consider that the occupation of Kiao-Chau and the seizure of the German concessions transferred title to her, but looked forward to a future transfer by treaty.

The “Twenty-one Demands” were urged with persistency by the Japanese Government and finally took the form of an ultimatum as to all but Group V of the “Demands.” The Peking Government was in no political or military condition to resist, and, in order to avoid an open rupture with their aggressive neighbor, entered into a treaty granting the Japanese demands.

China, following the action which the United States had taken on February 3, 1917, severed diplomatic relations with Germany on March 14, and five months later declared war against her announcing at the same time that the treaties, conventions, and agreements between the two countries were by the declaration abrogated. As to whether a state of war does in fact abrogate a treaty of the character of the Sino-German Treaty of 1898 some question may be raised under the accepted rules of international law, on the ground that it was a cession of sovereign rights and constituted an international servitude in favor of Germany over the territory affected by it. But in this particular case the indefensible duress employed by the German Government to compel China to enter into the treaty introduces another factor into the problem and excepts it from any general rule that treaties of that nature are merely suspended and not abrogated by war between the parties. It would seem as if no valid argument could be made in favor of suspension because the effect of the rule would be to revive and perpetuate an inequitable and unjustifiable act. Morally and legally the Chinese Government was right in denouncing the treaty and agreements with Germany and in treating the territorial rights acquired by coercion as extinguished.

It would appear, therefore, that, as the Japanese Government recognized that the rights in the Province of Shantung had not passed to Japan by the forcible occupation of Kiao-Chau and the German concessions, those rights ceased to exist when China declared war against Germany, and that China was, therefore, entitled to resume full sovereignty over the area where such rights previously existed. It is true that subsequently, on September 24, 1918, the Chinese and Japanese Governments by exchange of notes at Tokio entered into agreements affecting the Japanese occupation of the Kiao-Chau-Tsinan Railway and the adjoining territory, but the governmental situation at Peking was too precarious to refuse any demands made by the Japanese Government. In fact the action of the Japanese Government was very similar to that of the German Government in 1898. An examination of these notes discloses the fact that the Japanese were in possession of the denounced German rights, but nothing in the notes indicates that they were there as a matter of legal right, or that the Chinese Government conceded their right of occupation.

This was the state of affairs when the Peace Conference assembled at Paris. Germany had by force compelled China in 1898 to cede to her certain rights in the Province of Shantung. Japan had seized these rights by force in 1914 and had by threats forced China in 1915 to agree to accept her disposition of them when they were legally transferred by treaty at the end of the war. China in 1917 had, on entering the war against Germany, denounced all treaties and agreements with Germany, so that the ceded rights no longer existed and could not legally be transferred by Germany to Japan by the Treaty of Peace, since the title was in China. In fact any transfer or disposition of the rights in Shantung formerly belonging to Germany was a transfer or disposition of rights belonging wholly to China and would deprive that country of a portion of its full sovereignty over the territory affected.

While this view of the extinguishment of the German rights in Shantung was manifestly the just one and its adoption would make for the preservation of permanent peace in the Far East, the Governments of the Allied Powers had, early in 1917, and prior to the severance of diplomatic relations between China and Germany, acceded to the request of Japan to support, “on the occasion of the Peace Conference,” her claims in regard to these rights which then existed. The representatives of Great Britain, France, and Italy at Paris were thus restricted, or at least embarrassed, by the promises which their Governments had made at a time when they were in no position to refuse Japan's request. They might have stood on the legal ground that the Treaty of 1898 having been abrogated by China no German rights in Shantung were in being at the time of the Peace Conference, but they apparently were unwilling to take that position. Possibly they assumed that the ground was one which they could not take in view of the undertakings of their Governments; or possibly they preferred to let the United States bear the brunt of Japanese resentment for interfering with the ambitious schemes of the Japanese Government in regard to China. There can be little doubt that political, and possibly commercial, interests influenced the attitude of the European Powers in regard to the Shantung Question.

President Wilson and the American Commissioners, unhampered by previous commitments, were strongly opposed to acceding to the demands of the Japanese Government. The subject had been frequently considered during the early days of the negotiations and there seemed to be no divergence of views as to the justice of the Chinese claim of right to the resumption of full sovereignty over the territory affected by the lease and the concessions to Germany. These views were further strengthened by the presentation of the question before the Council of Ten. On January 27 the Japanese argued their case before the Council, the Chinese delegates being present; and on the 28th Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo spoke on behalf of China. In a note on the meeting I recorded that “he simply overwhelmed the Japanese with his argument.” I believe that that opinion was common to all those who heard the two presentations. In fact it made such an impression on the Japanese themselves, that one of the delegates called upon me the following day and attempted to offset the effect by declaring that the United States, since it had not promised to support Japan's contention, would be blamed if KiaoChau was returned directly to China. He added that there was intense feeling in Japan in regard to the matter. It was an indirect threat of what would happen to the friendly relations between the two countries if Japan's claim was denied.

The sessions of the Commission on the League of Nations and the absence of President Wilson from Paris interrupted further consideration of the Shantung Question

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