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APPEAL OF THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT TO THE LEAGUE of nATIONS, 30 aUGUST 1937

   

 

 

(I) Communication and Appeal from the Chinese Government to the League.

 


(a) August 30, 1937.


On the evening of July 7 Japanese troops held illegal maneuvers at Lukouchiao, a railway junction of strategic importance in the vicinity of Peiping, where their presence could not be defended under any existing treaty or agreement. Alleging that one Japanese soldier was missing, Japanese troops demanded after midnight to enter the adjacent city of Wanping to conduct a search. When permission was refused by the Chinese authorities, the Japanese suddenly opened an attack on Wanping with infantry and artillery forces and thus the Chinese garrison was compelled to offer resistance.

While the Chinese authorities from the very beginning showed their willingness to reach an amicable settlement of the Lukouchiao incident, Japan has sought to exploit the incident for furthering her designs on North China and relentlessly forced China to resort to armed resistance, thus precipitating a sanguinary conflict of which the world has as yet only witnessed the beginning.

With a view to avoiding further hostilities and effecting a peaceful settlement with Japan through regular diplomatic channels, the Chinese authorities with great self-restraint and forbearance, in face of repeated provocative attacks by Japanese forces, proposed a mutual withdrawal of troops in order to separate the two opposing forces and, later, as unmistakable proof of China's peaceful intentions, actually proceeded to withdraw her troops from the scene of conflict even before Japan commenced similar withdrawal.

On the other hand, the Japanese deliberately aggravated the situation by immediately dispatching large reinforcements to the province of Hopei, by renewing their offensive in the Wanping-Lukouchiao area and by extending the field of conflict to the immediate outskirts of Peiping.

In spite of such grave provocation's, the Chinese local authorities continued their efforts for peaceful settlement and, on July 11, accepted the following terms proposed by the Japanese:

(1) expression of regret by a representative of the military authorities, disciplinary measures against officers directly involved in the conflict, and guarantee against recurrence of similar incidents;

(2) replacement of Chinese regular troops at Lukouchiao and Lungwangmiao by Peace Preservation Corps; and

(3) effective suppression of anti-Japanese and Communist organizations in the Hopei Province.

On July 12, the Counselor of the Japanese Embassy, accompanied by an assistant Japanese military attach‚ and assistant naval attach‚, acting under instructions from his Government, called at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and advised the Chinese Government 'not to interfere' with the local settlement which had been reached on the previous day. The Japanese Counselor received the reply that any local arrangement, in order to be binding, must be approved by the Chinese Central Government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also proposed the mutual withdrawal of troops to their original positions pending the final settlement of the incident.

While the Chinese local authorities were carrying out the terms Of the agreement by withdrawing their troops, the Japanese extended their warlike activities and provocative attacks to the Peiping-Tientsin area. By July 15 it was estimated that over twenty thousand Japanese troops and a hundred airplanes had been concentrated in this area with further reinforcements held in readiness on the other side of the Great Wall. Under threat of military coercion, the negotiations between local representatives were rendered exceedingly difficult, especially as the Japanese attempted to dictate measures for complementing the agreement of July 11.

On July 16, China presented a memorandum to the Governments of powers signatory to the Nine-Power Treaty (with the exception of Japan) and to the Governments of Germany and Soviet Russia, drawing their attention to the fact that the sudden attack on Lukouchiao and the invasion of North China by large Japanese military forces constituted a clear violation of China's sovereignty, contrary to the letter and spirit of the Nine-Power Treaty, the Paris Peace Pact, and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was also stated in the memorandum that, while China was obliged to employ all means at her disposal to defend her territory and national existence, she nevertheless held herself in readiness to settle her differences with Japan by any of the pacific means known to international law or treaties.

On July 17, the Japanese Embassy presented a memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting the Central Government not to interfere with local negotiations, nor to make military preparations of any kind. On the same day, the Japanese military attach‚, under instructions from the Tokyo War Office, made representations to the Chinese Ministry of War against the entry of Chinese reinforcements into the Hopei Province even for defensive purposes and threatened 'grave consequences' if the demand was not complied with.

To such preposterous representations the Chinese Government, on July 19, replied in writing, renewing its proposal for simultaneous cessation of troop movements on both sides and mutual withdrawal of troops to their respective original positions on a date to be agreed -upon by both parties. It was also unequivocally stated in the reply that for the settlement of the incident the Chinese Government was prepared to accept any pacific means known to international law or treaties, such as direct negotiations, good offices, mediation, and arbitration. Unfortunately, these conciliation demarcates failed to receive the desired response. That the Chinese Government went to the utmost limit of forbearance was shown by the fact that it did not raise any objection to the terms of the agreement reached on July 11 between the Chinese local authorities and the Japanese army. Thus it will be readily seen that since the outbreak of the Lukouchiao incident, Japan has sought to exploit it in two ways for realizing object of military, political, and economic domination over North China. On the military side, she persisted in sending to the Hopei Province enormous numbers of armed, forces that would only be required for a large scale campaign and, at the same time, sought to prevent the Central Government from taking precautionary defence measures, so that she would be in a position more effectively to bring the local authorities to subjection. Diplomatically, she has endeavoured to coerce the Chinese Central Government into keeping its hands off North China and agreeing in advance to whatever terms the local authorities, when left alone to face Japanese military pressure, might be forced to accept.

Finally, seeing that China refused to act according to their wish, the Japanese army presented an ultimatum to the Chinese local authorities on July 25, demanding, among other things, the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Peiping and its vicinity which, it may be noted, was outside the terms of the agreement of July II. Even before the expiration of the time-limit fixed by the ultimatum, Japanese military and air forces launched a big offensive against the Peiping-Tientsin area, causing a widespread feeling of horror and dismay by their wanton destruction of civilian lives and property, including many educational and cultural institutions.

After the Chinese troops had withdrawn from the Peiping-Tientsin area, Japanese armed forces further extended their operations into southern Hopei and also northward into Hopei-Chahar border, where fierce attacks are being made on the strategic pass of Nankou. It was estimated by August 20 that Japanese troops in North China totalled approximately a hundred thousand strong. The concentration of such large forces on Chinese soil shows that Japan is irrevocably committed to a policy of military conquest and expansion on the Asiatic continent.

Fearing that Japan would bring the war scourge to Shanghai, the financial and economic centre of China, as she did following her occupation of Manchuria, the Chinese Government, during the critical tension in North China, repeatedly ordered the local authorities at Shanghai to take special precautions against the occurrence of any untoward incident. China's efforts to preserve peace in that great metropolis were, however, frustrated as a result of the incident of August 9, in which one Japanese naval officer, one Japanese seaman, and a member of the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps were killed in a clash arising from the Japanese naval men's attempt to approach the Chinese military aerodrome near Shanghai, regardless of Chinese warning. While the Chinese municipal authorities immediately proposed that a settlement be sought through diplomatic channels, Japan again preferred the arbitrament of force. Within less than forty-eight hours, she concentrated about thirty warships at Shanghai and had her armed forces there increased by several thousand. At the same time, demands calculated to remove or undermine Chinese defence were made to the Chinese authorities. The expected attack opened on August 13, four days after the incident, when Japanese naval forces both ashore and afloat, using the International Settlement as a base for operations, launched an offensive against the districts of Kiangwan and Chapei.

Since then, the Japanese have extended their air activity to many provinces, including those of Shangtung, Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhui, Hupei, Hunan and Kiangsi. Daily raids have been made on Nanking, national capital of China, and various other cities of economic or political importance. There is every sign that Japan, relying on the numerical superiority of her air force, aims at crippling China's strength for resistance by extensive bombing operations in the most prosperous parts of China, where her economic and cultural life as well as foreign commerce are centred.

The above brief account of what Japan has done since the outbreak of the Lukouchiao incident on July 7 brings out the following facts most clearly, truthfully and indisputably:

1. Japanese armed forces have invaded China's territory and are extensively attacking Chinese positions by land, sea, and air, in Central as well as North China. It is thus a case of aggression pure and simple.

2. China is exercising her natural right of self-defence, the failure of all other means of repelling violence having compelled her to resort to force, which is contrary to China's wish.

3. Japan's present action in China is the continuation of her aggressive programme started in Manchuria in September 1931. Japan has now occupied the Peeping-Tientsin area and is bent upon extension of her occupation to the whole of North China and domination of other regions, in spite of all her assurances that she has no territorial designs on this country. She is attempting to destroy all the work of reconstruction which the Chinese nation has so steadily and assiduously undertaken during the last ten years.

4. In thus deliberately disturbing the peace of the Far East, Japan has violated the fundamental principles of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Using war as an instrument of national policy and ignoring all the pacific means for the settlement of international controversies, she has violated the Paris Peace Pact of 1928. Acting contrary to her pledge to respect the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial and administrative integrity of China, she has violated the Nine-Power Treaty concluded at Washington in 1922.