From January 3 to February 3
Japan’s Policy in China.—Many students of Far Eastern politics found some special significance in the broad phrases of Foreign Minister Hirota’s speech before the Diet on January 22, in which he reiterated Japan’s position as “the stabilizing force of Eastern Asia” and her intention to “try to assist China” to recover stability and also “to meet the genuine aspirations of our country (Japan).” According to one view in Tokyo, what this would mean, and what would be expected to begin at the conversations held at Nanking at the close of January between the Japanese Ambassador and General Chiang Kai-shek, would be a program somewhat as follows: (1) Tacit acceptance by China of the new status in Manchuria, (2) China’s withdrawal from the League and acceptance of Japanese instead of Western military advisers and instructors, (3) closer economic co-operation, with possible loans from Japan, (4) aid from Japan in suppression of banditry, and finally perhaps a treaty (as with Manchukuo) making Japan responsible for the defense of China. Such a policy would indeed seem difficult enough, in view of the present hostile feeling in China, and it would not be carried out in brief time. If such were in view, it would give added significance to Foreign Minister Hirota’s statement that “the foreign relations of a country are a reflection of the moral power and material strength of a people," which in simpler terms means that a nation's foreign policy depends on popular support and material, or fighting, strength—a sentiment that other nations might well think over.
RUSSIA AND JAPAN.—In the course of the speech already mentioned, Foreign Minister Hirota expressed the hope that the Soviet Republic would "give special consideration to the erection of military works in the Far East, especially along the Siberian-Manchukuo frontiers, with the view of promoting mutual trust and assurance"—the meaning being, apparently, that Soviet removal of defenses and troops from Siberia would relieve the tension. Replying indirectly to this proposal, Premier Molotoff, speaking before the
Russian Soviet Congress at Moscow on January 31, called attention to the fact that among other treaties violated by Japan in Manchuria was the now almost forgotten treaty of Portsmouth, which called for the demilitarization of Manchuria by both Russians and Japanese. At the same Congress it was announced that within the past two years Soviet military expenditures have tripled and the army has been increased from 562,000 to 940,000.
INCURSIONS INTO CILAHAR.—Hostilities in January between Japanese and Chinese forces on the Western frontier of Jehol province called attention again to the possibility of further Japanese expansion in Continental Asia. The clashes, which involved a Japanese advance into the Chinese territory between Jehol and the Great Wall, resulted in about 300 casualties on each side, including 162 Japanese killed and 164 wounded. Though described by Japan as a "clearing of the area" west of the frontier, many Chinese looked upon the operations as a first step toward the extension of Japanese control over the province of Chahar, through which runs the main caravan route from Peiping to Outer Mongolia.
Shortly after the Chahar fighting, there was a conflict between Japanese troops and a Mongolian force near Bor Nor, a lake on the Manchukuo-Mongolian frontier. This had no serious sequel and was interpreted merely as another manifestation of Japanese peace making in northern Asia.
AMERICAN INTERESTS IN FAR EAST.—In Japan a good deal was made of the statement, supposedly emanating from the U. S. State Department, that although the United States still maintained its past policy in Manchuria, no American "interests" were seriously threatened by the episodes in Chahar and no action would be taken. This suggested the following comment by Mr. Edwin L. James in the New York Times of January 27:
When Secretary of State Stimson started on his crusade against the rape of Manchuria, we talked little of "interests." We talked of violation of treaties, of the alleged disregard of the anti-war treaty and of the Pacific pact. We stood on what we considered high moral grounds and we led the word in condemning the Japanese experiment in Manchuria by a common agreement of the powers not to recognize what was called the puppet State of Manchukuo. Great Britain had eleven times the investment in China that the United States had and almost ten times as much Chinese trade to worry about. But, nevertheless, we took and held the lead in blaming the Japanese for Manchukuo.
We brought forth for the benefit of the world the Stimson doctrine. This doctrine was stated in a note dated January 7. 1932, which in stating the position of the Washington government, said: “And that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty, or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.
Colonel Stimson obtained the adherence at Geneva of the other great powers to his doctrine and they pledged themselves not to recognize the State of Manchukuo. It was following this action that the Japanese quit the League.
Washington now denies any intention of disavowing the Stimson doctrine. But there is a difference between an active policy in support of a doctrine and a disinclination publicly to disavow it If and when the Japanese develop further their expansion into Eastern Asia, we will do one of two things—something or nothing. If we do nothing the Stimson doctrine will die; already there are important nations which would prefer to be rid of their pledge not to recognize Manchukuo.
Certainly there is being created a nice position for the Washington government. Probably Britain and other interested powers will have no objection to the United States continuing to bear the brunt of the responsibility for trying to block the Japanese plans. On the other hand, if we allow the Stimson doctrine to sleep, it is easily possible that Britain and other powers will find it advisable to embark on some new policy in the making of which Washington may share pari-passu and thus there may be more widely distributed the burden of Japanese resentment—or the benefits of Japanese gratitude.
Equality of Security.—Among many interesting passages in Ambassador Norman H. Davis’ talk on the London Conference, before the Council of Foreign Relations on January 29, the following on “equal security” is noteworthy.
The dominant issue involved was that of “equality of security” versus “equality of armaments.” I should like to state with all the emphasis of which I am capable, that I regard and I know the President regards—equality of security as a fundamental sovereign right of each power. If arms equality were the only means of making that right effective, I would be the first to advocate it. It is evident, however, that equality of naval armament not only fails to give equal security, but it is, on the contrary, utterly incompatible with equal security.
A moment’s consideration of the widely varying defensive needs of individual nations due to such factors as geographical location, coast lines, distribution of outlying territory, commerce on the sea, combined strength of land, sea, and air forces, etc., makes this clear.
Ambassador Davis also remarked that the significance of the 5:5:3 ratio had been much misunderstood.
It has been erroneously considered by some to mean to imply a different degree of national prestige or sovereign right, whereas it means nothing of the kind. As a matter of fact, military power consists of a navy, an army, and an air force, and the combined strength of Japan in these three branches of arms is greater than that of the United States; yet even so, I do not consider that this affects the national prestige of America.
Japanese Mandate Islands.—One of the interesting features of the League Mandates Commission Report published on January 4 was the examination of the Japanese representative, Mr. Ito, regarding the management of the Japanese mandate islands. M. Rappard, the Swiss delegate, pointed out the apparent inconsistency of 10 per cent of the expenditures being devoted to shipping subsidies because of absence of traffic, while on the other hand harbors were being constructed at heavy cost on account of traffic. It was further suggested that the Japanese reports should consist of something more each year than a statement that “nothing irregular” had been done.
Balkan Non-Interference Pact.—The essence of the understanding between France and Italy reached in January, aside from the colonial concessions to Italy treated elsewhere, was an agreement in favor of a non-interference pact for the nations of central Europe, including a "reciprocal undertaking not to excite or favor any action that might have the purpose of attempts by force on the territorial integrity or political or social regime of one of the contracting powers." Such an accord would be concluded first by Italy, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, and Austria, i.e., all the countries bordering on Austria, and would be left open to the adherence of France, Poland, and Rumania. The pact thus proposed was not actually formulated, and though both Austria and Hungary have already agreed to approve it, its adoption remains for the somewhat distant future. Nevertheless France had every reason to welcome this pledge on the part of Italy to join in a guarantee of the status quo in Central Europe.
Aside from the non-interference pact, the French and Italian governments agreed at Rome that Austrian independence must be maintained, and that they would consult together on measures to be taken if it were menaced. As regards German rearmament, both governments also pledged themselves to consult on measures to be taken in case any nation should attempt to alter its obligations in the matter of armament “by unilateral act."
COLONIAL CONCESSIONS.—In return for her co-operation in Central Europe, both France and England have apparently agreed to favor Italian priority of economic and other interests in the colonial sphere of Abyssinia and Northeast Africa. The definite concessions made by France to Italy in this field were as follows:
(1) A rounding-out of the southern frontier of the Italian province of Libya by a cession of about 44,500 square miles of territory taken from French Equatorial Africa.
(2) An extension of the eastern border Eritrea (Ital.) to include an island and a strip of shore line on the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.
(3) Transfer to Italy of 300 shares in the railway from Addis Ababa, capital of Abyssinia, to the coastal port of Jibuti in French Somaliland.
(4) Extension to 1965 of the agreement of 1896 regarding the Italian propulation in Tunis. Up to 1965, children born in Tunis of Italian parents may retain Italian nationality, though those bore after 1945 will have the right to choose as to whether they desire to remain French or Italian.
ITALY AND ABYSSINIA.—A relation is evident between Italy's new colonial position and the recent disturbances in which she has been involved on the Abyssinian frontier. As a result of the December incidents at Ualual and elsewhere, Abyssinia on January 3 made a direct appeal for League intervention, backing her protest by maps which showed Ualual 60 miles within Abyssinian territory and also by testimony of the British officer present which tended to show Italian responsibility for the fighting. The League Council, however, decided at its January session to postpone action, pending efforts at settlement by direct negotiations between the 270 states. To secure this result, Italy, it was said, dropped her demand for apologies, salutes, and also for material reparation. Matters still unsettled include the question of responsibility for the incidents, which Abyssinia wishes to have decided by arbitration, and also a final delimitation of the disputed frontier. Behind Abyssinia’s protests to the League may be seen her increased fear of pressure from the European powers whose territories completely surround her.
SAAR RETURNS TO GERMANY
Results of Plebiscite.—The plebiscite in the Saar Basin on January 13 resulted, as expected, in an overwhelming vote in favor of return to Germany. Out of a total 528,000 votes, 477,000, or over 90 per cent, favored German rule. About 46,500 votes were cast for continued supervision by the League of Nations, and only about 2,000 for rule by France. The League Council four days later set March 1 as the date for restoration of German control in the district, provided all preliminary arrangements were completed. These included settlement with France for the transfer of mines and other French interests, guarantees for the protection of non-German elements in the population, and also certain measures for demilitarization of the district, which were insisted upon by France at the Council session. The demilitarization agreement, as accepted by Germany, is designed to prevent further development of strategic railroads and highways, construction of arsenals, or establishment of troop bases.
German Irredentism Aroused.—As a consequence of the Saar vote, there was a notable revival of sentiment in Germany, and among Germans in districts lost as a result of the war, for a return of these territories to German control. The German press declared that a plebiscite in the Memel district, now under Lithuanian mandate, would undoubtedly result as in the Saar. Protests were also directed against the alleged concentration of Lithuanian troops on the East Prussian frontier, and against Lithuanian violations of the statute which set up Memel as an autonomous state. In the little cantons of Eupen and Malmedy, annexed by Belgium after the war, the Belgian government felt called upon to arrest pro-German agitators and increase police protection. There was talk of a plebiscite in North Schleswig, of action in Danzig, and of ill-treatment of German minorities in Central Europe, and apparently it was only the agreement with Poland that presented renewed talk of the Polish Corridor grievance. In fact, the return of the Saar, far from satisfying the Reich, seem likely to result in increased agitation for upsetting the peace settlements elsewhere as established by the postwar treaties.
Franco-British Conference.—The Franco-Italian agreement of early January paved the way for a meeting between French and British ministers which was held at London early in February, and which reached the following results:
(1) Both powers were willing to cancel the military restrictions of the Versailles Treaty (but not the demilitarized Rhine zone), on condition that (2) a general convention on limitation of armaments be concluded, which would require the signature of Germany and her return to the Arms Conference and the League.
It will be seen that, although this was not getting far, it marked a French departure from the intransigent stand taken by M. Barthou last year. Briefly, the aim of British policy is to prevent the isolation of Germany and bring her back if possible into the League, into an arms agreement, and into general European co-operation. The British view is that since German rearmament is in process and in fact largely accomplished, it would be better to have it legalized and brought under some general system of limitations. France insists that this legalization must be preceded by Germany's return to the League and by such guarantees as might be afforded by her signing of the Eastern Security Pact and the Austrian pact. She has already made a second request to Germany to iota the Eastern pact, in a note of January 14. Germany, despite the discomforts of her present isolation in Europe, is in a mood to look warily at these schemes to bring her back into the "concert of Europe."
CABECET CHANGES LN ITALY.—On January 24, Premier Mussolini made a clean sweep of his Italian cabinet, retaining himself the six ministries which he already headed in person—Foreign Affairs, Interior, War, Navy, Air, and Colonies—but placing new ministers and undersecretaries in the remaining six posts. The changes were made in accordance with the established policy of rotation in office or periodic "change of guard" in the key positions of the fascist state.
NEW RULE IN BULGARIA.—By an assertion of personal authority, King Boris of Bulgaria on January 22 suddenly accomplished the overthrow of the Gueorgieff Cabinet, which was set up by military leaders in May, 1934, and had ruled the country thereafter with dictatorial powers. A new ministry was established under the leadership of General Petko Zlateff, who had been Minister of War in the preceding cabinet. Three other former ministers were also retained. Under the restored authority of King Boris, it is expected that the new government will be more pro-German in tendency and less inclined toward the projected linking up of Bulgaria with her neighbors in the Balkan Entente.
UNITED STATES AND EUROPE
SENATE REJECTS WORLD COURT.—Contrary to confident expectations, the U. S. Senate in January refused to ratify protocols for the accession of the United States to the World Court by a vote of 52 in favor to 36 opposed, or 7 less than the two-thirds majority required. The result was attributed to careless administration support and well-organized senatorial opposition, together with a strong resurgence of anti-European-entanglement sentiment
throughout the country. Opposition to the World Court is based on the same feelings which have built up an overwhelming opposition to American entry into the League of Nations. Senator W. G. McAdoo, who was paired against the protocols and who had recently returned from a visit to the Philippines and travel in Europe, declared that he was glad to see the World Court issue disposed of for a long time to come, and that, although once favorable to League entry, he now opposed any form of the %Yu entanglement. He also welcomed the Japanese denunciation of the Washington Treaty, as giving opportunity for the development of a Navy “to protect American interests under all circumstances and everywhere.”
Progress of Foreign Trade.—The end of January was marked by an apparently final deadlock in Soviet-American debt and trade negotiations, and on the other hand by the signing of the long pending trade agreement between the United States and Brazil. The new Brazilian treaty clips 25 per cent off the Brazilian tariffs on 67 American products, in return for a reduced American tariff on Brazilian exports and an agreement to keep coffee and eleven other Brazilian products on the free list. The Soviet negotiations were brought to an end after a brief interview between Secretary Hull and Ambassador Troyanovsky on January 31, the main difficulty being the amount of the proposed American loan. According to the State Department, the American offer was to guarantee, through the Export-Import Bank, up to 75 per cent of all credits granted by American producers and exporters for Soviet purchases.
As regards the general status of American foreign trade in 1934, the Secretary of the Treasury reported an increase over 1933 from 1.6 to 2.1 billion dollars in exports, or 27 per cent, and an increase of imports from 1.4 to 1.6 billion, or 14 per cent, giving a favorable balance of trade of $378,000,000.
UNITED STATES AND LATIN AMERICA
League Intercession in Chaco.—The League Chaco Commission, meeting in mid-January, took action on Paraguay’s refusal to accept League mediation, first by extending to February 24 the time limit for Paraguay’s acceptance, and second by suggesting that members of the League be prepared to apply the arms embargo, now enforced against both belligerents, to Paraguay alone. Such action on the part of the United States, however, is made difficult by the fact that the congressional joint resolution which gave the President power to prohibit arms exports to the Chaco requires that it be applied “to the countries now engaged,” i.e., to both belligerents.
Suggestions as to further League action, in the event of Paraguay’s persistent rejection of League offers, have included economic boycott and even blockade, though it is recognized that such measures would inflict punishment without consideration of the question as to which nation was the original aggressor or was responsible for the war. Meantime, despite heavy rains, Paraguay has made further progress in clearing the northwest Chaco and closing in on the Bolivian base at Villa Montes.
Report on Cuba.—In January a special commission on Cuba, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and invited to Cuba by the Mendieta government, issued a 500-page report of its investigation. The report was rather pessimistic, indicating that little progress had been made toward social and economic reforms or return to constitutional rule, and that the country was still in danger of dictatorship. It criticized American representatives in Cuba for alleged influence in overthrowing the Grau regime and placing President Mendieta in power, and expressed the hope that “the ambiguous activities of American diplomats in influencing the internal composition of governments will come to an end.” On the other hand, it suggested “some autonomous body of foreign experts” to tell Cuba what to do.
To Investigate Mexico.—On the same date as the Cuban report just noted, Senator Borah introduced in the U. S. Senate a resolution requesting an appropriation of $10,000 to investigate religious persecution in Mexico, and calling upon the Mexican government to cease denying the “fundamental and inalienable rights of American citizens in Mexico.” The resolution, to which the State Department was reported as opposed, was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Coincident with the Borah resolution' came press notices of rebel activities in 9 of the 28 states of Mexico and of the trial of 18 prisoners on charges of sedition.
REVOLT IN URUGUAY.-At the close of January, Argentine press reports announced a widespread revolt in Uruguay against President Gabriel Terra, who gained dictatorial power by a coup d'etat in 1933, and recently had himself elected for a second term beginning March 1. The fate of the government is apparently dependent on whether or not army support can be gained for the rebellion.