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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 21
Japan, the U.S., and China, 1939 to early 1940

As 1939 turned to 1940, having decided to not fight Hitler's Germany in Europe, President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Cordell Hull put much thought into winning a war with Japan for supremacy in Asia. Japan, afraid of Russia, had abandoned plans to blockade Shanghai and the British Empire's colony of Hong Kong in China. On September 15, 1939 Hull has a second long talk with Japanese Ambassador Horinouchi. He claimed that the U.S. had been planning to withdraw its troops from China "as soon as Chinese authorities could preserve order," but had left them when Japan invaded China. [WPM: the Japanese were well aware of the endless string of broken U.S. promises to non-white nations, including to Japan. But Hull probably believed what he said.] [p. 720-721]

Hull refused to remove U.S. troops from China, and claimed the U.S. stood for "absolute equality of industrial rights and opportunities" among nations. [721]

The British Empire, on October 20, informed Hull that it intended to withdraw its troops from Tientsin and Peiping [Tianjin and Beijing], but not from Shanghai or Hong Kong. In November the French Empire also announced it would withdraw its troops from northern China. Also in October the new Foreign Minister of Japan, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, started new discussions with American Ambassador Grew "to settle American-Japanese differences. Simultaneously there was a lettting up of Japanese bombings in China and incidents involving Americans." Chinese war lord Chiang Kai-shek asked the U.S. to call a Far East settlement conference, but Hull and Roosevelt refused [723-724. See text for the lame excuses]

About that time the Japanese were helping Chiang Kai-shek's former second in command, Wang Ching-wei, to set up a stable, non-warlord based Chinese government headquartered in Nanking [Nanjing]. Hull complained to Grew and Ambassador Horinouchi in January of 1940 that this new government of China was intended to deprive the U.S., British, and French empires of their "rights" in China. [724-725] The new government began official operations in March. Hull issued a statement that the U.S. would continue to recognize the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship as the true government of China [725. Compare Hull's abandonment of the elected government of Spain in favor of the dictator Francisco Franco].

Hull complained that he had no one to complain to about U.S. interests in China, since the Japanese referred him to the Wang government and he refused to have diplomatic relations with it.

The U.S. terminated its commercial treaty with Japan on January 26, 1940. Hull noted that "Japan did not at present discriminate against our shipping to Japan." President Roosevelt would have the power to make decisions about any restrictions on trade on an individual basis. [725-726]

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