China and the United States of America
Notes from Japan, China and the Powers

For The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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China and the U.S. from Versailles to the end of World War II

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All [page numbers] reference China, Japan, and the Powers by Meribeth E. Cameron, Thomas H. D. Mahoney, and George E. McReynolds. The Ronald Press Company, New York. Copyright 1952

Manchuria as a bone of contention between China, the U.S., and Japan flared up on September 18, 1931 when an explosion along the South Manchurian Railroad was blamed by the Japanese on Chinese troops. Japan seized Mukden in less than 8 hours. It appeared the Japanese response was made by the Kwantung Army without authorization. Japan was in full control of South Manchuria by the end of 1931. The League of Nations sent a commission of inquiry, but did nothing. The U.S. simply said that whoever controlled Manchuria had to adhere to the open door policy. On February 19, 1932 the state of Manchukuo proclaimed independence from China, with Japanese backing. The last Manchu with a legitimate title to be Emperor of China, Henry Pu-yi, became the head of state. “Japanese policy had gone to great lengths to create the impression that the separatist movement which culminated in independence was both spontaneous and purely local in character.” Japan signed a treaty with Manchukuo on September 15, 1932. [449-453]

The League of Nation’s Lytton Report of October 2, 1932, came out against the Japanese on every point. The full Assembly approved the report on February 24, 1933 and adopted a policy of not recognizing Manchukuo. On March 27, 1933 Japan resigned from the League. On May 31, 1933 the Chinese and Japanese signed the Tangku Truce, recognizing the Great Wall as the boundary for Japanese troops, with a demilitarized zone south of the wall. [453-455]

The raising of tariff barriers around the world because of the Great Depression made China increasingly important to the Japanese economy. Also Japan was concerned about the spread of Communism in China. [456]

The U.S. refused to recognize Manchukuo and felt it was a violation of U.S. open door policy. A note dated April 15, 1935 said “… upon the Japanese Government must rest the ultimate responsibility for injury to American interests resulting from the creation and operation of the petroleum monopoly in Manchuria.” U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull also opposed “The Japanese effort in late 1935 to turn five northern Chinese provinces—Hopei, Ch’ahar, Suiyuan, Shansi, and Shantung—into an autonomous area.” [474]

While Japan (or its “puppet government”) occupied China [led by Wang Ching-wei], the U.S. and Great Britain finally decided to give up their extraterritoriality privileges in treaties singed January 11, 1943 with Chiang Kai-shek. The U.S. also finally repealed laws excluding Chinese from the U.S. on December 17, 1943. The new law allowed 105 Chinese to immigrate to the U.S. annually. [548]

Relations between Chiang Kai-shek’s government and the U.S. were very good in 1943. Madame Chiang made a good-will visit to the U.S. She hid the fact that the Communists had basically split with the “national” government, which by then controlled very little of China. Stilwell was recalled when Chiang refused to follow his recommendations. “The United States continued to back the Nationalists, who certainly were keeping pinned down large forces of Japanese.” In 1944 Japanese advances in China almost knocked the nationalists out of the war; they forced America to abandon most of its air bases in China.” [549-550]

After Japan surrendered in 1945 large numbers of American troops were stationed in China. America protested the presence of Russian troops in Manchuria, but stated its own troops were there at the request of its ally, Chiang. [555]


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