W. Reginald Wheeler
China and the World War





The following statement of Japanese foreign policy was surprisingly accurate in its forecasting of future events. It is interesting to note how these events are suggested in this paper. The statement is made that on account of the absorption of the European nations in the Great War, "now is the most opportune moment for Japan to quickly solve the Chinese question. We should by all means decide and act at once." Within a month, or two months after this statement was made, the Twenty-one Demands were served on China. Most of their terms were mentioned in the list of, objections under the "Secret Terms of the Defensive Alliance." This Defensive Alliance was eventually concluded three years later in May, 1918. The share of Japan in assisting the revolutionists to stir up trouble in China was also mentioned. "We should induce the Chinese Revolutionists, the Imperialists and other Chinese malcontents to create trouble all over China." Yuan Shih-kai was considered an avowed enemy of Japan; and the Black Dragon Society advised his overthrow. "The whole country will be thrown into disorder and Yuan's Government will consequently be overthrown." The Agreement concluded with Russia in 1916 was forecasted in the statement: "At this moment it is of paramount importance for Japan to come to a special understanding with Russia to define our respective spheres in Manchuria and Mongolia so that the two countries may co-operate with each other in the future." The Lansing-Ishii agreement in 1917 was suggested in the phrases: "what Japan must now somewhat reckon with is America; but America in her attitude towards us regarding our policy toward China has already declared the principle of maintaining China's territorial integrity and equal opportunity, and will be satisfied, if we do not impair America's already acquired rights and privileges." Even the very phrases which Count Terauchi used in May, 1918, in answer to the question as to the possibility of a Japanese alliance with Germany appeared in this document. "Japan will be isolated from the European powers after the war, and will be regarded by them with envy and jealousy just as Germany is now regarded."

Thus practically all the great decisions in Japanese foreign policy since the Great War, as they affected her relations with China, with Russia, and with America, were forecasted in this Black Dragon Memorandum. Consequently, the statement as a whole, and any objectives it mentions, which have not as yet been reached, have more than an ordinary interest.



The present gigantic struggle in Europe has no parallel in history. Not only will the equilibrium of Europe be affected and its effect felt all over the globe, but its results will create a New Era in the political and social world. Therefore, whether or not the Imperial Japanese Government can settle the Far Eastern Question and bring to realization our great Imperial policy depends on our being able to skilfully avail ourselves of the world's general trend of affairs so as to extend our influence and to decide upon a course of action towards China which shall be practical in execution. If our authorities and people view the present European War with indifference and without deep concern, merely devoting their attention to the attack on Kiaochow, neglecting the larger issues of the war, they will have brought to naught our great Imperial policy, and committed a blunder greater than which it can not be conceived. We are constrained to submit this statement of policy for the consideration of our authorities, not because we are fond of argument but because we are deeply anxious for our national welfare.

No one at present can foretell the outcome of the European War. If the Allies meet with reverses and victory shall crown the arms of the Germans and Austrians, German militarism will undoubtedly dominate the European Continent and extend southward and eastward to other parts of the world. Should such a state of affairs happen to take place the consequences resulting therefrom will be indeed great and extensive. On this account we must devote our most serious attention to the subject. If, on the other hand, the Germans and Austrians should be crushed by the Allies, Germany will be deprived of her present status as a Federated State under a Kaiser. The Federation will be disintegrated into separate states and Prussia will have to be content with the status of a second-rate Power. Austria and Hungary, on account of this defeat, will consequently be divided. What their final fate will be, no one would now venture to predict. In the meantime Russia will annex Galicia and the Austrian Poland; France will repossess Alsace and Lorraine; Great Britain will occupy the German Colonies in Africa and the South Pacific: Servia and Montenegro will take Bosnia, Herzegovina and a certain portion of Austrian territory; thus making such great changes in the map of Europe that even the Napoleonic War in 1815 could not find a parallel.

When these events take place, not only will Europe experience great changes, but we should not ignore the fact that they will occur also in China and in the South Pacific. After Russia has replaced Germany in the territories lost by Germany and Austria, she will hold a controlling influence in Europe, and, for a long time to come, will have nothing to fear from her western frontier. Immediately after the war she will make an effort to carry out her policy of expansion in the East and will not relax her effort until she has acquired a controlling influence in China. At the same time, Great Britain will strengthen her position in the Yangtze Valley and prohibit any other country from getting a footing there. France will do likewise in Yunnan province, using it as her base of operations for further encroachments upon China and never hesitate to extend her advantages. We must therefore seriously study the situation, remembering always that the combined action of Great Britain, Russia and France will not only affect Europe but that we can even foresee that it will also affect China.

Whether this combined action on the part of England, France and Russia is to terminate at the end of the war or to continue to operate, we can not now predict. But after peace in Europe is restored, these Powers will certainly turn their attention to the expansion of their several spheres of interest in China, and, in the adjustment, their interests will most likely conflict with one another. If their interests do not conflict, they will work jointly to solve the Chinese Question. On this point we have not the least doubt. If England, France and Russia are actually to combine for the coercion of China, what course is to be adopted by the Imperial Japanese Government to meet the situation? What proper means shall we employ to maintain our influence and extend our interests within this ring of rivalry and competition? It is necessary that we bear in mind the final results of the European War and forestall the trend of events succeeding it so as to be able to decide upon a policy towards China and determine the action to be ultimately taken. If we remain passive, the Imperial Japanese Government's policy towards China will lose that subjective influence and our diplomacy will be checked forever by the combined force of the other Powers. The peace of the Far East will be thus endangered and even the existence of the Japanese Empire as a nation will no doubt be imperiled. It is therefore our first important duty at this moment to enquire of our Government what course is to be adopted to face that general situation after the war. What preparations are being made to meet the combined pressure of the Allies upon China? What policy has been followed to solve the Chinese Question? When the European War is terminated and peace restored we are not concerned so much with the question whether it be the Dual Monarchies or the Triple Entente which emerge victorious, but whether, in anticipation of the future expansion of European influence in the Continents of Europe and Asia, the Imperial Japanese Government should or should not hesitate to employ force to check the movement before this occurrence. Now is the most opportune moment for Japan to quickly solve the Chinese Question. Such, an opportunity will not occur for hundreds of years to come. Not only is it Japan's divine duty to act now, but present conditions in China favour the execution of such a plan. We should by all means decide and act at once. If our authorities do not avail themselves of this rare opportunity, great duty will surely be encountered in future in the settlement of this Chinese question. Japan will be isolated from the European Powers after the war, and will be regarded by them with envy and jealousy just as Germany is now regarded. Is it not then a vital necessity for Japan to solve at this very moment the Chinese Question?


It is a very important matter of policy whether the Japanese Government, in obedience to its divine mission, shall solve the Chinese Question in a heroic manner by making China voluntarily rely upon Japan. To force China to such a position there is nothing else for the Imperial Japanese Government to do but to take advantage of the present opportunity to seize the reins of political and financial power and to enter by all means into a defensive alliance with her under secret terms as enumerated below:

The Secret Terms of the Defensive Alliance

The Imperial Japanese Government, with due respect for the Sovereignty and Integrity of China and with the object and hope of maintaining the peace of the Far East, undertakes to share the responsibility of co-operating with China to guard her against internal trouble and foreign invasion and China shall accord to Japan special facilities in the matter of China's National Defence, or the protection of Japan's special rights and privileges and for these objects the following treaty of Alliance is to be entered into between the two contracting parties:

1. When there is internal trouble in China or when she is at war with another nation or nations, Japan shall. send her army to render assistance, to assume the responsibility of guarding Chinese territory and to maintain peace and order in China.

2. China agrees to recognize Japan's privileged position in South Manchuria and Inner Mongolia and to cede the sovereign rights of these regions to Japan to enable her to carry out a scheme of local defence on a permanent basis.

3. After the Japanese occupation of Kiaochow, Japan shall acquire all the rights and privileges heretofore enjoyed by the Germans in regard to railways, mines and all other interests, and after peace and order is restored in Tsingtao, the place shall be handed back to China to be opened as an International Treaty port.

4. For the maritime defence of China and Japan, China shall lease strategic harbours along the coast of the Fukien province to Japan to be converted into naval bases and grant to Japan in the said province all railway and mining rights.

5. For the reorganization of the Chinese army China shall entrust the training and drilling of the army to Japan.

6. For the unification of China's firearms and munitions of war, China shall adopt firearms of Japanese pattern, and at the same time establish arsenals (with the help of Japan) in different strategic points.

7. With the object of creating and maintaining a Chinese Navy, China shall entrust the training of her navy to Japan.

8. With the object of reorganizing her finances and improving the methods of taxation, China shall entrust the work to Japan, and the latter shall elect competent financial experts who shall act as first-class advisers to the Chinese Government.

9. China shall engage Japanese educational experts as educational advisers and extensively establish schools in different parts of the country to teach Japanese so as to raise the educational standard of the country.

10. China shall first consult with and obtain the consent of Japan before she can enter into an agreement with another Power for making loans, the leasing of territory, or the cession of the same.

From the date of the signing of this Defensive Alliance, Japan and China shall work together hand-in-hand. Japan will assume the responsibility of safeguarding Chinese territory and maintaining the peace and order in China. This will relieve China of all future anxieties and enable her to proceed energetically with her reforms, and, with a sense of territorial security, she may wait for her national development and regeneration. Even after the present European War is over and peace is restored China will absolutely have nothing to fear in the future of having pressure brought against her by the foreign powers. It is only thus that permanent peace can be secured in the Far East.

But before concluding this Defensive Alliance, two points must first be ascertained and settled. (1) Its bearing on the Chinese Government. (2) Its bearing on those Powers having intimate relations with, and great interests in, China.

In considering its effect on the Chinese Government, Japan must try to foresee whether the position of China's present ruler Yuan Shih-kai shall be permanent or not; whether the present Government's policy will enjoy the confidence of a large section of the Chinese people; whether Yuan Shih-kai will readily agree to the Japanese Government's proposal to enter into a treaty of alliance with us. These are points to which we are bound to give a thorough consideration. Judging by the attitude hitherto adopted by Yuan Shih-kai we know he has always resorted to the policy of expediency in his diplomatic dealings, and although he may outwardly show friendliness towards us, he will in fact rely upon the influence of the different Powers as the easiest check against us and refuse to accede to our demands. Take for a single instance, his conduct towards us since the Imperial Government declared war against Germany and his action will then be clear to all. Whether we can rely upon the ordinary friendly methods of diplomacy to gain our object or not it does not require much wisdom to decide. After the gigantic struggle in Europe is over, leaving aside America, which will not press for advantage, China will not be able to obtain any loans from the other Powers. With a depleted treasury, without means to pay the officials and the army, with local bandits inciting the poverty-stricken populace to trouble, with the revolutionists waiting for opportunities to rise, should an insurrection actually occur while no outside assistance can be rendered to quell it we are certain it will be impossible for Yuan Shih-kai, single-handed, to restore order and consolidate the country. The result will be that the nation will be cut up into many parts beyond all hope of remedy. That this state of affairs will come is not difficult to foresee. When this occurs, shall we uphold Yuan's Government and assist him to suppress the internal insurrection with the certain assurance that we could influence him to agree to our demands, or shall we help the revolutionists to achieve a success and realize our object through them? This question must be definitely decided upon this very moment so that we may put it into practical execution. If we do not look into the future fate of China but go blindly to uphold Yuan's Government, to enter into a Defensive Alliance with China, hoping thus to secure a complete realization of our object by assisting him to suppress the revolutionists , it is obviously a wrong policy. Why? Because the majority of the Chinese people have lost all faith in the tottering Yuan Shih-kai who is discredited and attacked by the whole nation for having sold his country. If Japan gives Yuan the support, his Government, though in a very precarious state, may possibly avoid destruction. Yuan Shih-kai belongs to that school of politicians who are fond of employing craftiness and cunning. He may be friendly to us for a time, but he will certainly abandon us and again befriend the other Powers when the European war is at an end. Judging by his past we have no doubt as to what he will do in the future. For Japan to ignore the general sentiment of the Chinese people and support Yuan Shih-kai with the hope that we can settle with him the Chinese Question is a blunder indeed. Therefore, in order to secure the permanent peace of the Far East, instead of supporting a Chinese Government which can neither be long continued in power nor assist in the attainment of our object, we should rather support the 400,000,000 Chinese people to renovate their corrupt Government, to change its present form, to maintain peace and order in the land and to usher into China a new era of prosperity so that China and Japan may in fact as well as in name be brought into the most intimate and vital relations with each other. China's era of prosperity is based on the Chino-Japanese Alliance and this Alliance is the foundational power for the repelling of the foreign aggression that is to be directed against the Far East at the conclusion of the European War. This Alliance is also the foundation-stone of the peace of the world. Japan therefore should take this as the last warning and immediately solve this question. Since the Imperial Japanese Government has considered it imperative to support the Chinese people, we should induce the Chinese revolutionists, the Imperialists and other Chinese malcontents to create trouble all over China. The whole country will be thrown into disorder and Yuan's Government will consequently be overthrown. We shall then select a man from amongst the most influential and most noted of the 400,000,000 of Chinese and help him to organize a new form of Government and to consolidate the whole country. In the meantime our army must assist in the restoration of peace and order in the country, and in the protection of the lives and properties of the people, so that they may gladly tender their allegiance to the new Government which will then naturally confide in and rely upon Japan. It is after the accomplishment of only these things that we shall without difficulty gain our object by the conclusion of a Defensive Alliance with China.

For us to incite the Chinese revolutionists and malcontents to rise in China we consider the present to be the most opportune moment. The reason why these men can not now carry on an active campaign is because they are insufficiently provided with funds. If the Imperial Government can take advantage of this fact to make them a loan and instruct them to rise simultaneously, great commotion and disorder will surely prevail all over China. We can intervene and easily adjust matters.

The progress of the European War warns Japan with greater urgency of the imperative necessity of solving this most vital of questions. The Imperial Government can not be considered as embarking on a rash project. This opportunity will not repeat itself for our benefit. We must avail ourselves of this chance and under no circumstances hesitate. Why should we wait for the spontaneous uprising of the revolutionists and malcontents? Why should we not think out and lay down a plan beforehand? When we examine into the form of government in China, we must ask whether the existing Republic is well suited to the national temperament and well adapted to the thoughts and aspirations of the Chinese people. From the time the Republic of China was established up to the present moment, if what it has passed through is to be compared to what it ought to be in the matter of administration and unification, we find disappointment everywhere. Even the revolutionists themselves, the very ones who first advocated the Republican form of government, acknowledge that they have made a mistake. The retention of the Republican form of Government in China will be a great future obstacle in the way of a Chino-Japanese alliance. And why must it be so? Because in a Republic the fundamental principles of government as well as the social and moral aims of the people are distinctly different from that of a Constitutional Monarchy. Their laws and administration also conflict. If Japan act as a guide to China and China model herself after Japan, it will only then be possible for the two nations to solve by mutual effort the Far East Question without differences and disagreements. Therefore, to start from the foundation for the purpose of reconstructing the Chinese Government, of establishing a Chino-Japanese Alliance, of maintaining the permanent peace of the Far East and of realizing the consummation of Japan's Imperial policy, we must take advantage of the present opportunity to alter China's Republican form of Government into a Constitutional Monarchy which shall necessarily be identical, in all its details, to the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan, and to no other. This is really the key and first principle to be firmly held for the actual reconstruction of the form of Government in China. If China changes her Republican form of Government to that of a Constitutional Monarchy, shall we, in the selection of a new ruler, restore the Emperor Hsuan T'ung to his throne or choose the most capable man from the Monarchists or select the most worthy member from among the revolutionists? We think, however, that it is advisable at present to leave this question to the exigency of the future when the matter is brought up for decision. But we must not lose sight of the fact that to actually put into execution this policy of a Chino-Japanese Alliance and the transformation of the Republic of China into a Constitutional Monarchy, is, in reality, the fundamental principle to be adopted for the reconstruction of China.

We shall now consider the bearing of this Defensive Alliance on the other Powers. Needless to say, Japan and China will in no way impair the rights and interests already acquired by the Powers. At this moment it is of paramount importance for Japan to come to a special understanding with Russia to define our respective spheres in Manchuria and Mongolia so that the two countries may co-operate with each other in the future. This means that Japan after the acquisition of sovereign rights in South Manchuria and Inner Mongolia will work together with Russia after her acquisition of sovereign rights in North Manchuria and Outer Mongolia to maintain the status quo, and endeavour by every effort to protect the peace of the Far East. Russia, since the outbreak of the European War, has not only laid aside all ill-feelings against Japan, but has adopted the same attitude as her Allies and shown warm friendship for us. No matter how we regard the Manchurian and Mongolian Questions in the future she is anxious that we find some way of settlement. Therefore we need not doubt but that Russia, in her attitude towards this Chinese Question, will be able to come to an understanding with us for mutual co-operation.

The British sphere of influence and interest in China is centred in Tibet and the Yangtsze Valley. Therefore, if Japan can come to some satisfactory arrangement with China in regard to Tibet and also give certain privileges to Great Britain in the Yangtze Valley, with an assurance to protect those privileges, no matter how powerful Great Britain might be, she will surely not oppose Japan's policy in regard to this Chinese Question. While this present European War is going on Great Britain has never asked Japan to render her assistance. That her strength will certainly not enable her to oppose us in the future need not be doubted in the least.

Since Great Britain and Russia will not oppose Japan's policy towards China, it can readily be seen what attitude France will adopt in regard to the subject. What Japan must now somewhat reckon with is America. But America in her attitude towards us regarding our policy towards China has already declared the principle of maintaining China's territorial integrity and equal opportunity and will be satisfied, if we do not impair America's already acquired rights and privileges. We think America will also have no cause for complaint. Nevertheless America has in the East a naval force which can be fairly relied upon, though not sufficiently strong to be feared. Therefore in Japan's attitude towards America there is nothing really for us to be afraid of.

Since China's condition is such on the one hand and the Powers' relation towards China is such on the other hand, Japan should avail herself in the meantime of the European War to definitely decide upon a policy towards China, the most important move being the transformation of the Chinese Government to be followed up by preparing for the conclusion of the Defensive Alliance. The precipitate action on the part of our present Cabinet in acceding to the request of Great Britain to declare war against Germany without having definitely settled our policy towards China has no real connection with our future negotiations with China or affects the political condition in the Far East. Consequently, all intelligent Japanese, of every walk of life throughout the land, are very deeply concerned about the matter.

Our Imperial Government should now definitely change our dependent foreign policy which is being directed by others into an independent foreign policy which shall direct others, proclaiming the same with solemn sincerity to the world and carrying it out with determination. If we do so, even the gods and spirits will give way. These are important points in our policy towards China and the result depends on how we carry them out. Can our authorities firmly make up their mind to solve this Chinese Question by the actual carrying out of this fundamental principle? If they show irresolution while we have this heaven-conferred chance and merely depend on the good will of the other Powers, we shall eventually have greater pressure to be brought against the Far East after the European War is over, when the present equilibrium will be destroyed. That day will then be too late for us to repent our folly. We are therefore impelled by force of circumstances to urge our authorities to a quicker sense of the situation and to come to a determination.

Translation from The Fight for the Republic in China, by B. L. Putnam-Weale. (Copyright 1917 by Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc.)

Appendix Two

Table of Contents