Home > Foreign Relations, history, politics > perspectivehere on the 90th anniversary of “The Shandong Problem”

perspectivehere on the 90th anniversary of “The Shandong Problem”

If not for the United States, Shandong Province (山东省), map to the left, may still be a Japanese territory today. Reader perspectivehere brought to our attention tomorrow (Feb. 4th) will be the 90th anniversary of the Washington Naval Conference of 1929 which gave back sovereignty of Shandong Province to China. It was The Treaty of Versailles marking the end of WW1 in 1919 that transferred this German “sphere of influence” territory to Japan without China’s approval.

History has many twists and turns. If not for the United States defeating Japan in WW2, the China today might not be intact. John Woo is now making a new epic film about the Flying Tigers to commemorate this important period when the two countries aided each other.

The United States also has China to thank for – for resisting and bogging down the Japanese army in China’s large land mass.

A twist might have been Japan emerging as the victor in WW2, and in such a case, China might have been usurped under ethnic Japanese rule – a situation not unlike many dynasties that have come to pass in Chinese history. With millions of Chinese slaughtered by the Japanese, not many people would be in the mood to consider this scenario.

Looking at the Treaty of Versailles, the Chinese should be reminded how unjust the world order was only a few decades ago. Without a strong enough nation, it is the plight of 1.3 billion at the whims of stronger powers. It is that lesson that a stronger China must work towards further improving our existing world order for everyone on this planet.


I wanted to remind people that tomorrow (Feb 4) will be the 90th anniversary of the date that sovereignty over the Province of Shandong was agreed by Japan to revert back to China pursuant to an agreement with the United States at the Washington Naval Conference of 1922.

Wikipedia describes it thus:

“The Shantung Problem (simplified Chinese: 山东问题; traditional Chinese: 山東問題; pinyin: Shāndōng wèntí) refers to the dispute over Article 156 of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, which dealt with the concession of the Shandong peninsula.

During the First World War, China supported the Allies on condition that Germany’s concessions on the Shandong peninsula would be returned to China. In spite of this agreement, the Article transferred the concessions in Shandong to Japan rather than returning sovereign authority to China. Japan was allowed possession of the province because of secret agreements signed with European powers. One of the excuses the Japanese used was that Duan Qirui had borrowed money from Japan to strengthen his army, this now being repaid with the concession of the Shandong peninsula. The Chinese ambassador to Paris, Wellington Koo, stated that the Chinese could not concede Shandong, which was the birthplace of Confucius, a highly important Chinese philosopher, as much as Christians could not concede Jerusalem, and demanded the returning of sovereignty over Shandong, to no avail. Chinese outrage over this provision led to demonstrations and a cultural movement known as the May Fourth Movement and influenced Wellington Koo not to sign the treaty.

China declared the end of its war against Germany in September 1919 and signed a separate treaty with Germany in 1921. The dispute was mediated by the United States in 1922 during the Washington Naval Conference, and the sovereignty of Shandong was agreed to be returned to China on February 4 of that year, while Japanese residents in Shandong were given special rights.”

During this period of history, the United States was one of the few foreign colonial powers that helped China to protect its sovereignty and resist invasion and dismemberment. Although the US was pursuing its own interests, as it would be expected to, its interests did align at that time with protecting Chinese sovereignty.

In my view, this is a fine moment of alignment of interests between the two countries that should be commemorated.

Some more details here:

“In addition to the multilateral agreements, several bilateral treaties were completed at the conference. Japan and China also signed a bilateral agreement, the Shangtung (Shandong) Treaty, which returned control of that province and its railroad to China. Japan had taken control of the area from the Germans during World War I, and then it maintained control over the years that followed. The combination of the Shangtung Treaty and the Nine-Power Treaty was meant to reassure China that its territory would not be further compromised by Japanese expansion. Additionally, Japan agreed to withdraw its troops from Siberia and the United States and Japan formed agreement over equal access to cable and radio facilities on the Japanese-controlled island of Yap.”

We should also remember to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Nine-Power Treaty, which was signed on Feb 6, 1922.

  1. silentchinese@gmail.com
    February 3rd, 2012 at 14:26 | #1


    I think you are being bit naive and even venture to say ill-informed on the history of Shangdong problem, and the perspective of “Americans come to save China”.

    During the great 4 (US, France, UK, Italy) negotiation that led up to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Japan basically hinted that it was to going to get either “get its interest respected in Shangdong” or a racial equality clause in Charter of League of nations.
    Llyod George was not going to prepare not to be racists especially with respect to all of its colonies.
    Clemenceau was willing to support UK and US on issues that it did care, as long as Anglo-Americans were to support them in a tough treaty with Germany.

    Wilson basically would not feel that a racial equality clause in his beloved league of nations that would go against much of the anti-Japanese/Asian immigration laws, and much of the jim crow south (from which he came from) would sink the chance of its passage in congress.

    in summary, Europeans and Americans for their own interest would rather be racists than to uphold their own principle of self-determination, so they sacrificed china and any schred of credibility they and the principles that they supposily espoused (namely liberal democracy as savior for china), had with contemporary chinese intellectual class.

    It is no coincidence that in April the basic positions with Japan and China was nailed down. and may 4th movement happened in May, Chinese leading intellectuals of that era

  2. February 3rd, 2012 at 14:47 | #2

    Didn’t mean “Americans come to save China” altruistically – as perspectivehere said, it was an alignment of interests.

    It was at the Washington Naval Conference of 1992 that gave Shandong Province back to China – a rightful and just result that should be commemorated.

    You are right though – I don’t know much about “the Shandong Problem.” And I agree with you – today’s missionaries of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “freedom” are no different than that time period.

  3. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 15:13 | #3

    (apologies but my computer went down)

    …It is no coincidence that in April the basic positions with Japan and China was nailed down. and may 4th movement happened in May. Chinese leading intellectuals of that era became utterly disillusioned with what West have to offer.
    The same year, Russian Revolution offered another path forward.

    I made a vague reference of the entire episode of how Shandong was traded away, in my poem.
    you can see a rendition on youtube here.

    bit interesting that not many people got what I was saying at that time.

  4. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 15:23 | #4


    as for washington naval conference.
    US did not pressure Japan to cough up Shandong out of pure intentions of heart either.
    Shangdong was traded away for confirming japan’s “Special Sphere of Influence” (i.e. creepying colonialism) in Manchuria.
    having Shangdong as a japanese colony and base would make Japan’s position in Northern China too strong and threaten the Open Door Policy. and make Yellow sea a japanese lake.

    But US doesn’t want to open bad relations with Japan and doesn’t want it to threathen its Phillipines colony.

    In the end Japan got the basics of what it wanted: a naval treaty where its capital ships would in theory dominate the single ocean that it cared and Manchuria.

    Washington Naval Treaty is really again a disaster as far as long term development of china is concerned: the great power made accommodations with Japanese designs in East Asia and protected its own colonial interest in China.

  5. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 15:31 | #5

    also just something aside.
    1. Margaret MacMillan’s (Great Grand Daughter of Dave Llyod George) “Paris 1919” would be a very good starter.

    2. CHina’s great disillusion with West really came after 1919. not with 1840. May 4th is one of those things in history that was underlooked but changed course of human history. It was a great Carthasis, None-comparable came before that; None Came close to the depth of despair after that.

    It was not until those bitter cold days in Winter of 1950 in desolate moutains of northern Korea, that those raggy peasant soldiers with Old worn rifles finally propelled china into great power.

    Before those days in the winter of 1950 China was not a big player in any international treaty even those that concerned its vital interests. (not even in 1922 washington naval treaty, where china got a crumb of bread off the table and lost an leg)

  6. February 3rd, 2012 at 15:33 | #6

    Video silentchinese made which he provided link above:

  7. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 15:50 | #7


    now you know who the real author of this poem is 🙂
    secret is out.




    and, no,
    I am not 林良多 and He didn’t wrote that poem.

    looking down from 30K AGL…

    one really can not be a chinese nationalist and not be an admirer of Mao.
    Mao and the communist for better or worse did so much to restore china as a great power.
    compare with the communists has done the KMT are pitful.

    may be that’s also why they are so hated.

  8. Wayne
    February 3rd, 2012 at 16:45 | #8

    Thank for the history lesson yinyang.

    But I hardly think that American ‘saved’ China from losing Taiwan.

    America was perhaps a little thief compared to the big thieves of Japan and Britain. But nontheless a thief.

    I don’t think we should go overboard in praising her, for a fortuitous twist in events.

    The US and Japan were part of the eight foreign powers which beat up China.

    That Japan was forced to hand back Shandong was simply part of a bargaining process among all imperialist thieves —and had nothing to do with the rights or dignity of the Chiense people.

    After all did they abolish extraterritoriality and other privileges. No.

    And what? A movie about white man saving the day again (john woos coming movie)——really can Chinese people make a patriotic movie about themselves which involves only themselves.

    After all white people make enough movies about how they save coloured people. They really do not need our help.

    And whats the bet that the relationship between Claire Chennault and his chinese wife will be a centrepiece of this new movie???????

    I bet my house on it.

  9. Wayne
    February 3rd, 2012 at 16:46 | #9


    Agree 100%.

  10. Wayne
    February 3rd, 2012 at 16:55 | #10


    “Wilson basically would not feel that a racial equality clause in his beloved league of nations that would go against much of the anti-Japanese/Asian immigration laws, and much of the jim crow south (from which he came from) would sink the chance of its passage in congress. “

    thanks for raising this point. Wilson, is frequently lauded as an idealist, as a progressive.

    In fact he was one racist motherfucking son of a bitch.

    After watching the Ku Klux Klan movie ‘birth of a nation’ he jumped up and said something like ‘history written in lightning’

    He fired or re-segregated the few black employees in the federal government.

    Basically he was a Southern red neck cracker racist.

  11. February 3rd, 2012 at 17:00 | #11

    I am really glad silentchinese made that video slide-show presentation. It’s a different medium and also helps to get the message across.


    I know you meant ‘Shangdong’ above in place of Taiwan. I don’t disagree with what you said.

    But, as Tsinghua Professor have written on number of occasions – our world order is organized primarily through might and alignment of interests. My personal take too is that nation states rarely conduct themselves on this idea of loyalty and just-ness.

    With that in mind, Washington Naval Conference of 1929 achieved a justly thing for the Chinese.

    >And whats the bet that the relationship between Claire Chennault and his chinese wife will be a centrepiece of this new movie???????

    LOL. Okay, Wayne, but the film rekindling the Chinese-American alliance does offer a moment for some warmth between China and the U.S.. Given how stupid things are in the media, I feel it’s helpful to remind their respective citizens the two countries need not be enemies. Chennault frolicking or not with his Chinese wife in the film is a different matter.

  12. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 17:02 | #12

    yinyang :
    I am really glad silentchinese made that video slide-show presentation. It’s a different medium and also helps to get the message across.

    Made the poem and video back in march 2008. during those fitful days where the mere existence of china as a national state is somehow a moral outrage.

  13. zack
    February 3rd, 2012 at 17:06 | #13

    this is as i’ve always maintained; that the only thing the West respects is power, not morality or human rights. It was Japan’s power that they respected whilst they continued persecuting non anglos in their own home countries eg jim crow laws in the american south and the Chinese exclusion acts and the WAP in Australia.
    So it is today that the West respects China’s power, not so much China or Chinese people since there still persists a very strong ingrained prejudice and fear against China’s ascendancy in world politics. Naturally this will change as China powers ahead of all the predominantly western countries, leaving them in her wake.

  14. zack
    February 3rd, 2012 at 17:15 | #14

    the only way the West will truly appreciate the suffering of the Chinese is if such “centuries of humiliation” is brought to Western shores.

    i’m sorry, but it’s true; how do you expect to reason with arrogant denizens of a civilisation that believes in its own manifest destiny if they are not themselves humbled? such attitudes were prevalent in the leadup to the opium wars, it is only fitting that the West experiences even a little of what they have exported to the rest of the world.

  15. silentchinese
    February 3rd, 2012 at 17:37 | #15

    zack :
    the only way the West will truly appreciate the suffering of the Chinese is if such “centuries of humiliation” is brought to Western shores.
    i’m sorry, but it’s true; how do you expect to reason with arrogant denizens of a civilisation that believes in its own manifest destiny if they are not themselves humbled? such attitudes were prevalent in the leadup to the opium wars, it is only fitting that the West experiences even a little of what they have exported to the rest of the world.

    This is the same kinda of stupid thinking that led to 9/11.

  16. February 3rd, 2012 at 17:50 | #16

    With or without humility, the West needs to see a stronger China that’s helpful towards the existing world order. China has to carve a space for itself as a responsible stake-holder. China won’t be able to get there while wishing others to suffer.

    Yeah, I don’t envy those whose job is to navigate this type of landscape. But I think there are also signs of hope if we look for them.

    Above all, I think China has enough people to do it. I have faith in that sheer size.

  17. zack
    February 3rd, 2012 at 23:52 | #17

    i would consider a strong China to be essential to the world as a source of restraint against the excesses or the moral depravity of the West, the illegal wars, the hypocrisy etc etc
    China is indeed carving out its own niche in the world-in spite of attempts by the US to ‘contain it’; American policymakers in Washington are attempting to apply what they’ve done with the soviets to China: corral the Chinese into a corner, then attempt to bring them down from the inside either via NGOs or seperatist movements or via converting the populace to westernisation (refer to President Hu’s speech cautioning against foreign attempts at subverting Chinese culture and people/attempts by the West to ‘westernise’ China).

    in an ideal world, the West would respect China and operate on an more or less equal footing as we once did before the 1840s; it is incredibly difficult for snooty former imperialists who’ve never quite let go of their imperial past/grandeur to accept China as a new superpower-a country that was once on their knees not one century ago. You could practically hear the hope dripping from all the Economist/NYT/Forbes’ editorials at the prospect of a Chinese slowdown in 2011 and when that didn’t occur, the fear went into maximum overdrive and the obama/hilary clinton administration decided to switch to cruder attempts at containing China.

    As much as it pains me to say this, the Americans can’t be trusted, neither can the Russians, nor the Indians; for a country as powerful and with so much potential as China, very few countries and peoples will seek to be genuine friends and partners with her. Others will simply wait in the wings for a repeat of the Century of Humiliation.

  18. February 4th, 2012 at 00:42 | #18

    Yes, Prof Yan Xuetong once commented to me that he believes a stronger China offers an opportunity for a more humane world order. But honestly nobody can guarantee a dominant China won’t be like a dominant U.S.. (I have always argued it is the responsibility of the hegemon to improve the international system such that a new hegemon doesn’t do too much harm to the world. But that’s a different topic.)

    Remember, not all of the West harbors such feelings toward China. I reminded Wayne recently – Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn’t have a U.S. holiday if he didn’t try to appeal to the fair-minded and rational Americans.

    China and India have tremendous benefits in a friendly relationship. It is precisely the hawks in the West who want China and India to be in confrontation. It is the hawks on all sides who want confrontation to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I have argued in the past the U.S. is not containing China. If she is, she wouldn’t educate so many Chinese students. She wouldn’t be trading with China. She wouldn’t tolerate expanding China and BRICs voting rights in the WB. Obviously the relationship is complex. The U.S. hedge by still maintaining the Cold War geopolitical posture. But this posture is also something that is made up of opposing views within the U.S. – which I don’t believe is static.

  19. zack
    February 4th, 2012 at 01:13 | #19

    good points, yinyang;
    but i see no reason why China itself shouldn’t have its own hedges against Western shenanigans. As some in the US attempt to contain China whilst mouthing platitudes, so too must policymakers in Beijing initiate motions to dilute American global power and bring forth a multipolar world. The US does not accept so many Chinese students out of a desire to do good (though in the narcissistic mentality of many in US educational institutions, that may well be the case); they do so out of a desire to make profit as foreign students must pay more than national students. There also exists an attempt to instill/indoctrinate the foreign students with the ways and beliefs and orthodoxies of the West, as Imperial Britain educated foreign students and princes (hostages) so that they could return as potential satraps. In the case of American educated students, the idea for a Washington policymakers is to convert foreign students to western models of thought and belief and culture. in a way, this aspect succeeded only too well. But i digress,

    i disagree that the US establishment is not trying to contain China; at best, they are attempting to channel China’s power so as to remain top dog for this century. Bases off the coast of China and in Australia are a form of gunboat diplomacy; military coercion should be met in kind with Chinese bases off the coast or borders of America and asymmetric strategies designed to cripple US defence spending. China’s massive holdings is presently in USD; that can be rectified with purchasing of hard assets or diversifying into raw materials as the creation of Zhong ou and zhong mei soverign wealth funds are evident. American strategy to frustrate Chinese attempts to get away from the ‘strait of malacca’ noose are part of the strategy of containment. Even if the doves in Washington want peace with China, i doubt they’re going to object to military leverage in the form of a veiled threat to close the malacca straits in the event of tense negotiations.

    thusly, threats and force must be dealt with, in kind.
    i write the above with a heavy heart, yinyang; a part of me wants to believe that present day American and China can become allies and true friends (zheng you) but given the conduct of American politicians and the utter rejection of China’s successful model as a threat to Western hegemony and liberal democratic free market laissez faire orthodoxy washington Consensus, i feel the west will be unable to accept that a strong and unified China can surpass them. i feel they would much rather opt for world war, than cede power to an ascendant China

  20. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 08:38 | #20

    Thank you all, I read with interest all of the comments made above. The variety of perspectives and new information is enlightening to me, even if I do not necessarily see things the same way.

    I was interested by silentchinese’s different take on the significance of the Washington Naval Conference 1921-22. With respect to China, the two most important accomplishments were the Shandong Treaty and the Nine-Power Treaty. I did a bit more research on the Nine-Power Treaty, and found these interesting links for consideration, which I will post separately.

    From The Secretary of State (Henry Stimson) to the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations (Borah), United States Senate (February 23, 1932):

    “This [Nine-Power] Treaty, as you of course know, forms the legal basis upon which now rests the “Open Door” policy towards China. That policy, enunciated by John Hay in 1899, brought to an end the struggle among various powers for so-called spheres of interest in China which was threatening the dismemberment of that empire. To accomplish this Mr. Hay invoked two principles (1) equality of commercial opportunity among all nations in dealing with China, and (2) as necessary to that equality the preservation of China’s territorial and administrative integrity. These principles were not new in the foreign policy of America. They had been the principles upon which it rested in its dealings with other nations for many years. In the case of China they were invoked to save a situation which not only threatened the future development and sovereignty of that great Asiatic people, but also threatened to create dangerous and constantly increasing rivalries between the other nations of the world. War had already taken place between Japan and China. At the close of that war three other nations intervened to prevent Japan from obtaining some of the results of that war claimed by her. Other nations sought and had obtained spheres of interest. Partly as a result of these actions a serious uprising had broken out in China which endangered the legations of all of the powers at Peking. While the attack on those legations was in progress, Mr. Hay made an announcement in respect to this policy as the principle upon which the powers should act in the settlement of the rebellion. He said

    “The policy of the government of the United States is to seek a solution which may bring about permanent safety and peace to China, preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity, protect all rights guaranteed to friendly powers by treaty and international law, and safeguard for the world the principle of equal and impartial trade with all parts of the Chinese Empire.”

    He was successful in obtaining the assent of the other powers to the policy thus announced.

    In taking these steps Mr. Hay acted with the cordial support of the British Government. In responding to Mr. Hay’s announcement, above set forth, Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister expressed himself “most emphatically as concurring in the policy of the United States.”

    For twenty years thereafter the Open Door policy rested upon the informal commitments thus made by the various powers. But in the winter of 1921 to 1922, at a conference participated in by all of the principal powers which had interests in the Pacific, the policy was crystallized into the so-called Nine Power Treaty, which gave definition and precision to the principles upon which the policy rested. In the first article of that Treaty, the contracting powers, other than China, agreed

    1. To respect the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial and administrative integrity of China.
    2. To provide the fullest and most unembarrassed opportunity to China to develop and maintain for herself an effective and stable government.
    3. To use their influence for the purpose of effectually establishing and maintaining the principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations throughout the territory of China .
    4. To refrain from taking advantage of conditions in China in order to seek special rights or privileges which would abridge the rights of subjects or citizens of friendly states, and from countenancing action inimical to the security of such states.

    This Treaty thus represents a carefully developed and matured international policy intended, on the one hand, to assure to all of the contracting parties their rights and interests in and with regard to China, and on the other hand, to assure to the people of China the fullest opportunity to develop without molestation their sovereignty and independence according to the modern and enlightened standards believed to maintain among the peoples of this earth. At the time this Treaty was signed, it was known that China was engaged in an attempt to develop the free institutions of a self-governing republic after her recent revolution from an autocratic form of government; that she would require many years of both economic and political effort to that end; and that her progress would necessarily be slow. The Treaty was thus a covenant of self-denial among the signatory powers in deliberate renunciation of any policy of aggression which might tend to interfere with that development. It was believed-and the whole history of the development of the “Open Door” policy reveals that faith-that only by such a process, under the protection of such an agreement, could the fullest interests not only of China but of all nations which have intercourse with her best be served.”


  21. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 08:45 | #21

    In contrast, here is a different view three years later:

    Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
    December 27, 1935

    “Comrades! A great change has now taken place in the political situation. Our Party has defined its tasks in the light of this changed situation.

    What is the present situation?

    Its main characteristic is that Japanese imperialism wants to turn China into a colony.

    As we all know, for nearly a hundred years China has been a semi-colonial country jointly dominated by several imperialist powers. Owing to the Chinese people’s struggle against imperialism and to conflicts among the imperialist powers, China has been able to retain a semi-independent status. For a time World War I gave Japanese imperialism the opportunity of dominating China exclusively. But the treaty surrendering China to Japan, the Twenty-one Demands signed by Yuan Shih-kai, the arch-traitor of that time, was inevitably rendered null and void as a result of the Chinese people’s fight against Japanese imperialism and of the intervention by other imperialist powers.

    In 1922 at the Washington Nine-Power Conference called by the United States. A treaty [3] was signed which once again placed China under the joint domination of several imperialist powers.

    But before long the situation changed again. The Incident of September 18, 1931, began the present stage of Japan’s colonization of China. As Japanese aggression was temporarily limited to the four northeastern provinces, some people felt that the Japanese imperialists would probably advance no farther. Today things are different. The Japanese imperialists have already shown their intention of penetrating south of the Great Wall and occupying all China. Now they want to convert the whole of China from a semi-colony shared by several imperialist powers into a colony monopolized by Japan. The recent Eastern Hopei Incident and diplomatic talks are clear indications of this trend of events which threatens the survival of the whole Chinese people. This faces all classes and political groups in China with the question of what to do. Resist? Surrender? Or vacillate between the two?”

    3. The Nine-Power Conference in Washington was called by the U.S. government in November 1921; China, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Japan were invited. It was a struggle between the United States and Japan for hegemony in the Far East. On February 6, 1922, a nine-power treaty was concluded on the basis of the principle, advanced by the United States, of the “open door” or “equal opportunities for all nations in China”. The aim of this treaty was to create a situation in which the imperialist powers had joint control of China, and it actually cleared the way for exclusive domination by the U.S. imperialists, the purpose being to frustrate Japan’s plans for exclusive domination.


  22. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 09:23 | #22

    US Military Historian Bevin Alexander has a pretty interesting writeup of the diplomatic considerations in reaching the Nine-Power Treaty. This forms one chapter in his work, The Triumph of China, The Middle Kingdom’s Long March from Degradation to World Power in the Twentieth Century.

    Although he calls the Communists “Reds”, his views are far from extremist or jingoistic. In fact, he mentions the “pure racial prejudice” that America exhibited in the 1920’s served to undercut the good will and high idealism expressed by the public aims of the Nine-Power Treaty:

    “No era of good feeling came out of the Washington conference in part because of restrictive policies that surfaced in the United States. People on the west coast for years had feared the “yellow peril” of Oriental immigration. One factor was pure racial prejudice. Another was economic: Japanese, Chinese and Koreans worked hard for little money and this brought on fears that jobs would be lost by “native Americans.” In February, 1924, a strong movement emerged in Congress to prohibit further Oriental immigrants. Hughes told congressional leaders this would undo much the conference gains. But Congress paid no attention and in April, 1924, excluded Oriental immigration. The decision deeply offended the Japanese people, who now referred to America’s “white imperialism.” It encouraged the military’s view that Japan in the future must go to war with the United States. Thereafter, Japanese were constantly reminded of American prejudice.”


  23. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 09:52 | #23

    Another interesting detail from Bevin Alexander on the negotiations over the return of Shandong to China:

    “With both the Chinese and Japanese delegations present in Washington, [American secretary of state, Charles Evans] Hughes saw an opportunity to force Japan into a discussion on the Shandong issue. Hughes got the support of Balfour and they offered their good offices to bring together Japan and China. Again caught in a position where they could scarcely refuse to talk, the Japanese agreed. The U.S. and Britain appointed observers to monitor the talks and they added pressure. Nevertheless, the Japanese argued for weeks before capitulating after seeing that international acceptance of their position in Shandong had been hopelessly eroded by world opposition and by Hughes’s maneuver. They agreed to give Shandong back, with only one major face-saving proviso: that China pay Japan for the value of the Qingdao-Jinan railway built by Germany.

    At this point, the Chinese balked out of pride and anger and were on the point of breaking up the agreement. Hughes responded that China might never get a better opportunity and that the railway issue was of trivial importance compared to the advantages of evicting Japan. This brought China in line and Japan abrogated its rights in Shandong, except for the railway and for equal rights in provincial iron and coal mines. Japan also abandoned formally the group-five portion of the twenty-one demands of 1915.”


    Here is the archival record of the US State Department on the negotiations (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1922, Volume 1, pages 942-948):

  24. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 09:58 | #24

    Here is an image of the unequal Sino-Japanese Treaty of 1915 concerning Shandong Province, which led to the May Fourth Movement.

    Here is an image of the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922:

    These images are from an exhibit “A Century of Resilient Tradition: Exhibition of the Republic of China’s Diplomatic Archives: Striving for Equality” (From the National Palace Museum in Taipei)


  25. silentchinese
    February 4th, 2012 at 11:19 | #25

    I do not question that some in US really has a altruist intention fuel partly by missionary zeal for the redemption of china,
    Open Door Policy as a official policy of state department was on some levels nothing but attempts by US to maintain its “fair share” in China with out resorting to open hostility with Other powers, those “other powers”, after the Anglo-American understanding post ww1, became, Japan.

    behind all of these high minded words like “To respect the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial and administrative integrity of China.”… one can not help but to get a feeling that china at that time is nothing but a big chunk of meat for which great powers are fight over to get their ” fair share” . IT was really due to the fact that the powers could not agree amongst them selves how to really carve up china, les any one get too powerful, rather than any internal strength that china possess that prevented the total disintegration of china and end of chinese civilization.

    China got lucky.


  26. perspectivehere
    February 4th, 2012 at 16:42 | #26

    @silentchinese #25

    You make a lot of good points.

  27. perspectivehere
    February 5th, 2012 at 10:44 | #27

    Wikipedia has an interesting entry on how Kiautshou (Jiaozhou) Bay came to become a German concession in 1898 under a 99-year lease (like the British 99-year lease on the New Territories in Hong Kong in 1898), which was then secretly promised and transferred to Japan by the Allies (against Chinese wishes) in the Treaty of Versailles.

    Notice how the German government and military “exploited” a crime – the murder of a two priests by a local gang – as a pretext “in pursuit of further goals” — for invasion and seizure of territory it needed for military expansion.


    “The Kiautschou Bay concession was a German colonial concession in Imperial China which existed from 1898 to 1914. It had an area of 552 km², it was located around Jiaozhou Bay on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula, which lay in the imperial province of Shandong in northern China. Jiaozhou was romanized as Kiaochow, Kiauchau or Kiao-Chau in English and Kiautschou or Kiaochau in German. The administrative center was at Tsingtau (Chinese Qingdao).

    Germany was a relative latecomer to the imperialistic scramble for colonies across the globe. But a German colony in China was envisioned as a two-fold enterprise: to support a naval presence, and that colonies (see German colonial empire) were ideal to support the economy in the mother country. Densely populated China came into view as a potential market. Thinkers like Max Weber demanded an active colonial policy from the government. In particular the opening of China was made a high priority, because it was thought to be the most important non-European market in the world.

    But a global policy (Weltpolitik) without global military influence appeared impracticable, so a navy was built. This fleet was supposed to give German interests emphasis during peace (gunboat diplomacy) and to protect the German trade routes and disturb hostile ones during war (cruiser war concept). A network of global naval bases was a key requirement for this intention.

    On 1 November 1897, the Big Sword Society brutally murdered two German Roman Catholic priests of the Steyler Mission in Juye County in southern Shandong. This event was known as the “Juye Incident.” Admiral von Diederichs, commander of the cruiser squadron, wired on 7 November 1897 to the admiralty: “May incidents be exploited in pursuit of further goals?” Upon receipt of the Diederichs cable, chancellor Chlodwig von Hohenlohe counseled caution, preferring a diplomatic resolution. However, Kaiser Wilhelm II intervened and the admiralty sent a message for Diederichs to “proceed immediately to Kiautschou with entire squadron …” to which the admiral replied “will proceed … with greatest energy.”

    [Diederichs attacked and quickly won a military victory.]

    “As a result of the German-Chinese lease contract the Chinese government gave up all its sovereign rights within the leased territory of approximately 83,000 inhabitants (to which the city of Jiaozhou did not belong), as well as in a 50 km wide security zone. The Gouvernement Kiautschou remained part of China under imperial reign, but for the duration of the lease was turned into a German Schutzgebiet [protectorate]. Moreover the treaty included rights for construction of railway lines and mining of local coal deposits. Many parts of Shandong outside of the German protectorate came under German influence. Although the lease contract set limits to the German expansion, it became starting point for the following cessions of Port Arthur to Russia, of Weihaiwei to Great Britain and Kwang-Chou-Wan to France.


    On 23 August 1914 the Republic of China canceled the German lease. On 7 November 1914 the bay was occupied by Japan (see Siege of Tsingtao), which appointed two Military Governors: 7 November 1914 – 1919 Mitsuomi Kamio and 1919 – 10 December 1922 Mitsue Yuhi.

    The occupied territory was returned to China on 10 December 1922. The Japanese again occupied the area from 1937 to 1945 during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

    Here is a map of the location:

  28. February 5th, 2012 at 12:04 | #28


    So you have been reading up the history of Shandong. A few years later after the Washington Naval Conference supposedly fully returned the sovereignty of Shandong back to China, there was the Jinan Massacre. The Japanese soldiers were moved through China from north of Shandong via train to supply the city of Jinan, while at other places, everybody else’s warships were sailing through Chinese rivers. What sovereignty!?

    The game merely was changed from direct control to control through various puppet warlords. Speaking of which, the Japanese puppet warlord at that point controlling Shandong was Zhang Zongchang. Zhang was a clown in so many different ways, but also was a giant who stood near 2 meters tall. A bit later after he was kicked out of Shandong, he left to Japan and attempted a comeback. Now this may sound bigoted… before the WW2, Japanese soldiers were average 1.60m tall. This big dude physically lorded over every Japanese at that time, yet he was fully willing to be a minion.

    You can say a lot of things about Mao — but he was taking none of that. When CCP soldiers years later approached the Yangtze River from north, it attached foreign warships and made sure they understood that the old arrangements were now unacceptable. Many outsiders have a hard time to understand why Mao is still revered by many Chinese — all you need is mentally living through those decades as a Chinese.

  29. perspectivehere
    February 6th, 2012 at 16:11 | #29

    The text of the Nine-Power Treaty is very interesting:


    The “Nine Powers” are identified as:

    “The United States of America, Belgium, the British Empire, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal”

    But when reading it through, the “British Empire” includes these signatories representing Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India:

    “His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:

    The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour, O. M., M. P., Lord President of His Privy Council;

    The Right Honourable Baron Lee of Fareham, G. B. E., K. C. B., First Lord of His Admiralty;

    The Right Honourable Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, E. C. B., His Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America;


    for the Dominion of Canada:

    The Right Honourable Sir Robert Laird Borden, G. C. M. G., K. C.

    for the Commonwealth of Australia:

    Senator the Right Honourable George Foster Pearce, Minister for Home and Territories;

    for the Dominion of New Zealand:

    The Honourable Sir John William Salmond, R. C., Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand;

    for the Union of South Africa:

    The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour, O. M., M. P.;

    for India:

    The Right Honourable Valingman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri, Member of the Indian Council of State”

  30. perspectivehere
    February 6th, 2012 at 16:58 | #30

    The following summary of “European Imperialism in the 19th Century”, taken from a History course offered at SUNY (State University of New York) in Suffolk, is quite good. It highlights the racism and racist ideas that enabled Europeans to explain their ability to conquer large areas of the world. These ideas drove intellectual and popular discourse in the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, and many of those ideas continue to thrive today modified forms. But in the same way as the second half of the twentieth century saw many former colonies breaking the bonds of imperialism as a wave of decolonization swept the globe, often in violent ways, it is also important to break free from the racist ideas that were introduced in imperialist times. This is hard because many of these ideas are engrained in conventional ways of thinking and speaking, as well as in popular media and the stories that are told. And it is disturbing to many people (whichever color they are) to have their basic assumptions and worldviews to be challenged. It often engenders anger, refusal to listen and opposition. I think this is inevitable.


    European Imperialism in the 19th Century




    Imperialism is empire building. Expansion occurs when one state is more powerful than are the obstacles to expansion. The obstacles may be other states or peoples, or they may be geographic or physical or technological obstacles.

    The central core of the empire may be a nation-state, or in ancient times, a city state or a tribe.

    European civilization experienced a period of unprecedented rapid expansion around the globe during the last third of the nineteenth century. European nation-states had become very powerful because of industrialization and because of the organizational efficiency of the nation-state.

    European global expansion had actually begun in the fifteenth century, but the process greatly accelerated in the nineteenth century.

    Latin America and the seaports of Asia and Africa were the first to be colonized by Europeans. Native Americans were liquidated or thoroughly subjugated to European rule. Most Latin American descendents (Latinos) of the Spanish conquerors gained independence from Spain by the early 19th century, while many indigenous peoples remained subject.

    The African climate, disease and geography delayed most European colonization until the 19th century, although the descendents of Dutch settlers, known as Afrikaans or Boers, came to South Africa as early as the 16th century.

    Slavery took a heavy toll on African development ever since the 16th century. Millions of young people of working age were taken away. Great conflict ensued.

    Asia’s population was too great, its civilization too firmly established for Europeans to rule it directly. The Europeans did establish control over seaports and trade. In places like India and Indonesia, Europeans ruled indirectly through their domination of the local aristocracy.

    England was the leading European colonial power and had already established much of its overseas empire by the beginning of the 19th century.

    France was second, with its holdings in Southeast Asia and in North Africa, both of these being established during the 19th century.

    Portugal, Spain and Holland retained some colonies because they had been the earliest colonial powers, and still retained some of them in the 19th century.

    Germany and Italy were late arrivals on the colonial scene because they had only unified themselves in the 1860’s.

    The United States became a colonial power at the end of the 19th century, after having spent the century moving across the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean. Defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War led to the establishment of American colonies in the Caribbean and in the Philippines. The Hawaiian Islands were conquered at the sametime. (1890’s)

    Japan was the first Asiatic nation to become a colonial power. Long isolated and refusing to trade with Europeans, except for a limited, controlled trade with Holland, the Japanese were forced to trade by a United States naval squadron in 1845. Subsequently, the Japanese experienced a political revolution. The new leadership modernized rapidly by adopting European technology and organization.

    The British forced China to open itself to the Opium trade in the 1840’s. China also experienced social upheaval (The Tai Ping rebellion), and was unable to prevent foreign domination of its trade. By the end of the 19th century, England, Germany, Russia, Japan, and the United States had all compelled China to trade with them. Russia occupied Manchuria and Port Arthur, Japan was in Korea, Germany was in the Shantung peninsula, and the British were in Hong Kong.

    The French, the British, the Germans and the Italians competed with each other in the last third of the 19th century to lay claim to Africa. The Belgian king Leopold was also extensively involved. The only remaining areas of Africa not colonized by the end of the century were Ethiopia in the horn of Africa and Liberia on the Atlantic coast.

    Another aspect of European expansion in the last half of the 19th century involved the emigration of large numbers of Europeans to other parts of the world. European population had been increasing more rapidly than non-European populations during this time. Population pressure combined with improved overseas transportation led to the greatest migration in history up to that time.

    The ease with which Europeans dominated non-European areas of the world is explained by the power they had resulting from industrialization and the nation-state organization.

    But the explanations that Europeans made to themselves were that they were superior to non-European peoples. There were a number of racist ideas widely believed by Europeans:

    Whites were superior to non-whites. One variation was Rudyard Kipling’s idea of the White Man’s Burden. The white man had the burden and responsibility of bringing the blessings of their superior civilization to the savages of the non-European world.

    Another was a variation of Social Darwinism in which white Europeans were considered more fit in the struggle for survival. Another variation was that Christianity was the only true religion.

    Racist attitudes also separated northern Europeans from southern Europeans, Anglo-Saxons, Nordics and Teutons from Latins, and Aryans from Semites.

    Anti-Semitism had traditionally been interpreted on the basis of religion with Jews considered to be Christ-killers. A new anti-Semitic concept of Jews as an inferior race, which endangered the purity of Aryans, developed in the late 19th century, particularly in eastern Europe.

    Vienna, as the capitol of the multi-ethnic Austrian Empire, was a particular site for the greatest variety of anti-Semitic writings.

    Racism and anti-Semitism was a virulent motivating force in 19th century Europe, which boded ill for the future.

  31. perspectivehere
    February 6th, 2012 at 17:05 | #31

    Martin Luther King, Jr., whose day we just celebrated in the United States, made a lot of people angry with what he said. A lot of the things he said sounded strange at the time, and even today may upset a lot of people if they bother to read what he said and wrote. But they deserve to continue to be a guide for people of peace everywhere:

    For example, this quote from 1966:

    “Arguments that the American Negro is a part of a world which is two-thirds colored and that there will come a day when the oppressed people of color will rise together to throw off the yoke of white oppression are at least fifty years away from being relevant. There is no colored nation, including China, which now shows even the potential of leading a revolution of color in any international proportion. Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria are fighting their own battles for survival against poverty, illiteracy and the subversive influence of neocolonialism, so that they offer no hope to Angola, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, and much less to the American Negro.

    The hard cold facts of racial life in the world today indicated that the hope of the people of color in the world may well rest on the American Negro and his ability to reform the structures of racist imperialism from within and thereby turn the technology and wealth of the West to the task of liberating the world from want….

    There is no easy way to create a world where men and women can live together, where each has his own job and house and where all children receive as much education as their minds can absorb. But if such a world is created in our lifetime, it will be done in the United States by Negroes and white people of good will. It will be accomplished by persons who have the courage to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflict suffering upon others. It will be done by rejecting the racism, materialism and violence that has characterized Western civilization and especially by working toward a world of brotherhood, cooperation and peace.”


  32. February 6th, 2012 at 17:30 | #32

    Martin Luther King, Jr., had a following of Asians, Hispanics, and other minority groups too. America deserves to be applauded too for having that Civil Rights chapter largely succeeded.

  33. silentchinese
    February 6th, 2012 at 23:25 | #33

    The more MLK looked the more MLK realize the racial problem at heart is economic injustice as oppose to legal injustice. so towards later part he shifts more and more towards emphasizing “each has his own job and house and where all children receive as much education”.

    that’s why he was shot. No way he is allow to shake the system.

  34. aeiou
    February 7th, 2012 at 04:11 | #34


    >>white people of good will

    I’m afraid the good will of the white people is what is holding back the American blacks. And in many ways the development of Africa for so many decades. This “good will” served only to reinforce feel good hubris.

    I’m afraid that China may be repeating those mistakes by pursuing some of the same policies.


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