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League Obeys U.S.A. in Move Against Japan

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 10, 20 February 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The League’s voluminous report on Japanese aggression in China gives the clearest evidence of America’s dominating world position. In no single respect does the League’s position differ from the one enunciated by Secretary Stimson on several occasions. It can be said that the interests of the great powers, in this instance, coincide with the interests of U.S. imperialism and are in opposition to those of Japan. That is true but does not negate American dominance.

The League demands Chinese sovereignty over Manchuria, but also requires that China grant autonomy to the three provinces. The report gives recognition also to Japan’s special interests in Manchuria. Thus the League grants to Japan its right to a “sphere of influence” in North China but it is not ready to see this sphere turned into an outright colony. Diplomacy works only through quid pro quos – through concessions or payments made for services rendered. At the moment, America has more to offer the League than Japan. The price demanded from Japan – attack on the Soviet Union – has been deferred too long to suit the League. Furthermore instead of marching further North, Japan has set her face South in China, much to the League’s chagrin. Thus the report states:

“Early in January 1933, occurred the serious incidents at Shanhaikwan, situated at the extremity of the Great Wall, halfway between Peiping and Mukden. This city has always been regarded as of great strategic importance. It is on the route followed by invaders who, coming from Manchuria, wish to penetrate into what is now the province of Hopei. Moreover, from Hopei is the easiest route into Jehol ...”

“International Cooperation”

The League, in short, cannot possibly allow vast sections of China to become Japanese colonies. It proposes international cooperation in Chinese reconstruction – since “the present political instability in China is an obstacle to friendship with Japan and an anxiety (!) to the rest of the world (as the maintenance of peace in the Far East is a matter of international concern) and since the conditions enumerated above cannot be fulfilled without a strong central government in China, the final requisite for a satisfactory solution is temporary cooperation in the internal reconstruction of China, as suggested by the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen.” Lest there be any doubt as to the League’s great altruism in desiring its hegemony rather than Japan’s in the “maintenance of peace” (no doubt by gunboat practise on the shores of the Yangtse) we are given the spectacle of the strengthening of the Chinese central government by the extension of the “rights of extraterritoriality” for three years to England, the U.S. and France. Nanking announced the abrogation of these rights in January 1930, and again in January 1931. But under cover of the present situation the powers (not the League, but the “powers” in the League!) have forced this concession as part payment for their stand against Japan.

The reason why Japan never formally declared war on China is that no “strong central government”, in fact no government at all, exists in China, according to the Japanese generals whose sole desire is, of course, the maintenance of law and order so that civilization may survive. “All the Chinese soldiers are bandits,” say the official Japanese spokesman. One wonders whether Washington is capable of wincing at the indelicate use of American diplomatic language. The League is in full accord with Japan’s views on China, but prefers, strangely enough, its own methods and interests for carving China to suit the powers.

Even in its present report the League straddles on the issue so that it has freedom to move in the “proper” direction with events. As Streit observes in the N.Y. Times,

“The report nowhere in so many words declares Japan the aggressor, or the violator of the Covenant ... This manner of expression is due to the fact that the great League powers are torn between the desire to maintain the sanctity of the Covenant and the fear of having to maintain it with its sanctions.”

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