China's Foreign Relations: 1917-1931

By Robert T. Pollard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE WASHINGTON CONFERENCE

THE Washington Conference had two objects. The first of these centered around the desire of the Great Powers to limit naval armaments. The second concerned the need for a practical effort to remove causes of international misunderstanding which, as long as they persisted, encouraged the growth of naval armaments. Many, if not most of these causes of misunderstanding, arose out of existing conditions in the Pacific area and the Far East. Recognition of this fact prompted the American Government, in agreement with the Governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan, to extend to the Chinese Government an invitation to participate in the work of the Conference.

The Peking Government heartily welcomed the opportunity to present China's accumulated grievances before representatives of the powers. The first news that such an opportunity would be afforded was received by the country at large with undisguised enthusiasm. In Peking the opinion was freely expressed that Japan was being summoned before an international tribunal to answer for the misdeeds of her militarists on the Asiatic mainland.1 For a month, the Chinese press discussed the approaching Conference with lively interest and unvarying optimism. The conviction was widespread that the development of events since the Versailles Conference had revealed to statesmen everywhere the dangers of allowing the interests of weaker nations to be eclipsed by the selfish ambitions of the stronger powers. It seemed likely, therefore, that the powers were now in a mood not only to revise the Shantung settlement in the

____________________
1
North China Herald, CXL, Sept. 10, 1921, pp. 795-6.

-205-

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