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Independent Field Research Project 18 January 2013 Justin F. Sha
This paper explores the nature of British policy in responding to the increasing hostilities during the Battle of Shanghai. It does so in an attempt to better understand the origins of the Second Sino-Japanese War, as British policy directly affected the course of events of the Shanghai conflict due to perceived ambiguity of British action in the eyes of the Republic of China and Imperial Empire of Japan. This paper further argues that British policy was one of securement: the maximization of British interests irrespective of how it might change in respects to the Empire as opposed to the localized Shanghai conflict. Britain pursued a policy of neutrality in order to best protect British interests, namely the integrity of the International Settlement and subsequently that of British nationals, property, and prestige.
The Battle of Shanghai escalated a localized incident into a total war that came to involve not only the interests of its combatants but also those of foreign powers, namely those of France, the United States, Italy, Germany, and, particularly, the United Kingdom. Although officially dated from 13 August to 26 November of 1937, the hostilities of Shanghai were locally dubbed the “Four Months of War,” as the narrative of conflict had originated in late July and lasted until early December. It is the first and perhaps most significant of twenty-two major engagements between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War. As a result of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the ensuing Japanese invasion of North China, high tensions flared throughout the month of July across all regions of China, especially
in treaty ports such as Shanghai. On July 24, a precursor to hostilities occurred when a Japanese seaman’s disappearance was attributed to Chinese abduction by Japanese officials.1 Great excitement infected greater Shanghai until the seaman was found on July 27; by his own admission, he was a deserter. On August 9, the catalyst to the Battle of Shanghai arose with similar finger-pointing in the Oyama Incident at Hungjao Aerodrome: two members of the Japanese Naval Landing Party were killed along with a member of the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps (Paoantui). 2 On August 10, the Japanese Consul General subsequently demanded the Chinese to withdraw Paoantui forces as stipulated in the Agreement of 1932.3 On August 11, a Japanese Naval squadron arrived from Japan to reinforce the Japanese Naval Landing Party. This then prompted Chiang Kai-shek to deploy two regular divisions of the National Revolutionary Army from Nanking into the “demilitarized zone” that same day. Despite mutual pledges from both the Japanese Consul-General and the Mayor of the Municipality of Greater Shanghai to abstain from attacking each other at the August 12 meeting of the International Committee for the Enforcement of the Peace Agreement of 1932,4 fighting broke out on August 13. The following hostilities at Shanghai quickly and forcefully struck the international community: in a timeframe of merely four days, the situation in Shanghai had escalated from peace to warfare.
The Japanase Ministry of the Navy received a Japanese Consulate-General report that after 9pm on July 24, Japanese seaman Minyeakl of the Japanese Marines stationed in Shanghai had been kidnapped by Chinese and was reported to be handling the matter with the utmost caution. (Japanese Seaman Kidnapped 1937) 2 Sub-Lieutenant Isao Ohyama and Seaman Yozo Saito were shot on Monument Road near the Hungjao Aerodrome. (F7361, Shanghai Naval and Military Intelligence Summary 1937) 3 The Agreement of 1932 made Shanghai a demilitarized zone, forbade China to garrison troops in areas surrounding Shanghai, while allowing the presence of a few Japanese units in the city. China was allowed to only keep a small police force. 4 (North China Daily News and Herald Limited, Shanghai 1937, 5-6)
In addition to Britain’s historical predominance in East Asia following the Treaty of Nanking.000.6 a Japanese invasion of the city might have provided impetus for a British-led coalition of Western powers to enter the conflict and deal for China a quick and favorable settlement. quickly pay indemnities. Japan replied to the League’s affordance as a “lack of understanding. Although scholarly literature has expanded upon the greater Pacific conflict.000 out of a total £250.” placing full blame on China and affirming Japanese self-defense. it is evident that the question of British action intensified the conflict in 5 The Treaty of Nanjing was the first of multiple unequal treaties that slowly shifted the balance of power from East Asian countries to the West. there is surprisingly little literature specifically devoted to the Battle of Shanghai and even less concerning Shanghai’s third major player. international British. For instance. hold out for as long as possible in an attempt to arouse international sympathy. 6 (The Times 1937) 7 Because Shanghai was economically the most important Chinese city in Western eyes. and even attempt to force British hands to act for their respective sides. and even the dynamics of prewar and wartime Shanghai.and American-led measures to benefit China.5 British action was critical to the development of the Shanghai situation largely due to the ambiguity of its East Asian policy. as well other international powers.The Battle of Shanghai ensured the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War.000. Chiang Kai-shek prolonged the duration of the Battle of Shanghai by ordering the Chinese army to. It did so from the conflict’s onset through China’s appeal at the League of Nations to the Nine Power Treaty Conference. the War’s escalation. Because neither China nor Japan exactly knew how the British would respond to the escalating Shanghai conflict. because Britain.000 of direct British interests in China as of August 19).7 Conversely. the Japanese mirrored the Chinese in framing the entire conflict as a result of Chinese aggression. had great assets and investments in Shanghai (British capital amounting £180. 8 (The Times 1937) Sha 4 . both initially tried to appease Britain through rhetoric. In reply to the League of Nation’s moral support to China in October.8 Therefore. and economic sanctions against Japan. if not push the Japanese out. the United Kingdom.
9 British Foreign Office files pertaining to Britain’s Shanghai policy was filed under “POLITICAL. 10 H. Although the subsequent Four Power Treaty of 1921 provided a loose alliance between Britain. Sha 5 . SECTION I: UNDERLYING FACTORS OF BRITISH POLICY The examination of Anglo-Japanese relations is important in first determining the framework from which Britain (His Majesty’s Government. the event that sparked the Second Sino-Japanese War which directly evolved into the Pacific War front of World War 2. a chronological examination of British policy throughout the events of the Battle of Shanghai. especially in concerns with British policy-making. Although British policy critically affected Shanghai’s course of events in what Britain chose and chose not to do. Although the two were treaty allies of long standing. The question posed to China and Japan was simple: what would the United Kingdom do to protect its East Asian financial capital.9 Thus. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902. was renewed in 1905 and 1911 until its eventual demise in 1923 whereby relations had deteriorated following American. the inner psychology behind British neutrality is unexplored and largely undocumented. This paper will be divided into three primary sections: the underlying factors behind Britain’s policy of maintaining and securing its imperial interests. the Shanghai International Settlement? At present. the aim of this paper is to augment existing scholarship on the Battle of Shanghai.Shanghai. and Australian alarms about a Japanese-dominated Pacific market. British opinion toward Japan during the 1930s was cautiously ambivalent. or H. Canadian.M. first signed in an attempt to curb Russian expansion. France. China” and remained closed until 1988. will hereby be used interchangeably with Britain.G. there is no scholarship on British policy in reaction to Battle of Shanghai. Japan. and the evolution and consequences of British neutrality.G.M. Far Eastern.10) viewed Japan’s increasing geopolitical power.
the Shanghai situation localized British tactical concerns from one of global strategic principles to the protection of the International Settlement. 1937” defense plan detailed Japanese policy. FO Minute 1937) Sha 6 . recognized a need to compromise and temporize with Japan in order to preserve British local interests. For instance. specifically. the British were wary of Japanese tendencies to exaggerate the 1932 Agreement.12 Inevitably.M. H. British disinclination to apply Category III in presenting formal claims to the Japanese government underscores British hesitation to unduly aggravate Japan.and the United States. Internal consensus had always faulted the Japanese as the root cause of the Shanghai conflict.G. considerations of Asian countries. H.G. the continuation of the Shanghai conflict paralleled the decline of Anglo-Japanese relations.13 Following Japan’s taking of greater Shanghai and increased Japanese encroachment on British rights and interests. the crown jewel of British interests in the Far East. the ambiguity of the Anglo-Japanese relationship was such that by the spring of 1937. (F4772. Prior to the Shanghai conflict. analyses blaming the Japanese for the Battle of Shanghai.G. Even during the conflict’s early stages.M. especially doubted any Chinese violation of the spirit of the Agreement. as well as two courses of action regarding defeating the Japanese fleet and applying economic pressure. let alone its invasion of North China. CO Memo 1937) 12 To be discussed in detail in Section III 13 To be discussed in detail in Section II 14 (F5164. the British Committee of Imperial Defence had drafted a defense plan in event of war against Japan. Japan had come into it with a deep mistrust of Britain. intensified. British interests. trade with China.14 moreover. Britain had repeatedly tried to limit and frustrate Japan’s growth due to its ever increasing rise as a naval power and of its Pacific hegemony. H. as well as other Western powers.M. Simply put.11 By the Battle of Shanghai. had already assessed the potential consequences of armed hostilities against Japan. internal opinions of Japan sustained a southwards descent. even legal justifications were made in justifying Chinese rights to 11 The “Appreciation of the Situation in the Far East.
station troops around Shanghai as a reactive measure. H.M.G. argued the impossibilities and unfairness for the Chinese to withdraw their forces, as their military had only arrived due to unwarranted Japanese increases and naval reinforcements to their Naval Landing Party. 15 Some voices within H.M.G. went so far as to even state preposterous, glaring contradiction in Japan’s continued iteration of a regard for the “safety and property of foreigners.”16 After all, for the deaths of only two low-ranking officers, Japan was imperiling the entirety of Shanghai. Ironically, although the pair was originally supposed by Japanese authorities to be inspecting responsibilities in the general area,17 it was later privately admitted by Japanese Consul-General Okamoto on August 25 that they in fact were instead spying on the Aerodome.18 However, because it was in British interests for a quick and complete cessation to the Shanghai conflict, H.M.G. instead argued that both sides were at fault. In publicly faulting Japan, British opinion was such that Japan did not take every possible measure to prove to China that serious Japanese military action was not intended; perhaps, by shipping over a huge gravity of reinforcements in the form of military and, more importantly, naval power in efforts to bully China into withdrawing its Paoantui forces to the 1932 Agreement line, Japan had doomed Shanghai peace prospects. In criticizing the Chinese, the British Foreign Office stated Chinese folly for bringing their troops into contact with the Japanese; in doing so, the Chinese further precipitated conflict and increased dangers of Japanese control of Shanghai which was admittedly the main source of Chinese income. Internally, the Japanese were additionally faulted in their continued rejection of adequate peace efforts and their utilization of the International Settlement as a base of operations. Despite
(F5166, FO No. 330 1937) (F6144, FO No. 384 1937) 17 The two soldiers did have a legal right to be on the extra-Settlement Monument Road. (F7361, Shanghai Naval and Military Intelligence Summary 1937) 18 (F8064, Cypher 826 1937)
21 (F7042. In contrast to the only certain safeguard against them – that being Japan’s complete withdrawal – it was the Japanese landing force that ultimately attracted danger to 19 20 (F5045. Since August 23. 310 1937) Hongkew and Yangtzepoo made up the two sectors of the International Settlement north of Soochow Creek. the Japanese had additionally begun to use the International Settlement for military purposes despite original promises. military intelligence reported a Japanese landing of 4. It is interesting to note that such internal faulting of the Japanese had even made it to the House of Commons. on September 30. as China promised that if Japan utilized the International Settlement in such a fashion. 19 For instance. as it consequently questioned the entire status of the International Settlement. the Japanese consistently rejected British peace attempts on four accounts in 1937. 1937) Sha 8 . on September 23. it did not help popular pro-Japanese sentiments in any part of Shanghai.000 additional troops in five transports at Hongkew. further ones were made for “purposes of record. Representations by Powers were made to Japan against their use of the Settlement as a military base.21 This escalation of Japanese usage of the International Settlement from a military base to a base of attack was dire. Despite original promises. Admiralty Comm. the Japanese had secretly utilized Hongkew wharves to unload supplies and troops and to evacuate the wounded. the Admiralty communicated that it was no longer a plausible claim for the Japanese to be defending the Settlement as they had now proceeded to attack from it.20 fifteen total transports were made between September 21 and September 24. On October 21. FO No. Japan was now jeopardizing not only its own nationals but also those of other countries. Although this issue was eventually resolved in the evacuation of all nationals in the International Settlement areas north of Soochow Creek.” Moreover.two instances of Chinese hinting at or outright acquiescence. Chinese forces would completely invade the International Settlement. British Secretary of State Ormsby-Gore stated that the plausibility of Japanese responsibility for Shanghai hostilities.
22 However. Such concerns are clearly elucidated in a response to a question posed by a Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister. 23 Firstly. Apart from surface reasons for British motives for neutrality. especially initially. Sha 9 . in internally circulated notes. following the conclusion of hostilities. most of these commitments were much closer to home than the Far East. SECTION II: BATTLE OF SHANGHAI 22 23 (F10934. wanted no handicaps to possible British action in an increasingly precarious Europe. Secondly. the motives lied with the “umbrella” policy of securing national interests at any cost.M. FO Memo 1937) The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Mo had raised the question as to whether it would not be possible for H. a final Foreign Office memo was written outlining Japanese responsibility for the Battle of Shanghai. British views on Japanese responsibility were purely internal and had virtually no impact on strict British neutrality at Shanghai. Britain had little confidence. bureaucrats of the Foreign Office occasionally stipulated China’s probable and inevitable defeat to the Japan. to make a declaration of having wide interests in China and subsequent intolerance should these interests suffer due to Japanese action. The following section delves into British rationales for neutrality and attempts to ensure the protection of its immediate. in China to seriously contend against the Japanese war machine. For example.Shanghai.M. short-. In addition to this and British wariness of an armed escalation of conflict with Japan. despite British tendencies to accord Japan increasingly greater blame for the hostilities at Shanghai.G. Japan had already stated that they would not tolerate foreign intervention. British concerns against overextension pushed the United Kingdom away from entangled involvement in the Far East. Specifically. H. on a deeper level. On a surface level.G. and long-term interests and goals. the British government could not afford military assistance to China due to its many commitments around the world. On December 13. in the Diet.
In the occurrence of Japanese victory. over all other options. 24 Therefore. evacuation. Regardless of eventual Chinese or Japanese victory. an immediate neutralization of conflicts to the status quo prior to the Oyama Incident was the ideal. However. Immediately following the Oyama Incident. this area would include Hongkew and Yangtzepoo which was collectively the greatest concentration of British wealth in the world due to its role as Shanghai’s shipping and industrial center. Chinese victory would reorient the present foreign administration. The British found themselves in a lose-lose situation. following the eventual breakdown of these efforts. British policy would remain the same. an urgent meeting of ambassadors had been coincidentally scheduled the previous day to make joint representations to Japanese Consul-General Okamoto. Hankow. Hongkew and Yangtzepoo would still be in ruins with continued paralysis on all trade. It would simply evolve to alternative means in how to best secure its imperial interests. FO Memo 1937) Sha 10 . which would allow British enterprise to prosper just as it had empirically in Pootung. international peace prospects by British authorities seemingly mirrored the escalating developments of Shanghai as they occurred in real-time. which were worth a combined £100. Specifically. the conflict’s continuation and eventual settlement was theorized to be universally disadvantageous to British interests. (F5642. Japan would attempt to drive British enterprise out. In contrast. and in other areas where no foreign municipalities existed.000. Knatchbull-Hugessen and his American counterpart strongly felt that such action should be brought to the Japanese Government in the most unmistakable manner in order to convey the utmost anxiety the remaining Shanghai Powers felt about the possibilities of 24 In the occurrence of a stale-mate. However. and just as they had done in Korea and Manchukuo.000. even total destruction of the International Settlement areas of Hongkew and Yangtzepoo. In many ways.The furious escalation of hostilities at Shanghai brought immediate issues for the British to resolve: neutralization of conflicts. in the event of a stalemate and certainly in the event of Chinese triumph were preferable to Japanese victory. and most importantly the protection of the International Settlement. the Japanese would come to control the entire Shanghai demilitarized zone. the assumed probable result of armed hostilities between China and Japan. British Ambassador Sir H.
in hindsight. FO No. In return. representations were sent to both China and Japan by H.hostilities at Shanghai. German.26 After fighting broke out on August 13.29 Although Chinese and Japanese positions for peace were.G. 306 1937) 29 (F5393. Although difficult.25 On August 11. 307 1937) (F7063. Japanese forces would resume their original positions.. impressing upon both their individual moral obligations to refrain from engaging in hostilities. there were no intentions to engage Japanese forces unless Japan either attacked first or unjustifiably sent more forces to Shanghai. foreign diplomatic representations in Nanking again urged both the Chinese Government and Japanese ambassador of the importance of avoiding hostilities in Shanghai. desires for peace. FO No. FO Minute 1937) 27 (F5045. FO Minute 1937) Sha 11 .27 Chinese authorities of Greater Shanghai communicated to the British Consul-General that in accordance with the Chinese general defensive plan. British authorities believed it unthinkable for either China or Japan to go to war in Shanghai without serious effort to first settle differences in orderly channels of diplomatic 25 26 (F5020.G. 310 1937) 28 (F5020. such peace prospects between the Chinese and Japanese seemed possible. and to treat petty incidents without exaggeration. FO No. the Japanese Government required a withdrawal of Paoantui and regular troops as well as the destruction of all defense works that were erected within the past few days prior to August 13. and Italian ambassadors followed British and American plans to make joint general representations in favor of maintaining Shanghai’s neutrality. to avoid troop contacts. The French.28 In contrast.M. particularly such that the Japanese should refrain from using Shanghai as a base of operations or as a base to increase troop numbers as it did in the January 28 Incident of 1932. inherently mutually exclusive. they did promise reembarkation of recently landed troops after being pressed by British representations a few days later. Both China and Japan had pronounced to H.M. however.
negotiation. They believed it possible for the U.K. and the U.S. to offer their roles as mediators.30 However, British authorities did note Japanese unlikelihood of accepting any agreement that was not a fundamental re-adjustment of Sino-Japanese relations31 and any subsequent Chinese acceptance as impossible, as China was already at the very limit of concessions, particularly to the Japanese. The British high command further conceded that ultimate hopes for peace prospects relied on a joint attitude with the United States, which proved difficult due to popular American isolationist sentiment, as only H.M.G. and the U.S. had the necessary political influence to intervene.32 On August 11, Japanese naval reinforcement had swiftly arrived only a day after the Oyama Incident due to stated alarm by local Japanese naval and military officers about possible action of the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps. Despite results of the joint Sino-Japanese investigation of the Oyama Incident not having yet been reached, Japan dispatched a total of four light cruisers and ten destroyers that same day. They arrived to make a total of twenty-seven warships in Shanghai, with 1,400 additional marines raising the total Japanese Naval Landing Party to 3,800. The Japanese Consul-General simultaneously asked the Mayor of Shanghai to arrange for the withdrawal of the Peace Preservation Corps.33 China justified its reactive increases in troop activity by drawing attention to such large Japanese accumulation of war vessels, marines, and other armed forces coupled with demands calculated to remove or undermine Chinese defense as severely aggravating and detrimental to an already dangerous situation.34 Additionally, because the Japanese began to use the International Settlement areas of Hongkew and Yangzepoo to dock large numbers of warships, the Chinese government claimed
(F5078, FO Memo 1937) ibid, Japan’s Foreign Minister publicly stated a rejection of any intervention attempts 32 (F5083, No. 480 Savoy 1937) 33 (F5161, 4732 Secret Cipher Telegram 1937) 34 (F5181, FO No. 327 1937)
291 1937) 39 On August 14. in which no fewer than 1. FO No. Shanghai 1937. and rhetoric. FO No. 354 1937) 3737 Statements by Chiang Kai-Shek concerning reliability (F5185. 6) Sha 13 . as they had previously communicated to all parties.the latter due to insufficient protection from the Shanghai Municipal Police. immediately dubbed “Bloody Saturday.741 Chinese and foreigners died and a very large. (North China Daily News and Herald Limited. 345 Decode 1937) Statements by Chiang Kai-Shek concerning certainty (F5360. Inevitably. FO No. all such discussions of peace prospects broke down due to reasons of panic.” a Chinese aeroplane raiding Japanese war vessels accidentally dropped bombs in the International Settlement. unascertained number were injured. Meanwhile. internal discussion amongst British authorities gravitated toward the possible futility of any further entertainments of proposals regarding the withdrawal of both Chinese and Japanese forces to their original positions. precedent. the Chinese Ambassador to Japan simply responded that the Chinese could not risk another Tungchow in which Chinese trust was betrayed.that it could and would not be responsible for taking subsequent defensive and offensive measures.38 By August 16.35 Such adamancy in Japanese stance regarding a refusal to withdraw troops mirrored was mirrored by the Chinese. 337 1937) 38 (F5186. instead of the core issue being that of security. the Japanese maintained that their landing party forces were necessary due to attacks by both organized Chinese troops and fanatics.”37 In response to a final British proposal concerning Japanese withdrawal of its Naval Landing Party contingent on a prior Chinese withdrawal to two miles outside Shanghai. not only had Bloody Saturday39 already occurred and caused much anxiety as well as indignation in the International Settlement but also neither the Chinese or Japanese governments was willing to take the first steps in withdrawing their troops. the Chinese acted on precedent as they simply could not trust the Japanese or be certain that the Japanese would fulfill their obligations36 – that it was “impossible to rely on the faithful execution of undertakings by the Japanese. However. By this day. 35 36 (F5292.
If a return to the status quo prior to the Oyama Incident was deemed impossible. Regarding the evacuation of Shanghai.M. FO Minute 1937) Sha 14 .G. Both were not taken lightly. and probably the 40 41 Stated in H. evacuate nationals. (F9830 1937) (F5354. primarily in the form of British evacuation and the maintenance of the integrity of the International Settlement. H. They recommended that such action would be interpreted by both China and Japan as an abandonment of British large interests with resulting consequences being incalculable.G. the sacrifice of financial.40 This meant the continued umbrella policy in securing British interests in Shanghai. Ambassador to China Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen’s letter on British policy.Immediate British reaction to the outbreak of the Shanghai conflict had been threefold: broker a ceasefire to hostilities.41 However. The Chairman of the China Association characterized it as follows: “Total evacuation of the Settlement would mean immeasurable loss of prestige. a great loss of the confidence of all those Chinese. quickly decided against this plan of action due to reasons best illustrated by the joint statement of the Financial Adviser and Acting Commercial Councsellor of the Embassy Offices.M. the military high command originally considered complete evacuation due to not being able to impede the progress of National Government troops if they attempted to enter the Settlement. British policy simply reoriented toward ones that best allowed them to hold on until the storm passed over. position and trade. who have relied on the safety of investments of various kinds in the Settlement. There were two layers to British evacuation: the first entailed evacuation of British women and children from Shanghai and the second entailed evacuation of the districts north of Soochow Creek. as both evacuations could have damaged British interests and prestige. and ensure the integrity of the International Settlement. commercial and industrial interests built up by three generations of British effort.
FO No. 81 1937) 45 (F5197. 81 1937) 44 (F7746. included evacuating British nationals to safe areas of the International Settlement. which included 85 percent of Shanghai’s total population of British women and children. John Swire & Sons LTD 1937) (F5345. In regards to numbers. HMS Duchess. 325 1937) Sha 15 .”42 However. by the end of the Battle of Shanghai.permanent loss of the Settlement. specifically. Embassy Offices No. Telegram 1937) 46 (F5595.000 British citizens were evacuated. Far East F5130 48 (F5328. it was recognized that from the point of view of defense. Shanghai is the citadel of British and Western enterprise in China and the destruction of foreign capital.800 of whom were evacuated by August 25. 42 43 (F5430. British policy centered on maintaining the neutrality of the International Settlement. During the Ambassador’s meeting on August 12. on the evening of “Bloody Saturday. 47 Therefore.45 By August 21.” 2000 British citizens were evacuated to Hong Kong on the HMS Duncan. 3. for the duration of the Battle of Shanghai from this point onwards. must cause the Japanese – and possibly even some Chinese – much pleasure as a step towards the elimination of Western influence in China. it was desirable to lessen commitments by decreasing the number British subjects. WO Weekly Intel Summary 1937) 47 According to the Commander-in-Chief. evacuation was emphasized on a voluntary basis for women and children.000 British citizens were evacuated. 5. The first such instance goes back to Oyama Incident when all foreign Consul-Generals in Shanghai pressed the Chinese and Japanese Governments to maintain the integrity of Shanghai proper.43 Thus.46 The number one aim of Shanghai authorities was to safeguard the lives and properties of British nationals.44 On August 15.48 it was agreed that the Chinese would not attack the International Settlement unless Japanese forces were inside or attacked from within it. FO No. especially women and children. 3. and HMS Delight. which is going on at the moment.
First Lord of the Admiralty A. 404 Saving 1937) 53 Held at the Foreign Office. be confined to the area north of Soochow Creek.53 After much internal discussion.G. This meeting included Cabinet-level officials in the government. the British population of Yangtzepoo and Hongkew was evacuated on August 20 due to the inevitable conflict that would soon envelop the area. Cabinet Office Minute 1937) Sha 16 . bureaucracy. the Commander-in-Chief viewed it as impossible to afford those living north of Soochow Creek armed protection. (F5384.51 However. and military and addressed what had already been done in Shanghai and if there was anything further that to salvage the situation. conflict could.i In the actual defense of the Settlement’s perimeter. On the same day. On August 19. Because the Japanese were illegally using Hongkew and Yangtzsepoo as a landing base as well as a harbor for large numbers of Japanese warships along the Whangpoo. and eventually would. despite these increases in security. a battalion of Welch Fusiliers arrived on August 17. to treat the International Settlement and French Concession together in its representations of neutrality to the Japanese to which the British agreed.Thus. the Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC)49 passed curfew regulations that stipulated the apprehension and detainment of those outside without a pass from 10pm to 5am. the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden. and other high-ranking government. the only hope of preserving the Settlement’s integrity was to enforce complete withdrawal of Japanese forces.50 However. Duff Cooper. Secretary of State for War L. Ormsby-Gore. the French asked the H. Hore-Belish. since British property could not be evacuated. military. this meeting of Ministers included the Lord President of the Council Viscount Halifax. The British ambassadors 49 50 An international body created to manage the International Settlement This curfew was later amended to 11:30pm to 5am FMOW 51 (F5330. The first was a comprehensive peace proposal. Secretary of State for the Colonies W. FO No. a meeting of Ministers was held to address the crucial Shanghai situation in regards to British interests. and navy officers. the Cabinet came to three decisions. conversely. No. 352 1937) 52 (F5447. British policy was simply to refuse the right of the Japanese to occupy its buildings and reserve the right to make claims following the Shanghai conflict’s resolution.52 On August 17.M.
the peace proposal was communicated to both Chinese and Japanese officials. H.M. they were to additionally communicate that the sole desire of H. in principle. would be willing to take such responsibility if other powers were willing to assist. The second pertained to the evacuation of refugees from Shanghai. could not delegate to foreigners their duty of protecting their own nationals and interests as well as the belief that the hostilities would inevitably continue until Chinese troops withdrew outside the demilitarized area as demarked in the 1932 Agreement. Despite more foreign troops and warships arriving the following day to make the proposal more Sha 17 . final. however. as well as troop borrowing and replacements throughout the British Empire. On August 18. the plan fell through due to Japanese beliefs that foreign powers did not have sufficient troops available to ensure the protection of Japanese nationals. the evacuation of women and children was agreeably confirmed to be encouraged but by no means mandatory. The third involved reinforcements from India to replace those in Hong Kong that were sent to Shanghai. was to keep the International Settlement free of hostilities. that same day. However.were to inform both Nanking and Tokyo that if they both agreed to withdraw their forces and warships from the Shanghai area and to agree to the protection of Japanese nationals to foreign powers. evacuation. The decision was made to follow through on existing plans and station four British battalions in Shanghai. and most comprehensive peace proposal specific to the Shanghai situation. The peace proposal finalized at the Cabinet Meeting of Ministers would mark the second. Evacuation of men was out of the question. This meeting was critical in how it underscored the dire nature of the Shanghai situation to British interests and finalized immediate procedures in regards to a renewed attempt to end hostilities. This was in addition to the fact that Japan.G.G.M.
than practical, the Japanese still lodged the same skepticism.54 The Chinese on the other hand expressed a willingness to accept the peace proposals so long as it was also accepted by the Japanese Government.55 Following Japan’s rejection of this peace proposal and the tone of annoyance to follow-up British telegrams, internal sentiment within H.M.G. was finalized that the situation at Shanghai could not be changed even with foreign mediation. There were no possibilities or viable alternatives to change Japanese attitude; by August 23, the new landing of 50,000 Japanese troops distinguished any last hopes to mediation. Although peace prospects did continue afterwards, the Cabinet Meeting proposal marked the last of two peace prospects focused solely on Shanghai. Following it were the September 29 peace prospects, 56 the League peace proposals and indemnifications of November 2,57 and another set of peace terms by Japan, released on December 28 following Japanese tactical victory in Shanghai and successes in North China.58 October 21 was the critical turning point in Japanese tactical victory in Shanghai. On this day, the Japanese increased their drive on Tazang59 and continuously but slowly progressed, pushing the Chinese line within a mile of Tazang to the Northwest.60 Once Tazang fell on October 26, the Chinese retreated by burning Chapei, as they fell back in a south-west direction away from the Settlement. Complete Chinese evacuation of Nantao occurred on November 11. That night secured Japanese holdings in Shanghai, as after having cleared out Nantao and destroyed a Chinese boom in the river opposite of the French Concession, the Japanese chased
(F5589, FO No. 308 1937) (F5603, FO No. 377 1937) 56 Both Chinese and Japanese governments were reluctant to take the first steps despite the Japanese High Command favoring early peace. However, the Chinese were not and were not expected to be very impressed by Japanese terms due to vagueness to Japanese exaggeration as well as an affirmation of Japanese interests in North China. 57 (F9052, Telegram 1937) 58 (F11932, Telegram 1937) 59 Town crucial to the Chinese defensive line and defense of Chapei 60 (F9890, Letter 1937)
the Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs proclaimed the inconceivability that any Japanese airman would intentionally fire at the British motorcar.the Chinese west.64 This event was significant in how before it. 10 1937) 63 (F6442. Thus. From this point onwards until complete Japanese takeover of Shanghai in 1941. September 6 marked another turning point in the Shanghai situation: one of Anglo-Japanese relations. the Japanese clarified this statement following strong British representations regarding fragrant breaches of international law that they no longer disputed the British account of facts. and the conclusion of hostilities resulted in a subsequent. so did British policy in regards to protecting the integrity of the International Settlement. Prior to his shooting. 61 62 (F5919. WO Weekly Intel Summary No. the planes were Japanese as no Chinese troops were encountered until about an hour’s drive from the incident. Meanwhile.63 in mid-October. WO Weekly Intel Summary No. British policy would be transformed toward the primary aims of securing and maintaining its interests in Shanghai. and would pay indemnities in return. offered a statement of apology. 50 miles northwest of Shanghai. both flying a Union Jack on the roofs. significant decrease in the dangers posed to the International Settlement. On that date. However. 4 1937) 64 (F8505. FO 775 1937) (F8505. the Japanese had never intentionally fired upon any British official or military officer. The Japanese had Shanghai virtually surrounded. the British Ambassador was travelling from Nanking to Shanghai for the purpose of giving the Shanghai British community a morale boost. as the Battle of Shanghai concluded. WO Weekly Intel Summary No. On September 6.61 His party was travelling in two private motorcars.62 The Military Attaché stated that without any doubt. 10 1937) Sha 19 . the Japanese Government communicated how an internal Japanese investigation failed to establish the fact that the aircraft was Japanese. British Ambassador to China Hughe KnatchbullHugessen was intentionally fired upon by the Japanese.
Anglo-Japanese had remained cordial. However.G. on October 26. on October 27. relations had steadily soured into the following year. the Japanese Foreign Minister expressed to British Ambassador to Japan Craigie his sincerest regret and reassured him that measures would be taken to prevent reoccurrences. WO Weekly Intel Summary No.M.65 The second occurred on October 24 when a Japanese aircraft attacked the Western perimeter of the British defense sector as well as four British military posts. with another dying of wounds on October 31. However. 11 1937) Sha 20 . the Japanese issued a note of apology and promised to deal suitably with persons involved following Ambassador to Tokyo Craigie’s representations. Because the Battalion had refused to enter the International Settlement 65 66 (F7714.66 The third event occurred on October 29 when three men of the Royal Ulster Rifles were killed. it was the holding out of the Chinese “Lone Battalion. The final event occurred from October 21 to October 29. this occasion instead marked the refusal of the “Suicide Battalion” to surrender to the British military. four more events brought about the sharp decline in Anglo-Japanese relations. chose not grant Japanese naval authorities’ requests to open Soochow Creek for possibilities of Japanese troop movement ant attack. The first occurred on September 29 when H.” The holding out of “Lone Battalion” was a pivotal occasion within the Battle of Shanghai. following it. as the Battalion was holding out in the Continental Bank in Chapei. Along with this shooting of the Ambassador. It was a symbolic Chinese defiance against Japanese aggression and military power. to British authorities. WO Weekly Intel Summary No. British garrisons retaliated fire without result. 8 1937) (F8833. It proved potentially embarrassing to British prestige as well as dangerous to the International Settlement. the offense was repeated. which lied directly across from populated International Settlement boundaries.
aeroplane and artillery attacks on British troops at the Settlement perimeter. the following day.due to a lack of orders from Chinese high command as well as their own intents “to fight to the last man. Together. there were eighteen casualties in total. Embassy Offices No. On the Japanese opinion. Sha 21 . and had intentionally fired at and killed British troops. and was disliked 67 68 (F8981. in addition. and the 500 Chinese soldiers retreated under machine gun fire across the Thibet Road Bridge into the Settlement to be interned by British authorities.68 Feelings of animosity between the British and Japanese reached an alltime high. His message was received on October 31. the Japanese were blamed for the shells that had fallen into the Western area of the defense perimeter. British neutrality had forestalled numerous Japanese attempts to use the International Settlement or Soochow Creek for a forward push thereby leading to a prolonged stalemate between Chinese and Japanese forces.” British authorities contacted Chiang Kai Shek who ordered the Battalion to surrender on Saturday. caused artillery casualties to the International Settlement. British refusal to allow Japanese launches up Soochow Creek. On the British opinion. Britain was accused of giving the “Lone Battalion” rations as well as allowing them to fly a Chinese flag.69 Britain was faulted for allegedly taking China’s side in regards to neutrality and negotiation processes. 167 1937) 69 The flag had been snuck in at nighttime by a Chinese Girl Scout who had come from the Settlement. October 30. and the holding out of the Lone.67 Meanwhile. the Japanese had shot down the British Ambassador. these five incidents exacerbated an already tense Anglo-Japanese relationship: the shooting of the British Ambassador. Telegram 1937) (F9073. this was all in addition to internal blaming of the Japanese as being chiefly responsible for the Shanghai conflict. feelings of distrust and disgust lingered on both sides.
for its participation in the Nine Power Treaty and the international indemnification of Japan.70 On both sides, respective anti-British and anti-Japanese attitudes ran in the press albeit antiBritish attitude was much more rampant among Japanese military and naval authorities in all ranks and divisions. Despite the meeting on November 3 between British officials and the Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs to foster a conciliatory spirit,71 official improvement of relations did not correlate with the betterment of relations, as Japanese naval and military higher officers and authorities continued to be harbor soreness and resentment. It was only by the action of the British Commander-in-Chief and British Major General that greater improvements in Anglo-Japanese relations occurred. Following the Commander-in-Chief’s November 11 meeting with Japanese General Matsui concerning Japanese securing the use of the Soochow Creek and Whangpoo river, Japanese refusal to let the Chinese or others interfere, and British statements to dispel any idea that British troops in Shanghai were stationed for the purposes of impeding the Japanese army, British and Japanese naval and military authorities rebacame cordial.72 Relationships were certainly improved now that the Japanese had surrounded the Settlement and were in the process of pushing hostilities away. However, in addition the internal belief of Japan as the root aggressor in the Shanghai conflict, the Japanese exertion of power in Shanghai and the International Settlement re-soured relations.
SECTION III: CONSEQUENCES OF NEUTRALITY
This belief was not entirely accurate as affordance of moral support to China by the League of Nations had not been full-heartedly supported by H.M.G. 71 (F9045, FO No. 636 1937) 72 (F9390, Embassy Offices No. 194 1937)
The beneficial consequences of British neutrality balanced out the negatives in regards to the maximization of British interests. In seeking the integrity of the International Settlement, Britain was able to escape the Japanese blockade as well as maintain its position and influence in Shanghai up until Japanese seizure following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, Britain was unable to apply Class III claims to Japan and facilitated the eventual Chinese loss of Shanghai. As a result of British neutrality, increased animosity and competition between Britain and Japan, was an indirect result as if H.M.G. had taken a stance against Japan, relations would surely have been worse. In regards to shipping, Britain was able to escape the Japanese blockade of the Chinese coastline. On August 10, when the Japanese Naval Attaché informed H.M.G. that in the event of war with China, Japan would institute a blockade in order to prevent contraband from entering China. British shipping was not affected, as the Japanese had not been in a state of war against China, which surely would have occurred had H.M.G. provided military aid or even possibly sanctions against Japan.73 The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs furthermore made the distinction that private firms should continue to be allowed to supply armaments to the belligerents in the Sino-Japanese dispute.74 Policy should continue supply as there has been no declaration of war. Thus, even if British firms were shipping armaments to China, the Japanese legally could do nothing about it besides cross-check suspected British cargo to ensure that the ships sailing British cargo were indeed British. Ultimately, this greatly benefitted British trade in how trade could relatively continue to prosper despite the heavy disruption of trade and shipping lines by the Sino-Japanese conflict.
(F7977, FO No. 485 1937) (F4592, Cabinet Conclusions 36 1937)
such claims do not include bombardment as it’s hard to prove whether damage was cause wantonly or by gross negligence 75 (F5454. namely. II. in other words.M.M. e.G. H. British commerce subsequently proved a strong factor in determining British policy in Shanghai. looting by Chinese and Japanese soldiers. towards action in filing representations to Tokyo on their behalf. and they pressed H.M. Despite a good basis for the illegality of Japanese actions. and III outline lists of damages or loss in presenting a formal claim for indemnity by the Chinese or Japanese governments:75 Category 1. efforts were relatively effective. The commercial communities of Shanghai repeatedly exchanged notes with H. However. the total effectiveness of such efforts was inevitably sacrificed to the interests of empire. FO No.M.G. 450 1937) Sha 24 . The following Categories I. H. authorities.It goes without saying that British commercial interests in Shanghai lied with its stake in private business.Claims which would be good on the assumption that a state of war existed. not “war damage” but damage caused wantonly or by gross negligence.G. claims that are a breach of international law arising out of the illegal actions of military forces as it is the Government’s responsibility for culpable negligence to control soldiers and allow them to loot Category 2. Although Japanese action occasionally attempted to stymie such processes such as the delay of passes to British nationals.Claims which would be good whether the hostilities are regarded as war or not.G. as categories for British claims were limited to I and II.g. primarily did so regarding access to the Hongkew and Yangtzepoo wharves during the Shanghai conflict and reparation claims by British firms. it was deemed undesirable to offend the Japanese by representing to them Category III claims.
British commercial advantages nevertheless took the backburner role. By avoiding Category III claims. and enterprise. In the form of claims as well as economic sanctions.g. clout. the British also viewed it as hopeless to expect the Japanese to satisfy claims based on any illegality on their actions. the Japanese Consul-General had discussed with the SMC measures decreed by Sha 25 . If H. damage by shell fire. regardless of the existence of a state of war. the Japanese landing-party was already present and could be argued to be protecting the International Settlement and Japanese nationals from attack. during the last two weeks of November. the British could avoid the deep waters of controversy over legal issues despite strong pressures by the business community to do so otherwise. Japan had begun to flex its geopolitical muscle in Shanghai. By the time of the “Japanese Victory March” through the International Settlement. Chinese and Japanese Governments are responsible for any damage done to the property of foreigners albeit the Chinese were entitled to defend themselves as they were immune under international life.G. British industry was sacrificed to the interests of greater Empire in reference to Britain’s stringent neutrality policy at Shanghai. Thus. it would entitle the British to a much stricter view in regards to claiming compensation for all damages. including those of Category III. Such a tone of voice would only prejudice chances of claims in other categories which there were reasonable prospects in obtaining satisfaction. e.Category 3. declared Japanese belligerency. besides offending the Japanese. there were other factors in not claiming Category III claims such as difficulties in claiming the illegality of Japanese military action. However. although British policy sought to minimize damage to British commerce. Specifically.M.Claims for which a belligerent would not be responsible if they had occurred in the course of a war. Moreover.
715 Decypher 1937) Sha 26 . WO Weekly Intel Summary n. In response. the SMC stated that it was prepared to cooperate but was unable to deport people as such functions were not within its power. and rehashed a proposal to take over the Customs service.n. Radio services. suppression of Chinese censorship in the press and news. the Japanese hinted that they would subsequently be compelled to do so themselves. 140 Decypher 1937) 78 (F10818. U. British intelligence cross-confirmed Japanese plans for undermining British influence in China. the Japanese demanded a request to re-occupy certain buildings and mills within the American and Italian sections of the International Settlement.76 On November 20. If the SMC failed to carry out these measure. during this period. these measures included that of: suppression of anti-Japanese and subversive activities. and suppression of unauthorized wireless connection by the Chinese. prohibition of Chinese communications in the postal and telecommunication companies.77 Additionally. The Japanese Consul-General and Japanese Military Attaché came close to threatening the SMC into compliance.. 1937) (F9535. Japan announced its intentions to take over the Post Office. British intelligence also confirmed the Japanese military to be discussing attempts to interfere with the administration of the International Settlement.S. Finally. demanded the responsibility to police extra-settlement roads. Had not the Japanese eased on the Customs Issue when it did following strong representations placed by the British.Japanese military authorities to be adopted. eviction of Chinese Government organs. and French embassies at Tokyo in regards to the importance of maintaining Customs’ integrity.78 76 77 (F10204. Britain would have considered strong naval action against Japan. Japanese authorities had also taken over communications: on November 26. and Chinese Telegraph and to appoint Japanese appraisers to operate the Customs of the International Settlement and French Concession.
Perhaps, the Customs Issue best displays the tension that arose from the exertion of Japanese power in the International Settlement.79 On November 24, the Shanghai situation quickly deteriorated as Japan seized all customs vessels. Despite protests lodged by H.M.G., U.S., and the French, representations proved difficult in regards to actually obtaining the sufficient amount of funds that was owed to them by the Japanese government. Overall, the issue regarding the overall proceeds of Customs proved contentious, as the Japanese also insisted on transferring funds to a Japanese bank as opposed to that of a neutral country. Subsequently, serious internal discussion was made as to whether or not H.M.G. ought to send ships to forcibly resist Japanese infringement of British rights. On November 26, Admiral Chatfield laid out a policy that if H.M.G. were to send a fleet, the fleet would almost have to be able to cope singlehandedly with the Japanese fleet before meeting up with the Americans to prevent the Japanese from individually laying waste to British forces or American forces before the expected joining together of their forces; the second issue was that of risk involving asking the American government about this proposal, as any leak would seriously attract the fury of the Japanese government. The proposal was thus reworded to simply ask the views of the Americans as opposed to implying that Britain was prepared for military action if the Americans were to follow its lead. However, by November 30, the Chinese Customs situation had significantly eased in a matter of one to two days when Ambassador Craigie received satisfactory assurances from the Japanese government which stipulated that the attitude of the Japanese government was reflected in Shanghai, itself. Thus, the British never decided upon putting up a show of naval force to combat Japanese infringements of British interests, specifically Japanese attempts at in intimidating British markets. However, this Customs Issue highlights the high-tension atmosphere of the International Settlement immediately following the Battle of Shanghai.
(F10024, Cabinet Conclusion No. 43 1937)
industry. such a policy encapsulated a large variety of policy actions that is surprisingly far-reaching and expansive. and its aftermath – British policy remained consistent in its priority in commitment to maintaining British interests in the Far East.G. peace prospects maneuvering. Although it took on many forms ranging from the protection of its nationals. British policy somehow remains coherent in its intentions and responses to the events of the Battle of Shanghai. throughout the entirety of British representations to Japan. and prestige to the maintenance of the integrity of the International Settlement and British clout against the rising stem of Japanese influence. believed to be best for Great Britain. contingency plans. British policy thoroughly pursued what H. Sha 28 .CONCLUSION Throughout the entirety of the Battle of Shanghai – its precursors. its duration.M. and the like. However.
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