The Minister in China (Reinsch) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 2557

Sir: I have the honor to report that after receiving your telegraphic instructions of February 10th, 4 p.m., transmitted through Tokyo,16 I arranged with the Japanese Minister to inform the Foreign Office. This was done in accordance with the clause in the memorandum that the Governments of the United States and Japan would inform the other associated governments. In a personal conversation with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs I presented a copy of the agreement and memorandum making also the reservations with respect to the financial arrangements. A copy of the memorandum of the oral remarks made in addition to handing in the text as stated, is herewith forwarded.17 The Japanese Minister added his support. He had not at that time been authorized to make a statement with respect to the interpretation of the term “interests”; but on the next day he received instructions and expressed to the Foreign Office the concurrence of his government with that interpretation.

The Vice Minister brought forward the considerations which have already been presented to you by the Chinese Legation at Washington. I simply emphasized the fact that the present arrangement rested upon an absolute respect for all existing rights. On the afternoon of the same day I had an interview with Mr. Tsao Ju Lin, Minister of Communications. With him I went quite fully into the desirability of an early and complete cooperation on the part of China. He emphasized particularly the feeling that in the use of experts on the Chinese Eastern Railway a preference should be given to Chinese railway men. To his argument that under the Chinese Eastern Railway contract China was entitled to take over the administration of the railway, I replied that while China might have an equitable right to do so if no improvements were made, the arrangements proposed were in accord with all the existing treaty rights relating to the matter.

Under date of February 20th the Foreign Office sent a written reply, a copy of which is herewith enclosed.17 It will be seen that the Chinese Government continues to insist upon its right, as a partner in the Chinese Eastern railway and as territorial sovereign, to take over the administration of the railway on account of the breakdown of the Russian administration. While accepting the new [Page 600]railway agreement in principle and appointing representatives on the various committees, the Chinese Government suggests “that it is its duty and right that the trained expert whom it may deputize as its representative on the Technical Board should be of equal rank and authority with the head of that Board.” This of course I could not accept or in any way encourage. The desire of the Chinese Government that the Chinese military police now functioning along the railway should continue to fulfil the duty of protection is on the other hand undoubtedly justified.

Under date of February 25th I sent to the Foreign Office an answer, copy of which is herewith enclosed.16 I also sent a copy to the Japanese Minister, requesting his support. He has informed me that he would take the same position and write to the Foreign Office in the same sense. After the transmission of this note to the Foreign Office I sent a copy of it to the Minister of Communications, through Mr. C. L. L. Williams,17 who had a conversation with him.18 I had instructed Mr. Williams to make plain to Mr. Tsao that while the American authorities were undoubtedly predisposed to give the most favorable treatment possible to the Chinese Government, an arrangement such as suggested of having two heads to the Chinese Eastern Railway was out of the question. Mr. Williams reported that Mr. Tsao seemed to regard my answer as final. He confined himself to expressing the quite justifiable hope that as far as possible Chinese railway experts should be given a chance to cooperate in the administration of the railway.

As to the functions of the existing Chinese Director-General, they are purely inspectional. He has a right to be informed and to report to the Chinese Government concerning the administration and to enter objection should he believe that Chinese rights are disregarded. I believe that with tactful and considerate treatment full cooperation from the Chinese officials can be secured.

I have now been informed that the Chinese Government assigned Mr. Liu Ching Jen to be its member on the Inter-Allied Committee, and that Dr. Jeme Tien Yow,19 the engineer in chief of the Hukuang railways, has been appointed a member of the Technical Board. These designations would seem to indicate on the part of the Chinese Government a desire for hearty cooperation. Dr. Jeme is not only American educated but has always had close relations with American engineers and engineering developments.

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There is herewith enclosed a copy of an editorial from the Peking Leader of January 26th which voices the original opposition to inter-Allied control of the Chinese Eastern Railway.20

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch
  1. Not printed; see telegram of Feb. 10 to the Chargé in Japan, p. 595.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Second Secretary of Legation in China.
  6. See p. 603.
  7. Better known by the Chinese as “Chan Tien-yu”.
  8. Not printed.