861.77/1533c: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Japan ( Bell )44

[Paraphrase]

192. Your telegram no. 204, April 27.45 Recommendation has been made by Smith46 that the railway agreement remain in effect until Japanese withdraw. It was definitely provided by the Department’s note dated January 9, 1920,47 that when Czech evacuation is completed both railway experts and forces are to be withdrawn. Paragraphs 1, 1a, and 5 of the railway agreement itself,48 if given a strict interpretation, seem further to provide for continuation without the participation of the British, French, and Americans, which would leave the Japanese in a dominant position, Chinese and Russian participation remaining, but ineffective. The Russian Embassy here has sent to the Department a memorandum45 referring especially to the Chinese Eastern Railway in which the proposal is made that the railway be practically internationalized through an international committee with provision for its financing by one of the powers, or by banking interests, or by joint action of the powers. The purpose would be to return the railway, with existing rights unimpaired, to those who hold an interest in it.

Inquiries were received by the Department in January and February from the British Government through its Embassy here in regard to continued participation by Americans on the Inter-Allied Board and Committee. The hope was expressed that for as long a time as practical this participation would continue. Colonel Beckett, the British representative, it was stated, would continue indefinitely. By more recent telegrams from our Embassy in Great Britain and by informal conversations which have been undertaken by a Secretary of the British Embassy in Washington it is indicated that Great Britain is very anxious that one power should not obtain [Page 691] control of the railway. Three suggestions have been made through the British Embassy here: (1) that the inter-Allied agreement be continued on the Chinese Eastern Railway, (2) that a mandate for the railway be given to China, (3) that the railway be financed by the consortium.

A proposal is being considered by the Department to place the control of the railway in the hands of the Inter-Allied Committee as it is constituted at present; the duties of the Technical Board to be transferred by the Committee to China under a mandate; the technical operation of the road to be managed either by the Chinese Government or by a new board chosen by that Government, with provision for review by the Committee. Of course the Military Committee would be discontinued.

Cable your opinion.

Colby
  1. Repeated for information and comment to the Ambassador in Great Britain as no. 516 (file no. 861.77/1533b).
  2. Not printed.
  3. Charles H. Smith, American representative on the Inter-Allied Committee for supervision of the Chinese Eastern and Trans-Siberian Railways.
  4. Vol. iii, p. 487.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1918. Russia, vol. iii, pp. 301302.
  6. Not printed.