The Russian Ambassador (Bakhmeteff) to the Acting Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Polk:—Pursuant to our conversation of yesterday I am referring in writing to the recent reports of the press concerning the message from the Soviets of Moscow to China. (New York Times, April 1, 1920).
The message is reported to intimate that the Red Army might be available to deliver China from foreign ambitions. The communication proposes further to annul treaties and cancel different rights [Page 761]enjoyed by Russians in China and refers in particular to the Chinese-Eastern Railway and to the Russian tea factories in Hankow which it offers to hand over to China.
Evidently any proposals or dealings completed by the Bolsheviki have no binding force upon Russia and are to [be] considered null and void. It may come to pass however that, without recognizing and even dealing with the Soviet Government, certain practical dispositions may be taken as a consequence to the Bolsheviki proposition which would be detrimental to Russia and prejudice the future relations of China and Russia.
The Government of the United States has shown on many occasions its friendly disposition to safeguard the rights of Russia so that no advantage would be taken of Russia’s temporary disability. In particular the Government of the United States on several instances had stated that any temporary accommodations concerning the Chinese-Eastern Railway should not prejudice any existing legal, political or other rights by whomsoever held. I had always felt that the attitude of the United States reflected a general principle, consistently maintained throughout the Russian crisis, that the very essence of international law and justice forbids any one-sided denouncement of rights and that any modification in treaties can only be consummated through mutual agreement of both parties. Any such change therefore can take place only after there is a restored government in Russia, recognized as such by the Russian people and the civilized world.
I earnestly hope that in these new developments the United States Government will find it possible to again exercise its good offices with China so that the principle of inviolability of treaty will be sustained and the interests of the Russian people not prejudiced.
I am [etc.]