The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Crane)9

242. Your 253, September 10, 5 p.m., paraphrased to Russian Ambassador except that sentence ascribing the Chinese action to Bolshevik influence.

While the Chinese Government is of course free to continue or withdraw its recognition of the official status of Russian diplomatic and consular officers this Government is frankly perturbed lest the contemplated action will lend itself to the construction that China is entertaining the proposals of the Bolsheviks who are reported to be offering a renunciation of Russian treaty rights in China. This Government notes with satisfaction the assurance given you by the Minister for Foreign Affairs as reported in your 258, September 17, 5 p.m., to the effect that Russian interests will be respected, and it construes this assurance as a pledge that China continues to adhere to the principle which has guided the United States in its policy towards Russia and particularly in reference to the administration of the Siberian railway system (including therewith the Chinese Eastern Railway). This Government therefore assumes that it is the intention of the Chinese Government not to make use of the present disability of Russia in order to invalidate or impair its own obligations to Russia. It is however to be apprehended that even while continuing to recognize the substantive rights of Russia the Chinese Government may by its contemplated action jeopardize in practice the enjoyment of those rights—the more particularly as they relate in large part to commercial matters concerning which it is the avowed intention of the Chinese Government to negotiate with the Bolshevik emissaries now in Peking. This Government therefore feels it to be an obligation of good faith towards Russia and of friendship towards China to invite the attention of the Chinese Government to the necessity of so acting as not to lay that Government open to the charge of having connived with the Bolsheviks to violate or ignore the treaty rights of the Russian people.

You will take early occasion to communicate orally with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the sense indicated above and urge upon him earnestly the advisability of avoiding any act which would result in China’s failure to protect valid rights of a friendly nation especially in a time of its helplessness. You will also point out confidentially that it has been proposed to this Government that as the alternative of continuing to permit the functioning of Russian officials in China the interested Powers should establish a joint [Page 764]international commission for the administration in trust of the Russian interests in China. This Government desires to learn the views and intentions of the Chinese Government with respect to the several alternatives available for the conservation of all legitimate rights accrued to Russia.

You will informally advise your Russian colleague of your action taken in this regard.

[Paraphrase]

Information has been received from the French Chargé that his Government has been asked by the head of the Russian Legation in Peking to take charge of the Legation and also of all the concessions which belong to Russia in China. The French Chargé adds that this is thought by his Government to be too great a task for any one country to undertake alone. For this reason the French Government proposes that pending the establishment of a recognized government in Russia the concessions and other interests of Russia in China be taken in trust by France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States.

If there are any developments regarding this, especially if any action is suggested by the diplomatic corps, you will inform the Department without delay.

You should also report whether a question has been raised by China in regard to paying the part of the indemnity for the Boxer Rebellion which belongs to Russia. Inform the Department whether or not China is still paying Russia’s part of the indemnity to the Russo-Asiatic Bank through the International Bankers’ Commission at Shanghai. The share due to Russia is about 30 per cent of the total less 10 per cent, payment of which was postponed for five years from the date that China declared war on Germany. In regard to the Gold Loan of 1895 at 4 per cent, inform the Department whether it is being paid in like manner.

Inform Tokyo as number 353.

Colby
  1. See last paragraph for instructions to inform Tokyo as no. 353.