The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Crane)
258. Your 273,15 274,16 27817 and Department’s 242, September 21, 8 p.m.18 It must be realized that in assuming the executive and judicial duties of the Russian officials, China has taken upon itself responsibilities of very great magnitude. This is true even though the good faith with which the Government is likely to perform these duties is not questioned. It will lay itself open to serious danger of misunderstanding and suspicion. The only way to prevent this is for it to act with a conscientious consideration of its duties to the Russians as well as with the greatest care in connection with the other interests concerned.[Page 769]
Recently at the Third International [Congress] the Russian Soviet leaders decided that the propaganda which they should conduct in China should be directed against the interests of what they call the capitalistic states. They plan to use the people and Government of China to indirectly strike at America and the other countries which will not recognize or deal with the Soviet Government. For this purpose the Bolsheviks plan to encourage an agitation for the recovery of Chinese rights, a movement which would become one against foreigners, a revival of the Boxer movement as a weapon of the Bolsheviks against the economic and political system of the capitalistic states.
Since the Chinese Government has at present dealings with representatives of the Government at Verkhneudinsk, a Government which has established relations with the Central Russian Soviet and has avowed its purpose to give up the rights in China held by the Czar’s Government, we fear that the Government of China will have difficulty in not appearing to be accepting the plans of the Russian Communists and being used for aims opposed to the interests of Governments which in the past have shown themselves to be in sympathy with the Nationalistic desires of the Chinese By merely appearing to be subservient to the influences of the Russian Communists, China would, it is to be feared, lose the friendly regard of such nations, and also give an excuse for aggressions, justified with a show of reason as being necessary to keep the rights of Russia from being confiscated on behalf of the Russian Reds who possibly would try to make use of them as a weapon against the interests and rights of other countries. Your telegram of September 24, 11 a.m., No. 268,19 gives an illustration of how the danger from Bolshevism can be used as an occasion to refuse recognition of the right of China to act freely in regard to the rights of Russia in her territory.
In your conversations with Chinese in both official and unofficial circles, you will be guided by the views of our Government as expressed above. The above statement of our Government’s views will make it possible for you to indicate to the Chinese how serious the United States considers the responsibilities they have assumed and the danger of misunderstanding and the disadvantage from a tactical standpoint in which they would place themselves if they gave any indication of being subservient to Russian Soviet influence or seemed to encroach upon the rights of Russia.
The question of having foreign countries take part in administering the concessions of Russia in various Chinese cities and of exercising judicial power in regard to the interests of Russia in China is now being considered by the Department.[Page 770]
The Government of China is in special danger of placing itself in a wrong position regarding extraterritorial rights, a matter in which the leading nations all have an interest. For this reason it would appear to be a matter of prudence for China to agree to some plan whereby when cases involving Russians were tried in Chinese courts foreign assessors would be admitted. Advise the Department as to the feasibility of arranging for the admission of an assessor named by the local body of consuls at the city where the trial is to be conducted, in a general way similar to the practice regarding nationals of foreign states not represented in the Mixed Court at Shanghai.
Considering that these matters have aspects of wide scope, the Department believes that proposed plans of a definite nature should be at first discussed among the governments of the nations interested. You are instructed in discussing these questions with members of the Diplomatic Corps to take that attitude.