893.51/3220: Telegram

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

58. My 53, January 24 [23], 1 p.m. Section 2.92 Acquiescence in seizure of customs by Canton would amount to withdrawal of recognition from Peking as Government whole China and create [Page 497] great probability of similar action elsewhere precipitating disintegration with danger recrudescence of spheres of interest. Moreover the operation of Maritime Customs Service under foreign supervision has been most powerful factor in maintenance of China’s prestige and existence internationally since 1911. In the absence of contrary instructions or recommendations I therefore propose to join other Legations in joint action similar to that taken during the revolution in safeguarding Customs Revenues, the object being to keep Customs Administration from embroilment in politics. I recognize the undesirability of incurring hostility Canton faction with possible reprisals on foreign interests and trade as well as allowing the Chinese Government to depend upon foreign assistance in the collection of its revenues but I feel that the Powers incurred responsibility by paying Canton portion surplus 1919 and 1920 thus pointing the way to present attitude of Wu Ting-fang faction. Action outlined in Department’s 3, January 5, 5 p.m. impossible if seizure of customs successful.

  1. Telegram no. 58 is probably intended for the second section of the Minister’s telegram no. 53, supra.