893.51/3308: Telegram

The Vice Consul in Chargé at Canton ( Price ) to the Secretary of State

With reference to the Department’s telegrams January 5, 5 p.m. and February 8, 7 p.m. to the Legation which under your instructions I communicated to Wu Ting-fang. The latter asks that the following be sent the Department of State:

“This Government welcomes the principles of noninterference in China’s fiscal and administrative independence as set forth by the American Department of State, but finds it difficult to reconcile the acceptance of the principle with the action of the diplomatic body when it on January 26th served notice on my Government, when the latter sought to assert its authority over the Customs Administration functioning in the provinces under its jurisdiction without in the least jeopardizing the interests of foreign creditors, that ‘No interference with the administration of the Maritime Customs would be permitted.’ This Government would welcome the acceptance and the application by foreign powers of the principle of noninterference with China’s purely domestic affairs beyond the bounds specifically defined by treaty, thus permitting the Chinese people the fullest possible measure of self-expression in working out their own destinies.

This Government would observe that if and insofar as foreign powers are in a position of trustees of certain Chinese revenues, they should consider themselves trustees not for a technically and momentarily recognized government such as the so-called Peking Government but for the Chinese people who are the ultimate sovereign. I cannot refrain from pointing out the disastrous consequences to Chinese democracy and the deplorable impression on the Chinese people of a policy on the part of the United States of supporting and continuing to recognize a government not recognized by the Chinese people themselves.

To avoid possible misunderstanding I would request that you instruct your Legation at Peking that after the satisfaction of specified foreign charges the oriental [sic] surplus should be considered [Page 505] at the disposal of the Inspector General of Customs, who is a servant of the Republic and has acknowledged the authority of this government.”

In view of the nature of the above message it seemed wiser to transmit it in code for Doctor Wu rather than have it go forward in plain