893.102 Ic/12

The Secretary of the British Embassy (Craigie) to the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Mac-Murray)

My Dear Mr. MacMurray: Since writing my letter of to-day about naval cooperation in the Yangtse,5 we have received a further telegram from the Foreign Office in regard to the difficulty of securing at Peking unanimous approval for your last proposal for a settlement of the “Ichang” question. The Foreign Office further state that Chinese Commissioners in Ichang have now petitioned the Chinese Government in favour of some form of international settlement and neutralization, while the Taoyin, in a petition to the Governor of the Province, urges limiting the number of troops and taking the initiative in the matter of a settlement before it is extorted by Foreign Powers; he refers also to the fact that the question of an international settlement has been discussed since 1883 and that in 1915 Wai-chiao-pu were in favour of one on certain conditions.

The Foreign Office ask the Embassy to point out to the State Department that the chances of obtaining from the Chinese some degree of compliance with the demand for an international settlement [Page 514] are now not unfavourable, provided that prompt action is rendered possible by agreement amongst the Powers.

I should be very grateful, therefore, if you would let me know as soon as possible whether, having regard to the attitude of the Chinese local authorities as explained above, the State Department would not see their way to reconsider their decision in regard to the scheme for an international settlement. As you know, there is general agreement now except for the United States and, in the interest of showing a united front in face of a somewhat threatening situation, the British Government still hope that the State Department may see their way to join in a scheme which now appears to show every prospect of success.

I am making this communication in the form of a semi-official letter to you instead of by note because we have discussed this question very fully at different times, and because time, which is the essence of the question, will probably be gained thereby.

Very sincerely yours,

R. L. Cratgie
  1. Post, p. 525.