The British Chargé ( Chilton ) to the Secretary of State

No. 370

My Dear Mr. Secretary: In your letter to the Ambassador of the 25th ultimo you were good enough to enquire whether His Excellency had yet received from His Government any definite indication of its disposition with respect to the American proposal for the reorganization of the international control of the Chinese Eastern Railway. His Majesty’s Government have been waiting for an expression of views from their representatives at Peking and Tokio. These have been received and I hasten to give you below a summary of the conclusions reached:

Both His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokio and His Majesty’s Minister at Peking are convinced that there will be strong opposition to this proposal on the part both of the Japanese Government and of the Chinese Government who are opposed to anything which tends to increase the international control of the Railway. His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokio reports that the Japanese Government favour the retention of both the Allied Railway Committee at Vladivostok and the Allied Technical Board at Harbin, that they do not believe that the railway can be run at a profit and that they are [Page 581] considering whether they should contribute further funds for its maintenance.

The path is therefore beset with peculiar difficulties and it might be wiser to avoid raising awkward issues at this juncture with both China and Japan whose consent to the scheme certainly seems a necessary pre-requisite to the successful introduction of a new system.

In the circumstances, His Majesty’s Government feel that, before proceeding further in the matter, the United States Government might be well advised to consider the advisability of first sounding the various Governments concerned, especially the Governments of Japan and China. So far as His Majesty’s Government are concerned, they are quite prepared in general principal to fall in with the American proposals, provided that the other Powers also agree and subject to a subsequent discussion of matters of detail. In short, His Majesty’s Government would welcome the introduction of this scheme if it could be brought into force but they are inclined to doubt whether, practically speaking, it could be so enforced in existing circumstances.

Believe me [etc.]

H. G. Chilton