The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Wallace)96

No. 844

Sir: In reference to the Department’s telegram No. 51, of January 20, 6 p.m., to London, repeated to you as Department’s No. 53,97 and to Department’s No. 97, of February 18, 2 p.m., there is enclosed herewith a copy of a memorandum98 containing the tentative, amended plan for supervision of the Chinese Eastern-Railway.

A memorandum containing the substance of this plan was handed to the British Ambassador on Jan. 14, 1921. On February 24, 1921, in a conversation with the former Secretary of State, the British Ambassador stated that his Government was willing to cooperate in this matter but was unable to put up any money. He said that the United States must take the lead and that the British would follow; that with minor amendments the proposed plan would be satisfactory; and that he would be glad to take up the matter in the near future.

[Page 582]

As nothing further was heard from the British Government for a month, the Secretary of State addressed a note to the British Ambassador on March 24, 1921, enclosing a memorandum setting forth the revised plan, of which a copy is enclosed herewith. The note to the British Ambassador stated that the Secretary of State would “welcome any such comments or suggestions as would in your opinion facilitate a full and frank understanding between our two Governments as to the course to be pursued by them in reference to the somewhat critical situation in which the Chinese Eastern Railway is [now] placed.”

On April 12th the American Minister at Peking telegraphed the Department that the British Government had referred this matter to the British Legation in Peking with instructions to report its views after consultation with our Legation. The Department instructed the Minister at Peking to avoid discussions of this matter with others than the British Legation, but to endeavor to impress upon the British Minister the importance that this Government attaches to British cooperation in this project, which, in the view of this Government, is of fundamental importance to the development of both Manchuria and Siberia.

On April 25th the Secretary of State again addressed a note to the British Ambassador inquiring whether his Govermnent had given any definite indication as to its disposition with respect to the new proposal. It pointed out the apparent identity of views between the British and American Governments as to the purposes to be sought and the general methods to be followed. The note also stated that, owing to the increased difficulties encountered in the operation of the railway, the Secretary felt it necessary to ask Mr. John F. Stevens to return to Manchuria to resume in person the task of controlling the operation of the line. No reply has as yet been received to this inquiry.99 The Embassy at London was also instructed at the same time to take up the matter with the British Foreign Office.

The activities outlined above have been entirely informal in character and represent an effort to secure British cooperation as a basis for formal negotiations with the interested powers.

This information is strictly confidential and is being forwarded to you with the idea of keeping you well informed so that should the negotiations reach the stage when representations to the French Government are deemed advisable, you would be acquainted with the essential facts.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
F. M. Dearing
  1. The same, mutatis mutandis, to the Chargé in Japan as no. 469; to the Minister in China as no. 189, with necessary changes in fourth paragraph; and first paragraph and enclosure only to the Chargé in Great Britain as no. 1346 (file no. 861.77/2082 b, c, d).
  2. See footnote 76, p. 564.
  3. See Department’s memorandum of Jan. 13, p. 564.
  4. This instruction was drafted before receipt of note no. 370, of May 14, 1921, from the British Chargé, supra.