The Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey) to the Secretary of State
[Received 6:50 p.m.]
220. Your telegram number 127, May 4, 2 p.m. via Paris.95 In reply to a communication made to the Foreign Office pursuant to your instruction I am today in receipt of a note reading as follows:
“His Majesty’s Government attach great importance in the present disordered state of China and pending the restoration of a unified government in that country to the maintenance of the existing embargo on the importation of arms and ammunition both in the letter and the spirit and they are about to propose that the diplomatic representatives of the powers at Peking should discuss the whole question in order to place the embargo policy on a more satisfactory footing and to define and widen its scope so as to include materials and tools destined directly or indirectly for the manufacture of arms and munitions of war, arsenal equipment and personnel to supervise or assist in the use or manufacture of such arms and munitions.
His Majesty’s Government therefore think it highly undesirable in existing circumstances that foreign governments should countenance the construction of naval vessels, arsenals and dockyards for the account of the Chinese authorities or the giving of technical naval assistance to them, and I have pleasure in assuring Your Excellency that His Majesty’s Government for their part will not undertake or countenance the undertaking by British nationals, either directly or indirectly, of any such naval development until the restoration of a unified government and normal political conditions in China renders a continuation of the arms embargo policy no longer desirable.
This assurance is of course given on the understanding that a similar undertaking is given by the Governments of France, Italy and Japan and that consequently the United States Government definitely adhere to a similar policy. Also it is presumed that in the event of any other government proposing to undertake similar naval development or technical assistance for the account of the Chinese Government the parties to the present arrangement would be at liberty to review their decision.”95a