500.A 491/15b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Warren), the Minister in China (Schurman), and the Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham)

Conference. At 30th meeting of Committee on Pacific and Far Eastern Questions, February 2, Mr. Root, Chairman of Sub-Committee of delegates on Chinese Eastern Railway, reported following resolution which was adopted:

Resolved, That the preservation of the Chinese Eastern Railway for those in interest requires that better protection be given to the Railway and the persons engaged in its operation and use; a more careful selection of personnel to secure efficiency of service, and a more economical use of funds to prevent waste of the property.

“That the subject should immediately be dealt with through the proper Diplomatic channels.”

and following reservation which was adopted by Powers other than China.60

“The Powers other than China in agreeing to the resolution regarding the Chinese Eastern Railway, reserve the right to insist hereafter upon the responsibility of China for performance or nonperformance of the obligations towards the foreign stockholders, bondholders and creditors of the Chinese Eastern Railway Company which the Powers deem to result from the contracts under which the railroad was built and the action of China thereunder and the obligations which they deem to be in the nature of a trust resulting from the exercise of power by the Chinese government over the possession and administration of the railroad.”

Mr. Root referred to report of an earlier Sub-Committee of technical advisers which stated conclusions first that funds would be obtainable for railway only if suitable conditions were established for its economical operation and funds were to be expended under adequate supervision and second that adequate guard must be provided. Chinese representative on technical Sub-Committee had been unable to give his entire assent to report deeming that impairment of sovereignty of China might result. Mr. Root said that Sub-Committee of delegates for which he was reporting had had before it this technical report and many drafts of resolutions aimed at avoiding [Page 884] impasse caused by objection of the Chinese representative to conclusions of Technical Sub-Committee. None of these drafts, however, had seemed to generality of Committee to promise any improvement of the situation. They had all been in form of amendments of Inter-Allied agreement of 1919, which had been regarded by common consent and general statement as being still in force and effect.

After adoption of the resolution and reservation above quoted, Mr. Koo stated view of Chinese delegation. He pointed out especially that the railroad ran through Chinese territory and that sovereign rights of China must be safeguarded.

As to reservation adopted by other Powers, Mr. Koo said that trust which China had assumed could only apply to functions which formerly were exercised by Russian Government under agreements with China and which were now exercised by China as provisional measure because of absence of recognized Russian Government for time being. As to practical situation Mr. Koo said there was undoubtedly room for improvement on the Chinese Eastern as no doubt on every other railway, but he thought that difficulties which had beset Chinese Government were very great, especially those resulting from Russian revolution. If it had been found in opinion of some of Powers that protection given railway and persons in its service had been inadequate, inadequacy really was due more to difficulties inherent in situation than to any lack of determination on part of China to discharge her obligations. Thanks to protection given Chinese Eastern was still in operation while some of other railways in Trans-Siberian system were in very unsatisfactory condition.

  1. Adopted at the Sixth Plenary Session, Feb, 4, 1922.