The British Ambassador (Geddes) to the Secretary of State

No. 209

Sir: I have the honour to refer to the memorandum from this Embassy No. 464 of June 16th last35 and to subsequent correspondence on the general question of an embargo on the export of arms and munitions of war to China.

Under instructions from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I have the honour to state that, as a result of the discussion held by the Diplomatic Body at Peking on October 3rd last, it is understood that all the members of the Body, with the exception of the Netherlands Minister, forwarded to their governments certain identic recommendations.35a These were (1) that the amended draft resolution brought forward at the Washington Conference on January 31st, 1922 (the text of which is enclosed herewith) should be adopted and (2) that the following interpretative note should be appended thereto:—

“This is understood to include aircraft other than commercial aircraft and machinery and materials destined exclusively for the manufacture of arms or the equipment of arsenals”.

His Britannic Majesty’s Government have now signified to His Majesty’s Minister at Peking their approval of these recommendations, and they propose in due course to notify the United States Government of their formal adhesion to the Washington Conference Resolution. As a preliminary measure, however, the Governments of the Self-Governing Dominions and of India have been consulted and their replies are awaited.

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In communicating to you the above information I am further instructed to enquire whether the Government of the United States propose to adopt the recommendations of the Corps Diplomatique at Peking, as quoted in the second paragraph of this note. I am to add that meanwhile steps are being taken by His Majesty’s Government to ascertain the attitude of the other governments represented at Peking on this subject.

I have [etc.]

A. C. Geddes

Amended Draft Resolution Regarding Arms Embargo Proposed at the Washington Conference36

  • “1. The United States of America, Belgium, the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal affirm their intention to refrain from exporting to China arms or munitions of war, whether complete or in parts, and to prohibit such exportation from their territories or territories under their control, until the establishment of a Government whose authority is recognised throughout the whole of China.
  • 2. Each of the above Powers will forthwith take such additional steps as may be necessary to make the above restrictions immediately binding.
  • 3. The scope of this resolution includes all concessions and settlements in China.
  • 4. The United States of America will invite the adherence to this resolution of the other Powers in treaty relations with China”.
  1. Ibid., p. 731.
  2. See telegrams of Oct. 4 and 5, 1922, from the Minister in China, ibid., pp. 742743.
  3. For the presentation of the resolution to the conference, its amendment, and its withdrawal, see Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, November 12, 1921–Felruary 6, 1922, pp. 1415–1424 and 1466–1492.