793.003 C 73/46: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in China ( Schurman )

99. Your telegram No. 192, June 1, 11 a.m. In conversation with me May 30 Japanese Ambassador referred to question of postponement [Page 624] of meeting of Commission. He stated that if United States Government thought it advisable to proceed with the work of the Commission in November the Japanese Government would prepare to participate. It was willing to proceed in accordance with views of United States.

While I recognize importance of views expressed by diplomatic body and the difficulties created by conditions in China, and especially by the Lincheng affair, I am reluctant to have the Commission indefinitely postponed. While a temporary postponement might be had, if later this seems to be advisable, I think that we should fully retain the idea of proceeding with the work of the Commission. The resolution of the Conference binds us to nothing but an investigation, but we are committed at least to this, and it may prove to be of considerable value quite apart from the final recommendation. It would be difficult to explain why we should find an occasion for proceeding later under the Treaty for the special customs conference looking to a financial improvement and were not willing even to undertake the sort of investigation which would disclose the actual administration of justice in China. I fully recognize the disadvantage that might result from the disappointment of the Chinese because of an unfavorable report by the Commission, but I do not think that this apprehension should be controlling with respect to our program, as it is not unlikely that the work of the Commission would lead to important constructive suggestions of benefit to the Chinese, apart from any immediately prospective relinquishment of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

In the present circumstances I should prefer to preserve fully the morale of our position by maintaining all our promises. This, instead of being a source of weakness, should add to our strength, and gives us additional leverage as we make the drastic demands which inevitably must be made in the near future in connection with the adequate protection of foreigners. My suggestion would be to hold the question of the Commission in abeyance for the time, reserving the date of November for at least three or four weeks, until we can see our way more clearly to a definite suggestion as to postponement if one is to be made.