793.003 C 73/47½

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the Chinese Minister (Sze), June 7, 1923

The Minister called by instructions of his Government to say that he understood there was some proposal to delay the Conference on Extraterritoriality. He said that he understood that some of the [Page 625] members of the diplomatic corps in Peking were favoring this course. The Minister said that while it might probably seem to the Powers that there should be a postponement for a short time he hoped that there would not be an indefinite postponement; that such a postponement would have an unfortunate effect as the Government had looked forward with a good deal of expectation to this Conference and it was one of the matters decided upon at the Washington Conference. The Secretary said that the only reply that he could make at the moment was that the matter was receiving the most earnest consideration and that later the attitude of this Government would be stated to the Peking Government. The Secretary then said that the Minister must understand that conditions in China had given rise to a feeling of great discouragement; that instead of taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Washington Conference there had been disintegration; the Chinese Government had not been able to give protection to foreigners; that they had a very restricted area of authority and that they utterly failed to discharge their international obligations. This seemed to be a situation which was growing worse instead of better. The Secretary said there was no better friend of China than he was, but it must be understood that China must afford the basis for assistance and this they were not doing. The Secretary said, of course, it must be understood that he was not directing his statement to the Minister, individually, because he understood the difficulties of his personal position, but it was idle for China to declaim, as she had at the Washington Conference with respect to her sovereignty and her political integrity and her rights as a nation while, at the same time, she failed to provide a Government which could exercise a competent authority throughout her national territory, discharge her international obligations, and afford a basis for the development that all friends of China desired to see. The Secretary referred to recent events in China and to the banditry which existed, and the failure of the Chinese Government properly to cope with the situation.

The Secretary said that all these conditions must be taken into consideration in considering plans for the future and that he was studying the whole matter, including the question what should be done as to the Conference on Extra-territoriality.

The Minister referred to the disappointment in obtaining additional revenue, the delay in providing this revenue and the serious effect upon Chinese finances. He also said he thought that Dr. Schurman, for whom he had the highest respect, had gone a little too far in his speech on Washington’s Birthday and had made a rather unfortunate impression. The Secretary said that, of course, it was to be regretted that there had been delay in the ratification of the Washington Conference Treaties, but there was no use of supplying [Page 626] money to China while it went through a sieve, and that the present difficulty was largely due to the fact that the Provincial Governors paid no attention to the demands of Peking and unless there was a stable government to assist, it was of little use to attempt to provide assistance; that all these matters would have to be carefully threshed out to see what could be done which would aid China, but that China, must understand that she could not exhibit before the world inability to protect even the lives and safety of foreigners and at the same time demand foreign assistance.