The French Ambassador (Jusserand) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: In a memorandum of November 25 last, the Department of State was pleased to inform this Embassy that the Government of the United States was inclined to take towards China an attitude of reserve until there should be constituted a regime holding out prospects of stability and showing in a positive manner its intention to fulfill in good faith the obligations taken by China towards the powers.

In addition, the memorandum mentioned the regret felt by the American Government that certain powers, France among them, had not yet ratified the treaties concerning China signed at the close of the Washington Conference, and especially that the said powers have not given attention to the putting into effect of the resolution adopted with regard to extraterritoriality. In the opinion of the Government of the United States the delay in ratifying those instruments was not of a nature to encourage China to carry out her obligations.

My Government, which I did not fail to keep advised of the American Government’s viewpoint, has just instructed me to inform Your Excellency that it repeatedly gave official notice to the Chinese Government that it would not be in a position to lay before the French Parliament, for its approval, the two treaties concerning China signed in Washington or to join in carrying out the resolution relative to extraterritoriality as long as China should not discharge her [Page 441] obligations to France with respect to the resumption of the service of the Boxer Indemnity in gold. The justice of the French claim, appears both from the general provisions of the protocol of 1901,67 which has been likewise invoked by Belgium, Spain, and Italy, and also the special provisions of the Franco-Chinese agreement of 1922, relative to the application of the French share of the indemnity under consideration.

In this connection I wish to take the liberty of reminding Your Excellency that the Government of the United States was pleased to recognize that my Government’s attitude was justified and that it has for two years officially associated itself with the collective action of the signatories of the protocol of 1901 to remind China that one of the most important provisions of that international instrument must be respected.

In the opinion of my Government the fact that the payment in gold of the Boxer Indemnity is one of the foremost obligations of the Chinese Government should not be overlooked; and it believes that to grant to China the benefit of the treaties of Washington as long as she continues to evade the treaties validly concluded with the powers, would be an injustice to these powers and would lead China into a path full of dangers to herself. That opinion, moreover, seems to be shared by the majority of the powers signatory to the Washington agreements, since their representatives in Peking believe that the present situation of China does not permit of assembling the Commission on Extraterritoriality.

The very sincere wish of the Government of the Republic is that the new Chinese Cabinet will gain sufficient authority and form a sufficiently accurate idea of its own interests to cast into oblivion the bad faith of the governments that have succeeded each other for the last two years in Peking. It has, therefore, just instructed me to remind Your Excellency that in its opinion the result could be better achieved if the Government of the United States would bring its influence to bear upon the Chinese Government, and give it to understand that the removal of the last obstacle which still stands in the way of the putting into effect of the treaties of Washington depends upon its good will and that the best way to bring to its country the benefits of the advantages flowing from the said treaties would be to meet the engagements heretofore signed by China.

Be pleased [etc.]