706.6193/5: Telegram

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

258. Your 144, July 9, 3 p.m.,79 penultimate paragraph, your 145, July 9, 4 p.m., and my 230, July 12, 3 p.m., especially paragraph 5.

In compliance with note of July 12th from the Netherlands Minister,80 who has gone to Japan on a visit, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday invited me as senior representative of protocol powers present in Peking to his residence to meet Karakhan. He there informed me that Karakhan had been appointed Ambassador to China by the Soviet Government and introduced me to Karakhan as dean. After drinking tea together, the Minister for Foreign Affairs excused himself from attendance and I held a conversation; of over two hours with Karakhan regarding transfer of Russian Legation to him.
Karakhan remarked that he could not understand on what ground the protocol powers prescribed conditions which they asked him to accept before turning over to him premises of the Russian Legation. I replied that Legation Quarter had been granted to the signatory powers for their joint use and control and as [it] was understood that Russia had renounced her interest under the protocol, my colleagues desired an assurance that he would accept the arrangements of the conventional regime to which they continued to adhere with particular reference to defense, taxation, municipal regulations. He categorically and emphatically [stated] that the Soviet Government had not abandoned their rights and interests under the protocol and that their status was still that of a cosignatory. In response to my inquiry he admitted that they contemplated such abandonment in the future, and I pointed out that the position of my colleagues was intended for that contingency whenever it might occur. He declared that the other signatories of the protocol had no right to lay down conditions for him and that he would not accept them either now or at any other time.
I went on to say that my colleagues were, in view of his published utterances, apprehensive as to his attitude with respect to their rights and prerogatives under the protocol. He admitted that he had expressed disapproval of the protocol provisions but assured me that he desired on entering the quarter to maintain good neighborly [Page 449] relations and observe municipal regulations. He added that if his Government should renounce its rights under the protocol they would notify the other powers in accordance with international usage. He also made and reiterated the statement that his Government would not bring any Red troops into the Legation Quarter.
I inquired whether I might communicate to my colleagues the statements he had just made. He consented on the express understanding however that they were not to be regarded as the fulfillment of preliminary conditions laid down by others but the voluntary expression of his own sentiments. He agreed to send me a written record of these observations. He will also make a formal demand of the powers for the transfer of the Legation premises.
Karakhan will never assent to conditions to get back the property. On the other hand most if not all of my colleagues insist on some stipulations. My hope is that Karakhan’s voluntary statement, unless he minimizes it in the note he is to send me, can be used to satisfy my colleagues. It is on this I base my hope of an early settlement of the difficulty.
I had a conference this morning with my British colleague who has just returned to Peking for a few days and informed him of my instructions on the subject and reported to him fully my conversation with Karakhan. He expressed much gratification at the prospect of a settlement. No other minister of the protocol powers is in Peking.
As soon as I receive Karakhan’s written statement I will call a meeting of the representatives of the protocol powers.
  1. Not printed; it quoted telegrams exchanged with the Ambassador in Great Britain; paragraph referred to is also the penultimate paragraph of telegram no. 189, July 7, to the Ambassador in Great Britain, p. 466.
  2. For synopsis of note to the Chinese Government, see telegram from the Minister in China, printed supra.