706.6193/12: Telegram

The Chargé in China ( Bell ) to the Secretary of State

296. My 292, August 18, 3 p.m., paragraph 4. Two notes were presented by Japanese Minister to Karakhan, August 18. This morning’s newspapers contain text of note which Karakhan is reported to have sent yesterday to Japanese Minister.

“Mr. Minister: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that I do not consider possible to accept the note under date of August 18, 1924, which you presented me at the request of the American Minister.

I really regret very much that you could not decline this American commission at a time when Japan is herself engaged in negotiations whose very object is to restore normal relations between the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Government of Japan. I hope however that if and when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics recognizes the Government of Japan while Japan recognizes Government of the Union, this will not be interpreted in the sense that the Government of the Union will have recognized the bourgeois capitalist [ic] regime of Japan, nor will [it] be taken to mean the recognition by Japan of the socialistic regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat. I may likewise express the hope that you have no doubt as to the fact that the negotiations [Page 455] we are carrying on with you at present are being conducted not between two regimes but between the Government[s] of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and of Japan. This understanding may make it easier for Your Excellency as it seems to me to explain to your American colleague the limits of courtesy beyond [which] his fear might lead him.

It should also be added for the information of Your Excellency’s American colleague and for that matter of your other colleagues who may have not had time yet, like the American Minister, to formulate their anxiety that there does not exist in international law and practice a method of restoration of diplomatic prerogative [relations] between two governments by way of returning to one of them a legation belonging to the latter government and situated in the capital of a third power by the other of those two governments which, but accidentally and without the consent of the real owner, has in its [hands] the keys from the buildings of such a legation.

Herewith I beg to return the above-mentioned note of August 18, 1924.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, Mr. Minister, the assurance of my highest consideration. Signed L. Karakhan.”

The Bolshevik Rosta News Agency has also issued the following statement.

“In a conversation he had with a representative of the Soviet Embassy the correspondent of the Rosta News Agency had the following statement made to him.

The note which was returned to Mr. Yoshizawa by Mr. Karakhan was written by the former at the request of the American Minister. Mr. Karakhan has ho doubt that if Mr. Yoshizawa, who is now engaged in negotiations with the Government of the Union, had the right to refuse he would have declined to undertake the ungrateful task of representing American interests before [in regard to] the Soviet Government. The idiosyncrasy of the American diplomacy has up till now been forcing and still forces it today to act foolishly and [incorrectly] vis-à-vis the Government of the Union. In this respect American diplomacy differs widely from the American people which is endowed with common sense, favorably distinguishing them even from other nations. As for American diplomacy it is so afraid and has such a hatred of the Soviet Union that in an official document presented to the Soviet representative it cannot refrain from discourteous formula[e].

It would be an ungrateful task to teach good manners and politeness to the representatives of the present American Government, it being, however, not so much a question of politeness or courtesy as one of bitter hatred which some of the elements now ruling in America feel towards the Soviet Government. No wonder that in China the American diplomacy is particularly sensitive with regard to the Soviet Union, for it is here in China that America has more strongly and acutely than other powers felt the blow which was dealt to her policy by the sincere and straightforward policy of the Soviet Government. Indeed the hypocrisy and Christian bigotry in which the Americans enveloped their policy in China have now [Page 456] been fully exposed in the eyes of the Chinese people. Much lustre has been taken off from good words about the respect for and the rights of the Chinese people since the Lincheng note, the threatening speeches of the American Minister at Harbin and the appearance and arbitrary actions of American warships in Chinese home waters.

Of course the Americans who have made Mr. Yoshizawa write the note which was returned today could be told: You do not wish to recognize the regime existing in the Soviet Union? Well you know that at any future time the Soviet Government does not at all intend compelling you to do it. And they could also be told that the American people will force them to recognize the Government of the Union without any reservations. Then the present rulers of America could also be told that the day relations will be restored between America and the Union it will not in any way mean that the Government of the Union will have to recognize the regime which presently [at present] holds sway in America—if of course this regime will still be existing at the time. The regime of violence in China, the infringement of the sovereignty of the Chinese people; the regime of the troops of the Philippines; the regime of the most unashamed interference with the affairs of the American Republics; the regime which has made of a negro a dog whom anyone may [with impunity] kill; the regime lastly which but quite recently has revealed itself in an unutterably monstrous form of corruption, decay, pillaging of state property—in which all take part whether senators, ministers or judges; a regime under which the President has had to use many an effort and much time to find an honest judge to investigate the oil scandal, for every judge on whom his choice fell happened himself to be involved in the scandal and the robbing of state property.

It is to be hoped at least that the American Minister does not mean to say that the powers which recognize the Washington Government have also recognized all the above-enumerated brilliant aspects of the American regime. And we certainly hope that when we are going to resume relations with the American Government the latter is not going to insist upon the recognition of this regime on our part too. We have no doubt as to the fact that the best part of the American people, that is its huge majority, are against the policy of the present American Government with regard to the Soviet Union; nor do we have any doubts that today’s rulers of America know that their days are numbered and that those who will come after [in] their place will—whoever they may be—either by compulsion or their own free will, correct the mistake[s] made with regard to the Soviet Union and would, we [express the hope,] not only in regard to the Soviet Union but [also] to other peoples and in particular the Chinese nation.”

I have just received call from Japanese Minister who incidentally ceased to be dean last night on return to Peking of British Minister. He is deeply offended at tone and substance of Karakhan’s note, particularly reference to Government of Japan being in the midst of negotiations with Karakhan regarding resumption of relations between two countries; feels this is an uncalled-for affront to him [Page 457] and has telegraphed home for instructions as to whether he should return note to Karakhan. If he does so, as he has ceased to be dean, it will have to be as Japanese Minister and not as dean. If he decides to refer the matter to British Minister it will be extremely awkward for the latter whose only wish is to prevent friction with Bolshevik representative …

I consider that I have discharged my duty to our Government in causing our Government’s views to be conveyed to Karakhan which they unquestionably have been and I do not intend to take any further part if I can possibly avoid it in the imbroglio which has arisen …

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Bell