706.6193/16: Telegram

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

306. My 303, August 25, 10 a.m.

British representative as senior protocol representative has received note dated yesterday from Karakhan which, after acknowledging receipt of note of August 18th offering to return Russian Legation (but without alluding to reasons given therein for doing so) and after naming representatives to take over Legation, continues:

“At the same time I beg to inform Your Excellency that I consider that this handing over is being effected in view of the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the owner of the buildings of the former Russian Legation. As regards the other considerations laid down in the note of His Excellency the Japanese Minister, under date of 18th instant, I feel it is my duty to state that I cannot fully endorse all the said considerations but that inasmuch as a coordination of viewpoints preliminary to the handing over of the Embassy would be in contradiction with the position of the Soviet Government which I had the opportunity to expound exhaustively in my conversation with the American Minister, Mr. Schurman, on July 24 of this year, I may however express my firm belief that the existing differences will not prevent to establish a modus vivendi between the Soviet Embassy and the Legations situated in the Diplomatic Quarter.”

British Minister in circulating foregoing expresses opinion that this may be considered satisfactory acknowledgment of our note and thinks reservations in third paragraph of our note sufficiently safeguard liberty of action of the other signatories of the 1901 protocol in the event of its subsequent cancelation by the Soviets or of renunciation of their interests therein and also in the event of its being found impossible to establish the modus vivendi mentioned in Karakhan’s reply.
I do not consider it a satisfactory reply as it appears to repudiate the conditions of the return as set forth in prefaced paragraph of protocol representative’s note of August 18th; and I fear that on publication of Karakhan’s note, which is to take place after he receives our final reply, it will appear that he has through the medium of the American Minister hoaxed the diplomatic body with regard to his position as a protocol representative.
However, it is probably the best we can hope for and, having regard to Department’s views as expressed in your telegram 144, July 9, 3 p.m.,83 I assume you will desire me to accept Karakhan’s note of August [25] as satisfactory and to assent to his taking over Russian Legation.
  1. Not printed.