861.77/3481: Telegram

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

176. Your 121, June 12, 2 p.m. I received almost simultaneously the following telegram from the consul at Harbin:

“June 12, 3 p.m. The Japanese consul general and the French, American and British consuls have agreed that they, acting on their own initiative, should jointly remove, in case no objection to this course is made by one of their respective Legations (Governments), their respective seals placed on July 31, 1923, on two cabinets containing the more valuable documents of the land department of the Chinese Eastern Railway,17 if and when the present higher Russian officers of the board of directors and/or of the administration of the railway are actually replaced by Russian appointees of the Soviet Government, replaced until local circumstances demand, in the judgment of the consular officers concerned, that such action be taken. To remove the seals at present would probably cause uneasiness and misunderstanding at Harbin.

Has the Legation any objection to this plan of action?”

I will defer reply to Harbin until I have consulted my interested colleagues.

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Apparently consuls at Harbin wish to anticipate removal of seals by the new Soviet regime. I fear, however, that if removal is deferred until new regime is established their action may then be construed as tacit recognition of the new agreements and consider that it would be preferable to effect removal at an earlier date if suitable pretext can be found. French Minister shares this view.

British Minister does not appear to attach great importance to the issue and seems indifferent to the possible interpretation referred to above. I infer he has in mind British recognition of the Soviet Government. He, however, reserves expression of opinion until consultation between four Ministers which will take place June 16th.

I am of the opinion that no action other than above indicated called for at present.

  1. See telegram of July 31, 1923, from the consul at Harbin, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 778.