The Chinese Legation to the Department of State

Aide Memoire

Recent press reports from Washington seem to indicate that there exists an impression which does not fully reflect the true meaning and purport of the reply20 to the American note of May 3, 1924,21 relative to the question of the Chinese Eastern Railway. The position of the Chinese Government as defined in the said reply, however, is a simple one. The agreements recently concluded between China and Soviet Russia dealt with certain general principles for the settlement of questions outstanding between China and Soviet Russia including among the principal ones that of the Chinese Eastern Railway, and do not, as indeed they are not intended to, prejudice any claims which other Powers may wish to prefer against the Railway on account of money advanced to it by them or their nationals at one time or another. Such claims remain unaffected by the Sino-Russian agreements. Under the agreement of October 2, 1920, signed with the Russo-Asiatic Bank,22 the holder and owner of the entire stocks and shares of the Railway, which provided among other things that the said agreement should terminate whenever the Chinese Government had come to an agreement with a Government} of Russia recognized by China, etc., the Chinese Government in addition to its rights and interests in the Railway as the territorial sovereign and as a co-partner of the commercial undertaking has been acting also as trustee on behalf of Russia in so far as her rights and [Page 504] obligations concerning the Railway were concerned. In making the arrangement about them embodied in the recent Sino-Russian agreements the Chinese Government therefore based its action on the agreement of 1920, which itself was based upon the original agreement of 1896, concluded with the Russian Government. The fact that some of the Powers having claims against the Railway have not yet entered into normal relations with Soviet Russia and therefore are not in a position to prefer those claims directly, in so far as Russia the principal beneficiary of the Railway is concerned, cannot affect the existence or nature of such claims. It is not contemplated by the Chinese Government in their recent agreements with the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic that any legitimate claims of the other Powers or of their nationals should be jeopardized. On the contrary, they will continue to be disposed to take steps with a view to the protection of those claims if circumstances should be such as to make friendly interposition on the part of the Chinese Government desirable as well as useful.

  1. See telegram no. 184, June 17, from the Minister in China, p. 494.
  2. Ante, p. 487.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. i, p. 713.