500.A 4e 1/65: Telegram

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

123. Your 84, May 1, 5 p.m.

I have conferred with British Minister who has prepared the following draft reply to Minister for Foreign Affairs.

“The representatives of the powers signatories of the treaty concluded at Washington on February 6, 1922, relative to the Chinese customs tariff and of the powers which have subsequently adhered thereto duly referred to their respective Governments the suggestion [Page 519] contained in the Wai Chiao Pu’s identic notes of the 10th March,37 that in view of the delay which had occurred in holding the special tariff conference a preliminary conference should be arranged for the purpose of preparing the ground for the formal conference.

The aforesaid representatives have been instructed by their respective Governments to inform the Chinese Government in reply that they are unable to accept this suggestion because in the opinion of their Governments, the foreign representatives at the proposed preliminary conference would be debarred from carrying on effective negotiations and the task of the preliminary conference would be limited to the formulation of views and plans which might prejudice the work of the special tariff conference when it is held.

In making this communication the above-mentioned representatives are authorized to state that the powers concerned are thoroughly alive to the importance of the situation and intend to consult together as to the best means for giving practical effect to the Washington agreements, having regard to present conditions in China.”

I consider foregoing satisfactory if Department approves of consultations contemplated in last paragraph and participation therein by all the powers mentioned in the first paragraph. It is based on instruction by telegraph to British Minister for which see your 80, April 24, 4 p.m., and these instructions vary somewhat from your 60, March 22, 4 p.m., especially in its fourth heading.
Please telegraph whether draft is satisfactory and if not what alterations you wish made.
Above draft contemplates collective note from foreign representatives in accordance with instructions received by Macleay but we anticipate difficulty in securing assent of representatives of certain powers to the last paragraph of the draft. In such event I assume Department wishes me to address an individual reply in accordance with your views to the Minister for Foreign Affairs which would be natural course as Chinese notes of March 10 were addressed to each foreign minister individually.
  1. Not printed; see telegram no. 77, Mar. 13, from the Minister in China, p. 513.