893.053 Sh/24: Telegram

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

89. Your 56, March 18, 6 p.m.

It is true that Chinese Government does not today exercise effective control at Shanghai but its powerlessness does not vitally affect Mixed Court which functions in the International Settlement and through the municipal police.
The present proposal is merely to resume negotiations interrupted by the Great War and does not necessarily imply rendition which would depend upon the obtaining of satisfactory guarantees, Such negotiations might also afford the opportunity for consideration of the violation of treaties like the cigarette taxes.
Rendition of court and surrender of extraterritoriality are not associated in the public mind and former would not therefore be taken as indicative of latter.
Court belongs to Chinese. We foreigners found it a derelict in 1911 and took possession of it. Chinese have never been reconciled to the seizure and the court’s decisions are not recognized anywhere in China. If we returned the court the regard shown for China’s rights would strengthen not weaken us in the assertion of our own treaty rights.
If it were certain that the Extraterritoriality Commission would meet this year I should be willing to renew the observation I made on circular number 69 in April 192347 but the outlook for the meeting seems too dubious.
[Paraphrase.] Objections offered by members of the diplomatic corps in 1923 circular 69 appear to indicate greater concern for other interests than for the Mixed Court. This was especially true with respect to the British Minister. I had a conversation with him yesterday in which he admitted that political conditions had not improved, but said that, despite these conditions, longer experience as a Minister had strengthened his feeling of the importance of the rendition of the court. I also gathered that he had come to realize the unquestionable fact that, until this basic cause of Chinese resentment is removed, it will not be possible to secure any public improvement [Page 527] in Shanghai, which is dependent upon Chinese concurrence. [End paraphrase.]
The American consul general at Shanghai in despatch just mailed to the Department48 strongly urges resumption rendition negotiations at earliest practicable moment. Among urgent reasons he advances are desirability of securing effect in other Chinese courts for the Mixed Court decisions and processes and hope that through rendition appeal court may be organized, lack of which is universally regretted and condemned. He also refers to the continual Chinese agitation for return of court especially in the matter of purely Chinese civil cases, which agitation negotiations will serve to appease.
[Paraphrase.] It would put the United States in an embarrassing and false position in China should our Government oppose negotiations for rendition of the Mixed Court. A policy of conciliation toward China has been adopted by Japan and, more recently, by Great Britain. As an example, note the way the British Minister has reversed himself in this matter. The Soviet Union also is now courting China and is casting odium upon the Chinese policy of other powers. To put ourselves in the position of leadership in a program with respect to the Mixed Court which would be denounced by many foreigners, as well as by the Chinese, as perpetuating an injustice to China, would be fatal to our policy and interests in this country. I am all the more earnest in urging a policy which I consider wise and just, as, in negotiations with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and other officials, as well as in public addresses, I have firmly insisted that China observe all our rights, especially the treaty rights which guarantee to our citizens their lives, liberty, and property. [End paraphrase.]
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