The British Ambassador (Howard) to the Secretary of State

No. 252

Sir: With reference to the Honourable Charles E. Hughes’ Note of the 24th of December last68 and previous correspondence respecting [Page 642]the suggested prohibition of export of aircraft to China and the possibility of strengthening the Arms Embargo Agreement of 1919,69 I have the honour to state that I have received instructions from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State to submit to your attention the following observations.

His Majesty’s Government do not consider, after an exchange of views with the French Government, that there is any hope of success for a tripartite agreement prohibiting the export of aircraft to China, but Mr. Chamberlain70 would be glad to instruct His Majesty’s Ambassador at Paris to support his United States Colleague there in any steps that the latter may be instructed to take to that end. I am further desired to state that Mr. Chamberlain is consulting the French Government as to the general question of the export of munitions of war to China.

As regards this latter question Mr. Chamberlain however agrees with the views of the United States Government as expressed in Mr. Hughes’ note to me of December 24th last, namely, that it is now doubtful whether further progress can be made in strengthening the China Arms Embargo on the lines contemplated at the Washington Conference. He also agrees that what has been effected is not wholly unsatisfactory.

His Majesty’s Government intend, for the present at any rate, to continue their policy of doing all that lies in their power to make the embargo a reality. They will continue to maintain, for instance, the stringent administrative measures which penalize British merchants and manufacturers for the benefit of their continental competitors who supply China with weapons and explosives; and they will continue to discourage British Subjects from participating in any way in such transactions even though this involves the loss of much profitable business to the London insurance market. To this end His Majesty’s Government have published a declaration explaining their attitude and the Administrative measures by which their policy is enforced.

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard
  1. Ibid., p. 541.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. i, pp. 667 ff.
  3. J. Austen Chamberlain, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.