500 A.14/167a

The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Howard)

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency, the Ambassador of Great Britain, and has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of confidential Aide Memoires dated March 16 and April 2, 1925,76 with further reference to the prohibition on the exportation of aircraft to China and the possibility of strengthening the China Arms Embargo Agreement of 1919. It is noted that the Ambassador suggests that it is not altogether improbable that the question of traffic in arms with China may come up for consideration at the proposed Conference at Geneva on May 4 although the British Government has no intention of bringing forward this subject.

The Ambassador kindly transmits for the consideration of the Department a copy of a memorandum prepared by Sir Roland Macleay,77 the British Minister at Peking, setting forth his views with respect to the China arms question. It is noted that the Minister considers that it would be impracticable to include China in the category of prohibited areas provided for in a draft convention for the control of the traffic in arms which convention is to be considered at Geneva on May 4.

In the light of recent correspondence, it seems unlikely that a general international agreement could be reached at this time for further effective measures of control of the traffic in arms with China, such for example, as contained in the resolutions proposed in 1922 at the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments.78

This Government therefore doubts whether any useful purpose could be served by a discussion of the China arms question at the Geneva Conference, the purpose of which, it is understood, is to deal with the question of the general international trade rather than with remedies for the special, and it is to be hoped temporary, conditions which now prevail in China.

It may be added that this Government would not be inclined to support the suggestion that China should be placed in the so-called prohibited areas as it is felt that such a proposal would serve merely as an irritant without tending toward a more effective supervision of the trade in arms with that country. The view of this Government with respect to the China arms question is set forth more fully in its note of April 8, 1925.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, November 12, 1921—February 6, 1922 (Washington, Government Printing Affice, 1922), pp. 1416, 1466, 1474, 1476, 1480, 1482, 1484, 1492.