893.5045/97: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Mayer) to the Secretary of State

238. My 237, June 19, 6 p.m.

When Minister for Foreign Affairs informed by senior minister of proposal as outlined in paragraph 2 of above, former expressed emphatic preference that negotiations should take place in Shanghai; that Peking was not desirable for that purpose, disturbances being likely in event of unsatisfactory course of negotiation. Likewise difficult for witnesses to be questioned at Peking. Senior minister enumerated distinct advantages of Peking over Shanghai in our opinion. After 2-hour discussion Minister for Foreign Affairs maintained attitude but said he would consult Tuan Chi-jui. Latter has now caused us to be informed of his preference for Shanghai as place for negotiations. Quite evident that one reason for this attitude is fear of Minister for Foreign Affairs in particular and Chinese Government in general of taking responsibility of direct negotiation at Peking.
At meeting of Heads of Legation this morning senior minister authorized to reply to Minister for Foreign Affairs that we consider there are substantial objections to satisfactory negotiation at Shanghai; that we trust Chinese Government will modify their attitude; that we shall hear report of our delegation arriving back today, and give final reply to Chinese Government’s proposition thereafter. General opinion of Heads of Legation that, while greatly preferable negotiations should take place in Peking, we could not in the last analysis categorically refuse Chinese Government’s proposition and would agree thereto even if same remained unchanged.
Argument by senior minister that much time would be saved if negotiations at Peking, did not appear of especial importance to Minister for Foreign Affairs who gave senior minister distinctly to understand that there was no especial hurry for settlement; that if achieved in two or three weeks it would be quite satisfactory. This is a distinct change in attitude of Chinese Government who heretofore have in every way urged a speedy settlement.
I shall telegraph later in regard to this change in attitude.