500.A 4 e/263: Telegram

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

320. 1. Minister for Foreign Affairs had me call August 6th for the purpose of discussing questions connected with the Special Conference and urged that its scope should be extended to include question of tariff autonomy which had been reserved by the Chinese delegation at Washington Conference.

2. I told him that I had received from my Government an intimation of its willingness to have Special Conference consider any question which might arise in connection with the tariff; and I took occasion to inform him that you had prepared a draft of a reply49 to the Chinese Government’s note of June 24th,50 in which draft you took a very advanced position on this subject and hoped to obtain acquiescence of the other interested Governments to which you had submitted it.

3. At a meeting of the interested chiefs of mission August 7th, senior minister raised the question of preparing definite agenda in advance of the Special Conference. I said that my own view would favor going into that conference with a program based strictly upon the Washington customs treaty with no attempt to specify in advance relevant matters which we might be willing to consider and that we should leave it for the conference to develop and to obtain authority to deal with such further matters as its deliberations might prove necessary or desirable.

4. Does this meet with your approval? I apprehend that if we attempt in advance of the conference to specify additional subjects which might be considered, we will find ourselves from that time on debating mere generalities and unable to bring the discussion back to the concrete purposes the conference was designed to serve. A communication along the line of your draft reply to the Chinese note of June 24th (your telegram 165, July 23, 3 p.m.)51 would meanwhile [Page 839] suffice as an indication of our readiness to go beyond the immediate scope of the conference.

  1. See note of July 23 to the British Chargé, p. 793.
  2. See telegram No. 247, June 24, from the Chargé in China, p. 763.
  3. Ante, p. 797.