500.A 4 e/321: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (MacMurray)
248. Your 388, September 10 and 393, September 11.58
I have prepared and given to Strawn a letter59 containing instructions on suggestions in your message. I should approve the acceptance of the tentative Chinese proposals in No. 388 or some similar program.
In that letter I said in substance: It has been my idea from the beginning that within the near future we would have to release China from its conventional tariffs and give up extraterritoriality. That is the trend of modern events in relation to all self-governing countries where extraterritorial privileges have existed. It is reasonable to suppose that a great nation like China will not long permit foreign control of its domestic affairs. It was with a view to meeting what I believe to be a growing demand in China that I shaped the policy outlined in the note of the Nine Powers60 and in my speech at Detroit.61 I believed then and I believe now that such action will go farther toward alleviating the anti-foreign sentiment in China than anything else. It is my desire, therefore, if we can work out a plan whereby tariff autonomy will now or eventually be given to China and extraterritoriality given up that this be done and that you should bear this in mind in your negotiations. I believe also that this meets the approval of the great body of American sentiment and will be approved by the Senate and the Congress. I think the fear which Japan and England and perhaps some of the other countries have is that China will use this power to exclude foreign trade entirely or to discriminate between the nationals of the different Powers. So far as the latter is concerned, of course a treaty can provide against any discrimination. A middle ground might be found along the lines of the plan suggested in your 388 whereby the Powers renounce in principle conventional tariffs and China levies [Page 850]certain rates for a term of years which would insure protection of foreign interests. This might satisfy the Chinese public sentiment and the public sentiment in this country and assure that definite steps had been taken for the renunciation of tariff control. I am not, of course, prepared to say that it is wise for us to declare for unconditional surrender of conventional tariffs and extraterritoriality at once. We may be driven to this position if the Powers are not willing to make reasonable concessions.
As to your 393, if you can get these views before the officials or the public in China in some way, it might counteract the propaganda against the note which is evidently going on. Do you suggest that I give any publicity here to such views beyond what I have done in my speech at Detroit?