893.01/225: Telegram

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


326. 1. In my telegram 325, August 14, I presented my opinion that, in the present circumstance in which the Tariff Conference is in abeyance as the result of the practically complete disintegration here of a governmental entity, the necessity confronts us of making a definite decision concerning this question: whether we should not take the position frankly and openly that any administration which professes to be China’s Government cannot be dealt with by us until an administration has been established which actually is representative of a [united China?], and which possesses authority sufficient to carry out its international obligations.

2. If you approve the course I recommend, the question comes up whether we preferably should act to that end singly or cooperate with Japan and Great Britain. While I think that cooperation with them would be preferable if arrangements could be made safely and readily, I am doubtful, because of our experiences with the indecisiveness and vacillation characterizing British opinion regarding China at present and with Japanese meticulousness in insisting that their own views should prevail, and even their own phraseology (shown [Page 681] in the preparation of the Shanghai judicial inquiry report and in the recent negotiations for implementing the Washington surtaxes), whether at this phase we could seek cooperation without serious danger of loss of control of the situation and the risk of its being subordinated as to time and manner of action to the views of Great Britain and Japan. In consequence, cooperation might, for instance, be made a mere occasion for opposition to the Kuominchun, in case that party regained power here. It would be my suggestion therefore that rather than seek cooperation from other interested powers, the Embassies at London and Tokyo might merely be used by you to inform the respective Foreign Offices of your views, in strictest confidence, and to give the further information that I had been asked by you to state our position publicly within a brief period and had been authorized by you to have a full discussion of the matter in Peking with my British and Japanese colleagues.

3. I venture the suggestion that the statement might take the following form:75

“In pursuance of its traditional policies towards China, which found formulation in the decisions of the Washington Conference, the American Government has consistently joined in according recognition to the several administrations that during recent years have successively established themselves in control of the agencies of the Central Government, because in each case it was hopeful that such recognition would contribute towards providing the fullest and most unembarrassed opportunity for China to develop and maintain for herself an effective and stable government. Those hopes have been repeatedly disappointed. Instead of developing any sounder and more satisfactory governmental entity, each of these administrations in turn has become less able to command the recognition and the support of its own people, has possessed a diminishing extent and declining domestic authority, and has been less able to live up to its international responsibilities as the repository of the sovereignty of the Chinese Nation. The Government of the United States feels that those administrations which during the past few years have received international recognition as the Government of China, have not in fact been similarly recognized by the people of China, or possessed those attributes and qualifications which in accepted international practice are ordinarily deemed prerequisite to the recognition of a government by foreign states; and it has come to feel that, with whatever eagerness of hope and with whatever spirit of helpfulness it looks forward to the reestablishment in China of a system of government possessing the approval and the loyal support of the country itself, no purpose beneficial to the interests either of the United States or of China would be served by recognizing as a central government any administration which is not in fact generally representative of the Chinese people and competent to exercise the ordinary functions of government.”

  1. Quotation not paraphrased.