893.01/239: Telegram

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

556. My 547, November 13, noon.78 Following from American consul general, Canton:

“November 14, 4 p.m. Referring to my telegram[s] of November 11, 1 p.m.,78 and November 11, 5 p.m.78 I interviewed Eugene Chen yesterday. He denied that his note79 was intended to be a demand for recognition but admitted that it might be construed as an intimation that the Canton regime desired to open negotiations with the powers looking toward recognition of some sort. Primarily, he said the note was intended to inform the powers that the Cantonese regime was not disposed to follow the practice, peculiar to China and unknown to international law, of dealing with the several powers through the diplomatic corps. He had established the practice of addressing separate, though often identic, notes to the several consuls and would henceforth insist upon separate notes from them.

This would also apply to the diplomatic corps, Chen said, which had been allowed to develop into a sort of administrative organ, to the serious detriment of Chinese sovereignty. Nothing was more harmful to China than this system of aligning the powers on the offensive and China on the defensive. The interests of the powers were not identical, and from now on China must deal with them separately and not en masse.
In response to the suggestion that in spite of his explanation the note looked like a bid for recognition, Chen said it scarcely seemed fair that the powers should turn to the Canton regime respecting such important questions as to the preservation of treaty rights and yet not accord any form of recognition to the Government. He intimated that while there might be some excuse for withholding full recognition, the powers should be prepared to accord international status of some sort. He declared Canton Government was expanding rapidly and that sooner or later the question would have to be solved.
Chen did not seem quite so cordially disposed to us as formerly. He expressed ‘entirely unofficially’ his surprise that our Government should continue to protest against consumption and production taxes and similar measures which we must know had come to stay and referred to our ‘legalistic’ attitude in foreign relations.
Neither the British nor the Japanese consul has protested individually against the new taxes.
As Tredwell80 has doubtless informed you, Hongkong press recently had much to say anent recognition of the Canton regime. November 15, noon.”

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Of November 8; p. 900.
  5. Roger Culver Tredwell, consul general at Hongkong.