The Minister in China ( MacMurray ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:45 a.m.]
275. My telegram No. 219, sent May 20, 3 p.m. The report which Mayer has made upon his experiences and observations indicates apparently that the problem of protecting American interests in South China must be considered together with a broader problem of American relations with the people of China as a whole, in view of the fact that there is no administrative entity for representing them internationally. Hitherto we have found it to be a convenient diplomatic fiction, so long as the somewhat shadowy Central Government at Peking possessed any degree of authority and had a corresponding sense of responsibility, to deal with that administration. Mayer’s comments greatly tend to strengthen my doubt as to whether the regime at Peking has not dwindled throughout the country so far into insignificance and contempt as to make our insistence upon having dealings with it a positive detriment to American interests and a means of enlarging the Chinese people’s antagonism in regard to us. I believe that in the light of recent events we must consider some alteration in the character of our relations both with the so-called Chinese Government and the component regional units. The latter in fact are autonomous and alone have any political vitality. As the issues which are involved are so significant and far reaching, I beg permission to put off my further report or comment, pending an opportunity for reflection.