The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Houghton)
66. Department has just received a telegram from the American Delegation to the Tariff Conference60 now sitting in Peking to the effect that the British Delegation appear reluctant to continue further with negotiations at Peking and are planning to return home. The American Delegation informs the Department that it has been unable to determine the extent to which British attitude reflects the position of their government or their own personal views. American delegates state that they are of the opinion that the British Delegation are mistaken in ignoring the danger of a renewed outbreak of prejudice against foreign riots [rights?] and interests especially in view of the approaching anniversary of the Shanghai riots of May 30.61 They state that Japanese Delegation appears to share their view that an adjournment in the manner which appears to be contemplated by the British would be a catastrophe for foreign interests and that they are already authorized to go on even without the British to implement the Washington Treaty and exhaust their best efforts to agree upon the draft of a treaty providing for interim surtaxes. The French and Dutch Ministers are reported personally to favor such action though as yet without instructions from their Governments.
The American Delegation reports that there is to be a meeting on Thursday morning of interested Ministers accompanied by the other plenipotentiaries of their delegations for the purpose of considering the political situation in relation to the Conference. At that meeting the American Delegation will, with the approval of the Department, take the position that it is prepared to go on with the Conference as far as political conditions will permit no matter what other nationalities may refuse to go along with them. You may bring the above informally to the attention of the British Foreign Office and explain orally that this Government is of the opinion that the gravity of the situation in China respecting foreign rights and interests demands that the interested Powers who have been participating in the Tariff Conference should exhaust every effort to fulfill the undertakings entered into at the Washington Conference and the promises made to the Chinese Government last fall.62 You will express to the [Page 749] British Foreign Office this Government’s sincere hope that the British Government may find itself able to continue to cooperate with us and the other interested Powers in bringing to a conclusion the task which was begun last October and upon which it would appear much progress has been made.