The Consul General at Canton (Jenkins) to the Minister in China (MacMurray)15

No. 490

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a copy of an additional note of protest, dated July 14, 1926, from Eugene Chen, the so-called Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cantonese regime, respecting the resumption of the Special Tariff Conference at Peking. It will be observed that Mr. Chen declares that the so-called Nationalist Government is opposed to the Powers dealing with the representatives of the Peking government, who, according to Chen, are the mere servitors of Wu and Chang, a brace of mediaeval militarists.

I frankly do not relish these newspaper tirades from Mr. Chen, so obviously written for publication and shall tell him so unofficially when I see him again. (This note was published in the Canton Gazette of Thursday, July 15, 1926.)

I should be pleased to have the Legation advise me whether or not this note should be acknowledged by the Consulate General and if so in just what form. It would seem to me that the occasion affords an opportunity for the Legation to express itself respecting the attitude of our Government in relation to the Tariff Conference and the Cantonese regime.

I have [etc.]

Douglas Jenkins

The Chinese Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs at Canton (Chen) to the American Consul General (Jenkins)

Sir: I have the honor to request you to communicate to the American Minister at Peking the protest of my Government against the [Page 845] resumption of the Special Tariff Conference which was lately suspended owing to the dispersal of the Chinese delegation. We are definitely and reliably informed that agents of Wu Pei-fu and Chang Tso-lin are now negotiating with the American and the other foreign delegates for the immediate re-opening of the Conference.

My Government opposes and has opposed the Conference because it involves “the consideration of issues which only a Central Government, representative and competent to speak and act in the name of the Chinese Nation, can negotiate in conference with the official representatives of the American and other interested Governments. Tuan Chi-jui’s administration, admittedly, was not such a government, nor do the present servitors of Wu and Chang constitute the type of governing body which America and the Powers (assuming that considerations of political realism and international morality and decency still rule high foreign policies) can meet and treat with as a modern government.

None is so blind as to fail to see that the present phantom government in Peking is a creation of a brace of mediaeval militarists and a bunch of Mandarin statesboys and states-coolies whose obvious purpose is to grab the proceeds of whatever tariff doles and loans that America and the other Powers may be willing to grant in order to maintain a status quo that conflicts with every vital interest of Nationalist China.

Any payment of tariff moneys to Wu Pei-fu and Chang Tso-lin must necessarily mean that America and the other interested Powers—through the machinery of the unified, British-controlled Chinese Maritime Customs—will be (a) paying national revenues collected throughout the whole of China to two transient usurpers of detached pieces of Chinese territory, and (b) subsidising these two militarists to continue the prosecution of civil war against the Kuominchun and Canton who are the two modern arms of Nationalist China, and thus assist militarism to dominate and flourish in China. And specifically it will mean that America and the other Powers will be collecting the increased Customs revenues of Canton and hand over the same to the mediaeval Wu and the ex-bandit Chang in order to enable them the better to fight and attempt to destroy the greatest centre of Chinese Nationalist thought and activity, which is Canton.

I have to add that any loan or loans to be contracted by the agents of Wu and Chang on the security of the promised surtaxes shall not be recognized by the Nationalist Government. And I have the honour deliberately to warn America and the other interested governments that Chinese repudiation of any such loan or loans may conceivably create a situation rendering it imperative for the principle of repudiation to be extended to other loans contracted in the interests [Page 846] of reaction and of militarist and mandarin exploitation and plunder.

I have [etc.]

Chen Yu-jen
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the consul general as an enclosure to his undated despatch No. 592; received Aug. 17, 1926.