755.93/4: Telegram

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

337. Your telegram number 164, August 17, 2 p.m.

By a palpable perversion of the meaning of article 46, the Chinese Foreign Office, April 16th, assumed the right to give notice of its intention to terminate, October 27th next, the Belgian treaty of 1865. Instead of maintaining its clear rights while offering to incorporate a revision of unsatisfactory provisions, the Belgian Government allowed itself to be drawn into a discussion of a modus vivendi to cover the period from October 27th until the negotiation and coming into force of a new treaty. Emboldened by this apparent weakness, the Chinese have made no concrete proposals but simply insist that Belgian treaty rights come to an end on the date specified. Belgian Legation informed the Foreign Office, August 4th, that, unless satisfactory proposals for a modus vivendi had been offered within a month, the Belgian Government would take respectful measures such as an appeal to the Washington Conference powers or resort to the Permanent Court on the question of China’s right to terminate the treaty. A report on the subject was mailed July 29th.72
The Foreign Office had in March last assumed similar right to terminate the French Tientsin treaty of 1866 [1886],73 additional commercial convention of 188774 and the supplementary convention of 1895 relating to trade with Indo-China75 and a customs notification was recently issued to the effect that special frontier customs reductions would cease August 8th. The French appear to have accepted this action with no demur beyond an unheeded request that these treaties be kept in force for another year to allow time for negotiating new arrangements.
By the terms of its article 26, the Japanese treaty of 189676 will be subject to revision of its commercial provisions after October 20th next. Officials of the Foreign Office have remarked in discussion with the Belgian Minister that it is intended at that time to give notice terminating the treaty entirely.77
There is considerable obviously artificial agitation among Chamber of Commerce and such public bodies in support of the Government’s policy of exercising in the case of each treaty their right to demand its termination at the earliest date allowed. Our 1903 commercial treaty78 would apparently become subject to revision and possibly termination January 13, 1934 (article 17).
  1. Not printed.
  2. China, Imperial Maritime Customs, Treaties, vol. i, p. 701.
  3. Ibid., p. 721.
  4. MacMurray, Treaties, 1894–1911, vol. i, p. 28.
  5. China, Imperial Maritime Customs, Treaties, vol. ii, p. 1332.
  6. The Chinese Foreign Office in a note to the Japanese Minister in Peking, Oct. 20, 1926, expressed the desire of the Chinese Government that the treaty referred to, together with notes, protocol and the supplementary treaty and annexes of 1903, be revised within a six months’ period. The reply of the Japanese Legation, Nov. 10, 1926, in the form of a memorandum, consented to “consider sympathetically the wishes of the Chinese Government.” (File No. 793.942/5.)
  7. Foreign Relations, 1903, p. 91.