755.93/26: Telegram

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

535. Legation’s mail despatch number 796, October 22.83

After weeks of effort by Belgian Legation to meet Chinese Foreign Office demands relative to revision of Sino [-Belgian treaty] of 1865, Belgian Legation was compelled to stand on its treaty rights and to invite the Chinese to join in the terms of a compromise, placing the matter before the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague for a decision on the interpretation of article 41 [46] of the treaty. The alternative with which the Belgian Government was faced was the demand by the Chinese that it agree to an abrogation of the treaty and a modus vivendi whereby at the end of the 9 months, if no new treaty were negotiated, the Belgian Government might find itself without either treaty or modus vivendi—that is to say, with no rights whatsoever in China.
At this juncture on November 6th by a so-called Presidential order to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, i. e., from Dr. Koo to himself, the Sino-Belgian treaty of 1865 was “declared to cease to be effective” from October 27 last, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs was ordered to negotiate and conclude a new treaty with the Belgian Government, as soon as possible, on the basis of equality and mutual respect for territorial sovereignty.
On the same day the Chinese Government made a statement of its case as well as transmitted a note to the Belgian Minister describing the action taken by the Presidential mandate and the reasons therefor, being a reply to the Belgian Minister’s aide-mémoire of November 5th in which the latter informed the Chinese Foreign Office of his Government’s inability to agree with the Chinese proposal which would bring about the impossible situation described in the alternative aforementioned.
Full texts of Presidential order and the exchange of correspondence described above are being sent by radio. My comment will follow later by telegraph.
  1. Not printed.