500.A4d/119: Telegram

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


64. My urgent telegram number 50, January 27, noon.

1. Today the agitation which was foreseen in paragraph 2 has begun with the publication of a so-called analytical comment purportedly by a famous Chinese authority on international law, by the Kuo Wen, which is a news service which has intimate relations with C. T. Wang.

2. The following are paraphrased excerptitem:

The Nine-Power Treaty purposed to restrict the demands of the signatory powers for special interests and rights in China. It is not necessary at all for Germany to adhere to the Treaty because relations between China and Germany have been placed on an equal footing.

Why the American Government did not this time sound the views of the Government of China when Germany was invited to give her adherence to the Nine-Power Treaty is difficult to understand. Moreover the reference of article 8 of the Nine-Power Treaty to non-signatory powers could only mean those powers having unequal treaties with China. It has absolutely nothing to do with those [Page 1011] powers which already have concluded reciprocal agreements with China. Therefore, the American Government’s invitation to Germany to give her adherence to the Nine-Power Treaty runs counter not only to the Sino-German agreement, but obviously also to spirit of article 8.

Now the invitation extended to Germany by the United States cannot be construed in any light other than as a confession that the traditional American policy as to China was merely a pretense and that the conference at Washington was only a selfish association for the purpose of division of special interests and rights. The Nine-Power Treaty contains but a general statement of principles for China’s liberation, while in the Sino-German agreement in which these principles are carried out in fact, China has recovered her complete freedom. Therefore the American invitation to Germany, which is difficult to understand, is nothing less than encouragement to Germany to put China into further bondage and opposition to China’s recovering her absolute freedom. This step by the American Government is tantamount to completely reversing their traditional policy for more than ten years and by it the United States is placed among those powers which are endeavoring to fetter the free development and liberation of China. For a power known as the exponent of justice and right this is surely inadvisable.

If Germany adheres to the Nine-Power Treaty there is no question that it will amount to a nullification of the Sino-German agreement and, solely because of this invitation which the United States extended, the equal and reciprocal agreements between Germany and China will go overboard. What is to become of the earlier boasted international right, morality, and justice. The friendly sentiment of the Chinese people will be surely lost to the Americans, and, without it, American trade in China is certain to sustain a serious setback. Therefore, in the interest of Americans themselves there should be a most careful and serious reconsideration of the whole matter.

3. Wang has evidently deemed it opportune, in the absence of reply to his formal representations, to begin his agitation at the moment we are receiving some adverse criticism because of an altercation Sunday at a skating carnival when two marines of the Legation Guard not in uniform exchanged blows with certain Chinese. The incident itself was trivial except as a basis for agitation. However, there is among students and in certain other quarters a tendency to make an issue out of it, and the foreign-language press and the Kuo Wen service have made of it an occasion for some comment which is very unfriendly.

4. Although the opportunity to forestall the initiation of agitation concerning the question of adherence by Germany has gone by, it is my belief that even yet the arrest of its development is possible by conveying a refusal to reconsider our action in sufficiently blunt terms to impress a man who has a feeling he has out-bluffed us.

5. Respectfully, but very urgently, I request information as to the tenor of your proposed note in reply to the Chinese protests.