Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson)
The Chinese Minister called upon the Secretary by appointment at noon today. The Secretary explained to the Chinese Minister that he had been informed that a Chinese News Agency at Peking, reported to be in close touch with the Chinese Foreign Office, had circulated certain statements regarding an invitation which the United States Government had extended to the several non-signatory Powers to adhere to the Nine-Power Treaty relating to principles and policies concerning China. The Secretary stated that the statements circulated by this news agency impugned the motives of the United States Government in sending out these invitations charging that the United States Government thus demonstrated that the Washington Conference, at which that Treaty had been signed, was merely another effort to encroach on Chinese sovereignty. The Secretary informed the Chinese Minister that in view of this evident attempt to question the motives of the Government of the United States in this matter he thought that he could no longer withhold the note which had been drafted in reply to the Minister’s note requesting that the Government withdraw the invitations sent to the non-signatory Powers.
He then read to the Chinese Minister a draft of a note which had been prepared but not sent, copy of which is attached to this memorandum.4
The Chinese Minister stated that as he had informed the Secretary on a previous occasion, he was using every effort to persuade his Government to reconsider its action. He stated that he had telegraphed a friend of his in Peking who was very close to the Chinese Foreign Minister and had asked him to take the matter up with the Foreign Minister and said that unless this step was reconsidered he could expect a very sharp note from the Secretary of State. The Chinese Minister stated that he had not as yet had any reply to his messages. He asked the Secretary to give him more time as he believed that a reply would reach him at least by Monday, February 8. The Secretary stated that he had no objection to waiting until Monday. He handed the note to Mr. Johnson and instructed him to hold it until further word was received from the Chinese Minister.