Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson)

The Chinese Minister called, by appointment, upon the Secretary at twelve o’clock on February 9, and read to him a telegram, copy of which is attached to this memorandum, which he had received from the Chinese Foreign Office to the effect that the Chinese Government will not insist upon withdrawal by the United States of invitations sent to non-signatory powers to adhere to the Nine-Power Treaty relating to principles and policies concerning China. The Secretary informed the Minister that this position seemed satisfactory. He told the Minister that it only remained now for the Chinese Government to withdraw the note which the Chinese Minister had addressed to the Department on this subject and which remained unanswered and the one which the Chinese Foreign Office had addressed to the American Minister in Peking. The Minister stated that he had anticipated this situation and had already drawn up a proposal which he purposed communicating to his own Government, namely, that he should be authorized to withdraw the note which he had addressed to the Department of State and also that the understanding would be that the American Minister at Peking would return to the Chinese Foreign Office the note which had been addressed to the American Minister by the Foreign Office. The Chinese Minister stated that he had taken the liberty of drafting a telegram to his Government indicating that the Government of the United States expected this arrangement and restating the views which he knew the Secretary to hold on this subject, namely, that adherence by non-signatory Powers to the Treaty in question could not be interpreted as in any way meaning an infringement upon China’s sovereignty or administrative integrity. He showed the text of his proposed telegram to the Secretary and the Secretary informed the Minister that he saw no objection to this statement of his views. The Chinese Minister asked the Secretary whether he would give to him a memorandum along these lines and the Secretary replied that he had no objection to doing that. He instructed Mr. Johnson to revise the note which had already been drafted as it contained these statements.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
[Page 1016]
[Enclosure 1]

Telegram From the Chinese Foreign Office to the Chinese Minister in Washington (Sze)

Please assure Secretary Kellogg China always most appreciative of American friendship and entertains no doubt of American intention to help us every way possible even if viewpoints happen to differ. China is sincerely desirous of accommodating American view as far as possible. She feels, however, that exclusion of any particular Power from adhering to Nine Power Treaty on principles and policies can not in any way prejudice rights and interests of any signatory power as in Article three thereof. China has undertaken to be guided by principles of open door or equality of opportunity in dealing with all countries irrespective of whether they are parties to the treaty or not from which policy she has no intention to deviate at all. On the other hand and under new conventions based upon principles of equality and reciprocity more recently concluded with some foreign powers China’s sovereignty, independence and integrity have been more fully and effectively vindicated than in Nine Power Treaty so that adherence by any such power to the treaty which is admittedly a very useful and effective instrument for protection and recovery of sovereign rights of China would in particular cases bear [the appearance of a?] retrogressive step for China. Moreover, it does not enhance prestige of China to have Powers which have little interests in China like Persia and Switzerland pledge their respect for China’s sovereignty and independence. She sincerely believes that her interpretation of article eight is more correct and more consonant with the spirit of the said treaty. So if out of special deference to American Government China does not insist upon withdrawal of invitations already sent out she hopes America will fully appreciate China’s position and find a satisfactory solution.

[Enclosure 2]

Draft of Telegram Proposed by the Chinese Minister (Sze) for the Government of the United States To Send to the Government of China

The American Government appreciates highly the friendly and accommodating communication which has been received from the Chinese Government with reference to the matter of the invitations which in pursuance of Article 8 of the Treaty of the Nine-Powers relative to the principles and policies to be followed in matters concerning China signed in Washington February 6, 1922 the American Government has sent to the various Governments requesting their [Page 1017] adherence thereto. Understanding from this communication from the Chinese Government that that Government, in view of the assurances which have been received from the American Government, is prepared to acquiesce in the action which the American Government has taken, the American Government has the honor to say, by way of re-affirming the assurances previously orally given to the Minister Plenipotentiary of China at Washington, that, it is its view that, by adhering to the Treaty aforesaid, no Power will gain any rights privileges or immunities derogatory to the sovereign rights or dignity of the Chinese Republic, or obtain a status which will in any wise indicate or imply that China has, as vis-à-vis such adhering Power, a status other than that of a co-equal Power. Upon the contrary, it is the opinion of the American Government that, by the adhering of the other Powers to the Treaty aforesaid, China obtains a broadened guarantee that her rights of sovereignty and territorial integrity will be scrupulously respected, and that advantage will not be taken of such domestic conditions as may exist or occur in China to take action which will be in derogation of the sovereignty and territorial rights of China which, under International Law, are conceded to be possessed by her as a sovereign and independent Power and a co-equal member of the Family of Nations.