893.5045/352: Telegram

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

232. My despatch 352 of December 18th.23

In spite of the disorganization that has prevailed in the Government since January 7th, the Ministers concerned and the Consuls and Municipal Council at Shanghai have been constantly endeavoring to settle outstanding questions with the especial hope of ameliorating Sino-foreign tension before May 30th.
In January, by agreement between the Ministers and the Foreign Office, commissions were respectively appointed to hold informal consultations with the object of drafting for subsequent approval an agreement for the rendition of the Mixed Court in meetings held on February 4th and 8th. The Chinese, in spite of an oral promise to the Senior Minister, refused to recede from the position taken in the note of November 2524 (see despatch cited above) in which the Foreign Office had repudiated all previous bases of negotiation for the rendition of the Mixed Court and put forth an absolute demand not for its return but for its abolition and replacement by a new court organized under the Chinese judicial system, realizing that the progressive attenuation of governmental authority resulted in increasing timidity on the part of Chinese officials and consequent obstinacy in maintaining extreme positions. The Ministers felt that if any agreement was to be reached they must in several points abandon the position they had reached in July last, and, on April 9, they met and agreed upon revised instructions to their commission, conceding some of the Foreign Office contentions. These instructions were issued on April 26 and on April 30, May 4 and 11; three more meetings were held and every effort was made to meet the Foreign Office desires and agree upon draft terms for rendition but without avail. The principal points of difference were as to the substantive and procedural laws to be applied [by] assessor in criminal cases, search of foreign premises, court control of foreign lawyers, et cetera.
In the meantime V. K. Ting25 representing the Kiangsu Tupan [Page 1031] and the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs at Shanghai had informally suggested local negotiations for preliminary provisional agreement regarding the Mixed Court. On May 20 I authorized Cunningham26 to meet informally with Ting and British and Japanese consuls general. When the Senior Minister circulated the Commission’s report of the deadlock in Peking, I placed thereon a recommendation that the consuls concerned at Shanghai be authorized to negotiate an agreement on the principles of rendition which might be published. The prospects for agreement were comparatively bright, for Ting consented to revert to the 1924 basis of discussion. A diplomatic meeting was held May 27 when a telegram was drafted in the above sense prescribing scope of the agreement in general terms and directing its ultimate reference to Peking regarding the crucial question of assessors in criminal cases. My suggestion was adopted that if necessary the consuls might offer to substitute municipal representatives under another name, having merely the right to attend trials and file appeal, ultimate decision in case of disagreement to lie with the Chinese Foreign Office and the Ministers concerned.
Two weeks ago the Ministers instructed the consuls in Shanghai to begin negotiations for a suitable change in the land regulations to provide for Chinese representation in the Municipal Council, this method for amendment being provided for in article 28.27
  1. Not printed.
  2. See note from the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Senior Minister, Nov. 25, 1925, p. 1026.
  3. Director of the Shanghai and Woosuns Port Administration.
  4. Edwin S. Cunningham, consul general at Shanghai.
  5. Sir Edward Hertslet (comp.), Treaties, &c., Between Great Britain and China; and Between China and Foreign Powers, etc., 3d ed., rev. (London, 1908), vol. ii, p. 678.