893.74/646: Telegram

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


9. Your telegram 550 of December 29, 1925, 10 a.m.33 and Department’s 286, October 12, 7 p.m.34 Japanese Ambassador came to see me December 21st, and later spoke with Johnson, chief of Far Eastern Division. Ambassador stated that he was informed by his Government when he received his appointment that only two questions between Japan and the United States were outstanding, immigration [Page 1041] and the Federal wireless contract. His Government recognized, he said, that in regard to settling the immigration question at the present time there was little hope, but it felt that something toward the settlement of the Federal wireless contract question could be accomplished. He placed the responsibility for the situation over the wireless question upon the Government of China which had granted a contract to an American company, violating an agreement the Government had made earlier with the Mitsui Company. He emphasized that if the American and Japanese Governments continued to maintain their respective positions, neither of the contracting companies, in the opinion of his Government, would enjoy any benefit. He said that the Japanese Government, out of a great desire to settle this most vexatious question, had made the proposal which was presented in the memorandum from the Japanese Embassy December 24, 192435; and that this involved complete relinquishment of the claim of the Japanese company to have a monopoly of communication by radio between China and foreign countries. Chinese nationalistic aspirations would be satisfied by the Japanese proposal, he continued, because wireless communication would thereby be placed under the Chinese Government’s control; the Japanese company would be satisfied because the Japanese wireless station at Peking would be saved and made a profitable venture; and American policies would be satisfied because the Japanese claim to a monopoly would be abandoned. Furthermore, he pointed out, the consortium proposal would place on an economically feasible basis the whole wireless situation in China because the necessity for constructing two large wireless stations, where the region provided little room for such competition, would be eliminated. He urged that consideration be given to the Japanese proposal by this Government. I told him that as yet we had no information as to the attitude the Chinese Government took toward the Japanese Government’s proposal. He said that he had doubts whether his Government would hear anything on this proposition from the Chinese Government. He felt that if the Governments of Japan and the United States could reach some agreement in regard to the matter, it would have much influence toward persuading the Chinese Government to accept the proposal of his Government.

I am very anxious to have this long-standing controversy settled in such a way as to protect existing legitimate American interests and to be consistent with our policy of maintaining the open door effectively. The force of the economic argument impresses me. I should not wish at this time to see China assume an uneconomic obligation, though the matter is primarily one to be decided by the Chinese Government. [Page 1042] The Japanese originated the proposal for a wireless consortium and I recognize that before giving to it our complete consent, it is necessary to wait until the Japanese have obtained from the Chinese approval of the proposal. But such a proposal, if the Chinese approve it, involving as it does that those party to it relinquish any claim to monopolistic rights, would go far to persuade me of its being acceptable to American interests.

For you to seek official information as to the Chinese attitude toward the Japanese proposal at Peking would be unwise, I realize. However, I believe you should frankly discuss the situation with Colonel Manton Davis36 and you together should canvass the situation that presents itself with reference particularly to the probabilities of anything ever being done by the Chinese toward a fulfillment of the Federal wireless contract. I also should be glad if you will give me your views as to the advisability of our accepting as the only feasible solution of this question the consortium solution or some arrangement such as the AEFG37 with all contracts pooled and monopolies relinquished.

In order that, if it is deemed desirable, the matter may be discussed here with General Harbord,38 please report your conclusions and suggestions to me.

  1. Ibid., p. 935.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, p. 890.
  4. Representative in China of the Radio Corporation of America.
  5. The so-called AEFG Consortium was a holding and managing company formed for the purpose of developing and controlling radio communication with and in South America, by the Radio Corporation of America. Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd., of England, Companie Générale de Télégraphie sans Fil of France, and the Telefunken Company of Germany.
  6. President of the Radio Corporation of America.