893.74/654: Telegram

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

35. My telegram number 550, December 29, 10 a.m.42

At the request of representative of Radio Corporation I asked the new Minister for Foreign Affairs January 18 to take early occasion to look into the matter of Federal contract and to have project carried into execution as contemplated by the correspondence of October last. He was noncommittal though he politely professed interest, particularly in the possibility of developing broadcasting as a means of conveying political views to the predominant illiterate population.
Later in the day I received Saburi who desired to confer with me before his contemplated visit to Japan. He said that Shidehara would doubtless want to know where our informal conversations regarding wireless had led and asked (pro forma as it seemed to me) my opinion of the Japanese proposal of June last. I told him I understood that to be substantially identical with the proposals the Japanese Embassy had conveyed to you in December 192443 and December 1925,44 and, with entire frankness, I told him what I conceived to be the objections to that proposal along the lines set forth in my number 24, January 13, 9 p.m.
He did not seriously demur thereto but tactfully brought the subject around to the suggestion made by Davis for cooperation on the basis of working arrangements between the American and Japanese units, clearly indicating that a solution of dilemma on such a [Page 1048] purely commercial basis was to the Japanese a new idea well worth studying. I emphasized my conviction that the commercial basis is the only one on which we can hope to arrive at any fair settlement not importing victory to one side and humiliation to the other.
He gave me the impression (though it was only a matter of inference from his tone and manner) that he was prepared to recommend to his Government an attempt to solve the problem on this basis.
He asked whether, if our several Governments and companies were thus brought into relations of mutual confidence in this matter, it would not be possible for us to reach understanding independently of the Chinese. I answered that he knew as well [as] I that if we were to reach accord with the Japanese interests and then present it as a fait accompli to this Government the very Chinese who had asked us to do so would turn and rend us Americans for having conspired with the Japanese against them and that while the Japanese might be complacent about it because they have an actual stake in the wireless here, we cannot afford to compromise our position which thus far rests on a mere contract right. We must have a position independent alike of Japanese opposition and Chinese pusillanimity, otherwise we could enter into negotiations only under what amounts to duress. He suggested that if we got such a position the Japanese interests would think themselves under duress. I said that they could have no ground for thinking we were doing anything but reduce handicap upon us that results from their having already a station in being.
Remarking that if there is no mutual confidence between Japanese and American interests deadlock must persist, he asked whether we could not arrive at such a degree of understanding as would permit the matter to proceed. I said that I hoped he could convey to his people the realization that the American interest in the matter is not obdurate but anxious to find some just accommodation of interests; and that if the proposals of Davis are in principle acceptable to the Japanese, it should be possible for him to give us when he returns reassurance which would enable the Americans to dismiss the suspicion that experience has forced upon them, that every time the Japanese talk to us about this question they induce the Chinese to withhold action upon our contract on the ground that the matter [is] being dealt with between the Japanese and our own Government. If we could be enabled to have confidence in the good faith of the Japanese in that respect, I told him, the Japanese might rely upon us to an extent that the discussion warrant[s] them in telling the Chinese that they were prepared to withdraw their objections to the execution of the Federal contract, in the confidence that three-cornered negotiations [Page 1049] for the accommodation of the several interests involved would be undertaken so soon as the American contract was in definite process of execution.
He asked whether he was to understand that we want in any case to construct trans-Pacific main station at Shanghai. I answered in the affirmative. He asked finally whether we propose business arrangements which would give the Mitsui Station chance to live and prosper, and I told him I understood Radio Corporation to be prepared to make such a division of profits as would enable the Japanese to realize upon their investment here. Saburi gave me to understand that such an arrangement would at any rate be carefully considered by his Government and Japanese interests.
Copy by mail to Tokyo.
  1. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, p. 935.
  2. See memorandum of Dec. 24, 1924, from the Japanese Embassy, ibid., p. 890.
  3. See telegram No. 9, Jan. 7, to the Minister in China, p. 1040.