Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Harrison) of a Conversation With the British Ambassador (Howard)

The Ambassador referred to his last conversation with the Secretary, and inquired whether there was anything that I could tell him with regard to the matter of the Federal Radio’s contract in China. I replied that I had nothing new to say. The Ambassador said that some months ago when speaking to the Secretary, Mr. Kellogg had indicated that he was awaiting the views of the Legation, and he had understood that the Legation had felt that there was little hope for progress in view of the status of affairs in China. Of course he appreciated that the situation was now much the same as it was then.

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The Ambassador expressed the hope that we might be able to come to some understanding. He thought that the Japanese proposal for a consortium taking in China and placing the matter really under Chinese control, nominally if not actually, was substantially different from the consortium proposal that had been put forward during the Washington Conference, and should be acceptable to China. I expressed some personal doubt as to whether China would consent to a consortium.

The Ambassador also urged the desirability of the consortium solution which would eliminate the Japanese and American monopoly. I expressed surprise that he considered that there was any monopoly involved in the Federal contract. I referred to the fact that some time ago the British Government had raised a question with regard to an alleged special privilege entailed in the Federal contract which we had answered, I understood, to the satisfaction of the British Government. The Ambassador said that of course it was an intricate matter and that he did not have it all in mind, but that he would be glad to give me an aide memoire or discuss with me the position of his Government which maintained that the Federal contract did involve a virtual monopoly. I remarked that the Federal contract did not disturb the Japanese station at Peking nor the French station at Shanghai, but that I was ready to discuss the matter further with him. While admitting the existence of the Japanese station at Peking and the French station at Shanghai, the Ambassador remarked that these stations were not powerful and that the erection of a large powerful station at Shanghai by the Federal would mean that that station would carry on all international business. He also observed that his Government was anxious to reach, if possible, a satisfactory solution of the whole question.

L[eland] H[arrison]