893.00 Nanking/33

The British Ambassador (Howard) to the Secretary of State

No. 225

Sir: I have the honour to inform you that I am today in receipt of a telegraphic communication from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, notifying me that the Representatives at Peking of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, have now agreed to recommend to their respective Governments that the following action should be taken in regard to the recent incident at Nanking.

To take the matter up at once with Chiang Kai Shek through their Consul-Generals at Shanghai and present to him the following terms:
Adequate punishment of commanders of troops responsible for murders, personal injuries and indignities and material damage done; as also of all persons found to be implicated.
Apology in writing by Commander-in-Chief of Nationalist Army, including a written undertaking to refrain from all forms of violence and agitation against foreign lives and property.
Complete reparation for personal injuries and material damage done.
Simultaneously to inform Chiang through Consul-Generals at Shanghai that unless he demonstrates to their satisfaction his intention to comply promptly with these terms, the interested Powers will find themselves compelled to take such measures as they consider appropriate.

It was also unanimously agreed concurrently to make an identic communication to Chen in the following terms: “On instructions of . . . . . Government, I am directed by . . . . . Minister to present to [Page 180] you the following terms, (which are also being addressed to General Chiang, Commander-in-Chief of Nationalist Armies), for the prompt settlement of the situation created by the outrages against . . . . . subjects committed by the Nationalist troops at Nanking on March 24th last, (here insert (a) and (b)).”

His Majesty’s Government are for their part ready to agree to these recommendations subject to the two following provisos:

They fully appreciate the force of the view expressed by the Japanese Government that as there is reason for believing that Chiang is now endeavouring to form a nucleus of a moderate element directed against extremist faction of Nationalist Government which may constitute the one hope of China’s future, it would be contrary to the interests of the Powers to humiliate him unduly at the present moment. His Majesty’s Government strongly recommend, therefore, that the above demands be in the first place presented to Mr. Chen as representing the Nationalist Government, who must be held responsible for these outrages, and that a copy of the demands be communicated to Chiang by the Consular Officers at Shanghai.
In agreeing to the omission of a time limit in the formula (b) as above quoted, His Majesty’s Government do so on the understanding that the other Powers accept in principle the application of sanctions in the event of the Nationalist Government refusing to give satisfaction to their demands.

His Majesty’s Government further fully realise the difficulties in which the Japanese and other Governments may be placed in regard to the question of evacuating their nationals before any action is taken for the application of sanctions. They are quite prepared to allow ample time for complete evacuation and for such other measures as may be necessary for the purpose of safeguarding the lives and vital interests of other Powers. They earnestly hope, however, that instructions will immediately be issued, if this has not already been done, for carrying out evacuation and other similar measures with all despatch.

As regards the question of the sanctions to be applied, these should, in the view of His Majesty’s Government, form the subject of immediate discussion among the five Powers. They would suggest that this can best and most expeditiously be done by authorising the naval authorities of the Powers in China to formulate an agreed plan of action, if necessary, by progressive steps, for the acceptance of their Governments.

In bringing the foregoing information to your notice, I am instructed to express the hope that the United States Government may see their way forthwith to send instructions to the United States Minister at Peking authorizing him to proceed on the lines of the [Page 181] recommendations drawn up by the Representatives at Peking of the five interested Powers.

I would add that His Majesty’s Representatives at Paris, Rome and Tokio are addressing similar representations to the Governments to which they are accredited.

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard