Memorandum by the Secretary of State46
The British Chargé, Mr. Chilton, came in to see me this morning at my request. He had yesterday presented a note from the British Government47 saying that His Majesty’s Government had agreed to the formula to be presented to Chiang Kai Shek on the understanding that the other Powers accepted in principle the application of sanctions in the event of the Nationalist Government refusing to give satisfaction to their demands. I informed him when he presented the note that we did not consider there was any such understanding at all; that the British Government had stated in a memorandum delivered to me on Saturday last48 that it reserved its opinion on the question of sanctions; that in instructing Mr. MacMurray we told him the United States reserved that question; that we were under no obligation at all to endorse in principle sanctions. I read to him today this Government’s instructions to Mr. MacMurray (our No. 127, April 5, 6 p.m.) and further informed him that as present advised we were not in favor of applying drastic sanctions to the Nationalists. He asked me if I knew what sanctions were proposed. I told him that I did not—only that I had received information [Page 183] that blockading the coast and the destruction of the forts near Nanking had been proposed and talked about in Peking but that I did not understand that the Admirals had formulated any plan but, in any event, I did not wish the British Government to understand that we were committed to anything of the kind.