The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador ( Howard )
Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 225 of April 5, 1927, in which you stated that the British Government had been informed that the representatives at Peking of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan had agreed upon the terms which should be recommended to their respective Governments as a basis for settling the situation growing out of the outrages perpetrated upon foreign consular officials and private citizens at Nanking by the soldiers of the so-called Nationalist Army.
Careful consideration has been given to your statement that the British Government is for its part prepared to agree to the recommendations of the representatives of the Powers at Peking provided, (1) that the note be in the first place presented to Mr. Chen as representing the Nationalist Government and that a copy be communicated to Chiang by the consular officers at Shanghai, and (2) that it is understood that the British Government, in agreeing to the omission of a time limit in the proposed representations, does 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. Consideration has also been given to your statement that it is the view of the British Government that the question of the sanctions to be applied should form the subject of immediate discussion among the five Powers, and that such discussion can best and most expeditiously be done by authorizing 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.
The United States Government regrets that it cannot accept in principle the application of sanctions in the event of the Nationalist authorities refusing to give satisfaction to its demands. It does not consider that by sending a demand to the Cantonese military commander it is obligated in any manner to apply sanctions. In authorizing the Minister at Peking to join his colleagues in representations [Page 185] to the authorities responsible for the outrages at Nanking, the Department instructed its Minister that it desired to reserve entire liberty of action in regard to the question of sanctions to be applied in case of failure on the part of those responsible to meet the demands. The United States is not prepared at the present time to confer with the other Powers on the question of sanctions.