The British Ambassador ( Howard ) to the Secretary of State 76

No. 41

Sir: I have the honour to inform you that I am in receipt of instructions from His Majesty’s Government to communicate to you, for the confidential information of the United States Government, the following general summary of the terms which they are prepared to offer to the Chinese Nationalist Government at Hankow—as to any other Government in China—with a view to meeting Chinese aspirations in regard to treaty rights and privileges:—

His Majesty’s Government are prepared to recognise modern. courts as the proper courts for cases brought by British plaintiffs or complainants, without attendance of an assessor.
They will recognise the validity of a reasonable Chinese nationality law.
They will apply in British courts modern civil and commercial codes and subordinate legislation thereby placing British subjects in all matters relating to tariff taxation, and the obligation to conform to regulations, whether local or general, such as those relating to navigation, inland waters, etc., on an equal footing with the Chinese.
When a revised penal code is promulgated and applied, His Majesty’s Government will also consider its application in British courts.
With regard to British concessions, (of which there are six), His Majesty’s Government are prepared to enter into local arrangements in each case either for the amalgamation of the municipal council with the administration of adjacent foreign concessions under Chinese control, or for the amalgamation of police forces of such areas, or for the relinquishment of police control and the responsibility for maintaining order to fall upon the local Chinese authorities.
British Missionaries will no longer claim the right to purchase land in the interior. Native converts will look to the Chinese Constitution and not to treaties for their protection, and missionary educational and medical institutions will conform to Chinese laws and regulations applying to similar Chinese institutions.
His Majesty’s Government will agree to any reasonable arrangement in regard to customs revenues such as the progressive relinquishment of the control of customs revenues as and when secured obligations are extinguished.

In bringing the foregoing summary of terms to your notice, I am instructed to explain that the concessions set forth above are in the nature of a waiver of treaty rights which His Majesty’s Government have it in their power to make at any time and without prior negotiation [Page 345] of a treaty. His Majesty’s Government consider that these proposals afford a basis for a reasonable settlement, and would be prepared to carry them out in return for a settlement of recent events at Hankow and Kiukiang and ample assurances for the future, with special reference to the present situation at Shanghai. If, however, notwithstanding this generous offer on the part of His Majesty’s Government, the Nationalist Government endeavour to force their hands by the threat of mob violence or armed force, His Majesty’s Government will take such measures as they think necessary. Indeed, His Majesty’s Government are now taking the necessary steps for the despatch to Shanghai of such military and naval reinforcements as may be required for the protection and defense of their interests in the international settlement at that port.

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard
  1. Copy transmitted to the Minister in China in the Department’s telegram No. 17, Jan. 20 (not printed).