The Chargé in China ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 25—3:55 p.m.]
79. 1. Following from American consul general at Hankow:
“January 24, 6 p.m. Eugene Ch’en called me to his office late yesterday afternoon and handed me the statement which I telegraphed last night.87
Ch’en is greatly excited over the Belgian treaty negotiations and says that if the Belgians enter in [to] a new treaty with the Chinese regime at Peking, Belgians in the territory controlled by the Nationalists will find themselves in great disfavor and perhaps the object of retaliatory measures. He is even more concerned however lest the American Government should suddenly decide to negotiate a new treaty with China possibly as an outgrowth of the Porter resolution88 and he hinted that your return to Peking might have some connection with such an undertaking. He expressed the view quite emphatically that negotiations for new treaties between the foreign powers and the Chinese authorities at Peking at this juncture when the wave of nationalism gives promise of shortly spreading over the whole country, would be particularly inadvisable and would adversely affect the interests of the foreign perils [sic] and the Chinese alike. His view is that if the powers do not yet feel warranted in dealing with Nationalist Government in the matter of new treaties they should at least hold aloof for the present and await developments. He emphasized, as he has once before, that he deplored any action which might lead to a division of the country—that is, a Northern and Southern government—and stated that such negotiations would tend to bring that about; that in any event new treaties negotiated now with the Peking regime would not be recognized by the Nationalists either here or in case the Cantonese should extend their power to Peking in due course.
As between the new treaty negotiations and the two and a half percent surtaxes soon to be levied by the Northern Government to which Ch’en is vigorously and persistently opposed, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is greatly disturbed, but seems to find satisfaction in the fact that Japan appears friendly to Nationalist aspirations. I venture to suggest that Saburi did some very effective work here from the point of view of cultivating a good understanding.”
2. Comment will follow in connection with reply to Department’s 22, January 24, 11 a.m.,89 just to hand, which I have to despatch tomorrow morning (January 26th).89