Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson)
The Chinese Minister97 called upon the Secretary this morning and reference was made to the statement concerning the policy of the United States towards China which was made public this morning.98 The Secretary asked the Minister if he had any comment to make and the Minister stated that he wanted to speak very frankly; that he felt that the statement was not very clear as to what the United States was prepared to do. The Secretary stated that he did not know how he could be more definite than he had been; that if the Minister would read the statement he would see he had said that the United States “is now and has been, ever since the negotiation of the Washington Treaty, prepared to enter into negotiations with any Government of China or delegates who can represent or speak for China not only for the putting into force of the surtaxes of the Washington Treaty but entirely releasing tariff control and restoring complete tariff autonomy to China;” and that the United States Government was prepared to negotiate “the release of extraterritorial rights as soon [Page 354] as China is prepared to provide protection by law and through her courts to American citizens, their rights and property.” The Minister stated that the Chinese were anxious to know the basis upon which the United States would be willing to negotiate on these matters, whether on the old basis of the Tariff Conference and the Washington Conference or whether on a basis of equality and reciprocity. The Secretary stated that we were willing to go into the whole question of tariff and extraterritoriality and that we had stated we were willing to do this now. The Minister stated that he thought the United States ought to name its delegation as the Chinese would be very much interested in the personnel of the delegation. The Secretary stated that he had not come to that question yet; that the question of the delegation was a very simple one and that it would be sufficient to wait until the Chinese were ready to negotiate before going into that question. The Minister stated that he understood the Secretary was not willing to negotiate with the Peking Government in compliance with the appeal of Wellington Koo, which he had communicated orally a week ago.99 The Secretary stated that he wanted to consider that question; that we had said we would be ready to negotiate with any government of China or delegates who can represent or speak for China. The Minister stated that we were not willing to negotiate with Eugene Chen. The Secretary stated that he did not understand that Eugene Chen or Wellington Koo at the present time could singly claim to represent the whole of China. The Secretary stated that he had understood the Minister to say that he felt sure he could obtain credentials from both sides for the conduct of negotiations with the Government of the United States or that both sides could agree upon representatives. The Minister stated that that was true on December 7; that he did not believe it was true today.
The Minister stated that he was very anxious to know what the intentions of the United States were with regard to the sending of its naval forces to Chinese waters; that he had understood from the Secretary that we were not sending any additional forces but that the newspapers had announced that additional marines were being sent. The Minister wanted to know whether he could see the Secretary of the Navy and discuss this matter with him. The Secretary stated that he saw no necessity for seeing the Secretary of the Navy; that we had not increased our naval forces in Chinese waters, but that we, of course, had a number of ships at Shanghai. The Secretary stated that he would be glad to make a little memorandum of our naval forces in Chinese waters for the Minister.