The British Embassy to the Department of State 6
Sir Esme Howard did not fail to communicate to His Majesty’s Government an account of his conversations with the Secretary of State on January 27th and 29th last on the subject of China7 as well as an account of the conversation with the Chinese Minister on January 28th.8 Sir Esme Howard has now been instructed to inform Mr. Kellogg that any action which the United States Government may take to get into touch with and bring together the various Chinese leaders with a view to obtaining from them assurances as regards Shanghai and the protection of foreigners elsewhere in China will have the cordial support of His Majesty’s Government. It is the paramount duty of the latter to protect the lives of British nationals in China and the naval and military forces now on their way to Shanghai are being despatched with no other object in view. At the same time His Majesty’s Government would greatly prefer to avoid the movement of troops for the purpose of protecting their nationals if that object could be effected by any other means.
His Majesty’s Government have not only expressed their willingness to satisfy Chinese national aspirations in regard to a revision of treaties but are now actually implementing this engagement in the [Page 359] terms of their offer as set forth in Sir Esme Howard’s note No. 41 of January 19th last. His Majesty’s Government have been initiating separate discussions with the Chinese authorities at Peking and Hankow with a view to effecting by unilateral action the desired abolition and modification of the special rights and privileges hitherto enjoyed by British subjects in common with other foreign nationals in China. His Majesty’s Government have been compelled to adopt this method only because there is at present no government representing China as a whole and they would, therefore, heartily welcome any success which might attend the efforts of the United States Government to bring together the various Chinese leaders and so render possible the formal negotiations for treaty revision.
Sir Esme Howard proposes to inform the Chinese Minister in Washington that if the latter can bring any influence to bear upon the leaders of the rival factions both in the North and South, with a view to inducing them to meet the offer of His Majesty’s Government in the friendly and conciliatory spirit in which it is made, such action would be welcome.