Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State 9

The British Ambassador came in to leave with me his Memorandum of February 4 conveying the attitude of his Government towards the conversations which he had had with the Secretary on January 27 and 29. The Ambassador said that his Government was cordially in sympathy with any action which we might take to get into touch with and bring together the various Chinese leaders with a view to obtaining from them assurances with regard to Shanghai and the protection of foreigners elsewhere in China. The Ambassador further told me of two talks which he had had with the Chinese Minister on January 29 and this morning. In the first talk Mr. Sze had said that no negotiations would be possible until the western Powers agreed to the abrogation of all rights and privileges under the old treaties and to start the negotiations with a clean slate as well as the withdrawal of all British troops from China. In his conversation today the Ambassador had pointed out to Mr. Sze that when treaties existed their provisions could only be altered by the negotiation of new agreements; that under the rights and privileges set up by [Page 360] former treaties during the last several generations vested interests had been acquired in China and that it was obviously impossible to consider giving up all rights and privileges without some assurance that these vested interests would be protected. As regards the withdrawal of British troops from China, the Ambassador said to the Minister that this could obviously not take place until adequate assurances were given that British nationals and property would be protected. The Ambassador told me that while in his first interview he thought the Chinese Minister had been more intransigeant even than in his talk with Mr. Kellogg, nevertheless in the second interview the Minister appeared to acknowledge that there was something in the British contention. The Minister had also told the Ambassador that he was in touch with both Eugene Chen and Wellington Koo. The Ambassador said he was little aware of how much influence Mr. Sze carried at home. He said that in speaking of the contending factions in China it was difficult to know how many there were as they appeared to be springing up like rabbits in the springtime.

The Ambassador referred to the article in the Washington Post yesterday in which Albert Fox stated that Minister Sze had protested to me against the movements of American warships in Far Eastern waters. Mr. Sze had told the Ambassador that the article was not correct as he had only made inquiry of me and had not conveyed a protest.

J[oseph] C. G[rew]
  1. Copy transmitted to the Minister in China in the Department’s instruction No. 447, Mar. 3, 1927 (not printed).