711.93/156: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (MacMurray)


418. 1. On December 13 and 15 Frank W. Lee, who is in possession of a letter from C. C. Wu showing that he is an official of the Nationalist Government, called at the Department unofficially and stated that the Nationalist Government at Nanking would willingly give authority to Minister Sze, David Yui, and Lee, himself, to conduct negotiations with representatives of the American Government in regard to treaty revision on the basis of the statement of January 27th by the Secretary.15 Lee remarked that this appointment had been offered to Sze; but that Sze, while indicating a personal willingness to accept, had stated that the matter would be referred by him to Peking and that Peking, if the proposal for a joint commission for treaty negotiations was agreeable to it, probably would wish to appoint its own additional delegates, perhaps Koo and W. W. Yen. It is stated by Lee that Chiang Kai-shek has made public his proposal for a joint commission and has intimated that perhaps such announcement might have brought upon him criticism from those extremist elements which oppose recognition of Peking by the Nationalists. It is represented by Lee that Nationalist authorities are very anxious for information concerning the attitude of the American Government in regard to this proposal and earnestly hope for some announcement, which I do not propose to make at this time, commending the proposal.

2. The Chinese Minister, who informed me of this proposal while calling at the regular diplomatic hour, stating that he did so not under instructions from Peking but on his own personal account, inquired what the American Government’s attitude toward him would be if he were on the delegation. The Nationalists apparently assumed that Peking would be represented by him. Sze and Lee both have been informed that the January 27 statement describes accurately this Government’s position in regard to any proposal for treaty negotiation.

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3. Sze and Lee both emphasized the difficulties confronting the Nationalist authorities in consequence of the break with the Communists and Soviet Russia and the urgent desirability that the Nationalist Government have the incidental support to be derived from an open approbation by the American Government of the proposal for establishing a joint Peking-Nanking commission to commence treaty revision negotiations.

4. Sze has been told by me that I have no desire to become entangled in China’s domestic politics and I have refrained from making any comment concerning the personnel of the proposed commission. However, I remarked that in case China should have a definite proposal to make I would be glad to have it presented for the consideration of this Government.

5. If the Peking Government and the Nationalists should come together to the extent of creating a delegation or joint commission, such as described above, which substantially is the suggestion made by you to me during our conversations and which I approved, then, of course, we should in good faith show our willingness to fulfill the promises contained in my statement of January 27, 1927. We would have to know, of course, whether such delegates had sufficient authority for negotiating. If a joint commission is formed spontaneously, I am inclined to think that an announcement of our willingness to conduct negotiations with it might conceivably lead to a further rapprochement between Peking and Nanking, and afford a basis for terminating the civil war, and serve toward mitigating antiforeign feeling in China, as well as give satisfaction to that portion of the American public which insists that every opportunity possible be given the Chinese for achieving their national aspirations. Initiation of the negotiations would also afford an opportunity to insist that until replaced the present treaties must stand.

6. It is desired that together with your comments you telegraph any information in regard to the matter of a joint commission which you may have received without inquiry.

  1. See telegram No. 28, Jan. 25, to the Chargé in China, p. 350.