893.00/8206: Telegram

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

119. My 113, February 5, 5 p.m. Following from American consul general, Hankow:

“February 6, 2 p.m. Your February 4, 4 p.m. Memorandum with requested explanation delivered this morning at 11 o’clock to Chief of Staff of General Chiang’s headquarters who stated that message would be immediately telegraphed to General Chiang who is at Nanchang. Chief of Staff while professing sympathetic interest did not show much responsiveness, his assurances being given rather halfheartedly.

Memorandum was presented to Eugene Ch’en at 1 o’clock this afternoon at his residence. After carefully reading it, he expressed the very greatest disappointment and even dismay that a document of such great importance from another government should have been presented to the military authorities rather than through the usual diplomatic channels, remarking that if he had a similar communication to make at Washington he would not hand it to the Major [Page 71] General of the United States Army or the Chief of Staff. He denounced the procedure as irregular in the extreme and stated that it would seem to imply a dictatorship which he wished to deny as emphatically as he possibly could. He said he was amazed that the United States should suggest neutralization of Chinese Republic and that confidentially ‘even the British would not suggest that’. He said that he wished again to emphasize that this is a centralized, well-organized national government, not a provincial government or a dictatorship and that he wished the American Government would realize it. He also said that it would have been far better had I been authorized to sound him in advance before presenting such an important proposal. At least twice during the conversation he remarked: ‘This is sure to bring on a serious row’. I would not have been surprised had he handed the memorandum back to me and declined to receive it. It will probably be brought before the Executive Council tomorrow.

In the course of the conversation I assured Ch’en that the proposal was a sincere effort on the part of the American Government to avoid serious trouble at Shanghai and that similar proposals have been made before. I expressed the view that nothing in the memorandum or connected with its transmission implied a dictatorship and assured him that the American Government entertained no such idea. I expressed the hope inter alia that he would minimize rather than magnify the point raised by him concerning the transmission of the document; that after all it was probably deemed a practical way of handling the matter in the absence of any act of recognition of the Nationalist Government of [by] the American Government; and that I hoped the proposal would have his support. Ch’en will probably give it no support however.

Ch’en said that he is not yet ready to comment on the Department’s recent declaration on Sino-American relations.”63

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