893.51/5015: Telegram

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

130. My telegram number 122, February 8, 2 p.m.

British Minister today informed his colleagues that on the 8th instant he had been approached by Wang Ch’ung-hui,19 as an intermediary in behalf of the Government, with the statement that while the Cabinet could not actually retract its mandate dismissing Aglen it was anxious to find a way out of the difficulties it had created with regard to the continued functioning of the Customs. The result of negotiations among British Minister, Aglen and Wang was a definite assurance that the Government would not enforce the order requiring the Customs to collect surtaxes, that Aglen would be allowed to continue nominally as Inspector General for a year on home leave and [Page 463] that Edwardes would take charge as Acting Inspector General with the understanding that he would assume responsibility for service of existing domestic loans but for no further ones. Effect was given to this arrangement by a letter which the Revenue Council with the approval of the Cabinet addressed to Aglen February 9, acknowledging appreciation of his services and offering to accede to his repeatedly expressed desire to be relieved from his functions.
Face-saving solution thus reached has, however, been jeopardized by the attitude of Nationalists. Aglen has just received from Commissioner of Customs in Hankow telegram saying that Eugene Ch’en had intimated to him that disappearance of the present Inspector General would create a new situation. The Commissioner construed this to mean that Nationalists would refuse to recognize successor appointed by Peking and would take over all customhouses in Southern territory.
Through the same go-between, who is understood to have relations with Southern as well as with the Northern factions, British Minister is endeavoring to obtain Cantonese acquiescence in the compromise arrived at with Peking.
  1. Also known as C. H. Wang and Liang-ch’ou; chairman, Law Codification Commission, Peking. Formerly held offices as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as Premier, as Minister of Justice, and as Minister of Education, and was chairman of Chinese delegation of International Commission on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, 1926.