893.00 P.R./14

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

No. 1867

Sir: In accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 78, of October 9, 1925,71 I have the honor to submit the following summary, with index, of events and conditions in China during December, 1928:

The period under review was a relatively uneventful one in respect to domestic affairs. It was characterized in the field of foreign relations by the conclusion of seven of the twelve treaties with foreign Powers which the Nationalist Government has negotiated since the unification of the country in June last. Of the countries diplomatically represented in China in December, only two had not entered into new treaty relations with that country,—Japan, whose treaty negotiations remained at a standstill during the month, and Brazil, [Page 177] whose Chargé d’Affaires ad interim had not yet received instructions from his government in the matter. Tariff autonomy is conceded to China in all the treaties; and in five of them it is provided that extraterritorial rights are to be relinquished as of January 1, 1930, under certain specified conditions.

On December 20th, the date on which the Sino-British treaty was” signed, the British Minister (who had arrived in China at a time when there was no recognized government) formally presented his credentials to General Chiang Kai-shek. Simultaneously, a British cruiser fired a national salute to the Chinese flag, which was returned by a Chinese warship. An exchange of admirals’ and ministers’ salutes followed, one hundred and two guns being fired in the three ceremonies.

Unsubstantiated rumors were current, during December, of the return of the capital to Peking. The negotiation of the several treaties involving an ultimate radical modification of China’s relationship to foreign Powers was reported to have made the thought of residence in the old “northern capital” less distasteful to the representatives of a new order in China. It is possible that the question of the removal from Nanking will be brought up at the Third National Congress of the Kuomintang, in March, 1929, when such advantages as the economy involved, and the proximity of Peking to Manchuria and Mongolia, again will be emphasized.

The question arose during the month of the Government’s supporting an appeal to the charitably-minded people of America to assuage what were described as famine conditions in certain parts of China. The Legation made an examination of the matter, and, from information derived from consular reports, from investigations conducted in Charhar, Suiyuan, and Honan, by two of the Language Officers attached to the office of the Military Attaché, and from other reports, concluded that, whereas the conditions of destitution which are chronic in China were in many places more severe than usual, such conditions in the main (outside of the Chihli-Shantung area) were due primarily to political and military causes rather than to natural disasters. It appeared, therefore, that they did not in general constitute a famine within the definition of famine (formulated in 1924 in connection with the administration of previous international relief funds) as starvation due to natural calamities as distinguished from destitution created by the wastage of civil war and brigandage and by the exactions and inquisitions of the tax collectors.

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Sino-Foreign Treaty Relations

The following treaties were concluded during the month:

A Sino-Danish treaty on December 12th72 mutatis mutandis substantially identical with the Sino-Italian treaty of November 27th;73
a Sino-Dutch treaty on December 19th;74
a Sino-Portuguese treaty on December 19th;75
a Sino-British treaty on December 20th;76
a Sino-Swedish treaty on December 20th;77
a Sino-French treaty on December 22nd;78 and finally
a Sino-Spanish treaty on December 27th,79 mutatis mutandis, practically identical with the Italian treaty of November 27th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Conditions in Manchuria

In a despatch of December 24th the American Consul in charge at Mukden80 informed the Legation in part as follows respecting the governmental policy put forward in the name of General Chang Hsueh-liang:

The trend of events in Manchuria may be described as “the gradual adoption of the Nationalist type of governmental machinery without any change of personnel and at the same time the keeping of this jurisdiction free from Kuomintang organizations and office seekers. …81 This policy seems to imply a desire for close cooperation with Nationalist China together with the maintenance of the autonomy of the Three Eastern Provinces.”

The Nationalist flag was hoisted at Mukden on December 29th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

J. V. A. MacMurray
  1. Not printed.
  2. League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xci, p. 207.
  3. ibid., vol. xciii, p. 173.
  4. ibid., vol. cxi, p. 161.
  5. ibid., vol. cvii, p. 93.
  6. ibid., vol. xc, p. 337.
  7. ibid., p. 81.
  8. ibid., vol. xcii, p. 267.
  9. Treaties and Agreements With and Concerning China, 1919–1929, p. 270; also The China Year Book, 1929–30, p. 855.
  10. Not printed.
  11. Omission indicated in the original summary.