Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

During the course of a conversation this morning the Japanese Chargé said that reports in the press, which he supposed were issued by Chinese, indicated that we were giving serious consideration to the question of recognition of the Nationalist Government. I told the Chargé that no decisions had been made with regard to this matter, but naturally, in view of the fact that the Nationalist troops and authorities had extended their sway over a good part of China, and in view of the retreat of the forces of Chang Tso-lin90 from the field, the question of the recognition of this Government was coming nearer to the point where it would have to be taken into consideration. I said we felt, however, that we must consider the stability of this Government before any decision could be properly made.

The Chargé asked whether we contemplated taking up the question [Page 183] of treaty revision before the Government had been recognized. I stated that we naturally felt that negotiation concerning certain phases of the treaty situation would not necessarily have to await the question of recognition as we felt that some of these matters should be considered if for no other purpose than to prepare the way for some agreement which could be entered into when a government was recognized. I pointed out that the Japanese Government had apparently felt the same on this subject, in view of their negotiations at Peking concerning treaty matters. It was also apparent that the British Government had at one time or another taken a similar attitude on the subject. The Chargé acknowledged that this was so, particularly with reference to the question of tariffs, which the Nationalists were very much interested in having settled.

The Chargé asked whether we had made any decision with regard to moving our legation from Peking. I said that we had not and naturally we could not attempt to decide where the Chinese should have their capital; that of course if they shifted their capital from Peking to Nanking, we would have to meet that situation as we had to meet it in Turkey.

The Chargé asked me about the statement which had appeared in the press concerning the appointment of Alfred Sze as the representative of the Nationalist Government. I told him what had happened was this: that Alfred Sze had called upon the Secretary during diplomatic hours on Thursday and had informed the Secretary that he had received a telegram from the Nationalist Government asking whether he would be willing to remain in Washington as Chinese representative and that he had accepted this appointment. I said that the Secretary thanked the Minister for the information and that the conversation had not gone beyond this point.

The Chargé asked that we be so good as to give him any decisions we might make with regard to the questions of recognition and treaty negotiations and I promised him we would. I asked him whether his own Government had made any decisions in the matter and he said he had no information.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. Formerly generalissimo of military and naval forces under the Peking Government; died June 4, 1928, as the result of injuries sustained when an explosion wrecked his special train in Manchuria.