893.01/289: Telegram

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


487. Department’s 189, June 15, 1 p.m.

In response to the request for views set forth in paragraph 3 of your telegram, I submit the following:
As to the probability of establishment by the Nationalists of a responsible government, in the sense of having a serious capability of fulfilling its responsibilities, domestic and international, it is my opinion that this is extremely problematical, nor do I expect it within any predictable future.
Considering that, as a result of the anomalous situation existing heretofore we are in de facto relationship already with the Nanking regime, which has now greatly extended the area under its control, it would appear to be unnecessary to take any steps toward de facto recognition. The question of de jure recognition, it is assumed, does not arise under present circumstances.
Even in the absence of any substantial governmental entity in China, I believe that it would be possible and advisable for us to [Page 185] reach an agreement with what is for the present, at any rate, the dominant party, in relation to the matter of customs duties, this arrangement to be along the lines of the suggestions (see my memorandum of October 21, 192791) which were approved by you during my consultations with you last autumn. We could proceed thus far with reasonable assurance, for the Chinese would be asked by us to undertake no obligations whatsoever in this matter other than the negative obligation of refraining from discrimination against our trade. Our commitments could not be construed, in my opinion, as placing us under any obligation to proceed with negotiations in regard to such fundamental questions as extraterritoriality with a mere shadow of a government incapable of carrying out its part of any arrangement which might be concluded.
It is recommended, therefore, that you renew the authorization which you gave me last October for entering into discussions with the Nanking authorities, whenever in my opinion circumstances make such discussions opportune, with a view to the relinquishment by us of present treaty restrictions affecting the Chinese customs tariffs, even though decided Japanese opposition in this connection may be expected. I recommend also that you authorize me further, in case I am pressed by the Nanking regime for revision of the treaties in other respects, to reply along the lines of the reply which I made on March 30 last92 to a similar request from the former Nationalist Minister for Foreign Affairs, giving expression to your announced policy in this regard as I understood it.
I am unable to avoid the feeling that it is premature to rest any further plans on the supposition that internal warfare is actually at an end. The situation as affecting the present conflict of forces among the military leaders who actually comprise the Nationalist movement is entirely precarious (see my 213, April 7, 3 p.m.).93 Unity and peace in China are not actualities as yet, but are still a very doubtful hope, however much we may desire to believe the contrary.
  1. Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, p. 363.
  2. See telegram of March 30, from the Minister in China, sent from Shanghai, p. 331.
  3. Not printed.