Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The French Chargé d’Affaires called to see me this morning and said he had a cable from Foreign Minister Briand asking him to see me and to suggest that the question of the de jure recognition of the Nationalist Government should be considered by all the nine powers at the Washington Conference2 and asking if I would let them know before we took separate action.

I explained to him in great detail that we had promised to negotiate in 1927 and had renewed that promise at the time we settled the Nanking Affair in March 1928;3 that thereafter I had received a direct communication from the Nationalist Government through C. C. Wu4 asking me specifically if I was prepared to carry out the promise of January 1927 and to appoint delegates for such negotiations. I informed Mr. MacMurray that we were prepared to do so and authorized him to send a communication to the Nationalist Government to that effect.5 In the meantime, Mr. MacMurray had indicated to them his willingness to negotiate and the Nationalist Government, through T. V. Soong,6 had immediately taken up the negotiations and had arrived at a conclusion of the treaty only a day after I had made public the notice to the various governments; that under our form of Government the President had the sole power to recognize a foreign government and that he could do it in various ways—by appointment of ministers or ambassadors, by sending a special mission, by giving formal notice, by entering into a treaty, etc.; that we considered we had already recognized the Chinese Government; that I had not, however given any formal notice to the effect that we considered this a de jure recognition; that we were considering that subject and I should be very glad to notify him before any such action was taken; that I might consider it advisable to inquire of the nine powers (at least the principal ones) what their attitude would be and told him I would be very glad to receive that information from France.

  1. Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, November 12, 1921–February 6, 1922; Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  2. Post, pp. 323 ff.
  3. Post, p. 415.
  4. See telegram No. 230, July 20, to the Minister in China, p. 464.
  5. Minister of Finance in the Nationalist Government.