Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

The Chinese Minister called on the Secretary, by appointment at ten o’clock, and reminded the Secretary that he had mentioned the question of new treaties to him and that the Secretary had asked him to come back this morning. Sze went on to say that the American Minister’s note to C. T. Wang7 subsequent to the negotiation of the tariff treaty left them in some doubt as to our attitude on the whole question of treaties. The Secretary stated that he did not wish them to be of the opinion that the door was closed to further discussions of this matter; that if the Chinese Minister cared to make inquiry of the Nationalist Government as to any suggestions which they might have with regard to the question of treaty revision, the Secretary had an open mind on the subject and would be very glad to hear what suggestions they had. The Chinese Minister said that he would telegraph to this end to the Nationalist Government.

The Chinese Minister mentioned the question of recognition. He said that he did not know just exactly what status the Department of State accorded him. He said that in his own opinion the signing of the treaty amounted to a formal recognition, but that of course he had not expressed himself publicly on that subject.

The Secretary stated that the press seemed to fail to understand him on this subject, that all he had ever said to the press on it was that the Chinese Minister had called upon him and stated that he had been requested by the Nationalist authorities to remain in Washington as the representative of China, and that was that. The Secretary said he did not know what further steps might be necessary, that it was the opinion of the Department that the signing of the treaty with representatives of the Nationalist Government constituted a recognition of that government (a recognition of a government being one of the functions of the Executive and not a function of the legislative branch of the Government). The Secretary stated that he did not know just what the Chinese might wish in regard to this matter, but as far as he was concerned, he would be prepared to make such a statement.

Subsequently in a conversation with Mr. Sze, Mr. Johnson stated that we were uncertain as to just what the Chinese might desire in regard to formal confirmation of the act of recognition which had undoubtedly taken place when we signed the treaty with the Chinese. Mr. Johnson suggested to Mr. Sze that he find out from the Nationalist [Page 196] Government, confidentially, whether they desired to issue new credentials or have some formal procedure undertaken. This Mr. Sze said he would do.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. See telegram No. 230, to the Minister in China, p. 464.