The Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: Dr. Sze13 states that his Government is proposing that the Chinese Legation in Washington and in several other capitals be made an Embassy.

This proposal involves technically, I think, two questions: the status of the Chinese mission here and the status of the American diplomatic mission in China. If we were to receive the Chinese representative as an Ambassador, it would presumably be necessary that we make our representative to China an Ambassador.

Action to make our representative an Ambassador would require, as I believe you have stated to Dr. Sze, action by Congress.

It is my understanding that Dr. Sze has requested an expression of this Government’s opinion at an early date and that you intend to mention the matter at the meeting of the Cabinet this morning.

The consummation of the proposal to exchange Ambassadors would constitute on the part of the United States the making gratuitously of a political gift to China. Several times during the past twenty years the question has been considered and the conclusion has been reached that circumstances and conditions would not warrant the action; that China had not reached such a degree of political organization and had not so conducted herself in the performance of her international obligations as to warrant this conspicuous endorsement of her claim to the rank as one of the greater powers.

At this time the question should have, I would suggest, not less careful consideration than it was given on previous occasions. Among other things, the Legation in Peking should, I suggest, be consulted.

If Dr. Sze must have an early reply, this Division suggests that he be informed that:

The Department is conferring with the Legation;
The Department feels that a number of questions in China’s relations with the Powers, especially with the United States, should be cleared up before any attempt is made seriously to consider this proposal. Among other questions which might be mentioned by way of illustration are such as (a) the delay in opening the Nanking Consulate,14 (b) the delay in evacuating American premises unlawfully held by Chinese persons both officially and unofficially,15 (c) controversy over the Chinese demand for re-registration of trademarks and (d) the difficulty over the China Foundation.16

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Chinese Minister at Washington.
  2. See pp. 323 ff.
  3. See pp. 213 ff.
  4. China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture; See pp. 538 ff.