Memorandum by the Secretary of State

When the British Ambassador called on me today, I told him that I wished to talk with him informally about the subject of raising the legations in China to embassies; that the Chinese Minister, Mr. Sze, had informally approached me and suggested that China would like to have the legations raised to embassies; that I had understood from him that like suggestions had been made to Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy—possibly others but these were the ones that he especially mentioned; that we had not taken any action on the subject but that the President had suggested that I communicate with the other governments and obtain their views on the subject; that the only government that had communicated with the Department was the French; that the French Chargé d’Affaires, M. Sartiges, had called and stated that France’s disposition was to leave the matter where it was but would like to know the views of the United States and if the United States intended to act independently they would like to be informed; that Mr. Castle who interviewed him had referred him to me and I expected to see the French Ambassador tomorrow. I told the Ambassador that as he probably knew this subject had been up before; that about the time I came into office, perhaps before, the Soviet Government had raised its legation in China to an embassy; that as some of the countries did not recognize the Soviet Government this had raised some embarrassing questions as to who should be the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Peking; that undoubtedly this had been done by Russia with a view to embarrassing the other countries and to obtain all the benefits and influence in China which Russia could by such action; that at that [time] it did not seem advisable to the other countries to follow the action of Russia and nothing had been done; that Russian influence had since then largely disappeared in China and the question now was whether raising the legations to embassies would not give moral support of the principal powers to the aspirations of China and tend to strengthen the present government; that in my opinion there was more hope today for a unified and somewhat stable government than there had been for many years; that as long as the animosities existed between the north and the south, between Chang Tso Lin17 and Chiang Kai Shek18 and others who were dominant from time to time, it was [Page 202] impossible for there to be united action but the Nationalist Government had now practically the control of all of China and I think have some fairly good prospects of a successful regime; that no one, of course, could tell but it seemed to me wise for the powers to render any assistance and encouragement possible in the hope of working out a stable government in China. I told him we had not come to any conclusion about this matter; that in any event the President would have to present it to Congress as we would have to have an appropriation before we could take any action. I told him that we had entered into a tariff treaty19 as we had promised several times and had settled the Nanking affair. He remarked that Great Britain had also settled the Nanking affair and undoubtedly the failure to make these settlements had delayed the negotiations of the treaty. I told him that the subject of the extraterritoriality and commercial treaties would necessarily come up but I was not prepared to discuss them at present but I might in the near future communicate with the British Government and the other governments to obtain their views on the subject. He wanted to know if I thought that China would demand immediate abolition of extraterritoriality. I told him I did not think so but that they probably would demand a progressive release fixing a date for the entire abolition; that I would be glad to have his Government’s views on the question of the embassy at any time he saw fit. He said he had not kept track of the matters in relation to China since he had been away; that he had a vast amount of correspondence on the subject; that he would look it up and also confer with his Government.

  1. Formerly generalissimo of military and naval forces under the Peking Government; died June 4, 1928.
  2. Commander in chief of the Chinese Nationalist armies.
  3. See pp. 449 ff.