Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

Conversation—The Secretary and The Chinese Minister, Mr. Sao-Ke Alfred Sze. (Mr. Johnson present.)

The Chinese Minister stated that he had seen in the press a statement to the effect that the United States Government had decided to raise its Legation at Peking to the status of an embassy. He said this had also been telegraphed out to China and he had seen in the paper that the Chinese Government had announced that this had been done. The Secretary stated that he did not know how this idea could have originated. Mr. Johnson said the story was this: on his way back to Washington from Northampton the President had been interviewed by newspaper men and the press had reported that interview as being a general commentary upon the situation in this country and that the President had ended up by stating that he had under contemplation the raising of the Legation at Peking to the status of an embassy. Mr. Johnson stated that thereafter the press had been interested in the matter and questions had been asked of the Secretary and that as a result of the press conference at the State Department the other day, Mr. Albert Fox had gone out and written an article in the beginning of which he had stated categorically that the United States had decided this matter, namely, to raise its Legation at Peking to the status of an embassy. The Secretary stated to the Minister that Mr. Fox had misstated the facts, that he made no statement such as Mr. Fox had reported; that he had merely stated to the press conference that the matter was under consideration and that was all. The Secretary said that subsequent to the press conference Mr. Fox had waylaid him in the corridor and had asked him to announce that we had made a decision in the matter and the Secretary had categorically refused to make any such statement. The Chinese Minister said that he had never made any reply to the telegram which had come from his Government, inasmuch as he had understood that the Secretary was discussing the matter with the other countries, and he had desired to await the result before telegraphing. The Secretary said he had indeed talked with the French, British, Japanese and German Ambassadors and that he had subsequently talked with the Italian Ambassador and that he had received no comment from the British Ambassador as yet. The Secretary said he had informed the Ambassadors that we were giving sympathetic consideration to this request from the Chinese Government, but that we had made no decision in the matter. The [Page 212] Secretary said he had not stated to these governments that we would not do it if they would not do it. The Secretary told the Chinese Minister that he should tell his Government that the matter was still under sympathetic consideration by this Government. The Secretary stated that he would take the matter up with the President and find out what attitude he might take on the subject.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]