Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

The British Ambassador called upon the Secretary this morning and with reference to the Secretary’s request of the other day for information as to the British Government’s attitude toward the Chinese proposal that the Legations be raised to the status of embassies, he stated that he had been instructed by his Government to inform the Secretary that the British Government were looking upon the whole Chinese question from a constructive point of view and were trying to take the matter up in the order in which the various questions grouped themselves from the point of view of importance, and that to their view the most important question was the question of tariff autonomy. It was their feeling that merely to make a treaty granting tariff autonomy on a most-favored-nation basis would amount to very little in so far as progress was concerned. For the moment they were concentrating and bending every effort toward helping to bring about an agreement between the Chinese and the Japanese on this matter of the tariff, the British Government feeling that benefit could only accrue if all could agree on this matter. The Ambassador did not state what particular points in the negotiations between Japan and China the British Government were supporting. He stated that naturally when the tariff matter was settled and the treaty made it would naturally follow that de jure recognition would have been granted to the Chinese and that doubtless sooner or later the question of raising the legations to the status of embassies would arise. The British Government did not feel that this question was acute at the present time, although they quite agreed with us that the matter should be acted upon after consultation and the British Government for its part was quite determined that it would not take any action in the matter without first consulting with us and notifying us of what it would do.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]