The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State

No. 1361

Sir: With reference to previous reports concerning breaches of the arms embargo agreement of 1919,56 I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed copy of a memorandum of a conversation the Counselor of the Legation had on January 16th with the German Minister concerning a shipment of arms to China from Czechoslovakia, and certain comment Dr. Boyé made thereon with particular reference to the question of the attitude of the American Government in regard to the extension of the arms embargo agreement.

The Military Attaché to the Legation has told me, in connection with this matter, that Ma Soo57 recently came to see him showing great concern lest the United States might be trying to stop the Czecho-Slovakian arms shipment at Manila. Ma Soo inquired of Major Magruder what if any information he had in this respect. The Military Attaché replied that he had no information whatsoever other than that appearing in the newspaper and did not see how our Government or the Philippine authorities could be concerned in the matter. On January 16th Ma Soo told the Military Attaché that everything was all right as regards the arms shipment, the Czecho-Slovakian delegate, Mr. Halla, having telegraphed to the ship at Manila to proceed at once. According to local press advices the shipment has been forwarded from Manila to Newchwang. The above seems to substantiate the statements of the German Minister recorded in the memorandum herewith enclosed.

There is also enclosed a clipping from the North China Standard of January 17, 1928,58 referred to in the body of the memorandum.

[Page 293]

Several of my colleagues have recently taken occasion to discuss with me the question of the arms embargo agreement, in each case indicating their feeling that the present situation in which we find ourselves regarding the agreement is most unsatisfactory. It appears likely that further discussion on this subject will lead to the formulation of a proposal of one sort or another which can be placed before the respective governments for their consideration.

I have [etc.]

J. V. A. MacMurray

Memorandum of Conversation Between the American Counselor of Legation in China (Mayer) and the German Minister in China (Boyé)

During the course of a conversation between the German Minister and myself on January 16, 1928, he asked me what I believed would be the American Government’s attitude toward an extension of the arms embargo of 1919 to other European Powers not at present signatory to or adhering to this agreement. …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Replying to Dr. Boyé’s question as to the attitude of the American Government concerning an extension of the embargo, I said that that was something the Minister would have to answer; that personally I was rather of the opinion that our government would look with favor upon any action which might make the arms embargo actually effective; that an extension of its scope would seem theoretically to this end. I expressed to the German Minister my query as to how the Chinese themselves might regard such a move; that it was not at all unlikely that they would, publicly at least, take great exception to it as being likely further to restrict their precious sovereignty. (I had in mind the violent objection by the Chinese to Germany’s adherence to the Washington Conference Treaty on “principles and policies.”)59 Dr. Boyé said that he quite agreed with me as to the possibility that the Chinese would take umbrage at efforts on our part to assist them further in this question of the arms embargo so that in the long run any such attempt on our part would only redound to our discredit vis à vis the Chinese and not actually increase the effectiveness of the embargo.

Dr. Boyé said that he wanted to discuss this matter with the British Minister and would also confer with Mr. MacMurray.

  1. See ibid., 1919, vol. i, pp. 667 ff.
  2. Representative of the Nationalist Government at Nanking.
  3. Not printed.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. i, pp. 1001 ff.