893.00 Nanking/233: Telegram

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

General Huang Fu, who assumed office on the 22nd as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Nationalist Government at Nanking, came here, I understand, for the purpose of establishing contact with me (see Shanghai’s February 28, noon,98 in regard to his declaration of policy in the form of an interview given to the Kuo Min Agency on the occasion of his assumption of office). I called by appointment on General Huang Fu on February 26th, the day after my arrival here.
An invitation was immediately extended to me by him to be the guest of the Nanking authorities during my trip up the river, but I stated that for reasons which it was unnecessary to explain I regretted that it would be impossible for me to accept. When [Page 324] he pressed me for an explanation of my reasons, I reminded him that the Nanking outrages remain unsettled; that nothing has been done as yet by the Nationalist authorities to change the underlying conditions brought about by the Nanking outrages, since, even to the present day, the consulate and its archives were being despoiled gradually by the soldiers who were nominally commissioned to guard it; and that the properties of our citizens are subjected constantly to depredations, and those of our citizens who have returned are not free to live their normal lives in safety or to do their normal work.
There was no dissent on his part from this statement of conditions nor from the implication that under such circumstances I could not be expected to call at Nanking, but the Nationalist regime, he insisted, had altered completely since then and was now in a position and was anxious to assume entire responsibility and to reach a just settlement for the outrages. He was informed by me that I should be glad to consider any wholehearted proposals for a settlement which he might have to present to me, either now or when I returned from upriver. The sympathy of our Government toward the Chinese, as shown at the Paris,99 Washington,1 and Peking2 conferences, was recalled by him, and he requested that the same spirit be shown by us in the present case in the negotiations for a settlement. He was assured by me that our Government would be actuated by equal good will, but that it should be borne in mind, in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding, that it had been the policy of our Government in the conferences referred to by him to champion the rights of China, whereas the vindication of the offended rights and interests of the American Government and its nationals was the necessary purpose in any negotiations regarding the Nanking outrages; it was added by me that although we did not desire to be either harsh or vindictive we would expect to be met not in a quibbling spirit but with a sincerity and spontaneity such as would warrant a belief in their good faith and would give us confidence that the outrages were wholly repudiated by them and that reliance could be placed in them to protect us from any recurrence of the events of last March. Acquiescing in what I had said, he voiced the hope that it would be possible for him to offer terms of settlement satisfactory to us.
He professed an anxiety to proceed as soon as possible to a settlement of the matter and he inquired whether, pending my return [Page 325] from upriver, a representative would not be appointed by me to deal with the preliminary stages of the negotiations. I told him that Consul General Cunningham3 was authorized, of course, to speak for me and that Cunningham would be almost continuously in the meanwhile in communication with me. On the following day when returning my call, Huang stated that for the purpose of preliminary negotiations here he would appoint a representative. Indirectly he gave me to understand that this representative would not be Quo Tai-chi, the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs who had acted in behalf of Huang[’s] predecessor. The hope was expressed by him that he would be in a position, upon my return to Shanghai, to reach a settlement with me as a result of such preliminary discussions. Meanwhile, through an intermediary, he communicated to me his intention of carrying on negotiations simultaneously, but separately, with the Japanese and British consuls general here.
Cunningham, who has been in attendance during these interviews with Huang, has been requested to represent me in the preliminary discussions and to communicate at once both to me and to the Legation for comment and for repetition to the Department any proposals offered in behalf of Huang. It is recommended that Cunningham be given authorization, whenever any proposals shall have been offered, to call Paxton4 to Shanghai for consultation (with customary allowances for per diem and expenses).
A most satisfactory disposition toward prompt settlement on terms both fair and honorable was demonstrated by Huang, but I have no desire to give you an overoptimistic idea as to the possibilities for a settlement along the lines desired. Any such possibilities are dependent, for the present, upon Huang, a newcomer and, as far as the Kuomintang organization is concerned, an outsider. Huang’s appointment is resented bitterly by a number of the most influential and the ablest members of the regime at Nanking. There is intense personal jealousy toward him and he is regarded with what appears to be a definite suspicion that a reactionary role is being played by him in the hope that an alliance between Chiang Kai-shek5 and the Northerners may be effected against Feng Yu-hsiang,6 his former chief, with whom he has since become estranged. Aside from any question concerning the precarious situation of the Nanking regime itself there is very serious cause for doubt as to whether Huang can last more than momentarily, or whether any [Page 326] settlement he may negotiate while he does hold office can meet with Nanking’s approval, or whether he will be permitted even to reach any such arrangement with us as that which he seems to have in mind. My only hope is that the steps which I have taken up to this time and those which I propose to take are those most reasonably probable to result in the desired satisfactory settlement.
This telegram communicated to Peking.
  1. Post, p. 406.
  2. Paris Peace Conference, 1919.
  3. Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, Nov. 12, 1921, to Feb. 6, 1922. See Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. The Special Conference on the Chinese Customs Tariff, Peking, Oct. 26, 1925, to July 3, 1926. See ibid., 1926, vol. i, pp. 743 ff.
  5. Edwin S. Cunningham, consul general at Shanghai.
  6. J. Hall Paxton, vice consul in charge at Nanking, temporarily at Chinkiang.
  7. Commander in chief of the Chinese Nationalist armies; member, Kuomintang Central Executive Committee.
  8. Formerly defense commissioner of Northwest Territory, retired in 1926 to sojourn in Moscow, returned to China in 1927, and in 1928 joined forces with the Nationalists.