Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

  • Conversation
    • The British Ambassador, Sir Esme Howard.
    • Present: The Secretary and Mr. Johnson.

The British Ambassador stated that sometime ago the Secretary had mentioned to him the question of extraterritoriality in China, saying that it was in the Secretary’s mind to communicate a request to the British Government for its views on this subject. The British Ambassador stated that without awaiting any formal request from the Secretary he had communicated with his Government on this subject and had now been instructed to refer the Secretary to the communication which had been made to the Chinese Government by the British Government through their Chargé d’Affaires in February 1927.44 The British Ambassador stated that it was the opinion of his Government that the Chinese Government did not desire a conference on this question of extraterritoriality. In fact, they were very anxious to negotiate with the countries severally in the matter and therefore the British Government doubted whether there would be anything accomplished by suggesting a conference, and further it was the opinion of the British Government that even if the Chinese should agree to a conference and a conference could be called, it was doubtful whether they could proceed beyond the point reached in the proposal which the British Government had made to the Chinese Government in its memorandum of February 1927. The Ambassador stated that conditions had arisen which had made it difficult for most of the points mentioned in that note to be carried out and that some of them still remained to be worked out.

The Secretary referred the Ambassador to his statement made in January 1927 and to the fact that he had promised in that statement to take these matters up with the Chinese when the moment might become proper. The Secretary stated that he had approved informal [Page 437] formal conversations regarding these matters between the Chief of the Far Eastern Division and the spokesman for the Nationalist Government, but that nothing much had occurred at these conversations except an exchange of views. The Secretary stated that he had had prepared an aide-mémoire on this subject which he had intended handing to the Ambassador and he would now hand it to him,45 although the Ambassador had practically answered all of the questions asked in the aide-mémoire. The Secretary asked the Ambassador whether he would reproduce what he had already said in the form of a memorandum, which the Ambassador promised he would do.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. Refers probably to proposal communicated, Jan. 27, 1927, to the Hankow Government, and Jan. 28, 1927, to the Peking Government. For text, See p. 440.
  2. Aide-mémoire printed supra.