711.93/195: Telegram

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


546. Department’s 221, July 13, noon; and 223, July 13, 7 p.m.

1. In compliance with the desires indicated in the telegrams cited, I have prepared a note (the text of which is being sent in my 547, July 17, 9 p.m.) to the Nationalist Minister of Foreign Affairs, subject to approval of the suggested text by you. It is proposed that you authorize me to send the note by telegraph to the American consul general at Shanghai to be communicated by him, in my name, to the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs at Shanghai for transmission to the Minister.

2. It is suggested also that the release of the text of the note may well be the equivalent of the public statement referred to in the Department’s 218, July 11, 11 a.m. A certain portion of the terminology of the draft statement has been incorporated in the text of the proposed note, it will be observed.

3. In regard to the attitude which it may be expected Wang will take concerning the proposals which we plan to make, the following comments are submitted. Although entirely speculative in nature, I believe that these comments should receive consideration.

(1) Considering the position assumed by the Chinese hitherto in relation to most-favored-nation treatment, as shown in the previously mentioned negotiations of Japan in the course of and following the Tariff Conference, it is not by any means impossible that an offer of tariff autonomy made conditional upon an arrangement committing China to the general policy of most-favored-nation treatment in revising her treaties with other powers will be flatly rejected by Wang. However, if we are positively resolved that the proposals which you set forth clearly in your statement of January 27, 1927, represent the utmost concession we are prepared to make, it would appear, nevertheless, that we would stand in a position of tactical advantage, having made a definite offer to fulfill promises made last year. Upon the Chinese would rest the responsibility for rejection of that offer.

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4. The entire course of action outlined above is based upon the supposition of a definite desire on your part to make Wu’s letter of July 11, despite his apparently undetermined status as representing the Nationalist Government, the occasion for inaugurating negotiations with a view to the revision of our tariff relations with China. [Page 463] Attention is invited, in this connection, to the tenor of his letter in comparison with the notes of July 1 addressed to the Italian and Danish Ministers by Wang in regard to matters of similar import. (See my 541, July 16, 3 [8] p.m. for the text of note to the Danish Minister, the note to the Italian Minister being substantially similar.)86 I apprehend that the impression will be made upon readers, in contrasting between the studied courtesy of the notes just mentioned and the peremptory and abrupt tenor of Wu’s letter, that the Nanking authorities intend to accord less courtesy and respect to the American Government than to other governments.

  1. Telegram not printed; for texts of the notes, see The China Year Book, 1929–30, pp. 864 and 869.