611.9331/65: Telegram

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


555. Department’s 218, July 11, 11 a.m.

The Minister of Finance of the Nationalist Government, T. V. Soong, is now visiting Peking. He discussed with me today the general attitude of the United States toward treaty revision. When I indicated to him that we were ready to proceed to a revision of the tariff provisions, in the manner indicated, Soong surprised me by inquiring whether I would be prepared to negotiate with him a treaty of such a nature prior to his return to Nanking, not later than July 26, for which purpose plenipotentiary powers would be obtained by him immediately to be communicated to me through Vice Minister Tong91 who is here also.
I informed Soong that I was prepared to do as he suggested, and that I would request the Department to communicate through Dr. Sze the fact that I have been given full powers for this purpose.
A copy of the draft text which was the subject of discussion last autumn at the Department and which was attached to my memorandum of October 21,92 was given to Soong as a basis of discussion.
He stated that such basis was quite satisfactory to him, except for a reservation in regard to the clause (borrowed in effect from article 7 of our treaty with Siam93) which reads: “On the further condition that no tariff increases in return for any compensatory privilege or benefit shall have been assented to by China”. I explained to Soong that this clause was quite optional and was proposed in this case, as it was in the case of Siam, on the assumption that it might prove advantageous in forestalling demands for a quid pro quo on the part of any government which might, with a view to bargaining for its assent to tariff autonomy, delay taking similar action.
He appears to be very confident that the Nationalist Government can successfully abolish likin during the calendar year. It was even suggested by him that his hand as Minister of Finance in accomplishing that result might be strengthened if the proposed treaty were made to contain an additional condition that likin should be substantially abolished before tariff autonomy should become effective.
Soong, on his part, made it clear that the text would have to receive the approval of the Political Council before he could sign. He added rather significantly, however, that the approval of certain persons now in Peking (and he mentioned General Chiang94 and one or two others in this connection) would mean that the Political Council would approve the proposal in rubber stamp fashion. It is agreed by us that for the moment the matter should be held in strictest confidence, but I informed Soong that in compliance with the spirit of the Washington treaties you would have to notify the signatory and adherent governments whenever the negotiations had assumed a definite form.
[sic] It is assumed that you give me full authority to proceed in the manner indicated.
  1. Y. L. Tong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Nationalist Government.
  2. Draft text not printed. For memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, p. 341.
  3. ibid., 1921, vol. ii, p. 867, 870.
  4. Chiang Kai-shek, commander in chief of the Chinese Nationalist armies and member of the Kuomintang Central Committee.