611.9331/67: Telegram

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


559. Legation’s 555, July 20, 10 p.m., and 556, July 21, 6 p.m., will have revealed to you the development of circumstances which were not anticipated at the time of the Department’s 230, July 20, 1 p.m. The opportunity to enter into negotiations with Soong in regard to tariff matters offers the means of accomplishing more speedily and under more auspicious conditions than can be foreseen, [Page 471] the definite purpose which you have had in mind all along. It was my intention, therefore, unless contrary instructions were received by me from you, to proceed with those negotiations, which I hope may reach by the 26th a successful result.

The Department’s 230 is so categorical that I am left with no discretion in regard to the wording of the proposed note or as to the time for proceeding with the prescribed steps. In the absence of modifying instructions from you, therefore, I shall carry it out to the letter despite the fact that it would seem to me that the final paragraph of the note, in the light of the new development, might advantageously and properly be modified, and the communication of the note to the Chinese and to colleagues might be delayed until the signing of the tariff treaty.
It is recommended that if the negotiations for the tariff treaty proceed satisfactorily, authority be given me to so inform my more interested colleagues informally on the eve of signing the treaty, but to postpone any communication of your note until it is possible to send it to the Nationalist Minister for Foreign Affairs (and to communicate it simultaneously, for information, to my colleagues) as a statement of an accomplished fact. The final paragraph of the note should, in that case, be modified to read (in its opening sentence) thus: “as an earnest, et cetera, I am happy to state that the Government of the United States through its Minister in China has now concluded with an accredited representative of the Nationalist Government a treaty expressing fully and reciprocally the principle that, et cetera.”
It is earnestly recommended that, in such event, the concluding sentence (“further, I am happy to state, et cetera,”) should be omitted. By reason of the actual conclusion of the treaty on tariff matters we should have achieved a tactical position so strong that any apprehension of being placed on the defensive is not necessary. The impression is received by me, from my interviews with Soong, that such action would be regarded among the more responsible authorities of the Nationalist Government as sufficing generously under the existing conditions to show our good will and vouchsafe our commitments. Not only would it be unnecessary to invite further negotiations which, in the terms of the Department’s telegraphed note, would be scheduled to begin immediately, but, as previously pointed out by me, such an invitation would threaten us with the dangerous dilemma of having either to surrender our entire position or suffer the odium of having failed to satisfy expectations which had been encouraged by us.
With reference to the fifth paragraph of the Department’s telegram, it is not possible for me to communicate with the Minister for Foreign Affairs at a stated hour, as he is in Nanking. It is assumed [Page 472] that the object of the instruction in this connection would be satisfied if I should telegraph him en clair a few hours earlier, and hand copies at the specified hour to the Vice Minister (if still here) and to Soong.
In case the negotiations with Soong should not result in the signing of a treaty, the note prescribed in the Department’s 230 might be sent as soon as communications on the subject could have been exchanged between us, say July 29, Sunday.
The Department’s 233, July 21, 3 p.m., has been received by me since drafting this telegram. Nevertheless, I am inviting your attention to the suggestions outlined above, which are of considerable importance, in my estimation of the situation, before proceeding to act upon your suggestion that the proposed note be communicated before the time specified in the Department’s 230.