Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck)

The Chinese Minister,6 having stated by telephone that he, had a reply from his government to the telegram which he had sent after his conversation with the Secretary on January 30, 1929, called and read to the Secretary the contents of the telegrams. In his outgoing telegram, as read, he had informed his Minister of Foreign Affairs that the Secretary had informed him that the Chinese Government had accorded Great Britain, in the tariff treaty concluded between China and Great Britain, certain things which do not appear expressly in the American treaty and that the Secretary was informed that Dr. Wang had stated that the American treaty did not entitle the United States to complete most-favored-nation treatment; and that the Secretary had stated that the American Government had taken the lead in making it possible for China to regain her tariff autonomy and, if it were now made known in this country that China [Page 784] was discriminating against the United States, it would have a highly injurious effect upon China’s reputation here.

In the incoming telegram, as read, Dr. Wang stated that the Chinese Government had very great appreciation of the helpful friendliness of the United States and that he had never affirmed that the American treaty did not entitle the United States to what was provided in the British treaty.

The Secretary asked that Mr. Hackworth7 and Mr. Hornbeck give Mr. Sze an account of what had occurred and the important items in the telegraphic correspondence. The Minister and Mr. Hackworth and Mr. Hornbeck withdrew and Messrs. Hackworth and Hornbeck gave Mr. Sze the history of the case. It was explained to Mr. Sze that the point at issue was the apparent unwillingness of Dr. Wang to commit himself in writing to the statement which had been given him on behalf of this Government as an expression of this Government’s understanding of the meaning of the treaty. The text of the Legation’s note, as it appeared in the Department’s telegraphic instruction, was read to Mr. Sze, and it was explained to him that Dr. Wang had first replied with a note which meant much less than this and later with a note which meant substantially the same but which implied dissent from this Government’s statement of its understanding of the meaning of the treaty.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mr. Sze and Mr. Hackworth and Mr. Hornbeck returned to the Secretary’s office and Mr. Sze explained to the Secretary that he did not see his way free to go into the matter with his Government. It was proposed that Mr. Sze might state to his Government that he had been informed that Dr. Wang was not willing to subscribe to this Government’s statement of its understanding and inquire concerning the obstacle to his so doing. After some conversation it was decided to let the matter stand for further consideration by officers of the Department.

Mr. Sze left with the impression (probably) that he would be informed concerning the action taken.

Note: Mr. Hornbeck has informed Mr. Sze (7 p.m.) by telephone that another telegram had gone forward and, without stating anything with regard to the nature of the instruction, that it is the hope of the Department that the National Government will realize how urgently desirable it is that this matter be brought to a satisfactory conclusion with the least possible delay.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Sao-Ke Alfred Sze.
  2. Green H. Hackworth, Solicitor of the Department of State.