793.003/491: Telegram

The Chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

3. Department’s 334, December 31, 1 p.m.2 discussed today with Sir Victor Wellesley3 who first asked that the appreciation of the British Government be expressed for the information contained therein and the statement that no new American proposal would be submitted to the Chinese without first conferring with the Foreign Office. Wellesley stated on behalf of the British Government that they would submit no new proposals without first consulting the American Government. He further stated that at first reading he was in full accord with the first two paragraphs of the Department’s telegram first above referred to and, after reflection, would give me further comment next week.

He stated the matter of extraterritoriality was a matter which the British Government was studying at the moment and although no conclusions had been reached it was thinking along the following lines, especially subsequent to a conversation Wang4 had with Ingram5 at Nanking in the course of the last 10 days.

With the gradual cessation of civil war in China the demand for the abolition of extraterritoriality would unite all factions, and if no early gesture was made by powers might result in antiforeign boycott by Chinese. Foreign governments must meet this situation and better now than later, bearing in mind, however, that however much foreign governments offered to give way China would demand further concessions. However, a united front, especially between Japan, England and America, was essential, and a scheme for gradual abolition, giving away the shadow at first, to be followed later by part of the substance, must be worked out. Foreign governments were in a position to indicate to Wang that under present circumstances 60 percent of extraterritorial cases were today in Shanghai Settlement. Wellesley himself was considering the argument of China Association here that [Page 717] extraterritoriality might better be abandoned in criminal cases than in civil cases. The China Association argues that Chinese courts would be competent in criminal cases, while corruption in civil cases would completely destroy foreign investment in China.

Foreign Office handed me today copy of memorandum, dated December 27, from Lampson6 to Wang in reply to memorandum from Wang, dated December 17, almost identical with that set forth in paragraph 1 of the Department’s telegram 331, December 29, 6 p.m.7 Last paragraph of Lampson’s memorandum reads as follows:

“… His Majesty’s Government do not understand necessity for message from Minister for Foreign Affairs and hesitate to believe that final sentence cloaks any intention on the part of Chinese Government by precipitate action to prejudge course of normal negotiations. His Majesty’s Minister is instructed to add that His Majesty’s Government8 regards it as most important to prospects of a favorable conclusion to negotiations, that atmosphere should not be embittered by threats on either side.”

  1. Ibid., p. 504.
  2. Deputy Under Secretary of State of the British Foreign Office.
  3. C. T. Wang, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. E. M. B. Ingram, Counselor of the British Legation in China.
  5. Sir Miles Lampson, British Minister in China.
  6. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. ii, p. 503.
  7. “Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs” in original memorandum.