793.003/521: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes) to the Secretary of State

34. By appointment today I had conference with Chinese experts at Foreign Office who pointed out completed draft of new proposals, forwarded with Department’s instruction No. 640, January 20th,24 [Page 725] had only reached Foreign Office on January 28th. Wellesley indicated that in some particulars they differed from the telegraphic summary contained in Department’s 16, January 19, 1 p.m., and certain clauses he found were not entirely clear. With a view to Department’s confidential telegram 30, January 30, 5 p.m., he regretted Foreign Office consideration was limited. Foreign Office experts repeatedly expressed preference for foreign governments gradually yielding in course of negotiations with Chinese rather than for such full acquiescence to Chinese claims as set forth in American proposals which might be expected to inspire Chinese to demand yet further concessions.

Viewpoints informally expressed in following agreed summary of conversation this morning have, I understand confidentially, been approved by Foreign Office experts, although not yet submitted to final authority of Secretary of State.

“Foreign Office is seeking the authority of the Secretary of State to abandon evocation, criminal jurisdiction and co-judges, in that order if it is found during the course of negotiations at Nanking that these successive concessions are necessary in order to ratify [reach] a satisfactory settlement with the Chinese. Pending the decision of the Secretary of State on this recommendation Foreign Office has the following observations to offer on the new American draft proposals:

Any concessions which British may agree to make should be made gradually in the course of negotiations ‘at Nanking’ and not all at once. Foreign Office therefore deprecates presentation of new draft in Washington as proposed by State Department but thinks such action would do no harm provided new draft does not go further than abandonment of evocation. Any further concessions on matters of substance ‘at the present stage’ would in its opinion be a mistake.

Specific points in the new draft to which Foreign Office would like to call State Department’s attention:

Co-judges. The telegraphic summary of the new American draft did not make it clear that it was proposed to abandon the safeguard that legal advisers should act as co-judges. Therefore anything said in previous conversations must be modified in the light of new proposals received. Foreign Office is recommending to the Secretary of State that it might be advisable to abandon co-judges at a later stage of the negotiations, but it seems that it would be a great mistake in tactics if the United States Government was adverse [were] to include any such concession at the present stage in the new draft which it now proposes to present.
Minor criminal jurisdiction in Shanghai. British Consul General in Shanghai would greatly prefer the complete exclusion of Shanghai as originally proposed. Foreign Office should therefore prefer that the American Government should not make this concession at the present time.
Personal status matters. Foreign Office advised that it is by no means clear what is the effect of the new draft of article 6. It makes pro vision for cases where some of the parties are Americans and others are not, but it is not claimed [clear] why in such cases, the Chinese [Page 726] courts should apply American law exclusively. The question of mixed cases is a difficult one but it might be better to leave the Chinese to raise it (in the case of Turkey, it was simply ignored). It is not clear to what cases the proviso about estates is intended to apply. For all these reasons it seems to Foreign Office better to maintain the original proposal for the complete exclusion of personal status matters.
The State Department enquires as to Foreign Office view with regard to the relative importance of criminal jurisdiction and legal advisers. As the Chinese are willing to employ legal advisers the question of relative importance does not appear to arise. All that appears to be necessary is to persuade the Chinese to enlarge the functions of their legal advisers and to consent to their being of foreign nationality only. It is observed that in the new American draft, the functions of the legal advisers have been, to some extent, cut down; as for example, as regards domiciliary visits, et cetera. Foreign Office is opposed to abandoning co-judges at the present stage but subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, Foreign Office thinks it is advisable to surrender criminal jurisdiction, if necessary, in order to get full requirements as regards legal advisers in addition to the exclusion of Shanghai, etc.
Article 3. Taxation. The redraft of this article abandons certain provisions which may be of value. Foreign Office should prefer to retain these until we have ascertained the views of Lampson and the reaction of the Chinese authorities. This latter can only be ascertained in the course of personal negotiations at Nanking.
Article 8. Real property. Foreign Office would prefer to retain the original draft of this article for the same reasons so [as] in the case of article 3.
Article 13. Foreign Office strongly deprecates dropping the stipulation regarding residence in the interior. Tactically such a stipulation puts treaty powers in a strong position with the Chinese; moreover, this is a matter to which Japan attaches importance and it will be difficult to keep Japan in line if this stipulation is dropped without any reference to her views on the matter.”

  1. Telegram in three sections.
  2. Not printed.