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

Referring to the statement to the Chinese Minister, on extraterritoriality, which was read and of which a copy was handed to the Minister today,30 Mr. Hornbeck made orally an additional statement, as follows:

“The Minister will notice that the Department has expressed a hope that the Chinese Government will give earnest and serious consideration to this project, in order that the actual drafting of a treaty may be begun as soon as possible. The Department is serious in the view which has been expressed that the conditions existing in China today [Page 731] make it necessary to provide for a transitional arrangement preparing the way for the complete abolition of extraterritoriality at a later date.

“In the written statement which is being handed to you, the Department has refrained from quoting statements of high Chinese officials and other leaders of Chinese thought but as an indication of what the Department has in mind in this regard, reference is made to the following remarks which were reported, according to a Chinese source, to have been made by President Chiang Kai-shek in October, 1930:

“‘One of the most serious criticisms which foreigners have directed at us is that, while we have issued a number of manifestos and formulated countless schemes and programs, few of them have been translated into realities. When we dispassionately scrutinize our past work, we can not but admit the justice of such charges. For the deplorable state of affairs prevailing in the country we should blame, not the aggression of foreign imperialists, but rather ourselves.’

There has also been omitted reference to the desperate conditions which prevail in several parts of China as a result, principally, of the recent civil war and political contests; to the prevalence of banditry and “communism” in almost every part of China; to the kidnapping of a large number of foreigners and the murder of some, and to losses which have been suffered generally by all foreign interests and by millions of Chinese. We are all familiar with these facts; there is no need to make of them an exhibit, least of all to make an account of them a matter of present record. Nevertheless, account must be taken of them and foreign governments, in dealing with the important question of the position of their nationals in China, cannot be blind to them.

“The Department has noticed in press reports emanating from China, particularly those of a semi-official agency, that certain members of the National Government at Nanking are urging that the Chinese Government take drastic action if the American Government and other governments concerned do not agree in the immediate future to the complete abolition of extraterritoriality. It is hoped that these utterances are not to be regarded as representing the views of the Chinese Government, for the reason that drastic action if undertaken, would produce a very serious situation which might compel the American Government and/or other governments to take special steps for the safeguarding of the rights and interests of their nationals.

“I am sure that you yourself realize the difficulty and seriousness of the problem and that you will not fail to impress upon your Government that, while the American Government is prepared to go a long way toward meeting the legitimate wishes of the Chinese people in regard to the question of extraterritoriality, it cannot be stampeded into assenting to any arrangement which fails to safeguard the interests of the nationals of the United States of America in China which have been built up lawfully during the past eighty-seven years on the basis of mutual and reciprocal assurance and accommodation provided by the treaties.”

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