793.003/543: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Nanking (Peck)


5. For Minister Johnson: Your March 2, noon.39

The Department notes the delay in action by the British Minister, whose Government, which is waiting for approval by the Dominions, has not yet sent its final instructions.
The Department notes the recognition by the British of the possibility that they may find it necessary as a final measure to concede to China jurisdiction in all its ports except Shanghai. Last week the Department was informed of a London rumor to the effect that it is the British Government’s intention to concede everything save jurisdiction at Shanghai.
Regarding your comment on the Department’s indication to the Chinese of its readiness to drop evocation, the Department feels obliged to point out that in the last 3 months it has been negotiating, while the British have stood still respecting negotiations; hence, this offer of a concession by the Department is on a par with any similar step, if and when the British Minister takes it when he negotiates. The Department, moreover, consulted the British Foreign Office regarding this proposed action, the Foreign Office suggesting that the Department commence with this concession, just as Sir Miles Lampson apparently intends to start with it. It should be kept in mind that there have been and are both American-Chinese and British-Chinese negotiations on this subject. It should be recalled, for instance, that the British chose to act last September at a moment when the Department was in no position to do so and was advocating delay in favor of simultaneous and coincidental action.
The Department feels that, following the disclosure last December of the Chinese project, the British apparent inability to act with promptitude has jeopardized and may jeopardize further the chance of obtaining an approximately satisfactory treaty. The Department is, therefore, not yet prepared to make common cause with the British to the extent that the negotiations here be transferred to you, thus linking their negotiations definitely with ours. While awaiting developments, the Department prefers to proceed in accordance with its 67, February 26, 1 p.m. After being informed of definite instructions sent Lampson or of any changed attitude on the part [Page 739] of the Chinese, the Department will promptly consider whether the seat of our negotiations might possibly be transferred.
Meanwhile you are instructed to reiterate to the British Minister that this Government is taking no new step for the moment. Lampson should have your full moral support. In conversing with the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, you should make it clear that the American and British Governments hold a common view that they cannot give their assent to a nongradual, complete sweeping away of extraterritorial rights and that neither Government intends to outbid the other in the making of concessions. In regard to relinquishing extraterritorial rights, the problem is to substitute for the present system an arrangement regulating better than at present the contacts between foreigners in China and the Chinese people.
The Department agrees with you that Hu Han-min’s40 elimination probably will encourage the Chinese Government to be more realistic and conciliatory in its attitude, and the Department wishes you to impress upon Dr. C. T. Wang the desirability of modifying the nonconciliatory attitude which recently has apparently been his. You may in your discretion tentatively and casually inquire of him, in this connection, what his attitude would be if this Government were to propose transferring the negotiations to Nanking for the sake of expediting and simplifying the whole question of negotiations.
  1. Not printed.
  2. President of the Legislative Yuan.