Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson)45

I called upon Dr. C. T. Wang, Minister for Foreign Affairs, today and in the course of conversation I referred to the question of extraterritoriality which has been the subject for discussion in Washington between the Secretary of State and the Chinese Minister for some time. I said that I had not discussed this question with him before as I had not wished to complicate in any way the even tenor of discussions in Washington by any discussions of mine here.

Dr. Wang stated that he also had refrained from mentioning the matter to me for the same reason. He said that the Chinese Minister at Washington had been instructed to make a statement to the Department of State in regard to the three principles upon which agreement was still to be found, namely, the questions of co-judges, reservation of criminal jurisdiction and reserved areas. He said that the Department of State had made an evasive answer to the Chinese Minister who had been instructed to press the matter and that they were still awaiting a reply.

I said that I had been informed of this statement by the Department of State and that I had been instructed to say to him in all earnestness that the American and British Governments held in common the view that assent could not be given to a complete and non-gradual sweeping away of extraterritorial rights such as the Chinese Minister in Washington was apparently insisting upon, that there was no intimation on the part of either the American or the British Government to outbid one another in the making of concessions. I said that the problem which faced us in the relinquishment of these rights was that of substituting for the present system an arrangement which would regulate better than the present one the contacts between the people of China and foreigners in China. I expressed the hope that the Minister for Foreign Affairs would see this question as we saw it and that some way might be found whereby we could reach an understanding. I stated that my Government felt that these principles were necessary to the successful evolutionary processes whereby extraterritorial rights would be relinquished.

Dr. Wang stated that the Chinese Government could not under any circumstances make any concessions in regard to these points, that [Page 744] until they were given up he felt that there must result a deadlock. He said that if the American Government felt as I had indicated, he must conclude that a deadlock had resulted.

I expressed myself as being very sorry to hear this as I felt there was no need for a deadlock. He stated that he could see no other end to the discussion and that if a deadlock did result, the matter of course must be brought before the People’s Conference in May with results which he could not foresee. I inferred from his statement that he anticipated that there would be a heated discussion of the matter in the People’s Conference.

I asked him whether I should tell my Government what he had said to me about a deadlock and he said he hoped I would make it very clear that there must be a deadlock unless the American Government would concede these points.

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in his despatch of March 10, from Nanking; received April 7. The substance of the memorandum was reported to the Department in the Minister’s telegram of March 7, 1931, noon, from Nanking; received March 7, 10:35 a.m. The final sentence stated that the Minister did not feel the moment propitious to mention a transfer of negotiations from Washington to Nanking. (793.003/549)