Memorandum by Mr. Joseph E. Jacobs of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Mr. C. C. Wu, the Chinese Minister, called on the afternoon of March 11, 1931, and inquired whether the Department was prepared to reply to the statement which he handed to Mr. Castle on February 20, 1931.58

Mr. Hornbeck replied that points raised in the Minister’s statement created a situation which was a radical departure from the basis on which the negotiations had been proceeding. He pointed out that the negotiations had been commenced and carried on on the understanding that a gradual process of relinquishment of extraterritorial rights was to be evolved which would be satisfactory to both Governments, and that, if the Department acceded to the views of the Chinese Government in regard to the three points raised in the Minister’s statement, this would amount to assent to complete and immediate abolition of extraterritorial rights.

Mr. Wu replied that, while this might appear to be the case, it could be argued that the system which the Chinese Government proposed to establish as outlined in its counter-proposals of December 7, 1930, was a plan for the gradual abolition of extraterritorial rights, since this plan provided special sections in the Chinese Courts for the trial of Americans, which was an arrangement that did not exist in the judicial systems of any of the countries where extraterritoriality had never existed.

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There followed a discussion of what might be regarded as constituting a plan for “gradual” abolition. Mr. Hornbeck pointed out the difference between proposals drafted with detail such as the Department has prepared—which give a complete picture and which may be subjected to revision and amendment in course of discussion—and proposals such as the Chinese have submitted which provide, when analyzed, merely for abolition of extraterritoriality.

Mr. Wu said he hoped we would give an answer on the points raised in his statement of February 20. Mr. Hornbeck then asked whether there was expected an answer of “yes” or “no” in reply to the three points raised in the statement or if the answer might be made in such a way as to expect a discussion of the points involved. Mr. Wu replied that he felt that the answer should be “yes” or “no”, remarking that his Government at Nanking had made a decision in regard to the maximum which it would concede, which made it impossible for him to propose less. Mr. Hornbeck then stated that this confirmed what had been reported to the Department from other sources, and that, in such circumstances, the only reply which the Department felt it could make was that contained in a prepared statement which he would have to give Dr. Wu.59

After reading the statement, Dr. Wu, with some evidence of embarrassment, stated that there appeared to be nothing more he could do and that he hoped Minister Johnson and Minister Wang would be able to accomplish more than we had been able to accomplish here. Mr. Hornbeck said that it was our feeling that the Minister had struggled conscientiously with this problem, as had we, but that it seemed that the Minister’s instructions were so restrictive as to leave no room for profitable discussion here—for the moment at least—and that we hoped the obstacles could be cleared away by Mr. Wang and Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Wu, on leaving, remarked that probably we would sooner or later have the whole matter thrown back upon us (i. e. himself and the Department) here.

  1. Ante, p. 734.
  2. Infra. Statement quoted to the Minister in China in telegram No. 10, March 11, 1931, 6 p.m., which concluded as follows: “Take no action until receipt of your instructions which will follow.” (793.003/551)