Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle)

The British Ambassador brought in the attached memorandum15 on the subject of extraterritoriality in China, this being the substance of the instructions sent to Sir Miles Lampson. The Ambassador was anxious to know whether, in general, we agreed with this attitude. I said that we, of course, felt that negotiations, when there was really no government to negotiate with, were pretty useless, but that we also felt we should not put ourselves in the position where the Chinese might say that we had broken negotiations and, therefore, with more apparent right, put the mandate into effect. The Ambassador said that it is the general belief in England that any new Chinese Government which comes in will not accept the draft as negotiated by Sir Miles Lampson, but that it probably will be a question of beginning all over again. He asked whether we had any idea as to whether the mandate would probably be put into effect on the first of January. I said that we had none, but that we rather believed that no new move would be made and that there might be a possibility that the local authorities in the various parts of China would attempt to put it into effect, that, in that case, we would be inclined to stand very strongly on our rights. I said that I could not commit this Government to the implication in the sentence in the memorandum which states, “His Majesty’s Government would not hesitate to take what measures are open to them to maintain their treaty rights” as the implication certainly was that the British would not hesitate to land [Page 927] troops or to take really warlike measures. I repeated, however, that we should certainly plan to stand firmly on our treaty rights.

The Ambassador said he would be very grateful for a memorandum stating our position, particularly if it seriously deviated from the position taken in the instructions to Sir Miles Lampson.

W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.