Memorandum by the Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham) of a Conversation With the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Quo)89

I informed Mr. Quo that I came to him for advice. I stated that I was due to retire in fourteen months and, inasmuch as I had devoted a great deal of time to the study of extra-Settlement Roads and concomitant questions, it would be a very great pleasure if I could report a successful negotiation with the Chinese for the settlement of all these very difficult problems that have been pending for many years; that I did not want to undertake it if there was no hope of success; that I had dashed my head against an impenetrable wall long enough; and that I had no desire to renew negotiations which would not be received practically and in a cooperative spirit by the Chinese. I stated that I came to him as a friend and asked whether he would recommend that I take up the matter of extra-Settlement roads or not; that I would be guided entirely by his views.

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Mr. Quo replied instantly that I should go ahead; that he would like to see these difficult questions settled, and he would be particularly pleased to see this as the crowning work of my long years of service in Shanghai. He stated that this was a very opportune moment to take up the question; that he had already discussed it with Mayor Wu, and that I should take it up with him immediately; and that he, Quo, would discuss the matter again with General Wu and inform him that he and I must reach an agreement.

I stated that I was gratified to know that this was his view. I realized that he appreciated the importance of the question, but I did not know what political influences might prevent a practical negotiation and settlement of these questions. I had no idea of attempting to take advantage of any difficulties that China was having now with Japan, and particularly disclaimed any desire to inject into their troubles a new one, but if I could assist in any way in solving the local question, it would be a great pleasure and satisfaction.

Mr. Quo was enthusiastic in his opinion in regard to the beginning of negotiations. I also pointed out to Mr. Quo that I would regard as equivalent to an impenetrable stone wall the discovery that the Chinese went about the negotiations with no other intention than to ask for a complete surrender and withdrawal of all claims to the roads. It would not be necessary, if the Municipal Council was prepared to do this, to enter into negotiations but simply inform the Chinese that they were withdrawing. He assured me that there was something on which to negotiate and that the Chinese would be practical in this matter. I expressed my great appreciation for the frank manner in which Mr. Quo discussed the matter and assured him that no time would be lost in getting in touch with General Wu.

Mr. Quo stated that the two most difficult questions were the policing and the revenue. He stated that the revenue would present many difficulties, as would policing, but he believed that there was some mutually agreeable plan whereby this could be adjusted.

E[dwin] S. C[unningham]
  1. Mr. Sam Chiang was also present. Copy of memorandum transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Shanghai in his despatch No. 8326, June 11; received July 6.