611.9331/172: Telegram

The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Acting Secretary of State

937. My 935, December 24 [26], 8 [7] p.m. Chinese addressed a note on April 22, 1931 to the British Minister couched in practically identical terms and referred to Sino-British Treaty of Tientsin 1858.80 On April 25, 1931 British Minister acknowledged receipt stating that note had been transmitted to his Government with a request for instructions. British have had no further communication with or from Chinese Government in regard to this treaty.

British Minister planned to take up with Chinese Government question of treaty revision in three different stages as follows: (a) tariff, (b) commercial clauses, (c) extraterritoriality. The tariff question having been settled British Minister proceeded in 1929 to lay before the Chinese Government a draft of a commercial treaty but when they came to grips with the Chinese Government on this question found that the Chinese concentrated on extraterritorial questions. This merged into negotiations which were carried out in Nanking between the [British] and the Chinese and in Washington between us and the Chinese Legation on the question of extraterritoriality. Into these negotiations British Minister introduced many of the safeguards originally intended to be included in the commercial treaty.

Department will recall that when extraterritorial provisions had practically been agreed upon between the British Minister and C. T. Wang the latter shifted the whole question due to the defection of Canton in the spring of 1931 [and?] C. T. Wang’s fear that Canton would refuse to support draft which he was prepared to accept.

Unless the Department instructs otherwise I propose to acknowledge communication from Foreign Office stating that its request has been communicated to State Department with a request for instructions.

  1. Signed at Tientsin, June 26, 1858, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xlviii, p. 47.