493.11/1715: Telegram

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

459. Four months have elapsed since Legation addressed note to Foreign Office requesting appointment of a claims commission. Proposal has the approval of T. V. Soong, Lo Wen-kan and Wang Ching-wei but it will not be acted upon until it has been approved by Executive Yuan. Meanwhile it has been submitted to five different ministries to ascertain their attitude towards it. Information of existence of proposal has already been given out to press by some government official. Publicity will perhaps jeopardize prospects of its ultimate approval. From conversations Peck has recently had with officials in Nanking it appears that the Ministry of Railways and possibly some other ministries may disapprove of proposal on the ground that it will establish a precedent and that other powers will at once demand similar treatment and that in due course heavy payments will have to be made for which funds are not available.

I am highly dissatisfied with trend of events and of apparent reluctance of high government officials to comply with this reasonable request. Ministry of Railways has acted in a discriminatory manner in concluding agreement with British creditors of Tientsin-Pukow Railway for settlement of all outstanding debts and is showing strong evidence of a disinclination to entertain the idea of a similar agreement with American and other creditors of various Chinese.

Ministry of Finance has paid Italian portion of Boxer indemnity for months of March and April but has not so far paid American [Page 637]or British portions. Soong promised China Foundation to telegraph instructions after reaching Washington.

I strongly urge that this situation be discussed with T. V. Soong prior to his departure from the United States and that he be requested to exert his influence with Nanking Government in order to assure the adoption of a fairer attitude toward the just claims of American citizens.

Text to Nanking by mail.

Johnson