693.1117 American Chinese Trade Commission/33

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Legation in China (Atcheson)48

Conversation: Mr. Peng Shou-pei, Director of the Department of Political Affairs of the Executive Yuan;
Minister Johnson;
Secretary Atcheson.

The conversation developed chiefly from questions put by Mr. Peng concerning Minister Johnson’s leave of absence in the United States, the economic situation in that country, and the American silver policy. Between the answers to various questions and Minister Johnson’s explanation of the silver program of the American Government, Mr. Peng stated that there was great need for economic cooperation between the United States and China, a statement which seemed of interest because of a statement made on February 20 to Mr. Johnson by Mr. Tang Yu-jen, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, which, while not mentioning Japan, indicated that China’s economic salvation lay in the direction of appropriately revised international trade agreements or arrangements. Mr. Peng inquired concerning an American commercial or industrial commission which he had heard might shortly visit China. Mr. Johnson explained that the proposed commission was entirely private, without connection with the American Government, and was financed by private funds. Mr. Johnson said that the commission would visit Japan and that part of it would visit China and part the Philippines; he hoped that it would be composed of men who earnestly desired to learn concerning conditions in this section of the world, and he offered the opinion that much good might result from the commission’s visit, both to China and to the United States. Mr. Peng stated that the commission would be given a hearty welcome.

During a discussion of the silver question, Mr. Peng inquired whether it was true that the American gold stocks were disadvantageously large and, if such was the case, whether the United States would be willing to purchase Chinese silver and pay for it in gold. Minister Johnson replied that he could not make an official answer to this question, that he did not know whether the United States Government would be willing to make such purchase and such payment, but that if a proposal of this nature should be made to the Secretary of the Treasury, he was sure that it would be given careful consideration and he personally saw no reason at first glance why the United States Government [Page 542]should be reluctant to pay for silver with gold since it had too much gold and, under its present program, desired to increase its silver stocks.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 3384, February 26; received March 23.