793.003/868: Telegram

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

177. Our 173, April 20, 2 p.m.40

Two months have passed since the plenary session of the Central Executive Committee called upon the Government to negotiate for abolition of extraterritoriality (our 116, March 15, 2 p.m.). The vernacular press concerns itself almost daily with the question. As reported, Chinese organizations doubtless in part through official inspiration are petitioning the Government to act. Nevertheless, the Government gives appearance of lacking any definite program or plan to implement the Central Executive Committee’s instructions and inquiries of the Foreign Office by an American newspaper correspondent have elicited vague replies which he interpreted as indicating a desire to show a lack of interest in the issue.
It is possible that this attitude is due to: (1) Desire to foster a sufficiently urgent public demand that the Foreign Office can approach the Diplomatic Missions on the ground that the Government can no longer ignore the people’s wishes; (2) a belief that the Chinese case will be stronger as far as Japan is concerned after abolition of extraterritoriality has progressed farther in Manchukuo, thus making it inconsistent for Japan to promote her military to [control despite?] the nominal activity of native officials in Manchuria and object to Chinese jurisdiction over Japanese in intramural China; (3) an intention to entrust C. T. Wang,41 who continues to delay his departure, with opening negotiations with the United States. [Page 642] There may also be reluctance at this time to antagonize countries whose friendship and financial assistance are desired to strengthen China against Japan. There is also a possibility that the Chinese are hoping, before giving notice to all extraterritorial powers, for a friendly gesture which will smooth the way for them but in this connection we were interested to learn on April 20 from Hsu Mo42 that he had not read the March 14 speech of the British Ambassador at Hankow (Hankow’s despatch 247, March 20; page 2 our despatch 389, March 20)43 which was almost tantamount to such a gesture.
The only disagreement with the campaign for abolition of extraterritoriality we have seen appeared in the influential and independent Ta Kung Pao as reported by the Central News Agency, Shanghai, April 12.
This journal (1) described the movement started by various Shanghai Chinese organizations as preparatory only, there being no hope to achieve the goal unless China becomes a strong nation; (2) stated that in 1930 the unilateral denunciation of treaties by the Government was ignored by the foreigners; (3) warned the public against envy of the Egyptian Capitulations Conference which involved “a mere change in the name of the Mixed Courts”; (4) stated that when the right time arrives special foreign privileges will be “fundamentally abolished by a mere announcement”; (5) emphasized that reconstruction and resistance against aggression are the two urgent problems confronting China today, adding that the Chinese people should concentrate their efforts in this connection for 5 years or 10 years and if they succeed therein the question of special rights will take care of itself.
Sent to the Department, by mail to Peiping, Shanghai, Tokyo.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to the United States.
  3. Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Neither printed.