Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The British Chargé d’Affaires called at my request this afternoon. I told Mr. Mallet that I had two matters that I wanted to take up with him, the first relating to the question of Chinese currency, a matter which he had discussed at some length with me in a previous conversation and subsequently with Mr. Hamilton.82 I told Mr. Mallet for the confidential information of his Government that the American Chargé d’Affaires in Tokyo had been instructed83 to make known to the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan the concern of the Government of the United States in the broader problems involved in the current negotiations between the British and Japanese, including the currency question. With regard to the latter matter, the American Chargé d’Affaires had been authorized to say that “The Government of the United States could not be expected to give assent to any measures arranged by third states which would purport to make illegal the use in any portion of a sovereign state of the currency of the recognized government of that state.”

Mr. Mallet said that he would communicate this for the confidential information of his Government and expressed the belief that this expression of the attitude of the United States would prove particularly helpful at this time.

I then, by the desire of the President although I did not so state to Mr. Mallet, informed Mr. Mallet that this Government had heard a report which reached it from a source to which attention had to be paid that the Japanese Government had demanded of the British Government that the latter close the Burma Road to China to all shipments of arms and ammunition.84 I went on to say that we had heard from the same source that the British Government was supposed to be giving favorable consideration to the acceptance of this demand. I told Mr. Mallet that while I did not intend to make any official representations on this subject, I nevertheless thought that he might be interested in hearing the comment which the President had made when he had learned of this report. The President had stated that if [Page 702] the report were true and if the British Government intended to accede to this demand, the position of the United States would be that of a government which was attempting to give moral support to another government when the second government was deliberately undertaking to commit suicide.

Mr. Mallet expressed the deepest interest in what I told him the President had said, and said that he fully shared the President’s views. He said that he had never received the slightest intimation that the British Government had either received such a demand or much less was giving consideration to such a demand. He said he did not believe the report. He said, however, that he would immediately make inquiry of his Government and let me know at once the reply which he received.85

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. See memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 31, p. 435.
  2. Telegram No. 238, August 2, 8 p.m., p. 440.
  3. See telegram No. 1414, July 31, 4 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, p. 698.
  4. See telegram No. 591, August 5, 2 p.m., to the Ambassador in France, p. 704.