811.20 Defense (M)/163: Telegram

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

131. The Department has understood that Minister Wong Wen-How [-hao] has informed Mr. K. C. Li repeatedly that the 1200 tons of wolfram ore and 400 tons of antimony removed from the Soviet vessel Selenga were included in the Chinese Government’s sale of wolfram and antimony to this Government, the title resting clearly with the Chinese Government, and that the Chinese Government would make this position clear to the French Government and to the [Page 658]authorities in Indochina so that these ores might be released for shipment to the United States.

The Department has received the following telegram from the American Embassy at (Paris) Vichy dated July 30 which seems inconsistent with the above. It will be appreciated if you will clear this matter up with the Chinese Government and advise the Department promptly:

“Wellington Koo32 who has arrived in Vichy tells me that he never advised the Chungking Government that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had authorized the release of the wolfram and antimony included in the Selenga cargo. He states that his advice to the Chungking Government was that all the wolfram and antimony in Indo-China ‘with the exception of the Selenga cargo’ had been released.

Koo confirms that the Soviets insist on the retention of the Selenga cargo. He said that his own position in the matter is anomalous because in the beginning he was obliged to insist with the French that the cargo be returned to its Chinese owner and not given to the Soviets. Now his Government wished to favor the Soviets and he was obliged to support the Soviet claim.”

Welles
  1. Chinese Ambassador in France.