893.102S/2415: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Shanghai (Lockhart)

154. Your 241, March 1, 11 a.m., government of the International Settlement. In paragraph numbered 4 of your telegram under reference you express the belief that the plan which would have the best chance of acceptance and which at the same time would retain control would be a “commission” composed of 3 Americans, 3 British, 3 Japanese and 3 Chinese. In view of the possible difficulty of effecting a change in the present form of government and in view of the obvious advantage of retaining in a time of tension governmental machinery which has the stability and authority of long usage, the Department inclines to the belief, subject to possible reconsideration in the light of local factors in regard to which the Department may not be informed, that the present form of government should not be discarded. It seems to the Department that a new and untried form of government would be more vulnerable to undesirable change or to upset than would the present form of government.

Unless, therefore, you perceive objection (in which event you should report to the Department in detail), the Department desires that you explore with the American members of the council and with your British and Japanese colleagues the possibility of an agreed reapportioning of membership in the Municipal Council along the lines of paragraph numbered 4 of your telegram under reference. The Department understands that in as much as there is a separate basis for the election of Chinese members of the council, this suggestion, designed to obviate the necessity of an election in April, would also require that agreement be reached with the Chinese Ratepayers Association in regard to a reduction from 5 to 3 of the number of Chinese members in the council.

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While the Department must of necessity, in local situations such as the one under discussion, look to the resourcefulness and good judgment of its representatives in the field, there is offered as of possible suggestive value the thought that, as a possible alternative, there might be explored the question of leaving the number of Chinese councilors at 5 and of increasing the number of American, British and Japanese members to 5 for each nationality, thus retaining the desired proportions in the composition of the council without the necessity of asking the Chinese to reduce the number of their members.

Sent to Shanghai. Repeated to Chungking, Peiping.