The British Embassy to the Department of State 15


His Majesty’s Government have recently been considering the possibility of initiating with the Chinese Government at an early date discussions for a treaty providing for the abrogation of British extraterritorial rights in China, which His Majesty’s Government have already announced their intention of negotiating when peace is restored. Their original motive for considering the initiation of such negotiations at the present moment was the feeling that to do so might provide encouragement to the Chinese Government at a difficult moment of the war. On second thoughts, however, the British authorities have reached the conclusion that action of this kind at the present juncture would be construed merely as the fruit of a sense of weakness and that it would therefore be unlikely to produce the desired effect. For this reason they consider that they must wait until the tide begins to turn against the Japanese.

His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government have both announced that they will negotiate the abolition of extraterritoriality when peace is restored in the Far East, and the Chinese Government may be content to leave the question in abeyance until then. If in the meantime however the Chinese Government themselves decided to raise the issue, the position would of course be different, and His Majesty’s Government would certainly respond sympathetically.
His Majesty’s Government feel that it is very desirable that they and the United States Government should follow a parallel course of action in regard to this question. In this connection attention is drawn to the Aide-Mémoire which the United States Embassy in [Page 277] London left with the Foreign Office on March 30th, 1937,16 in which it was pointed out that the State Department felt that the question of extraterritoriality in China was a matter in which the British and American Governments had similar interests and concern, and that the two Governments might advantageously continue as in the past to collaborate with each other. Sir Alexander Cadogan17 in his letter to Mr. Atherton18 of May 14th, 1937,19 replied that His Majesty’s Government fully reciprocated the desire expressed in the Aide Mémoire for close collaboration between the two Governments. This still remains the view of His Majesty’s Government and they therefore hope that the United States Government would be prepared to consult with them in regard to any initiative of this nature which they might contemplate.
  1. Copy transmitted to the Ambassador in China in Department’s instruction No. 62, May 12, 1942.
  2. See telegram No. 107, March 27, 1937, noon, to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. iv, p. 639.
  3. British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Ray Atherton, Counselor of Embassy in the United Kingdom.
  5. Text quoted in telegram No. 292, May 18, 1937, from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. iii, p. 102.