The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:08 p.m.]
4886. The Department’s views with respect to the relinquishment of extraterritorial and related rights in China as set forth in its telegram No. 4087 August 27, 2 p.m., were presented to the Foreign Office in a preliminary conversation this morning. The first reaction of Ashley Clarke was not unfavorable and he expressed appreciation of the Department’s procedure in consulting the British Government. Mr. Eden will, of course, desire to give the matter careful study. Ashley Clarke indicated that he believed the British and ourselves view the general question of relinquishment of extraterritorial rights in practically the same light. In thinking out loud, however, he remarked that a short time ago both governments had felt that the time was not opportune to raise the question and he was wondering exactly what new elements in the situation had arisen to cause us to change our view. We told him that we had no background other than that contained in the Department’s telegram under reference but that personally we imagined the slightly more favorable military situation, as evidenced by the victory—to date—in the Solomon Islands, must have constituted one element in the Department’s decision in addition to the question of American opinion set forth in numbered paragraph 1 of the Department’s telegram. With respect to the latter he indicated that the contemplated action would probably meet with similar popular support in the United Kingdom. While he did not pursue the point, it is the Embassy’s feeling that if the Department is in a position to enlarge somewhat on the reasons which have led it to conclude that the present is an apposite time to take the initiative on this question it might be helpful. Incidentally Clarke did not think there was much likelihood that the Chinese themselves would raise the issue now, asserting that they had always taken the position that extraterritorial rights already belonged to the dead past.
As to the suggested “brief treaty” procedure, he had no offhand comment other than to say he would like to think about it.