711.933/372: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

4269. Your 4886, September 1, 8 p.m. As indicated in the Department’s 4087, August 27, 2 p.m., a factor of some importance in reaching our conclusion has been the trend of public opinion in this country favoring relinquishment of American extraterritorial and related rights in China. Not only has it been apparent that popular sentiment in favor of abolition of extraterritoriality is widespread but that such opinion, not only in non-official circles but also in official circles in addition to the executive branch of the government has been gaining in strength, leading us to believe that this trend will increase. We have also, of course, taken into account Chinese opinion and a number of recent indications that General Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Government are adopting a more activist attitude with reference to China’s foreign political relations. In addition there has been, as mentioned in your telegram under reference, the consideration that improvement has recently occurred in the military situation in the Pacific and in China itself—in the latter case a favorable aspect of the picture being the successful activities of United States Army Air Force units. Also, we have felt that in general we should from time to time dispose of as many outstanding questions as we consistently can. The desirability of such action in regard to extraterritoriality has been impressed upon us very recently by the arising in “Free” China of an American court case involving alleged manslaughter which is a probable cause of embarrassment to this Government.28

We have accordingly come to the view that, as an ideal moment to take an affirmative step in the matter is not likely to arise, the present is probably as good a time as any, especially as the initiative still lies with us. By taking an affirmative step now we should hope to accomplish three principal objectives: (a) some psychological and political benefit to the cause of the United Nations which would be of concrete assistance to China and thus tend to strengthen the determination of that country in its war effort; (b) the wiping out once and for all of [Page 288] an existing anomaly in our relations with China and (c) the achievement of agreement in principle to regularize in China the usual rights normally accruing to American and British nationals in friendly foreign countries.

Please communicate the above to Mr. Ashley Clarke and Mr. Eden, and repeat that we are, of course, as indicated previously, desirous of proceeding in consultation and cooperation with the British Government.

  1. On August 16, 1942, an American sergeant was fatally shot by an American civilian, Boatner Rayner Carney, at Chanyi, Yunnan Province. The American Consular Court at Kunming held a preliminary hearing of the case on August 31, 1942, and committed defendant for trial by United States Court for China. The Justice Department in cooperation with the Judge Advocate General of the War Department appointed army officers to act as Special Judge and Special Prosecutor for the case. The Court convicted Carney of involuntary manslaughter. Correspondence on this case is not printed. (393.1121 Carney, Boatner Rayner)