711.933/373: Telegram

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

5044. Re your 4269, September 5, 2 p.m. The following memorandum was handed me by Mr. Eden this afternoon. I am forwarding it to you for your information and will communicate the views of the Dominion Governments as soon as they are communicated to Mr. Eden and forwarded by him to me.

“His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs presents his compliments to his Excellency, the United States Ambassador and has the honour to inform him that careful consideration has been given to the communication left with this Department by the Counsellor to the United States Embassy on the 1st September last,32 embodying the proposal that an approach should now be made to the Chinese Government on the subject of extraterritorial and related rights in China.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom agree that, while the present time is not altogether opportune to raise this question with the Chinese Government, it is doubtful whether any much more favourable occasion is likely to occur in the near future, and they see considerable advantage in acting while the initiative in the matter still rests with the powers possessing extraterritorial rights. His Majesty’s Government cordially welcome therefore the United States Government’s proposal that steps should now be taken by the United States Government and His Majesty’s Government in cooperation to arrive at a settlement of this question; and subject to the concurrence of His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions, whose views are being obtained without delay, they will be glad to prepare in consultation with the United States authorities a brief draft treaty on the lines suggested, for presentation to the Chinese Government when the time arrives to make the joint approach contemplated by the United States Government.

Meanwhile His Majesty’s Government agree that it would be desirable to limit action at present to the conclusion of a brief treaty dealing only with the abrogation of extraterritorial rights and the related questions referred to in the State Department’s communication. They are impressed with the disadvantages set out by the State Department of negotiating a comprehensive treaty of establishment and commerce while hostilities are in progress, and they strongly [Page 292] incline to the view that if any such suggestion is advanced by the Chinese Government the two Governments should insist on the larger question being postponed until the end of the war.

A further point relates to Shanghai, which in view of the vast extent of United States and British commercial interests centered there, appears to present a special problem. His Majesty’s Government have reason to believe that while the Chinese Government would require the return of the whole area to unfettered Chinese rule they would be ready to grant Shanghai a special status to enable the development of the port to continue with the cooperation of foreign commercial interests. It is considered important therefore that the proposed treaties should not preclude the United States Government and His Majesty’s Government from pressing for this special status at the peace settlement; possibly some mention of this question might be included in the treaties.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom would be glad if the foregoing could at once be communicated to the United States Government with an expression of thanks for the courtesy with which the proposal has been transmitted to them. The United States Ambassador will be informed of the views of His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions as soon as they are received.”

  1. See telegram No. 4886, September 1, 8 p.m., from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, p. 286.