Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)

Participants: Sir George Sansom42
Mr. Hornbeck
Mr. Hamilton

Mr. Hornbeck asked Sir George Sansom to call.

In reply to inquiry Sir George said that he was familiar with recent developments relating to discussions between the British Foreign Office and the Department on the subject of American and British extraterritorial jurisdiction in China. He mentioned that his latest information was that the British Government had referred the matter to the British Ambassador at Chungking with a request for the Ambassador’s comments. Mr. Hornbeck and Mr. Hamilton then explained that there had been a number of subsequent developments. Sir George Sansom was given to read a copy of the text of the draft treaty which the Department had telegraphed to the American Embassy at London for communication to the British Foreign Office.

Mr. Hornbeck and Mr. Hamilton stressed that they had not asked Sir George to call for the purpose of discussing details but in order to give him our general political concept in which there figured largely the time element. It was emphasized that we desire to keep the initiative in the hands of the American and the British Governments [Page 302] and that in the light of that fact it seemed important to us that we proceed promptly in making approaches to the Chinese Government. It was pointed out that this would be, in our opinion, advantageous from the short-swing as well as the long-swing point of view in the relations of the United States and of Great Britain with China.

Sir George Sansom said that he personally felt that it would be unwise in any treaty with the Chinese giving up extraterritorial jurisdiction to attempt to include many restrictive provisions designed to safeguard American or British interests. He thought that such an attempt would nullify the beneficial psychological effect which we were attempting to create.

Sir George said that he would send a brief telegram to the British Foreign Office reporting his understanding of our general reasoning in the matter from the broad-gauge, political point of view. Mr. Hornbeck and Mr. Hamilton said that they thought that such action would be helpful.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]
  1. British Minister in the United States.