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

Participants: Mr. Welles
The Chinese Ambassador, Dr. Wei Tao-ming
Present: Mr. Hamilton

The Chinese Ambassador called at Mr. Welles’ request at ten o’clock this morning. Mr. Welles stated that he was sorry to be a few minutes late in keeping the appointment because of delay in the arrival of his train from Boston.

Mr. Welles then said that he had asked the Ambassador to call in order to make to the Ambassador a communication which was set forth in the paper which Mr. Welles had in his hand. Mr. Welles said that he would read this paper, after which he would hand it to the Ambassador. Mr. Welles then read aloud the attached statement, as follows:

“The policy of the Government of the United States to move rapidly whenever conditions were favorable toward relinquishment of this Government’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in China has been made clear on a number of occasions. During recent months this Government has been considering whether a treaty which would give immediate effect to this policy might not be negotiated between this Government and the Government of China.

“The Government of the United States believes that the essential end in view would be accomplished if a brief treaty were to be concluded between our two Governments which would provide for the immediate relinquishment of this country’s extraterritorial and related rights in China, for the settlement of questions which would otherwise arise as a consequence of such relinquishment during the period prior to the conclusion of a comprehensive modern treaty of friendship and commerce, and for the negotiation at a mutually convenient time of such a comprehensive modern treaty. This Government consequently expects in the near future to present a draft brief treaty of the nature indicated to the Chinese Government for its consideration.

“In view of the occurrence tomorrow of the Chinese national anniversary, we have in mind making a brief public announcement at nine o’clock this evening so that news in regard to the matter may be carried in the morning newspapers of October 10.

“This Government is regarding this matter as strictly confidential until public announcement is made and requests that the Chinese Government also so regard it until that time.

“It is understood that the British Government is today informing the Chinese Chargé in London of the views of the British Government on this subject which are believed to be similar to the views of [Page 308]this Government and that the British Government will also make an appropriate public announcement.

“It is requested that the Chinese Ambassador be so good as to inform his Government by urgent, confidential cable that the Government of the United States is prepared promptly to negotiate with the Chinese Government a treaty along the lines set forth in the second paragraph and that this Government expects in the near future to present a draft of such a brief treaty to the Chinese Government for its consideration.”

After reading the statement, Mr. Welles handed it to the Ambassador. Mr. Welles then said that it gave him a great deal of gratification to make this communication to the Chinese Ambassador. Mr. Welles added that, as the Ambassador was aware, this Government in 1931 had made known to the Chinese Government in discussions which were then occurring its desire to proceed toward relinquishment of this country’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in China. Mr. Welles recalled that these discussions were interrupted by Japan’s aggression in Manchuria. Mr. Welles referred also to other occasions when this Government had made known its attitude in the matter. Mr. Welles repeated that it gave him a great deal of gratification to communicate to the Chinese Ambassador this Government’s present thought in the matter, which it is believed would also be pleasing to the Chinese Government.

The Chinese Ambassador said that this represented a great step in the happy relations between our two countries. He said that he would immediately report the matter to his Government.

The Ambassador inquired when Mr. Welles thought that this Government would be in position to present to the Chinese Government for its consideration the draft of the treaty referred to. Mr. Welles replied that he thought that this would be done in no longer than a week.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]