811.203/256: Telegram

The Chargé in China ( Vincent ) to the Secretary of State

478. Department’s 210, February 10, 7 p.m.

In response to an inquiry made by the Ambassador prior to his departure whether the Chinese Government wished to treat as confidential the exchange of notes in regard to criminal jurisdiction over American military personnel in China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that it intends to publish the exchange of notes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated its desire that the exchange take place the day after the exchange of ratifications of the new treaty is made in Washington and I feel, and so do our military authorities, that for obvious reasons it would be preferable to exchange the notes on the day ratifications are exchanged, but shall not make a point of the matter unless the Department instructs me to do so.
Recently the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs discussed with me certain proposals for changing our draft note. He had seen the British Parliamentary Act for implementing our agreement with Great Britain and desired to have incorporated in our note a reservation with regard to the Chinese Government’s powers of arrest, search, entry or custody and another reservation of the Chinese Government’s right “to define by such regulation or orders as it may consider necessary or proper, the manner and means of determining, for purposes of this understanding, what persons shall be deemed to be members of [Page 697] the military and naval forces of the United States of America in China.” It will be recalled that the British Act contains sections along the lines of these two reservations. After several subsequent discussions I persuaded the Foreign Office that it would not be appropriate to include these reservations in the exchange of notes. The Acting Foreign Minister frankly admitted that question of face was largely responsible for issue having been raised. It is probable now that the Supreme National Defense Council, which raised the issue, or the Legislative Yuan, will adopt some kind of regulation or law along the lines of the British Act. I have pointed out that such regulation or law should implement and facilitate operation of the agreement rather than modify it.
I have kept General Stilwell informed of the foregoing developments.