Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

In connection with the question of the Chinese seamen, there was held in Mr. Long’s office yesterday a meeting at which there was lengthy discussion of the question what should be the attitude and the procedure of the Department in the presence of there being pending in Congress legislation and there having been received from the Chinese Embassy expressions of objection thereto.

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This morning there came addressed to PA/H and to FE a memorandum12 by Mr. Long to the effect that, in as much as matters relating to this question had been handled by Mr. Berle, he, Mr. Long, wished to refrain from action or participation in action regarding this subject and to have the handling of the matter remain with Mr. Berle.

This afternoon I spoke to Mr. Long about this. He said that he had spoken with Mr. Berle about it and that he had expressed to Mr. Berle the opinion that FE should be consulted.

For purposes of record, it needs to be stated that, although FE and PA/H have been consulted at some points regarding some features of this case, those offices were not consulted regarding and had no knowledge of the letter which went, over the signature of the Under Secretary, to Senator Russell under date of March 10 and that the representations which the Chinese Ambassador has made regarding this matter have been made directly to the Secretary and to Mr. Berle, whereas certain inquiries emanating from the Chinese Ambassador have been brought by a junior officer of the Embassy to FE.

Further for purposes of the record, it is the opinion of Messrs. Hamilton, Hiss and Hornbeck that the probably most expedient course which the American Government might pursue at this stage, from point of view of U. S. relations with China and U. S. relations with Great Britain would be to have the proposed legislation held in suspense and let further appropriate efforts be made to cause the British Government to raise the pay of Chinese seamen to equality with the pay of British seamen serving on British vessels and to bring about the return of Chinese seamen to the vessels on which they come to this country or to other vessels of the registries of those countries.

  1. Not found in Department files.