No. 1217
The Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Vincent) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)1

top secret


Subject: Suggested Protocol Pertaining to the Chinese-Soviet Agreements under Negotiation.

There is attached the draft of a suggested understanding between our Government and the Soviet Government in regard to the Chinese-Soviet [Page 1242] agreements concerning Manchuria now under negotiation. The suggested understanding has been phrased to have general application but its purpose is to reserve our historic American position in the face of potential encroachment. A reservation of the American position would have considerable political value in the likely event that the agreements under negotiation, if consummated, are made the occasion for public and press criticism of the administration.

Our commitments at Yalta regarding Manchuria and our undertaking to obtain Chinese acceptance of those commitments place us squarely in a position of responsibility which we cannot transfer to the Chinese on the theory that the negotiations are bilateral and that the Chinese should get as good terms as they can from the Russians. The Chinese are in no position to bargain. Our interpretation of the Yalta commitments is for them controlling.

It might be argued that, should the Chinese supported by us take a firm stand against concessions beyond the Yalta commitments, and as a result agreements not be consummated, in the final settlements regarding Manchuria we would be in as strong a position to safeguard American interests as we are now—conceivably, with the backing of public opinion, in a stronger position than we are now.

It might also be argued that the expedient of a resumption of a special Russian position in Manchuria having been conceded at Yalta, the present differences between the Russians and the Chinese in regard to the agreements are of minor importance. But the situation is not likely to be so regarded by the American public, a large section of which is profoundly interested in China and in safeguarding the American position in China. They will be critical of the Yalta commitments; they will be highly critical of any concessions beyond the Yalta commitments; and they will expect reservations safeguarding American interests in the face of those commitments. It is with this thought in mind that the attached protocol has been prepared.


Draft Protocol

The Governments of the Republic of China and of the U. S. S. R. are entering upon agreements respecting the operation of specified railways in Manchuria and the administration of an international free port at Dairen. These agreements under negotiation have their origin in recognition of the Soviet Union’s interest in the maintenance [Page 1243] of transit rail traffic between Siberia across Manchuria to Vladivostok and to the ice-free port of Dairen as a means of facilitating the commerce of Siberia with the outside world. Their sole objective is to give to the commerce of the Soviet Union unimpeded access to the sea through Manchuria on a basis free from treatment which would be either discriminatory or preferential.

Full recognition is given by the Soviet Union to the sovereignty of the Government of China in Manchuria.

Full recognition is accorded by the two Governments negotiating the agreements to the principle of equality of opportunity which underlies the historic “open door” policy. Thus, the specified railways and the free port of Dairen shall be administered and operated in a manner to accord complete equality of opportunity to the nationals and commerce of all nations maintaining relations with China. There shall be equality of treatment in all matters such as rates, allocation of space, handling and dispatch of goods on the railways, and to such regulations, charges, etc., as may be applicable to ships calling at Dairen and to the handling of incoming and outgoing freight at the port.

Furthermore, implementation of the agreements for operation of the railways and administration of the free port of Dairen shall be in accord with the rights acquired by nationals of nations having commercial treaty relations with China in respect to residence, the pursuit of commercial, investment and cultural enterprises, and other matters covered by treaty.

  1. Printed from an unsigned carbon copy.