The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:54 p. m.]
337. We queried Vice Minister, Foreign Office,4 before his departure [for] Canton last week on press reporter [report of?] Chang [Page 1038]Chih-chung’s trip to Sinkiang (see Embtel 283, February 1, repeated American Consulate General Canton 16). Yeh confided that Chang Chih-chung was in fact going to enter into exploratory conversations with Soviet representatives in Hi area of Sinkiang to regularize present Soviet concessions that area and prevent further encroachment, if possible, Soviet influence in Province. He said there had been conversations [and] intermittent negotiations with USSR over its position of influence in Sinkiang for several years. He emphasized lack of real authority Nationalist Government has over Sinkiang and problem it has of effectively combating extension Soviet influence. Recent reports have reached Nanking that Soviet agents are moving, among Sinkiang tribes outsideIli area. This report is apparently one of determining factors in attempting to reach agreement with Soviets, now.
Yeh continued that from Soviet standpoint USSR would like to regularize and have recognized all of its concessions and privileges in Province (acquired mostly under Provincial regime of notorious Sheng Shih-tsai.5 From Chinese viewpoint Nationalist Government would like to establish “cordon sanitaire” around Ili area to prevent, if possible, further Russian encroachment [and] influence on rest of Province. Present initiative, however, did not come from Foreign Office, Yeh declared. Chang Chih-chung on behalf of Cabinet undertook to explore situation and see what, if any, balance might be achieved Sinkiang by agreement with USSR now. Yeh denied that Chang’s visit to Sinkiang would result in agreement between USSR and China, insisting that there was not yet any draft of projected agreement.
However, Philip Fugh6 had conversation with Chang Chih-chung before latter’s departure for Lanchow which is less reassuring. It is the Soviets who are exerting pressure on Chinese to conclude agreement on Sinkiang, although last year when, with Generalissimo’s7 agreement, Chang raised question Russians were not at that time interested. Three important terms of presently contemplated agreement in broad outline would, according to Chang, be as follows:
- Treaty of Commerce and Friendship including provisions for cultural exchange between Sinkiang Province and USSR.
- Rights to USSR for exploitation certain minerals Sinkiang.
- Withdrawal of Nationalist Government military personnel from Sinkiang and provision against re-entry of any military units, into Province. Embassy will attempt to follow closely and keep Department promptly informed developments Chang’s visit Northwest.
Sent Department 337; repeated office Embassy Canton 23, Moscow 14.