Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Young.
Washington, August 8, 1884.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 462, of June 18 last, has been received and read with attention. It presents the transit-pass question and asks whether American citizens can legitimately act for Chinese principals in the use of such passes.
The circumstances reported in your dispatch represent a condition of affairs not altogether agreeable to contemplate, and, in accordance with your desire, I may observe that United States citizens who lend or sell their names to native firms in China, to enable such firms to violate the laws of that Empire by the use of transit passes, are not entitled to the protection of this Government in any case arising for the violation of the treaty by the Chinese local authorities, for refusing to recognize such passes, when the goods which they are reported to cover do not actually belong to our citizens. American citizens who are legitimately engaged in trade, and entitled to such passes for themselves and their wares, should receive every measure of protection due to their just complaint. But transit passes should only be used, in the opinion of the Department, by our citizens in China, to cover and protect merchandise actually owned by them. Any other course seems to be not only opposed to the spirit of the treaty granting such passes, but detrimental to the interests of our citizens engaged in legitimate trade.
The habit, therefore, of obtaining transit passes by American citizens [Page 101] for Chinese principals, to secure for them advantages to which they are not entitled by the laws of their own country, is such an abuse of the privilege as not only to justify the Chinese authorities in refusing to recognize such passes when irregularly issued or obtained, but also in declining to grant additional ones to those found guilty of such practices.
You will, therefore, following the intent of this instruction, properly apprise Mr. Shepard, our consul at Hankow, of the views of the Department.
I am, &c.,