File No. 1132.

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chinese Minister.

No. 79.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of note No. 77, of the 14th of September, with regard to the granting of section 6 certificates to Chinese subjects of the exempt classes coming from countries other than China to the United States. You state that—

the Imperial Government has specially designated its diplomatic and consular officers in different countries as officials empowered to issue to Chinese subjects there resident the certificates in question, and that in countries where China has no diplomatic or consular representatives, the Imperial Government has authorized the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States to issue these certificates in its behalf.

Under date of the 1st of August, the American minister at Peking forwarded a translation of a note from the Wai Wu Pu, informing him of the arrangement proposed by the Chinese Government, in effect as stated by you, and requesting that information thereof be forwarded to this department for its information and action.

While this Government has every desire to obviate all difficulties that may arise in practice to the entrance into the United States of Chinese not of the excluded classes, I regret to state that objections exist to the proposed arrangement.

The essential point in section 6 certificates is that they should be open to no question or criticism as to their origin or authenticity. For this reason it is provided that the certificates issued shall be viséed by a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States. To charge officers who are responsible for the duty of viséing certificates with the prior duty of issuing them, besides being a contradiction in functions, might lead to confusion and would provoke criticism. This Government is not willing, therefore, to have its diplomatic and consular officers abroad charged with other duties in this connection than those which are enjoined upon them by the law.

Another objection to the plan proposed by your Government is that it is too general in its grant of authority. For the more exact and facile operation of the laws, as well as to secure to Chinese of the exempt classes the right to enter the United States without friction, the authority to issue certificates should be given to a specific officer or class of officers in each country, that is, that the Chinese minister, or chargé d’affaires in one country, or the consul-general or consul in another, or such other official as may be expressly designated by the Chinese Government should be charged with this duty. A comprehensive grant of this authority to “the Chinese minister, chargé [Page 275] d’affaires, consul-genera, or consul,” wherever they may be, will inevitably lead to confusion.

It is also to be suggested that the authority to issue these certificates need not be widely given, because in the case of Chinese who are subjects of foreign governments it devolves upon such foreign governments, not on China, to issue them; and because it would be an easy matter for Chinese subjects of the exempt classes abroad who wish to come to the United States to present themselves en route to some official empowered by their government (not necessarily a Chinese official) to issue certificates.

Mr. Rockhill, at Peking, has been instructed to make a communi-cation in this sense to the Wai Wu Pu, and I have the honor to request you to advise your Government in the same sense.

In making this communication, I beg to assure you that this department is actuated solely by the wish to carry out the exclusion laws in accordance with the spirit which inspired the treaties on this subject between our respective Governments, and in such a manner as to obviate all future occasion of friction and complaint.

Accept, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.