File No. 4002/110.
Memorandum to the Russian Embassy.
Washington, July 2, 1908.
The Government of the United States has taken due note of the memorandum, dated June 9, 1908, from the Imperial Russian Embassy, protesting further against the action of the American consul at Harbin, China, in the matter of the establishment of a municipality by the Chinese Eastern Railway Co. at that place, and setting forth in detail the scope of the jurisdiction which this company proposes to exercise over foreign and Chinese residents within the railway lands. The memorandum also states that the Imperial Cabinet would be glad to know to what extent the stand taken by the American consul corresponds with the views of this Government on the subject.
The Government of the United States would greatly regret to find that its consul has taken any course which was not in conformity with the conciliatory tone which has characterized the exchange of views between the Governments of Russia and the United States on the questions which have arisen at Harbin; moreover, if it should be found the consul had so acted, his attitude would be altogether inconsistent with the sentiments which actuate the Government of the United States.
A careful and thorough inquiry will be prosecuted, and although the hope is entertained that the complaint of the Russian Government is the result of some misunderstanding, the Government of the United States, upon the full ascertainment of the facts, will not fail to take such a course as is consistent with its strong desire to render assistance toward aiding in the maintenance of order in Harbin, which [Page 207] was expressed in a former note on the subject transmitted to his excellency, the Imperial Russian ambassador, on April 9, 1908.
The department, however, begs to call attention to the fact that, to a very considerable degree the attitude taken by the consul would appear to be in accordance with the views expressed by the Government of the United States in the aforesaid note. From the character of the complaints of the consul’s action, the railway officials at Harbin would still appear to be basing their claims to the exercise of governmental rights upon the railroad concession, which would be inconsistent with the principle contained in the note of April 9, last.
This principle, which this Government conceives to be the true one, is, in substance, that the only basis for the exercise of governmental rights on the part of the officials of any country other than China within the Chinese Empire should lie in the extraterritorial rights granted by the treaties of China with the several powers.