File No. 393.00/3.

Aide-mémoire from the Russian Embassy.

Some time in March, 1909,1 the Chinese Government informed the foreign representatives in Peking that henceforth they would take upon themselves the protection and defense of the interests of such foreigners, subjects, and citizens of powers not having treaties with China who might be sojourning or traveling in China, claiming at the same time to exercise over such foreigners the same rights of jurisdiction as over their own subjects.

This notification seems at the time not to have been considered by the powers as worthy of much attention. The Russian representatives alone replied to the Chinese foreign department that this intention of the Chinese Government would constitute an important departure from established usage, and could therefore not be put in operation without previous agreement with the treaty powers. The French representatives likewise had occasion to protest against the refusal of the Chinese authorities to visé a passport issued to a subject of Greece (Greek subjects being under the protection of the French diplomatic and consular representatives in China) by the French consul at Hankow.

Recently a similar understanding has arisen between the Russian and Chinese authorities at Kharbin in regard to a subject of Montenegro.

The Imperial Government considers this question to be one of those where sohdarity between the treaty powers offers the only prospect of successful settlement. Quite independently of any political aims, and it is their desire to act in this matter in concert with the other powers. They would like, therefore, to ascertain whether the Government of the United States hold that it would be to the common interest to guarantee the rights of subjects of civilized powers not having treaties with China, and, if so, whether this Government would, share the opinion of the Imperial Government in regard to the advisability of a collective action to be taken in this matter by the foreign representatives at Peking, such action to be taken by them after the establishment of a program, concerted among themselves, which would have to be previously submitted for approval to their respective Governments.

  1. Russian Calendar. See Foreign Relations, 1909, p. 69.