File No. 893.012/6.

The American Consul at Foochow to the Secretary of State.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith for your information, copy of translation of a despatch recently received from bureau of foreign affairs at this port, concerning the Chinese regulations regarding naturalization of Chinese by other Governments, and also a copy of my reply to the commissioner of foreign affairs.

I have this day sent a copy of the same to the United States Legation at Peking, but regard it important that you should have the same without delay.

I have, etc.,

Samuel S. Gracey.
[Inclosure 1.]

The Comissioner for Foreign Affairs to the American Consul.

No. 12690.]

Sir: I have the honor to state that the certain relations which nationals bear to their country, and the obligations they owe their Government, have warranted the making of a code of nationality. Owing to the increased facilities in communication and traveling in the modern world, people may change their domicile and allegiance at will. Nobody is, however, allowed to change his allegiance in an eccentric manner, as he pleases, without observing the law of expatriation of his old nation, and that of naturalization of the country of which he intends to become a citizen. The Chinese code of nationality was promulgated on the 7th day of the intercalary 2d moon, Heuan Tung 1st year [Page 65] (March 28, 1909). It is stipulated in the eleventh article that any Chinese subject desiring to become a foreign national shall make application for approval of his expatriation, and in the eighteenth article that the applicant for expatriation shall tender his application to the local authorities of his native district that the latter may request their chief officer to forward the application to the ministry of the interior for its approval, which will be posted on the bulletin board, and that no matter what conditions the applicant may be in he will be regarded as still owing allegiance to the Chinese Government until he obtains sanction to his application. It is also provided in the first article of the executive regulations that any Chinese who renounced allegiance to China, and became a foreign national, before enactment of this code, without official approval, and who has hitherto been residing in a foreign nation, on coming back to China shall report the fact to the consul concerned at the first Chinese port he enters, that the latter may send a communication to the Chinese local authorities, giving necessary particulars as well as the day, month, and year of his naturalization, which will be regarded as an evidence of his expatriation. In the second article of the above quoted regulations, it is provided that any Chinese who became a foreign national, without obtaining an authentic approval of his expatriation, and who has been residing in the foreign settlement of a Chinese treaty port, shall within one year report the fact to the Chinese authorities, that the latter may communicate with the consul concerned, to find out the date of his naturalization so as to establish an evidence of his expatriation. In the third article it is provided that any Chinese omitting to produce the evidence of his expatriation as is described in the two foregoing articles, shall be regarded as still owing allegiance to the Chinese Government, as other Chinese subjects do. Strict is the law for governing the people in the Empire, in order that in time of emergency bad characters may not falsely claim to be foreign nationals. China is not the only country that has adopted this strict law.

Attention may be invited to the following quotations from the “Digest of the International Laws of Europe and America”:

Any person desiring to change allegiance must expatriate himself from his old country, and without a certificate of the Government of his old country to say that he is free from all lawful obligations the Government of the country of which he desires to become a national can not naturalize him.

In case of double allegiance of any person, or noncompletion of the procedure in his expatriation, the country of his origin may claim from him obligations as hitherto and the other country can not at once succeed the former in claiming him as a citizen.

Applicant for naturalization should have done nothing against or injurious to the Government of the country of his origin.

In every country there may be many items of law concerning naturalization and expatriation, but the certification of good character is generally considered as the most important feature.

Taking all the preceding points into consideration, it may be concluded that the Chinese code of nationality does not allow her people to falsely claim themselves to be citizens or subjects of foreign nations, and that, according to the stipulations of the international laws, or the laws of the various nations, no naturalization can be so easily effected as this. Among the natives of Foochow and Amoy in Fukien, two of the earliest ports opened to foreign commerce, there are many who have taken new domicile in foreign countries, and the nationality thereof as warranted by the development of commerce. But some bad characters living in the interior (or within the limits of Chinese dominion) and wishing to implicate themselves in lawsuits, oppose taxation, or enjoy immunity of likin and other taxes, or trying to do something to suit their own convenience and for their own benefit against the law, apply at such juncture for admittance to a foreign citizenship, and as soon as they obtain their certificate of naturalization by deceit they rely upon it as their shield and behave in a reckless manner, outraging all propriety. It is a fact that they seek foreign protection by becoming foreign nationals for purposes injurious to their old country (China). This is not only inconsistent with the common law and justice but is also apparently against the Chinese law in force. It is believed that none of the civilized countries will accommodate such bad characters in such a way as to bring disgrace to their nationals. The Chinese code of nationality has been promulgated, and if any diplomatic question connected with nationality should arise in future it can of course be taken as authority to settle the question. The one year’s time allowed in the code has expired long ago and none of the Chinese who expatriated themselves and took foreign nationality before the issuance of this code and without official approval has yet presented [Page 66] any evidence, as is stipulated in the first and second articles of the above-quoted Executive regulations. Fearing that the said Chinese might not have a thorough knowledge of the said stipulations, I deem it incumbent upon me to address to your honor this dispatch, and your honor will please instruct the said naturalized citizens all to note the contents. Those naturalized citizens at present residing within the limits of the treaty ports of Foochow and Amoy should be instructed to report at once to the Chinese authorities in the manner described in the regulations, that the latter may take action according to the stipulations. The said naturalized citizens shall make no longer delay.

I also request that your honor kindly first send me a list of the said naturalized citizens, giving their total number, and the day, month, and year of naturalization of each individual.

As regards the expatriation of Chinese, the commissioner of police and myself will issue a joint proclamation instructing the concerned to act according to regulations. If any bad character disobeys the law, implicates himself in lawsuits as described above, or refuses to pay taxes and duties, and falsely claims to be a foreign national in an emergency, he will be severely dealt with according to the Chinese law as soon as his crime is detected. I make this point plain to your honor, and trust that your honor will kindly let me have a reply, to which I will attach much importance.

[Inclosure 2.]

The American Consul to the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs.

No. 2330.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch dated March 27, 1911, re the Chinese code of nationality, and in reply would say that the law of the American Government prohibits the naturalization of Chinese in the territory of the United States; and that I am forwarding a copy of your dispatch to the American Legation at Peking. I will communicate with your honor again on the subject, when I receive a reply from the legation.

I have, etc.,

Samuel L. Gracey.