The Secretary of State to the American Chargé d’Affaires.

No. 184.

Sir: The department is in receipt of the legation’s despatch No. 271, of June 30, 1911, in regard to the Chinese nationality law of March 28, 1909, and the Executive rules appended thereto. In this despatch attention is called to the fact that the provisions of this law may affect Chinese who had been naturalized as citizens of Hawaii prior to its annexation to the United States in 1898, and were collectively naturalized as citizens of the United States under the law of April 30, 1900; also Chinese claiming citizenship of the United States through birth within the territory and jurisdiction thereof, and those who allege that they were residing in the Philippine Islands as subjects of Spain on April 11, 1899, and were still residing there on July 1, 1902, so that they are to be considered citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the [Page 70] United States, under the provision of the act of Congress of the date last mentioned.

In regard to the class of persons first mentioned, and with especial reference to sections 1 and 2 of the Executive rules referred to above, the Department approves the suggestion of the legation that consular officers should be instructed by the legation to advise such persons as opportunity arises that they should apply for registration as American citizens. If their registration is approved, the consul should then communicate this fact to the local Chinese officials. In determining the status of these persons, the consuls should require those who have been residing continuously in China for two years or more to produce evidence to overcome the presumption of expatriation arising under the second paragraph of section 2 of the act of March 2, 1907, and in this connection the circular instruction of May 13, 1908, should be consulted. With reference to the provision of Executive rule 3, it may be said that this Government does not concede that failure to comply with its requirements is conclusive evidence of abandonment of American citizenship.

Rule 4 provides as follows:

Any Chinese who have renounced their nationality without permission and have been naturalized in foreign countries before this law came into effect, who live in the interior or who have bought or otherwise obtained real estate in the interior and who are enjoying the rights of Chinese subjects, will be considered Chinese subjects.

The legation’s suggestion that the Chinese Government be asked to so amend or interpret this rule as to prevent any possible hardship to Chinese naturalized as American citizens, who may have inherited or may inherit landed property in the interior of China, is approved. The Department desires, therefore, that you avail yourself of a suitable opportunity to bring this matter to the attention of the foreign office and inquire, with reference to this rule, whether an arrangement can not be made whereunder these Chinese-Americans may be allowed a reasonable time to dispose of property inherited by them.

Rule 7 provides as follows:

All Chinese who were born and have lived in foreign countries before this law came into effect may, if they so desire, be regarded as Chinese subjects.

In order to prevent Chinese persons born in the United States from claiming American or Chinese nationality according to convenience, the consuls should give them an opportunity to register as American citizens, and when they have done so should inform the local Chinese authorities as well as the Department.

As to Chinese born in the Philippines and claiming the right to American citizenship, under the provision of the act of July 1, 1902, each case must be decided according to its peculiar facts. In this connection I inclose for your information a copy of a letter of September 11, 1911, to the Secretary of War, in regard to the citizenship of José Velasco.

Owing to the disturbed conditions prevailing at present in various parts of China, the Department leaves to your discretion the determination of an opportune moment for the issuance of these instructions to the American consular officers in China; you may also decide the time and manner of presenting to the Wai Wu Pu the matter of [Page 71] landed property in the interior inherited by naturalized Americans of Chinese extraction.

I am, etc.,

P. C. Knox.

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of War.

Sir: The Department has received your letters of July 20, August 8, and August 19, 1911, in regard to the citizenship of José Velasco, a resident of the Philippine Islands. Accompanying your letter, first mentioned, are copies of the opinions of the attorney general of the Philippine Islands and the law officer of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, both of which concur in recommending that José Velasco be granted a passport as a citizen of the Philippine Islands owing allegiance to the United States.

It appears that Velasco’s father, a native of China, had been domiciled in the Philippines for more than 50 years, and José Velasco has resided there continuously since his birth at Manila, 24 years ago. Both father and son are baptized Christians (Roman Catholics), and neither is inscribed upon the Chinese registry at Manila as a Chinese citizen or upon the Spanish registry for the purpose of originally establishing Spanish citizenship, or under the provisions of the treaty of Paris. The father acquired a large fortune in the Philippines, consisting of both real and personal property, and the son is engaged in business at Manila in connection with his father.

The law of Spain (art. 2, royal decree of Nov. 17, 1852) provides that “foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers or acquired residence in accordance to law are considered as Spaniards.” By the Spanish law of September 18, 1870, published in the Official Gazette of Manila, it is declared that “foreigners acquiring naturalization papers or residence according to law in any town of the Spanish Provinces beyond the seas are considered as Spaniards.

Law 3, Title 11, Book 6, of the “Novisima Recopilación” provides that—

The following must be considered as residents: Any foreigner that has been naturalized; everyone born within these Kingdoms; every convert to the Catholic faith in said Kingdoms; he who is self-supporting and establishes a domicile therein; he who asks for and obtains a residence in any town; he who marries a native woman of this Kingdom and resides with her herein, and if the woman is a foreigner who marries a native man by such fact she acquires the domicile of her husband; he who settles in the country after buying immovable property and possessions; he who being a workman comes to live in and follow his vocation herein and in the same manner, he who lives herein and performs manual labor or has a retail shop; he who has the office of a public counsel, honorary, or any other office of any kind which the natives only can hold; he who enjoys the benefits of the pastures and other commodities which are proper to the natives; he who is a householder for 10 years in these Kingdoms; and the same of all other cases in which-, in accordance with the common law, the royal orders, and other laws the foreigner acquires naturalization and residence, and where, in accordance with them he is liable to the same taxes as natives for the legal and fundamental reasons of enjoying the same advantages as they do, etc:

The Department has not at hand the means to determine whether this law is applicable to the Philippines. But the attorney general of the Philippines states that it is; and assuming that his statement is correct, there would appear to be no question that the elder Velasco acquired residence in the Philippine Islands, became a Spanish subject, and was such on April 11, 1899.

The Spanish Civil Code (art. 18), which was promulgated in 1889, declares that “children, while they remain under the parental power, have the nationality of their parents.” The Spanish law of November 17, 1852, and the law of 1870, referred to above, which governed the subject before the promulgation of the civil code, both recognized the principle that children follow the nationality of the father. It follows that the nationality of José Velasco, who was a minor on April 11, 1899, was the same as that of his father. It may be observed also that article 17 of the Spanish Civil Code declares that persons born in Spanish territory are Spaniards.

José Velasco has made application to the Governor General of the Philippine Islands for a passport and has subscribed the oath of allegiance to the United States as required by the rules. This Department concurs in the opinion of the attorney general of the Philippine Islands and the law officer of the Bureau of Insular Affairs that Velasco is a citizen of the Philippine Islands, and as such [Page 72] entitled to the protection of the United States by virtue of the provisions of section 4 of the act of Congress of July 1, 1902, which provides:

That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the United States, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight.

I have, etc.,

Huntington Wilson.