File No. 893.5211/3.

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

No. 346.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose [etc.] * * *. The legation would be pleased to learn the views of the Department on the subject discussed in the inclosure herein.

I have, etc.,

E. T. Williams.

The American Chargé d’Affaires to the American Consul General.

No. 731 (Cons.).]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 162, of October 5, 1911, asking instructions in regard to the rights of foreigners in general and of Americans in particular to own land in Tientsin outside the bounds of the foreign concessions.

In reply I have to say that in the opinion of the legation, subject to the approval of the Department, to whom the correspondence will be referred, a foreigner can legally lease land in the immediate vicinity of Tientsin and other open ports, even though such land may be located outside the limits of the foreign settlements, provided, however, that the Chinese local authorities permit the leasing of such lands to foreigners and register the deeds.

The provisions of Article III of the treaty of 1903 between the United States and China appear to be somewhat less liberal in this regard than those of Article XII of our treaty of 1858 and those of some other treaties—particularly the British—which do not specifically restrict the leasing of land by British subjects to places set apart for the use and occupation of foreigners.

But while Article III of the American-Chinese treaty of 1903 affirms the right of American citizens to rent or purchase houses and to lease land in the suitable localities set apart for the use and occupation of foreigners, it does not deny their enjoyment of the privileges accorded to foreigners of other nationalities, but, on the contrary, expressly states that “they shall generally enjoy as to their persons and property all such rights, privileges, and immunities as are [Page 83] or may hereafter be granted to the subjects or citizens of the nation the most favored in these respects.”

The legation understands it to be the general practice at Tientsin to permit the leasing of land to foreigners outside the bound of the foreign concessions, and where this privilege is granted to foreigners of other nationalities it ought not to be withheld from Americans.

The principle set forth in the earlier treaties was that the local consular and Chinese authorities should agree as to the location of houses to be rented and the sites of lands to be leased, and this principle should rule still. If the Chinese authorities permit the leasing of land outside the bound of the concessions, the consuls ought not to interpose objections, but should register the deeds. On the other hand, it should be clearly understood that if the local Chinese authorities object generally to such leases there is no right under the treaty to insist upon them.

I am, etc.,

E. T. Williams.