File No. 893.51/1457.

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

No. 389.]

Sir: In reply to the Legation’s despatch No. 929 of July 11, 1913, in which instructions are requested as to the attitude to be taken by the Legation toward financial transactions between American capitalists and the Chinese Government, I have to state that the Legation [Page 187] is right in assuming that the Department is extremely interested in promoting, in every proper way, the legitimate enterprises of American citizens in China and in developing to the fullest extent the commercial relations between the two countries.

It may be stated, in general, that this Government expects that American enterprise should have opportunity everywhere abroad to compete for contractual favors on the same footing as any foreign competitors, and this implies also equal opportunity to an American competitor to make good his ability to execute the contract by showing his responsible standing or giving appropriate security for the execution of his contract. This Government does not do this for him. This Government is not the endorser of the American competitor, and is not an accountable party to the undertaking. It, however, stands ready, if wrong be done toward an American citizen in his business relations with a foreign government, to use all proper effort toward securing just treatment for its citizens. This rule applies as well to financial contracts as to industrial engagements.

A clear statement of this general principle will be found in the instruction of Mr. Olney to Mr. Denby, of date December 19, 1896 (see Foreign Relations 1897, page 56) which, together with the Department’s instruction of October 21, 1905, to which you refer in the despatch under reply, the Department considers still generally applicable.

With reference to the question of the nature and degree of diplomatic support that may be given to any particular financial enterprise in China the Department must, in accordance with its uniform practice, exercise the right to decide each case independently as it arises, according to the circumstances and conditions that may exist at the time, always with the understanding, however, that, as made explicit in the President’s public statement of March 18th last, the support of this Government could in no case be expected to involve or imply forcible interference in the financial or political affairs of China.

Within these broad lines much must necessarily and may to advantage be left to the discretion and experience of the Legation and particularly to the initiative and enterprise of the individual Americans interested, who should at every opportunity be reminded that in seeking, developing and safeguarding business opportunities in China they must rely primarily upon their own efforts, looking to this Government only for such assistance and protection as are ordinarily given to legitimate and beneficial American enterprises in foreign countries.

I am [etc.]

W. J. Bryan.