File No. 893.512/52.
Chargé MacMurray to the Secretary of State.
Peking, July 9, 1915.
Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith for the information of the Department a copy of a circular instruction which the Legation issued on June 8 last to the various Consular officers in China, communicating in reply to numerous inquiries the position taken in regard to the Chinese Stamp Tax Law in conformity with the Department’s instruction No. 90 of May 4, 1914.65
There is also enclosed a copy of a despatch (No. 514) from the Consulate General at Shanghai under date of the 26th ultimo, making certain inquiries as to the effect of the view thus taken; also a copy of the Legation’s reply of today’s date, stating that the Legation construes the attitude of our Government in this matter as having only the negative effect of relieving its nationals from any obligation and from any correlated disability imposed by the Stamp Tax Law; it cannot be construed as in any way affecting [Page 223]the obligations and disabilities imposed by that law upon Chinese citizens—unless it were that our Government, refusing to recognize the payment of stamp tax as a condition to the legal validity of a contract entered into between a Chinese and an American citizen, might perhaps maintain the position that such a plea could not be effective as a defense to an action in a Chinese court by an American citizen or corporation seeking a remedy under such a contract. I respectfully request to be instructed whether this interpretation correctly sets forth the views of the Department.* * *[Page 224]