693.003/436: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp ) to the Secretary of State 66

2838. Your 2839 November 22, 4 p.m. Ministry for Foreign Affairs has replied that it is inexact that French Government had taken the initiative in requesting exemption from the revision of customs duties Mediterranean sea borne commerce. Foreign Office note states that having been informed by the French Charge d’Affaires at Peking of the reservation which has been made by the Russian Legation concerning the proposed Chinese custom tariff as applicable to the Sino-Russian frontier, French Ambassador at Petrograd was instructed to inform the Russian Government of the inconvenience of such an attitude. On the 4th of November, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs answered that the duty to be applied to the Sino-Russian frontier had been fixed by special agreements between the two countries and that the question was one concerning Russia and China exclusively, and should not be confounded with that of maritime customs common to all the powers and which are the only ones affected by the proposed tariff increase. The French Foreign [Office] note further states that it is desirable for the Russian Government to modify its attitude, otherwise the French Government would for its part be obliged to formulate reserves as to the tariff applicable to the frontier of Tonkin but that the present political situation in Russia unfortunately renders inopportune any action at Petrograd to this end.

  1. Substance communicated by the Department to the Minister in China, Dec. 15, 1917, 6 p.m.