The Minister in China (Reinsch) to the Secretary of State69
[Received January 16, 1918.]
Sir: I have the honor to point out that there seems to have been a misunderstanding in the reading of my telegram of November 19, 7 p.m.,70 relating to the special customs duty arrangement on the Manchurian frontier. Your telegram of December 16th [15th], 6 p.m.,71 states that it is inexact that the French Government has [Page 647] taken the initiative in asking the exemption, etc. My telegram of November 19, 7 p.m. stated merely that the British Minister believed that his government was urging the French Government to relinquish the precedent which is the basis of the Russian claim. This precedent is the arrangement which was made by the Convention of June 26, 1887, between France and China, which diminishes by 3/10 the tariff on goods transported through the treaty ports of the Franco-Chinese border, together with the understanding, in 1902, that the customs duties paid on the Franco-Chinese frontier should not be affected by the revision then made. It is this latter precedent which it is believed the Russian Legation was relying on in its present demand that the new revision should not affect the duties as actually levied at present on the Russo-Manchurian frontier. I also understand that while the British Government had made similar arrangements with respect to the Burma-Chinese frontier, it is ready to forego the privilege of having the duties there remain unchanged and unaffected by the impending revision.
I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 1715, of November 10, 1917.72
I have [etc.]