The Minister in China (Reinsch) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 19, 2.23 a.m.]
My despatch number 1772.74 The Chinese Government has renewed its request for the immediate institution of a surtax on customs [Page 648] duties because of the delay probably incidental to the work of the customs conference. I beg to request instructions to the American Legation.
The Chinese Government now proposes that the year 1918 be taken as a compensation basis for any such valuations. It argues that an extra 5 per cent has been promised which would by no means be obtained by taking the years 1911–13. Arnold and myself believe Chinese entitled to higher valuation than the period suggested. I venture to suggest that five years 1913–17 would be a basis fair to all.
Await further instructions from the Department Arnold believes majority rule will not be adopted by Conference on account of Japanese opposition. He fears obstructions to effective work and delay. As suggested action of the Conference is purely administrative in execution of treaty obligation, fortified by special promise recently given to China, it would be unjust to delay action. Determination by majority vote subject to final ratification would be most likely to yield concrete result and also eliminate danger of possible obstruction by pro-German interests.