The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Shanghai ( Sammons )
For Arnold. Your February 4, 6 p.m., and February 9, 1 p.m.
Department regrets that it is unable to join in agreement for temporary surcharge. Such surcharge would in effect be a change in the schedules fixed in the present commercial treaty between the United States and China which would amount to a modification of a treaty (a supreme law of the land) by purely executive action—a procedure open to criticism by American citizens whose treaty rights might be affected. It will of course be understood that the Department sympathizes with the Chinese Government in its desire to obtain the requested temporary relief and but for the fact that so much time would be required for the negotiation and ratification of a new treaty authorizing the surcharge, which delay would divest the surcharge of its character as an immediate and temporary expedient, the Department would be glad to seek the desired relief through this medium. The Department hopes that the American delegates will exert their influence upon the conference with a view to expediting its work as much as possible, thus reducing to that extent the need for temporary relief.