793.003/4a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in China ( Reinsch )

With the prospect that there may come before the Peace Conference the question of the abolition of extraterritoriality in China the Department feels that some preparation should be made for the adoption of a judicial system to become effective as and when extraterritoriality is modified. The Department believes that the continental codes which are being drawn up now are not as suitable to China’s democratic form of government or to our own extensive commercial interests as a judicial system, code of procedure and the most important substantive law based upon the English common law. The American Mission in Paris has been informed by one of the Chinese delegates that the plan of making continental law the basis of the new codes has been abandoned and that the plan of Wang Chung Hui now in charge of the revision is to make Chinese custom law the foundation adjusting it to modern conditions by a comparative study of other codes. What do you think of the advisability of the appointment of some suitable person to be attached to the Legation with instructions to proceed quietly in an effort to induce the Chinese Government to adopt as far as practicable the principles of the English common law in framing their new codes.