761.93/159: Telegram

The Minister in China (Crane) to the Secretary of State

374. Legation’s 341, 320, 312,25 your 286.26 Chinese reply dated October 2227 circulated November 5 restates reasons earlier given for withdrawal of recognition [of] Russians and restates assurances [that] Russians in China continue to enjoy treaty rights. Russian concessions to be for the time being managed by Chinese but without change except for needed reforms; judicial authority [of] Russian consuls in dealing with cases of Russian defendants, other nationals plaintiffs, will be guided by Russian law, thus not conflicting with limits of Chinese law. Possibly experts [in] Russian law may be employed as advisers to law courts. Therefore no need to negotiate with corps modus vivendi. Meeting of corps to-day28 agreed, with only this Legation dissenting, [on] following reply, summarized:29

Chinese measures are in contradiction with assurances of Chinese note, notably that Russians are to be tried in Russian courts according to Russian law; now mandate October 31 regarding new judicial organization in Chinese Eastern zone tends to abrogate extraterritoriality of Russians in zone by abolishing Russian tribunals and placing Russians under the jurisdiction of Chinese courts, in this connection foreign counsellors are provided for who would have only secondary role. Application of Russian law to Russians not even mentioned by Chinese. Note criticizes administration of Russian concession in Tientsin, notably police arrangement and goes on to state that Chinese arrangements for Russians in China continue to leave undecided question of civil and notarial acts, contracts, passports, etc., which are of utmost importance for civil officials having duty to pass on such documents. Therefore corps proposes certain modifications:

As regards concessions. Acknowledge that Russian concessions must have own police under orders of municipal councils; permit municipalities of Russian concessions continue to function on the basis of existing regulations.
As regards legal system. Maintain as much as possible old Russian courts in their organization and personnel; these courts in the [Page 777] future to dispense justice in the name of China but apply law Russian according to spirit of Chinese decree of August 5, 1918. These courts to assume jurisdiction in cases between Russians themselves, and, should occasion arise, between Russians and foreigners. Cases between Russians and Chinese to be adjudicated either by mixed courts composed of Chinese and Russian judges or by court of defendant if defendant is Chinese. It is to be well understood that this régime, formulated in response to practical difficulties, will be purely temporary and leave in full existence the principle of maintenance of treaty rights of extraterritorial jurisdiction.
As regards notarial and administrative functions. To establish in Chinese districts having large Russian population, in offices of Chinese foreign commissioners, Russian counsellors to fulfill administrative and notarial duties for Russians. Useful to institute at Foreign Office Bureau for Russian Affairs composed of Russian counsellors and presided over by high Chinese official to coordinate and supervise action of these organizations.

Details of the above to be worked out in conference called by Foreign Office. Representatives of30 Russian institutions in China, notably [in] Chinese Eastern zone, to take part therein.

Diplomatic corps considers above system alone capable of smoothing difficulties resulting from withdrawal of recognition. The Russian judges and counsellors to be appointed by agreement between Chinese Government and corps. Reservation made of freedom to discuss with Chinese Government all cases where nationals’ interests affected by operations of mandate withdrawing recognition.

Corps anxious to send this note immediately to forestall further Chinese action. Urges your earliest decision. Description of railway zone courts follows.

  1. Ante, pp. 773, 772, and 772, respectively.
  2. Ante, p. 773.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Meeting held Nov. 12th.
  5. Verbal corrections made in summary to accord with full text of draft enclosed in the Minister’s despatch no. 479, Nov. 19, received Jan. 5, 1921 (file no. 761.93/184).
  6. In telegram no. 387, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., the Minister in China reported the insertion, at this point, of the word “non-political” in the final draft (file no. 761.93/163).