893.74/73: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Japan (Bell)21

34. Department’s 31, February 15, 7 p.m.22

Peking telegraphs February 18, 6 p.m.,

“Japanese Minister informs me by note he has demanded cancellation Federal contract on the ground of supplementary letter of March 5th, 1918, of Mitsui contract which states ‘During the term of thirty years no other party nor the Chinese Government shall be allowed to erect a similar wireless telegraph station for communicating telegraphically with Europe and America.’”

Please address to the Foreign Office a note referring to this demand of the Japanese Minister at Peking and continuing to the effect that

“the treaty obligations of the Chinese Government preclude it from creating any monopolies. In its treaty of 1858 with the United States the Chinese Government furthermore specifically agrees that should it at any time ‘grant to any nation, or the merchants or citizens of any nation, any right, privilege, or favour connected either with navigation, commerce, political or other intercourse which is not conferred by this Treaty, such right, privilege, and [Page 418] favour shall at once freely enure to the benefit of the United States, its public officers, merchants and citizens.’ In view of these provisions this Government holds that it is not competent to the Chinese Grovernment to create in favor of third parties any such rights as would exclude American citizens from the right to participate with the Chinese Government in any category of enterprise such as telegraphic communications. This Government cannot doubt that the principle upon which this view is based will be respected by the Japanese Government which in the course of various discussions with this Government in regard to the question of equality of commercial and industrial opportunity in China has always concurred in deprecating the effort of any nation to obtain any special rights or privileges in China which would abridge the rights of the subjects or citizens of other friendly states. The Government of the United States is therefore persuaded that the Japanese Government will not be disposed to insist upon the exclusive right now asserted in behalf of the Mitsui Company but will on due consideration acquiesce in the position of this Government namely that such a claim to monopoly with respect to any service of the Chinese Government is fundamentally repugnant to treaty rights and to the principle of the open door; and that the Government of the United States is not prepared to recognize any claim of contractual rights in favor of any party as valid or effective to exclude its nationals from any field of commercial or industrial activity in China.”

In addition to the reasons above stated, the American Government feels confident that the Government of Japan, recognizing as it does the grave inadequacy of the existing facilities for cable communication across the Pacific Ocean, will not desire to oppose this project for supplementing those facilities by the development of radiotelegraphy.

Repeat to Peking as Department’s 75 adding that Legation should orally advise Japanese Minister of the purport of the communication which you are thus instructed to make to Japanese Foreign Office.

  1. See last paragraph for instructions to repeat to Peking as no. 75.
  2. See footnote 17, p. 413.