The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Weeks)
Sir: This Department has received a letter, dated September 6, 1921, addressed to the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs by the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department,70 stating that be was in receipt of a telegram from the Acting Governor General of the Philippine Islands to the effect that the Oriental Trading Company requested authority to ship to China 3,000 rifles and 1,500,000 rounds of ammunition.
There has been an understanding since May, 1919, among the powers who were allied and associated in the war, whereby they undertook to restrict shipments by their nationals to China of arms [Page 561] and munitions of war as long as it was obvious that the importation of such military equipment into China tended only to prolong the present unfortunate state of civil strife in that country. This Government was enabled to fulfill its part of that obligation by reason of those provisions of the Espionage Act which gave the Executive control over exports, through the intermediary of the War Trade Board.
Certain provisions of the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, were repealed by a Joint Resolution of Congress, which was approved March 3, 1921. Among those provisions thus repealed were those which provided for control over exports, and the Executive has therefore been deprived of any legal basis upon which to exercise further control over shipments of arms to China. There would appear to be no reason for believing that conditions in China at the present time warrant any change in the policy of this Government in this matter, and the Department of State is therefore seeking to obtain legislation to enable it to continue to cooperate with the powers who are parties to the joint declaration of May 5, 1919. It is expected that the matter will be brought up when Congress convenes the latter part of the present month. In the meantime, the Department of State, as a matter of policy, is refusing to lend any encouragement or support to American manufacturers of munitions who desire to sell or ship arms and munitions of war to China.
I therefore have the honor to request that you will intimate to the Acting Governor General of the Philippine Islands the desire of this Department that he will do nothing to encourage shipments to China of munitions of war such as that contemplated by the telegram received by the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs.
I have [etc.]
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