500.A 4 e/443: Telegram

The American Delegation to the Secretary of State

Conference 6. 1. At a meeting of the committee on tariff autonomy this morning China reiterated request that powers concede principle of tariff autonomy effective coincident with the abolition of likin January 1st, 1929. Most of the powers expressed willingness to concede principle but British, ourselves, and some others reserved decision until further examination of China’s plan for abolition of likin and internal taxes. Italian delegation elaborated plan proposed by Hioki as reported in summary 1.77 Meeting adjourned until next Tuesday.


2. We submit for your approval the following as a tentative basis for us:

Put the 2½ percent surtaxes provided for in the Washington Treaty into effect at the earliest possible date.
Concede to China the right to tariff autonomy effective on January 1, 1929, or, if possible, at a later date, likin to be abolished at the same time.
Secure an agreement that full surtaxes will be collected at land frontiers the same as will be collected at the seaports.
Agree that the first revision of tariff rates provided for in the Washington Conference treaty shall be made in 1926 and that the revised schedule shall become effective on January 1, 1929.
Agree that, conditional upon the abolition of likin by July 1927, in all seaboard provinces, the 2½ percent surtax on exports and the 7½ percent surtax on imports, authorized in the treaties of 1902 and 1903, shall become effective January 1, 1928, making a uniform maximum rate on all frontiers of 7½ percent on exports and 12½ percent on imports.
Agree that if by July 1, 1928, abolition of likin shall have been completed, the Chinese general customs tariff shall come into effect on January 1, 1929, and that a second special conference on the Chinese customs tariff shall be held May 1, 1928, at Peking to ascertain the facts in that regard.
Secure a declaration by China of its purpose to maintain in its present form the Chinese Customs Administration.
Secure agreement that Custom Administration shall refund unauthorized likin payments should likin not be abolished and provinces try to impose likin in addition to the customs dues.

3. Revenue derived from surtax to be used (1) to pay the rebates mentioned under section (h); (2) to give the provinces compensation for the abolition of likin; (3) to refund unsecured debt; (4) for the Central Government’s administrative expenses.

4. As you fully realize, the Chinese Government is so lacking in stability that there is great danger that this or a succeeding government may renounce the treaties unless we concede some of the demands.

5. We request telegraphic instructions as soon as possible.

Am[erican] Tar[iff] Del[egation]
  1. See telegram of October 26, from the Minister in China, p. 861.