893.512/422: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China ( Mayer )


240. Your number 497, October 20, 7 p.m. Department believes that whatever the attitude of the Cantonese authorities the record on the matter of irregularly established taxes should be kept clear by filing with the proper authorities a protest against the imposition of taxes on American goods in contravention of arrangements provided by treaties between the United States and China. Filing such a protest does not necessarily carry an implication that it is the intention of the Government of the United States to seek by means of force to obtain its treaty rights. Failure to file a protest may be interpreted as being an acquiescence in a situation patently contrary to treaty rights. The feeling of the Department is that it is necessary that the record of this Government should be clear on this question when the time arrives to negotiate with the Government of China for revision of its treaty provisions relating to tariffs. A protest of this kind cannot be considered to be undignified, and the Department fails to understand how the position of the Customs Administration would be undermined by it. The Customs Administration should not necessarily become involved in any case in the question of collecting these taxes. As to the form of protest, the Department is willing to accept the form suggested in your 462 of October 8th, 8 p.m., and your 477 of October 14th, noon. The Department prefers that draft formula rather than the one given in your 497, paragraph 2.

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For the policy of the Department as to suggested regional arrangements you are directed to the Department’s 226 of October 13, 2 p.m.70

In case the diplomatic body cannot agree as to the method of protest, you are instructed to make the protest alone on behalf of this Government. From your 479, October 14, 3 p.m., it is the understanding of the Department that you have already filed a protest against taxes in Shantung with the Chinese Foreign Office. No need for additional action in this connection is perceived.

  1. Not printed; it transmitted the Department’s memorandum of Oct. 5 to the British Embassy, p. 855.