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

No. 788

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 307 of August 20, 1926,” requesting me to endeavor to obtain information as to whether citizens of the United States may bring suit in China against the Government of China. In reply I have the honor to state that at the sixth meeting of the Commission on Extraterritoriality held on February 19, 1926 (see page 11 of the minutes)99 the American Delegate inquired in what manner claims might be filed against the Chinese Government. To this inquiry Dr. Wang Chung-hui, the Chinese Delegate, replied as follows:

“In China the Treasury is a public juristic person. It represents the state. Now from the standpoint of private law, it is capable of having rights and is fully subject to liability and may, therefore, be sued even without its consent. A claim against the Treasury may be enforced by legal proceedings in the same manner and by the same procedure as against private individuals.”

Article XVI of the Regulations relating to Civil Procedure provides as follows:

“General forum of the Treasury shall be determined by the place in which the public office representing the Treasury in action is situate; that of any public juristic person other than the Treasury, by the place in which the office of such public juristic person is situate.”

[Page 1100]

In view of the present informal relations existing between the United States and the Peking Régime, I did not consider it advisable to make an official inquiry regarding the matter. However, a member of the Legation inquired informally of one of the Judges of the Chinese Supreme Court, and his reply, a copy of which is transmitted herewith,1 is to the effect that an American citizen may bring suit in China against the Government of China either in the Higher Court of Justice or the District Court of Justice.

From the foregoing it would appear that in theory an American is entitled to bring suit in the Chinese courts against the Government of China or against one of its departments. However, in actual practice it would probably be very difficult for an American to obtain a judgment, or to secure execution thereof, if judgment were rendered in his favor. …

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I have [etc.]

Ferdinand Mayer
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.