393.1121 Chu Shea-wai

The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (MacMurray)

No. 202

Sir: The Department has received your despatches No. 325 of December 7, 1925 and No. 388 of January 7, 1926, and their enclosures,3 in regard to the arrest and detention of Chu Shea-wai, an American citizen of Chinese race, by the military authorities at Canton.

The Department notes from the passport record of Chu Shea-wai that he was born at New York City on February 13, 1903, that he last left the United States on August 18, 1921, since which time he has apparently been residing at Hongkong and Canton; that on October 6, 1923, he applied at Canton for a Departmental passport, which was issued to him on November 22, 1923; and that at the time of his arrest this passport had not yet expired. It is further noted that the Consul General at Canton stated in his despatch No. 321 of November 5, 1925,4 to the Legation that Chu Shea-wai had many Chinese relatives, that he was living as a Chinese and that he possibly may have had some connection with politics although there appeared to be no proof of this. In view of these facts the Department considers that it is doubtful whether Chu Shea-wai is entitled any longer to receive the protection of this Government.

It is a generally recognized rule, which may be regarded as a rule of international law, that when a person who was born with dual nationality is residing in either of the countries of which he is a national, that country has a right to assert its claim to him without any interference by the other, unless perhaps such person, having reached the age of majority, has clearly elected the nationality of the other country and is only temporarily residing in the country asserting the claim. Even in the latter case it cannot be asserted with any degree of confidence that the country in which the person is found has no right to assert its claim to his nationality and allegiance, since it may not recognize the principle of election. It is not believed that extraterritoriality affects this rule. In the present case it seems clear that Chu Shea-wai, although he is a citizen of the United States, under the law of this country, because of the fact that he was born in this country, is also a citizen of China, under the law of that country, because his father was of Chinese nationality, and it does not appear that the existence of extraterritorial jurisdiction in China interferes in any way with the right of China to claim this individual as a Chinese citizen.

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You will accordingly instruct the Consul General at Canton to take no further action in the case and to be guided by this instruction when similar cases arise in the future in his district.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Robert E. Olds
  1. None printed.
  2. Not printed.