The Belgian Ambassador (De Cartier) to the Secretary of State
Sir: I have the honor of submitting to your Excellency, the following aide mémoire in compliance with the suggestion you were kind enough to make in our conversation today.
About the end of last year, the Chinese Government notified the Representatives of the Powers of Pekin, with the exception of the Belgian Minister, of its intention to apply the surtaxes on tariff duties, provided for by the Treaty of Washington of February 6th, 1922,20 and at the same time, suggested the eventual re-opening of the Tariff Conference of Pekin.
The Chinese Government takes the position that, as the Tariff Conference was instituted in order to permit an increase of the customs duties imposed upon China by the Powers having “unequal treaties”, Belgium has no longer a right to participate in the Conference in view of the denunciation of the Chinese-Belgian Treaty of 1865 by China.21
The Belgian Government does not admit this contention.
Although the Government of Pekin may consider the Treaty of 1865 as no longer in effect since they have denounced it, the Belgian Government has always contested the validity of this denunciation, and regards the Treaty of 1865 as still in force.
Moreover, Belgium has the right to sit at the Tariff Conference of Pekin as a signatory of the Treaty of Washington of 1922 (Art. 2 Sec. 2 of the Treaty).
Even if the denunciation of the Treaty of 1865 were considered valid, China would not have the right to prevent Belgium from sitting at the proposed Conference if the Belgian Government so desires, either for the purpose of taking part in the discussions concerning the consolidation of the Chinese debts or for any other purpose.
In view of the fact that the American Government is the depository of the Treaties of Washington, I have been instructed by my Government to advise you of the circumstances as above outlined, not so much perhaps for the purpose of requesting your immediate intervention, but more with the thought that should the time come, we might count on your friendly action, so as to fully preserve Belgium’s rights in the matter.
I avail myself [etc.]