893.512/542: Telegram

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

61. Your 116, February 7, 9 a.m.

For some time Department has realized the increasing difficulty of obtaining complete recognition of the rights of United States nationals in China conferred by the existing treaties between the United States and China.
It is not possible to use military and naval forces of the United States to enforce the rights guaranteed under the existing treaties; therefore, until the present treaties can be replaced by new and effective treaty relations Department is of the opinion that a policy of patience and watchfulness is the only path that can be followed.
With reference to taxes and imposts levied on American goods imported into China and goods purchased in China by American citizens for export, the Department is of the opinion that the Legation and the American Consulates should carefully watch the situation and report in detail on all such taxes, the methods used in their collection and the authorities by whom they are established. While the Department is disposed to agree with you that protests against the imposition of such taxes in direct violation of strict treaty provisions are likely to be futile and in general should not be made henceforth, it believes, nevertheless, that the Legation and the Consulates should be on the alert to take up with the de facto authorities any case where an American citizen or interest can show that he or it has been subjected to discriminatory treatment. In replying to the telegram of February 10, 10 a.m., from Foochow you will instruct the Consul in this sense.
The Department would like to have your comment by mail despatch on some general policy throughout China with regard to the payment of local municipal taxes by American citizens. By municipal taxes the Department has in mind police, fire protection, street maintenance and similar taxes. In this connection see Department’s written instruction No. 405 of May 22, 1923.34
Department is of the opinion that a general instruction should be issued by the Legation to the Consuls in China directing them to encourage American citizens to make use of such facilities as may be offered by the modern Chinese courts (Shen Pan Ting) in cases against Chinese. Department believes that the facilities of the modern courts should be given a fair test. You will instruct the American Consul General at Hankow in this sense when replying to his telegram of February 10, 3 p.m.35
Department desires that the Legation study the question of the provisions which should be written into a new treaty to take the place of existing treaties between the United States and China and that you report by mail your suggestions in this connection.
  1. Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 582.
  2. See telegram No. 133, Feb. 11, from the Minister in China, p. 466.