893.841 Surtax/23: Telegram

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

314. Your 801, August 10, 4 p.m. Department requested by Robert Dollar on August 9 to authorize American Consulate to clear President Taft after deposit of normal tonnage dues if Chinese Customs should refuse to accept dues without surtax. To this Department is making the following reply today:

“The question of surtaxes on tonnage dues cannot be separated from the question of proposed increase of import taxes. Article 22 of the Treaty of 1858 provides that if Consul clears vessel before import and tonnage dues are paid he shall be held responsible therefor. The collection of these charges by Consul would necessitate establishment of facilities for the performance of Customs functions which it is not improbable would result in seizure of imports as well as possible attempt to prevent clearance of vessels. This would affect interests of owners of cargoes as well as shipping companies.

Department does not consider that the present situation would justify it in establishing Customs functions in Consulate and which in all probability would not be effective without the use of the armed forces of the United States which might entail serious consequences.

In view of this situation you may care to consider desirability of paying, under protest, the tonnage surtaxes demanded at least for the present.

Consul General at Shanghai has been fully informed of Department’s views regarding this subject.”

Please communicate the above to the American Consul General at Shanghai for his guidance and information.