893.113 Airplanes/8: Telegram

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

484. Legation’s 96, February 15, 5 p.m., and Canton’s despatch to the Legation 687, May 7,67 copy of which was sent to the Department.

Following from Canton:

“June 6, 2 p.m. Canton administration seems to be in earnest respecting establishment of commercial aircraft routes, and as previously reported, 17 French planes have already been delivered. More machines are to be imported and an importer would be preferred if obtainable under the arms embargo. I understand British Government does not consider nonmilitary aeroplanes within the embargo provisions regardless of the fact that such planes may ultimately be put to military use.

In view of the possibility of substantial business in planes I would appreciate the Legation’s views as to our attitude in respect to the embargo.”

I venture under present circumstances to request the Department’s reconsideration of the question of including commercial airships under our interpretation of the arms embargo agreement. I understand aviation has been advanced to such a point that the distinction between military and commercial aircraft is very marked and as commercial planes now have no combat value it means that they should no more be banned as arms or munitions of war than commercial ships or motor trucks. Airplanes furthermore have become a commercial commodity in which a fair field of competition should be open in China since despite present obstacles to commercial flying initial steps in the development of commercial air could [craft?] already have been taken in this country.
This is in line with British policy as indicated in first paragraph of Legation’s 370, September 3, 1926, 12 noon.68