693.003/758: Telegram

The American Delegation at the Chinese Tariff Conference to the Secretary of State

Conference 57. The Legation has received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a communication with reference to the revision of schedule of import duties provided for in the 1922 customs treaty.50 Reference is made to a “proposal concerning the revision of the customs tariff schedule” put forth by the Chinese delegation at the fifth meeting of committee B of the Customs Conference December 10, 1925 (see Conference minutes)51 and the suggestion is made that the various interested powers notify their commercial attaches or consuls at Shanghai to exchange views with the Chinese representatives at that port in order that the revision of the tariff may be concluded at an early date.

The Chinese proposal of December 10th was never made the subject of discussion between the foreign and Chinese delegations and the Customs Conference has not to date formulated the rules contemplated in article 4 in question. It is moreover unlikely in view of the present indeterminate situation that the Customs Conference will formulate these rules within a period which would permit of their being applied so as to effect completion of the present revision during the current year. It is not our opinion that the formulation of these rules under article 4 constitutes a condition precedent to revision: for the purpose of the treaty provision is “to prevent delay”. It is furthermore not our opinion that the question of the recognition of the present Peking Government need be considered as relevant in a matter of this character which is essentially routine and relates to fulfillment of specific previous commitments. We suggest therefore that the Department authorize participation in the revision proposed on the specific understanding that the revised schedule is not to go into effect on the unilateral sanction of China but must receive assent on the part of the American Government before it can be applied to imports of American goods. I see no objection however [Page 371] to complying with what is obviously the Chinese wish that actual work of revision shall be done by them in more or less informal consultation with the foreign members of the revision commission.

If these recommendations meet with the approval of the Department it is suggested that the Department of Commerce be requested to give its approval to the designation of Arnold52 as the American delegate. It is not believed necessary to appoint a special delegate from the Treasury Department as was done in 191953 and 1922.54

Am[erican] Tar[iff] Del[egation]
  1. Art. iv of the multilateral treaty, signed at Washington, Feb. 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 282, 285.
  2. The Special Conference on the Chinese Customs Tariff, October 1925–April 1926 (Peking, 1928), p. 213. For correspondence concerning the conference, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, pp. 833 ff; ibid., 1926, vol. i, pp. 743 ff; ibid., 1927, vol. ii, pp. 371 ff.
  3. Julean Arnold, commercial attaché in China.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. i, pp. 640 ff.
  5. See ibid., 1922, vol. i, pp. 816 ff.