693.0031/1: Telegram

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

745. 1. Under a variety of forms of covering note[s,] Nationalist Minister for Foreign Affairs on or about September 12th proposed negotiation of new tariff treaties to the representatives of the following countries whose treaties are considered by the Nationalist authorities still to be in effect: Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The basis of negotiation proposed in the note to the [Page 431] Netherlands Minister (and apparently of the same purport in the other notes) consists of the following points:

  • “(a) All provisions contained in the treaties or [now] existing between China and the Netherlands relating to rates of duty on imports and exports of merchandise, drawbacks, transit dues and tonnage dues in China shall be annulled and the principle of complete national tariff authorizations [autonomy] shall apply;
  • (b) In customs and related matters the principle of reciprocal and undiscriminatory treatment shall apply;
  • (c) Contemplated treaty to become effective on January 1, 1929 if ratifications have been exchanged by that date, otherwise at a date 4 months subsequent to such exchange of ratifications.”

2. At the same time Dr. Wang addressed notes to the representatives of Belgium, Denmark and Spain whose treaties with Chinese are considered by the Nationalist Government to have expired. The basis of negotiation proposed in the note to the Danish Minister (which so far as I have been able to ascertain is of the same general tenor as that proposed in the other notes in this category) contains in addition to the above points (a) and (b) one regarding extraterritoriality and one providing for a new commercial treaty as follows:

  • “(c) Civil and criminal cases arising in the territory of one of the contracting powers which involve nationals of one of the contracting powers with the nationals of the other as well as cases involving two nationals of one of the contracting powers which are in its territory, or cases involving nationals of some other foreign country which may arise in the territory of either of the contracting powers, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the country in which the cause of action arises, and shall be adjudicated in accordance with the laws of that country;
  • (d) Both contracting powers shall within the shortest period of time, hold negotiations looking toward the conclusion of a treaty of commerce and navigation on the basis of complete equality and reciprocity.”

3. No such notes of course were sent to the representatives here of the United States and Germany which have recently concluded tariff treaties38 nor were they sent to the representatives of France, Japan, Italy or Portugal. In the case of Italy, whose treaties with China are considered by the Nationalist Government to have expired, it was doubtless felt that proposal should await the shortly expected Sino-Italian settlement of the Nanking incident. In the case of France and Japan, previous conversations on treaty matters have [Page 432] apparently made it clear that such action would not be favorably received at this time.

4. [Paraphrase.] At the end of August the Chargé d’Affaires of Belgium was in Nanking and, earlier than the others, received Wang’s proposal. No reply has yet been made by his Government, to which this proposal was forwarded.

5. Authorization has been obtained by the Danish Minister for the signing of a tariff treaty similar to that which we have concluded with China, but privately he informs me that his Government will not acquiesce in the loss of extraterritorial rights and, rather than yield on that point, would prefer to leave both questions undecided.

6. A sympathetic acknowledgment of Wang’s proposal was made by the British Minister. Consideration is being given by him to the presentation of a confidential proposal for the conclusion of a treaty along the lines of the Sino-American treaty but with an understanding whereby, in return for assurances to China of a guaranteed free list for Chinese imports into Great Britain, the Nationalist Government shall agree that the duties upon certain British imports into China will not, for a period of years, exceed certain maxima—for example, rates recommended by the experts, in drawing up the “interim surtaxes”, at the Tariff Conference.

7. I am informed by the Dutch Minister that he has told his Government that he regards favorably the conclusion of a treaty similar to ours and that his Government is still considering the matter.

8. Authorization has been obtained by the Norwegian Chargé d’Affaires for concluding a treaty like ours but with the suggestion that, before doing so, he should await action by the British.

9. The position of the Portuguese Minister, I understand, is like that of his Danish colleague; the Nationalist Government regards the Sino-Portuguese treaties likewise as having expired. During the latter part of summer the Portuguese Minister was in Shanghai, where the negotiation of a new treaty was suggested orally to him. According to my information, he replied that relinquishment of extraterritorial rights could not be conceded.

10. There is no disposition on the part of the Dutch Minister to take any action in the matter at the present time.

11. Wang’s proposal has been forwarded by the Swedish Chargé d’Affaires to his Government with a recommendation for the negotiation of such a treaty.

12. During the absence in Japan of the Czechoslovak delegate, Mr. Hnizdo is in charge of his Government’s mission here. Mr. Hnizdo informs me that there are in progress at this time discussions with a view to the conclusion of a treaty of amity and commerce between Czechoslovakia and China. The principal point at issue is [Page 433] the desire of his Government to receive assurances of most-favored-nation treatment; extraterritoriality is not to be claimed. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. See Sino-American treaty, signed July 25, 1928, pp. 449 ff. For text of Sino-German treaty, signed Aug. 17, 1928, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xci, p. 93.