893.01/289: Telegram

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


202. Legation’s number 487, June 20, 11 p.m.61

1. Authority is given you to commence at an appropriate time (and an early date is suggested) conversations with the Nationalist authorities with a view to the revision of tariff provisions of our [Page 450] treaties on the following basis, this basis being subject to modification from time to time as the conversations proceed.

2. I am in agreement with you that unless it is raised by the Nationalist authorities it is not necessary that the question of recognition be taken up in the first instance. We are at present, undoubtedly, in de facto relationship with the Nanking Government, and negotiations for a treaty with that Government would be at least a recognition of that status. Although the making of a treaty with them would certainly have the effect of de jure recognition, the question of such recognition need not be raised at this time.

3. The Nationalist Government may be informed by you that the Government of the United States is willing now to proceed with negotiations for a revision of the provisions regarding tariffs in treaties between the United States and China and is prepared to agree that all provisions in treaties heretofore concluded and in force between the two countries relating to rates of duty upon the importation and exportation of merchandise, drawbacks, and tonnage dues in China shall be annulled and become inoperative as of and from January 1, 1929, or 4 months after this treaty becomes effective, whichever shall last occur, and that, subject to the condition that each of the High Contracting Parties shall enjoy in the territories of the other in regard to the matters specified above and any related matters, treatment in no way discriminatory as compared with the treatment accorded to any other country, the principle of complete national tariff autonomy shall be applicable. It is suggested that January 1 be made the date for termination of present tariff provisions because there should be a lapse of some reasonable time after the conclusion of the treaties before they become effective, so that commerce may be adjusted to the new conditions.

Under no pretext whatever shall the nationals of either of the High Contracting Parties be compelled to pay within the territory of the other party internal charges or taxes other or higher than such charges or taxes paid by nationals of the country or by nationals of any other country.

4. The Nationalist authorities should be clearly impressed with the fact that any arrangement negotiated in regard to the tariff will require, in this country, Senate ratification.

It may be stated by you that upon the conclusion, in the manner suggested, of an agreement regarding the tariff provisions, the United States Government will be willing to proceed with discussions on the subject of extraterritorial rights. On the part of the United States there is a readiness to consider with China the relinquishment of extraterritorial rights at such time as the authorities in China are prepared to give to American lives and property the proper protection. [Page 451] There has been and is a readiness on the part of this Government to fulfill the promises made in the Treaty of 190362 and in the identic note addressed on September 4, 1925 to the Chinese Foreign Office.63 The contents of the Report of the Commission on Extraterritoriality64 have been given careful consideration by this Government. Of course it will be necessary, whenever discussions in regard to possible relinquishment are begun, to take into account the condition of laws of China and the administration of such laws, the independence of the Chinese courts and the quality and effectiveness of the protection to be afforded the citizens of the United States. Considering that the entire subject of commerce and treatment of the citizens of the two countries is covered in various aspects by the treaties entered into between 1844 and 1920 between the United States and China, it is the view of this Government that negotiations bearing upon the question of releasing extraterritorial rights would involve necessarily a modification or revision of virtually all the treaties between the United States and China. It is my opinion that, with a view to expedition, it would not be advisable to embark at this time upon a project so large, but that in all probability this will have to be done in the not distant future.

5. For the information of the Minister: In the event that there is established by the Chinese a government that is fairly stable and gives substantial evidence of a capacity to fulfill obligations entered into, this Government is prepared to proceed with negotiations in relation to extraterritorial rights.

6. It is requested that your views pertaining to the above should be telegraphed completely.

7. It is my desire to give to the press here a statement to the effect that we are prepared to enter into negotiations on the tariff treaties when you are ready to open the discussions with the Nanking authorities. Inform me by telegraph what you believe should be included in my statement. Certainly it will appear in the press in China and it is my wish that it make its appearance here first. Inform me also what governments should, in your opinion, be notified of our action. Nothing has been said as yet to any of them.

  1. Ante, p. 184.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1903, p. 91.
  3. ibid., 1925, vol. i, p. 831.
  4. Department of State, Report of the Commission on Extraterritoriality in China, Peking, September 16, 1926 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1926). For correspondence, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, pp. 886 ff; ibid., 1926, vol. i, pp. 966 ff.