The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Consul at Swatow (Berger)47

Sir: I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of May 2, 1928,48 on the subject of a 20% surtax for the relief of sufferers from “Red” outrages. It is noted that in reply to a protest lodged by the Consulate with the local Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, the Commissioner addressed to you a communication phrased in a very undignified manner. It is further noted that you recommend that the Consulate be permitted to refrain from making any protest whatsoever to the Chinese authorities unless it can be shown that the tax is discriminatory against American interests.

It is suggested that the proper procedure for the Consulate to follow upon the receipt of such a despatch from the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs would be to return it to him as being couched in improper language, and to inform him that the Consulate will continue to refuse to accept in future any despatch which contains any expressions which evidence either personal spite or rudeness on the part of the local authorities.

The Legation approves your attitude with regard to the question of in general refraining from protesting tax matters unless there is some discriminatory feature in the tax. You will realize, however, that such a rule cannot be made applicable to all cases and you should therefore report any new taxes to the Legation for instructions as to whether or not a protest should be lodged by you.

I am [etc.]

[File copy not signed]
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister, without covering despatch; received June 27.
  2. Not printed.