The Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham) to the Minister in China (MacMurray)72

No. 6231

Sir: Referring to the suit filed in the Shanghai District Court against Mr. Fong Koon Look, a Chinese-American citizen, which was reported to the Legation in this Consulate General’s telegram No. 170 of October 1, 3 p.m. and in despatch No. 6168 dated October 3, 1929, and which was referred to in the Legation’s telegraphic instruction No. 163 of October 14, 5 p.m., I have the honor to inform the Legation that the Chinese authorities have refused to admit the contention of this office that Mr. Fong should be tried in the United States Court for China. A copy of the Commissioner’s letter, dated October 22, 1929, giving the Chinese argument in regard to Mr. Fong’s citizenship is enclosed herewith.73 From that letter it will be noted that the Chinese authorities contend that Mr. Fong is a Chinese citizen because he had not secured a denaturalization certificate from the Ministry of Interior.

For the further information of the Legation in regard to the contention of the Chinese authorities in connection with this case and the matter of dual nationality of Chinese-American citizens, there is enclosed herewith a copy of the decision handed down in this case on October 7, 1929.73 As stated in the Commissioner’s letter, the court [Page 521] holds that it has jurisdiction since Mr. Fong has failed to secure a denaturalization certificate.

The decision of the Chinese authorities now places Mr. Fong in a peculiar position. As long as he remains in the International Settlement or French Concession he can be protected but if he should enter into territory adjoining these areas he may be arrested by the Chinese authorities as in the case of Mr. W. Y. Char. If such a contingency should arise, this office is at a loss to understand in what manner it can afford protection to Mr. Fong in accordance with the Department’s instruction quoted in the Legation’s telegram to this office, No. 163 of October 14, 5 p.m.

It will not be of any use at the present time to advise Mr. Fong to secure a denaturalization certificate since the issuance of such a certificate would be refused by the Chinese authorities in accordance with Sections 3 and 4 of Article 13 of the Chinese Nationality Law which prescribe that a Chinese citizen cannot be denaturalized as long as he is the defendant in a civil suit and has a judgment outstanding against him.

It is the opinion of this Consulate General that, in view of the frequency with which cases of dual nationality have arisen recently, this matter should be made the subject of negotiations between the Legation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order that some mutual agreement can be arrived at in regard to the status of persons of dual American and Chinese nationality. In this connection reference is made to this Consulate General’s despatch No. 6133 of September 13, 1929,74 suggesting that all such persons already registered at consulates in China or registering in future be advised to secure denaturalization certificates, which suggestion was transmitted by the Legation to the Department with its despatch No. 2343 of September 20, 1929.74

I have [etc.]

Edwin S. Cunningham
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in his despatch No. 2437, November 20; received December 21, 1929. The Department’s reply was dated January 18, 1930 (803.012/48).
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