611.9331/127: Telegram

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


7. My telegram No. 903, December 28, 7 p.m.92

The Netherlands Minister, Oudendijk, informs me that his negotiations have disclosed that the National Government’s construction [Page 774] of the Chinese-American tariff treaty of July 25, 1928,93 assures the United States of nondiscriminatory treatment only for goods imported into China by American nationals (as article I, paragraph 2 provides) and not for the produce and manufactures of the United States irrespective of the nationality of the importer, and that the Chinese were disposed to construe paragraph 1 of the same article as giving the United States equality of treatment in respect of customs procedure and formalities. In offering to the Netherlands Minister on behalf of the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, C. T. Wang, a text substantially identical with the American one, it was in fact made plain to him that he must choose between this arrangement giving protection to Dutch importers and some other arrangement to protect importations of Dutch provenance, but that Oudendijk could not expect, any more than could the Americans, to have both. Fortunately he was successful in combating the disingenuous attempt at restriction of the scope of nondiscriminatory treatment which China undertook in the American treaty, and in the first annex to his treaty Oudendijk was able to obtain assent to its supplementary clauses.94
The British Minister, Sir Miles Lampson, also tells me that, having been warned by the Netherlands Minister’s experience, he insisted upon knowing the construction which the National Government placed on the nondiscriminatory provisions in the American treaty. Finding Dr. Wang evasive on this point, Lampson felt constrained to insist on the clarification which is embodied in his treaty’s first annex95 (see my telegram 896, December 27, 8 p.m.96).
While, as it appears to me, there can be no honest doubt respecting the inclusiveness of the American text regarding nondiscriminatory treatment of American trade in every respect, the Chinese are manifestly seeking to set up a bargaining position, at any rate, as to United States rights in that regard. The Netherlands, British, and other subsequent treaties have settled the particular point at issue regarding the nationalities concerned; but by no means am I confident that the. National Government will regard the United States as entitled to claim clarifications annexed to those treaties as applicable to American trade. Therefore, I beg to request authorization for me to address to the National Government a note to request confirmation of the United States Government’s understanding that, under the treaty of July 25, 1928, the United States is entitled to claim the treatment established by any subsequent treaties concluded by the National Government [Page 775] with other foreign powers for goods imported by American nationals into China and for all produce and manufactures of the United States imported into China on a nondiscriminatory basis. In view of the vital importance that American trade be protected against discrimination and that all possible controversy in that regard be obviated, I venture to suggest to the Department that it formulate the terms in which I should address the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs on this subject.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. ii, p. 475.
  3. Treaty and first exchange of notes signed December 19, 1928, at Nanking; League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxi, pp. 161, 164.
  4. Annex i (an exchange of notes), dated December 20, 1928; ibid., vol. xc, pp. 337, 352.
  5. Not printed.