611.9331/127: Telegram

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


9. Your telegram 7, January 4, 6 p.m.

You may thank the British and Netherlands Ministers, on behalf of this Government, for their helpfulness in relating to you their experiences.
The Department considers that, with respect to the Chinese-American treaty of July 25, 1928, both the spirit and the letter call for reciprocal nondiscriminatory treatment in everything relating to rates of duty, drawbacks, transit dues, tonnage dues, and any related matters, including in relation thereto the benefits of any rights or privileges which are, or which hereafter shall be, extended to or be enjoyed in their respective territories, by their respective nationals, or by the nationals of any other state.
In view of article 2 of the British treaty and of the note construing a treaty exactly like the American one, as annexed to the treaties with Sweden97 and the Netherlands, I do not think China could possibly claim the American treaty does not mean the same thing. The Department feels sure of the all-inclusiveness of the nondiscriminatory clause in the American treaty, but it does not care to have a controversy over it, and I could easily delay the treaty in the Senate and arrange its amendment. The Department prefers for you not to send at this time a note on this subject. It suggests that either you go or send Mahlon F. Perkins98 to Nanking in order to ascertain if the Chinese are seriously considering the possibility of denying to American trade the benefits of rights or favors they accorded other countries. The Department believes the Chinese should make this clear in a note, in line with the interpretation which is given in the abovementioned treaties.
A note to the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs may be personally delivered by you or by your representative, to read as follows:99

“Referring to Article I of the Treaty signed by Mr. T. V. Soong, Minister of Finance, on behalf of the National Government of the Republic of China, and Mr. J. V. A. MacMurray, American Minister to China, on behalf of the United States, at Peking, on July 25, 1928, I have the honor to state that it is the understanding of my Government that it was and is the intention of the High Contracting Parties to agree to the abrogation of certain provisions of existing treaties, namely, provisions relating expressly and specifically to rates of duty on imports and exports of merchandise, drawbacks, transit dues and tonnage dues in China, and to provide that in relation to these matters neither of the High Contracting Parties shall in any way discriminate against the other or its nationals or articles grown, produced or manufactured in its territories or imported or exported by its nationals as compared with treatment accorded to any other country or its nationals, or to articles, the growth, produce or manufacture of any other country, it being the intention of the Contracting Parties that in regard to those matters each shall accord to the other and to its nationals and to its trade as favorable treatment as it accords to any other country or to the nationals and trade thereof.

“I have the honor to request an assurance on your part that this is also the National Government’s understanding of the purport and intent of this treaty.”

Pending a receipt from you of a report that an assurance has been given, as indicated above, you are informed, confidentially, that I am holding up the treaty’s consideration by the Senate.
  1. Treaty and exchange of notes, signed December 20, 1928, at Nanking; League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cvii, pp. 81, 89.
  2. Counselor of Legation in China.
  3. Quotation not paraphrased.