893.51/5297: Telegram

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

494. Legation’s 489, June 24, 11 a.m. Following telegram has been sent to the Minister at Nanking:

“June 24, 5 p.m. For the Minister: Your June 23, 11 a.m., and Legation’s June 24, 11 a.m.

1. At Diplomatic Body meeting today Japanese representative stated that Japanese Chargé d’Affaires had been instructed to inform Nanking that the Japanese Government would not consent to the collection of Tientsin duties at other ports. Japanese Government also considered that the action of the Shansi authorities contravened [Page 252] promise made at the Washington Conference with regard to maintenance of Chinese Customs Administration but was of the opinion that a protest should be addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the collection of Tientsin duties at Shanghai and other ports. British Minister thought it best to go slow with regard to any protest and said that he would not be inclined to protest against collection of duties on foreign cargo in transit at Shanghai for Tientsin unless shipping companies so desire. He also thought that if a protest were made [to] Nanking, some sort of protest should be made to Marshal Yen, since, otherwise, the Nanking Government would consider that the foreign affairs [powers?] representatives were taking sides.

As simply my personal opinion I concurred in the view of the Netherlands [British?] Minister but said that I did not know this would be the attitude of the American Minister or the Department toward a protest. It was obvious that we could not expect any result from a protest to Yen against what was already a fait accompli, whereas we could expect results from a protest to Nanking. If Yen should attempt to collect Shanghai duties at Tientsin we should then have good ground for protest. It seemed to me that we should oppose procedure resulting in double duties by whomsoever instituted.

2. It was finally agreed that the Senior Minister should undertake the preparation of draft protests with a view to their being sent both to Nanking and Shansi and that these should be considered on June 27th. I should be glad to receive expression of your views prior to this meeting.”

For the Minister:
  1. Telegram in two sections.