893.512 Liggett and Myers Tobacco Co./1

The American Legation in China to Marshal Ten Hsi-shan’s Diplomatic Bureau at Peiping 28


The American Legation presents its compliments to the Diplomatic Bureau and has the honor to inform it that a shipment of cigarettes belonging to the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company (China), Limited, an American concern, is being detained by the Tientsin Customs pending the production of proof of payment of an excise on cigarettes, increased from thirty-two and one-half per cent to fifty per cent on July 21, 1930.

The American Consul General at Tientsin referred this matter to the Commissioner of Customs at that port in an effort to effect the release of this cargo. However, the customs authorities maintain that they are unable to pass this or any other shipment of cigarettes unaccompanied by permits stamped by the Consolidated Tobacco Tax Bureau as having paid the increased cigarette excise mentioned.

The Diplomatic Bureau will recall that under the national tariff of the Republic of China it is set forth that cigarettes shall be subject to certain import duties, and, furthermore, that a note appended to [Page 287] the tariff states that in addition to such customs duties, cigarettes shall be subject to an excise of thirty-two and one-half per cent.

While the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company are prepared to pay the duties and excise mentioned, which have been duly promulgated by the Republic of China, it does not feel that it should be called upon to pay an arbitrarily increased excise such as is now being collected in Tientsin and the Province of Hopei.

The American Legation would point out that this increased excise has been imposed only in the Province of Hopei, and that if individual provinces proceed to impose excises at will, business will become impossible. Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that it is the intention of His Excellency Marshal Yen Hsi-shan to permit arbitrary taxation of this nature, which can only result in the cessation of business and general economic depression.

The American Legation therefore has the honor to request that the Diplomatic Bureau refer this matter to His Excellency Marshal Yen Hsi-shan, to the end that instructions be issued to the Commissioner of Customs at Tientsin to release the cargo of the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company without payment of this increased excise.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 427, August 27, 1930; received September 24.