893.4061 Motion Pictures/12

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

No. 348

Sir: The Department refers to the Legation’s despatches No. 382 of August 9, 1930 and No. 411 of August 20, 1930,48 relating to restrictions on the exhibition of motion picture films.

The Department notes, as enclosures to the earlier of the despatches referred to above, communications addressed by the Legation to the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs dated May 27, 1930, and August 9, 1930,48 in which the Legation takes the position that the imposition of higher censorship fees on motion picture films imported from the United States than are imposed on native made films, constitutes discriminatory taxation on American goods as opposed to Chinese goods and that this discrimination contravenes the Treaty of July 25, 1928, between the United States and China, regulating tariff relations.

In so far as the discrimination described above may be based upon a distinction between moving picture films imported from abroad and films wholly manufactured in China, the Department is of the opinion that the point at issue does not come within the scope of the Treaty of 1928 regulating tariff relations, since the Treaty appears to contain no stipulation which would forbid the discriminatory taxation of which complaint has been made. The Legation is referred in this connection to the Department’s instruction No. 297 of November 4, 1930, in regard to discrimination in the assessment of an advertising tax. The Legation will recollect that the Department in that instruction expressed its understanding that “the second paragraph of Article I of the treaty in question relates only to duties, internal charges or taxes on ‘importations and exportations’ and that the treaty does not undertake to provide for equality of treatment as between native goods and imported goods.” In other words the treaty provides for equality of treatment of all goods imported or exported but does not provide for equality of treatment as between goods imported or exported and goods not having the status of imports or exports.

The Department suggests that the Legation continue its protests against discrimination in the matter of censorship fees but that such protest be based not on the Treaty of 1928, but on the general ground of international comity, pointing out that Chinese goods in the United States are accorded absolute equality of treatment as compared with American products.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William R. Castle, Jr.
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