393.1121 Wong Bock Yue/18: Telegram

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

565. Legation’s 514, June 28, 4 p.m.

1. Legation has made several informal inquiries of the Diplomatic Bureau concerning the status of this matter and have been informed that the Garrison Headquarters is unwilling to hand over Wong and had referred the question to lawyer [of] Yen. Chu, Chief of the Diplomatic Bureau, went to Taiyuan to interview Yen over a week ago and Legation was informed that Chu would lay before Yen our side of the question. A reply from the Bureau to Legation’s demand [Page 525] of June 28th has now been received, quoting the Garrison Headquarters as follows:

“In connection with this case, the American Legation considers that Wong Bock Yue is an American citizen because the American nationality law emphasizes the principle of birthplace. Since Wong Bock Yue was born in San Francisco he is considered to be an American citizen. However, on the part of China, Wong Bock Yue is considered to be a Chinese citizen because the Chinese nationality law emphasizes the principle of ancestry. While Wong Bock Yue was born in San Francisco within the territory of the United States of America his father was a Chinese resident there and he is of course a Chinese citizen. Furthermore Wong Bock Yue was formerly a member of the second Senate; this presents even clearer evidence of his Chinese nationality. We regret that we are unable to comply with the demand of the American Legation for the transfer of custody.”

2. Wong has resided approximately fifteen years in China, mostly in Peiping which is not a treaty port; he has never applied for registration as an American citizen; he applied for an American passport in 1925 but he at no time called at the Consulate in Tientsin to obtain it; he has served as a member of the Chinese Senate to which only Chinese citizens are eligible; held a protracted residence in China and has apparently held himself out as a Chinese citizen and has been recognized as such by the Chinese Government. In view of the foregoing, the Legation, so far as regards the merits of the case, very much questions the advisability of continuing actively to assert Wong’s American citizenship. See Department’s instruction to Canton December 9, 1927, concerning the case of Ming Jue.27 The Department’s further instructions are requested.

For the Minister:
  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Instruction not printed; it disapproved Ming Jue’s registration application for continued residence in China.