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

No. 325

Sir: The Department refers to the Legation’s despatch No. 284 of June 23, 1930, and the enclosures thereto, as well as to the Legation’s despatch No. 464 of September 16, 1930,55 in regard to the attempt [Page 544]of the Chinese officials at Wen Kuan T’un, near Mukden, to collect from the Missionary Training Institute of the Seventh Day Adventist Mission, a certain military fodder tax.

It is noted from the second despatch above referred to that the American Consul General at Mukden does not deem it advisable to refer this matter again to the higher authorities at Mukden until it is raised by the Chinese authorities themselves. While the Department concurs in the decision of the Consul General at Mukden, it desires to state, in the event the question again arises, that both the Legation and the Consulate General should protest against the imposition of any tax of a military nature upon American citizens or institutions in China. While there does not appear to be any express stipulation in the treaties between the United States and China which could be cited as authority for exemption from military levies the Department believes that such claim is warranted in view of the most-favored-nation clause and the general extraterritorial provisions of the treaties.

If the question again arises, however, the Consul General at Mukden should be directed to investigate in regard to the use which the Seventh Day Adventist Mission makes of the property concerned. The object of such an investigation would be to determine whether the use to which the property is being put is in conformity with the provisions of the last paragraph of Article XIV of the Sino-American Treaty of 1903. In this connection, the Legation is referred to the Department’s instruction of July 24, 1925,57 on the policy of the American Government in regard to mission property which is not used for strictly missionary or philanthropic purposes.

Very truly yours,

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