393.1163 Property/44

The American Minister in China (Johnson) to the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs (C. T. Wang)2

No. 159

Your Excellency: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the American Consul at Nanking reports that early in 1928 the Christian Reformed Church Mission, an American missionary organization, leased certain land at Jukao, Kiangsu, which the Magistrate is refusing to register on the grounds that he has received instructions [Page 576] from the National Government abolishing the system of perpetual leases provided for in existing treaties. The American Consul thereupon referred this matter to the Chairman of the Kiangsu Provincial Government, and in a communication dated May 31, 1930, a copy of which is enclosed,3 was informed that foreign missions may, under the provisions of the treaty, lease land in the interior in the name of their respective missions. Inasmuch as the word “perpetual” was omitted by the Chairman in his communication, the American Consul called his attention to the provisions of Paragraph 2, Article XIV of the American-Chinese Treaty of 1903, which clearly stipulate that American missionary societies may lease land in perpetuity in the interior of China, and to the fact that these provisions are still in effect. However, the Chairman of the Provincial Government has thus far refused to instruct the Jukao Magistrate to register the transfer in accordance with treaty provisions.

So far as the Legation is aware, the only regulations issued by the Chinese Government regarding the lease of land and buildings by foreign missionary societies are those to be found in the Provisional Regulations Governing the Lease of Land and Buildings in the Interior by Foreign Missionary Societies, in connection with which Your Excellency stated, in a communication dated October 30, 1928,4 that they “in no way contravene the provisions of any valid treaty”.

In any event, as Your Excellency is aware, the position of my Government has been and continues to be that until such time as the stipulations found in Article XIV of the American-Chinese Treaty of 1903 may be modified by agreement, American missionary societies are clearly entitled to lease land in perpetuity. I therefore have the honor to request Your Excellency to issue immediate instructions to the appropriate authorities of Kiangsu to authenticate and register these perpetual leases in conformity with existing treaties.

I avail myself [etc.]

For the Minister:
Mahlon F. Perkins

Counselor of Legation
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 478, September 23, 1930; received October 22.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. ii, p. 579.