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

No. 1138

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch No. 1794, of December 10, 1928,15 asking for an expression of the Department’s views in regard to the matter of pressing, with the local Chinese authorities and the National Government, claims of American citizens and concerns resulting from the looting or destruction of goods in the hands of native agents at interior points in China.

The Department considers it desirable that the American Consuls in China should continue to bring to the attention of the local authorities claims of this character as well as all other claims concerning which a local settlement might be possible, wherever and whenever it is appropriate for them to do so; and press for a settlement thereof until such time as it is apparent that further efforts to procure a local settlement will be futile.

The Department has consistently refused to acquiesce in the position taken by the Chinese authorities of disclaiming responsibility for goods lost or destroyed while in the hands of Chinese agents of American citizens or concerns, where it could be established that the title to the goods continued in American ownership. In the event of failure of local settlement, the claims will have to receive consideration with [Page 581] a view to their presentation to the central authorities. However, inasmuch as it is not deemed desirable to present any particular claims to the National Government until the question of arranging a plan for the consideration of all claims has been disposed of, claims which have failed of local settlement should not be presented to the National Government at this time.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.