493.11 Standard Oil Company-Chih Tsun, Yunnan/1

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

No. 100

Sir: I have the honor to request an expression of the Department’s views in connection with the enclosed despatch No. 135, of February 18, 1930, from the Consul at Yunnanfu,25 entitled “Claim of the Standard Oil Company of New York Against the Yunnan Provincial Government for Looting of Agency by Military.” Further enclosed is a copy of Mr. Chamberlain’s despatch No. 22, of August 29, 1928,25 referred to in the above mentioned despatch of February 18th. A copy of his despatch No. 134, of February 17, 1930,25 entitled “Claims Against the Chinese Authorities” (likewise referred to in his despatch of February 18th) is being sent to the Department by the Legation without covering despatch.

The question here involved is the familiar one of the loss of goods in the hands of the Chinese agents of American firms doing business in the interior of the country, the position of the American Government being that where it can be established that the title to the goods continues in American ownership the Chinese authorities may be held responsible for their loss or destruction (Department’s instruction No. 1138, of March 11, 1929).

Let me add that I have been informed by the manager of the Shanghai branch of the Standard Oil Company of New York that the Company plans in the comparatively near future to lay before the Department a memorial, prepared substantially in accordance with the Department’s form of “Application for the Support of Claims against Foreign Governments”, in which are listed all of the Company’s pending claims against local and other Chinese authorities. A large number of the claims will be for reimbursement for the loss (usually by looting) of stocks in the hands of native agents in the interior, the claims having previously been presented for settlement to the Provincial authorities concerned by American Consular officers without success. Several hundred claims will be involved, and I feel very strongly that the best way of effecting an adjustment of them as well as of the numerous pending claims of other American organizations and individuals against the Chinese Government will be through the agency of some such commission as that envisaged in the Department’s instruction No. 1467, of February 3, 1930. I intend to broach this subject personally with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on my next visit to Nanking.

I have [etc.]

Nelson Trusler Johnson
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