893.113/1273: Telegram

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

961. Department’s 370, October 28, 2 p.m.

1. Legation has withheld note to Ministry of Foreign Affairs pending receipt of further information regarding procedure actually followed.

At Tientsin consignments of munitions and supplies for government agency are passed on presentation of import application bearing certificate of commanding officer that consignments are for the use of his forces. At Shanghai such consignments unloaded from United States Government transports or naval vessels do not have to pass customs. Commander in chief on October 28th instructed that shipments designated by units in China of arms and ammunition would be made only in publicly announced vessels of the United States.

2. As far as I can ascertain at the present time Japanese do not propose to follow the new Chinese regulations with regard to Government importations. British are endeavoring to effect a local settlement with the Chinese Superintendent of Customs at Shanghai. I have just been informed the French have in two cases obtained import of permits from Nanking but they are in a position to retaliate by delaying China’s importation of arms into Yunnan.

3. Minister Johnson has wired from Tientsin suggesting that our note “simply state that as regards supplies for our Government forces we will be prepared to furnish information of shipments immediately upon arrival as in the past, avoiding any discussion of permit from Minister of War”. With Department’s approval Legation proposes to withhold reply to Nanking for the time being pending developments. Although Chinese regulations were issued some months ago I am informed that our October Army transport had no difficulty in landing its consignment to the 15th Infantry at Tientsin in accordance with usual procedure. It is generally believed that the new regulations are designed to create difficulties in the way of maintenance [Page 625] of foreign troops in China with a view to expediting their withdrawal, especially in view of articles 7 and 9 of the Boxer protocol.92 It would be advisable, as Minister Johnson suggests, to avoid action which would invite a discussion of the necessity of obtaining a permit from the Ministry of War.

For the Minister:
  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Signed at Peking, September 7, 1901; Foreign Relations, 1901, Appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.