893.1281/30: Telegram

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

309. Department’s mail instruction No. 129, June 5, 1930.2 Following from Chefoo:

“May 28, 2 p.m. Reference is made to the Legation’s circular instruction No. 41 of July 10, 1930,3 regarding registration of physicians. Foreign physicians now requested by Chinese authorities to apply for licenses to practice medicine. Chinese regulations require that foreign physicians present diplomas and qualification certificates to Consul for examination and that Consul issue identifying certificate to the applicant. There are three American missionary physicians at Chefoo at present and they approve of registration. Respectfully request instructions.”

Tientsin municipal government has addressed a communication to the American Consulate General at Tientsin requesting that medical practitioners be instructed to apply for registration and licenses, procedure similar to that described in telegram above quoted to be followed. Gauss4 states:

“It seems to me that if the early abolition of extraterritoriality is anticipated in the treaty ports or in the interior where there are a number of medical missionaries, it might be well to bring to the attention of all American citizens engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery in China the regulations governing registration and licensing of medical practitioners and the special rules of procedure now adopted for use in the case of foreign physicians and surgeons. Such American citizens might if they desired obtain registration and the issuance of licenses and be saved considerable embarrassment later if Chinese jurisdiction should extend to them under an arrangement for the abolition of extraterritoriality.

I presume that the consular certificate which seems to be required need do no more than certify the presentation to the Consular Officer of certain carefully described diplomas and medical certificates held by the applicant.”

The Legation agrees with Gauss’ first and last sentence quoted above but is inclined to the opinion that, for the reasons indicated herein, the immediate difficulties which may be apprehended in case of general compliance with the regulations on the part of American physicians [Page 1011] would be greater than any possible future embarrassment incurred by nonregistrants following the relinquishment of extraterritoriality.

Article 20 of the regulations is regarded as particularly objectionable since, as the Department will recall, there have been several instances where trouble has been caused the physicians in China by relatives [of a?] patient who, through no lack of medical skill or attention, died. The most recent incident of the sort was reported in Canton’s despatch No. 45, May 185 (political report for April).

It is believed that registration by American physicians would result in even further encroachment by Chinese authorities upon extraterritorial privileges of such individuals in particular and possibly in unfair pressure being brought to bear upon nonregistered physicians.

Department’s attention is invited to article 301 of the Chinese criminal law (see enclosure No. 1 to Shanghai’s despatch No. 5663, September 10, 19285).

English translation contains words “through negligence” whereas Chinese text does not seem necessarily to imply negligence on the part of persons who unintentionally cause bodily harm. Legation is addressing note to Foreign Office requesting precise definition of Chinese term.

For the Minister:
  1. Ibid., p. 541.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Clarence E. Gauss, Consul General at Tientsin.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.