893.102S/1090: Telegram

The Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham) to the Secretary of State

209. 1. At annual meeting of ratepayers April 13, retiring Chairman of Municipal Council in course of speech expressed dissatisfaction with working of the Shanghai special district courts,85 particularly regarding offenses connected with the Japanese boycott and other anti-Japanese activities. He stated that the courts had ignored these illegal activities either through a distorted conception of patriotism or through fear of organized violations and that this attitude was undoubtedly one of the contributing factors leading to the Chapei incident.86 He said:

“Aside from being a direct contributing factor to the present relations between China and Japan, the failure of the Special District Courts to fully recognize or discharge their judicial functions during a time of crisis has shaken to its very foundations, if not entirely demolished, any hope which the foreign community might have entertained that the Chinese Government would eventually succeed in establishing in the International Settlement courts in which the foreign community could have at least a moderate if not full degree of confidence and respect.”

He referred to the present rendition agreement87 which expires on April 1, 1933, and stated that foreign community was dissatisfied with administration of civil side of courts. He added:

“Foreign public opinion is undoubtedly unanimous upon the point that the most satisfactory solution of the problem would be the establishing in the Settlement of international courts administering uniform civil and criminal laws over all residents of the Settlement irrespective of nationality.

It is impossible, however, to ignore the fact that we are entirely in the hands of the Governments concerned in matters of this kind and it is only by enlisting their sympathy and support that we can hope to accomplish anything in the nature of reforming or improving local Chinese courts.”

In concluding his remarks he stated that Chinese members of Council disassociated themselves from all his remarks regarding courts.

[Page 629]

North-China Daily News in editorial this morning strongly supports Macnaghten’s views regarding courts and it is believed that powers will consult Council before renewing rendition agreement.

Generally speaking I concur in statements of chairman regarding unsatisfactory administration of courts. I am preparing a despatch88 regarding status of courts after expiration of present agreement. In my opinion substantial guarantees must be provided in new agreement that courts will be administered as a judicial organ uninfluenced by political considerations. I do not find any solution except foreign participation which may mean an international court.

2. Ratepayers meeting adopted resolution favoring the addition of two Chinese members to the Land Commission and instructed Council to make representations to the powers concerned thereanent. This as I understand would not mean an amendment to the land regulations (see land regulation 6) but the same procedure would be followed as was done when Chinese were admitted as members of the Council.

Repeated to the Legation.

  1. For previous correspondence on the Shanghai courts, see ibid., pp. 315 ff.
  2. For correspondence on the conflict at Shanghai, see vol. iii, pp. 89 ff.
  3. Signed at Shanghai, February 17, 1930, Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. ii, p. 333.
  4. No. 8327, June 10, 1932, not printed (893.05/336).