The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received July 20—11:55 p.m.]
610. Legation’s 600, July 18, 2 p.m. Following from Consul General at Canton:
“July 18, 4 p.m. On July 15 Mayor addressed British and American Consuls General identic notes asserting that the foreign oil companies have violated factory regulations in that they are refining oil locally without having registered and requesting that they be ordered to discontinue operations. We are replying separately to the effect that factory regulations were never officially communicated to us, that the foreign firms cannot satisfy the conditions set forth in [Page 572]article 16 requisite to registration and that the provisions of this article are in direct contravention of the Sino-American commercial treaty. We, therefore, regretted our inability to comply with his request.
[July] 17, we received separately Mayor’s acknowledgment to our notes of July 13 which acknowledgment stated that the matter had been submitted to the Southwest Political Council.
This morning Mayor’s Secretary came to us to sound our views. He could not tell definitely what action the authorities proposed to take. We gathered that they intended either to ignore our protests or attempt to quibble over the treaty interpretation. We told him plainly that, while we would be glad to discuss any honest differences of opinion regarding treaty interpretation and submit them to our Governments, it would serve no useful purpose to attempt to quibble. We dwelt upon the seriousness which would be attached by our Governments to a refusal to meet our protest or to attempt to evade the issue, and the inevitable effect which a breach of treaty would have upon the friendly relations of our countries, and we would be justified in our request that the application of the regulations should at least be held in abeyance until a final settlement could be reached. The Mayor’s Secretary promised to present our views immediately to the authorities.”