693.116/86: Telegram

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

737. Legation’s 722, August 31, noon. Following from Canton to the Legation and Nanking:

“September 7, 6 p.m. My August 29, 4 p.m. After pressing almost daily for over a week for an interview with the Chairman and the Marshal, I was informed yesterday by the latter’s secretary that the subject matter of our proposed interview did not lie within the Marshal’s province and that the Chairman did not consider it necessary to see us as he had nothing to add to identic communications which were being addressed to the British Consul General and myself by the Inspector General of Foreign Affairs. This communication, [Page 582] which was received this morning, quotes a letter from the Reconstruction Bureau, taking up seriatim the points in our letter to the inspector of August 28 summarizing our conversation with him of that date as reported in my telegram above cited.

The essential point of the communication is a denial that the registration requirements conflict with treaty rights. It is maintained that the particulars called for in the application form are essential to a proper inspection and supervision of the factories, and that moreover they are in compliance with the factory regulations of December 18, 1931 enacted by the Central Government.

On September 1st British Consul General and I sent identic notes to the Mayor in which we expressed the opinion that the application to our citizens of regulations of the scope and nature referred to in the form of application and of contemplated output restrictions would impair rights guaranteed by existing treaties. We said that while our firms were willing to furnish the Chinese authorities with particulars regarding the names and localities of their plants and the names of their brands it was impossible for them to comply with the requirements of the Reconstruction Bureau and we thereafter requested that they be permitted to import liquid fuel and market their products freely without the necessity of such officer [registration]. This note was acknowledged by Mayor who said he had referred it to the Reconstruction Bureau. The communication from the Inspector, however, contains no reference to our letter to Mayor.

I have also received today another communication from Inspector quoting briefly from the Reconstruction Bureau in answer to my protests against the sealing up of stocks of oil put out by the American companies. This letter is offensive in tone and intimates that since the kerosene was refined locally and since the factories were not registered it was only out of consideration for American friendship that the manufacturers have not been severely dealt with for evasion of customs duty.

British Consul General and I are considering suitable reply to the Inspector’s communication taking our stand on treaty rights but in view of the tone of his letter and of the attitude of the higher authorities in refusing to see us it seems unlikely that any solution of this difficulty can be achieved by continuing correspondence on these lines.”

Following instruction has been sent to the Counselor of Legation at Nanking:

“September 8, 4 p.m. Canton’s September 7, 6 p.m. The Legation desires that you call upon an appropriate official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and endeavor to impress upon him seriousness with which the Department views this continued palpably flagrant violation of the rights of the oil companies under the existing treaties inviting his attention to the unfavorable impression created abroad by the apparent inability of the National Government to assure American firms in the region in question the freedom from restraints upon trade to which they are entitled and express to him the earnest hope of our Government that prompt and effective measures will be taken in order to bring about a cessation of these discriminative actions on the part of the authorities concerned,”