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

No. 2165

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 2065, April 20, 1933, concerning the regulations governing the use of the foreshore in the Shanghai Municipality, and to enclose for the Department’s information copies of subsequent correspondence23 upon the subject.

In reply to the inquiries contained in the Legation’s instruction to him of April 20, 1933, the Consul General at Shanghai stated that the foreshore fees paid by the Texas Oil Company were levied upon property located upon Gough Island which was registered in the name of a Chinese; that the Asiatic Petroleum Company had paid taxes upon similar property; and that the Nomura Lumber Company (Japanese), had paid the fees upon its property located upon Soochow Creek through error on the part of one of its clerks who was unaware of the significance of such payment, but that so far as he has been able to ascertain these firms have not paid the foreshore fees upon any other property.

As the Consul General also stated that the Engineer-in-Chief of the Conservancy Board, Dr. Chatley, did not consider these regulations as infringing on the Board’s control, the Legation, in a telegraphic [Page 601] instruction of June 7, 4 p.m., informed the Consul General that in its opinion Article 2 and following articles of the Revised Foreshore Regulations vest in the Land Bureau power to block action in accordance with Article 7 of the Whangpoo Conservancy Agreement24 and Supplementary Article (12) regulating registration and sale of shenko lands on the Whangpoo. The Legation therefore requested to be informed as to whether the Shanghai authorities contemplated any further revision of the Foreshore Regulations.

The Consul General replied in a telegram of June 15, 11 a.m., expressing concurrence in the Legation’s opinion and stating that there was no evidence that a further revision of the Regulations was contemplated. This telegram was supplemented by his despatch No. 7592, June 15, 1933, with which he enclosed a memorandum of a conversation between Consul Josselyn of his office and the Engineer-in-Chief of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board.

From this memorandum it would appear that the basis for Dr. Chatley’s statement that these regulations do not infringe on the Conservancy Board’s control is the fact that the Conservancy Board finds it extremely difficult to oppose the Chinese Government or the Shanghai Chinese authorities in a matter of this kind even though their aims and policies are in conflict. Dr. Chatley intimated, however, that he would welcome a protest from the interested Powers against the Foreshore Regulations.

The Consul General says:

“I am of the opinion that the revised Foreshore Regulations do, in fact, give power to the Land Bureau to block or interfere with the functions of the Conservancy Board as set forth in Article VII of the Whangpoo Conservancy Agreement and Supplementary Article XII.”

He also feels that the whole effect of these regulations is to establish an authority independent of the Conservancy Board, to control the shore line or foreshore, to decide what wharves, pontoons, et cetera, shall be built thereon, and also to determine whether a riparian owner may or may not have access from the river to his own property.

As the Department’s attitude toward the regulations has been fully explained to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Legation’s notes of November 26, 1932, and February 2, 1933, the Legation will not reply to that Ministry’s note of March 31, 1933,25 unless pressed by that Ministry to do so, or unless further efforts to enforce the regulations should make such action seem advisable.

Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed at Peking, September 27, 1905, Foreign Relations, 1905, p. 122.
  3. Notes not printed.