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

No. 1226

Sir: Reference is made to your despatches No. 2225 of August 2, 1933,77 and No. 2252 of August 16, 1933, in regard to Chinese interprovincial motor vehicle traffic regulations and the extraterritorial rights of American nationals in China.

The Department is of the opinion that we should maintain firmly our opposition to any attempt by the Chinese authorities to assume jurisdiction over American nationals with respect to the Chinese interprovincial motor vehicle traffic regulations and that the maintenance [Page 626]of such a policy would do more to discourage the Chinese authorities from arbitrary interference with American motorists than any compromise proposal which would probably be abused and prove in the long run more vexatious than a firm insistence on the observance of the provisions of treaties.

The Legation’s communications to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the position taken by the Consul General at Shanghai locally constitute a clear declaration to the Chinese authorities that we cannot permit them to contravene treaty provisions with respect to jurisdiction and it would seem, therefore, advisable to watch developments and refrain from any further action at this time.

In addition to advising American citizens who use the inter-provincial roads that they should, in order to avoid incidents, exercise care in complying with the traffic regulations, the Department concurs in the suggestion contained in the Shanghai Consulate General’s despatch to the Legation No. 7648 of August 10, 1933,78 that American nationals using these roads be advised to carry passports visaed by the Chinese authorities.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
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