893.113/1533: Telegram

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

141. Legation’s telegram No. 199 of May 3, noon, and previous telegrams, concerning the recent regulations of the Chinese Government in regard to the importation of arms.

The Minister, in his telegram to the Legation of May 2, 5 p.m., expresses the hope of the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs that this Government will assist the Chinese Government in preventing shipments of arms not covered by a Chinese Government huchao. I am in receipt of a note of April 20 from the Chinese Minister, making a similar request, but differing from that of the Foreign Office in that request is made that shipments be prohibited unless either a huchao [Page 495] from the Government at Nanking or a permit from the Chinese Legation in Washington has been obtained.

Inform the Minister that he is requested to obtain if possible from the Foreign Office a list of the powers to which the identic notes, mentioned by the Vice Minister, were addressed. On receipt of this list, he should request the appropriate representatives of the powers so addressed for an expression of the views of their respective governments, at the same time informing them of the procedure in regard to the export of arms now being followed by this Government, which is explained in instruction No. 1123 of July 13, 1933.9 He may add that we are disposed to accede to the request of the Chinese Government as outlined by the Chinese Minister in his note of April 20. Compliance with this request would involve a return to the former procedure of this Government which was explained in instruction No. 974 of January 16, 1933.10 He may add further that before arriving at a final decision this Government desires to be informed in regard to the attitude and action taken by the governments of other arms exporting countries.

Department desires that the Minister inform the Foreign Office that we are considering its request and are disposed to comply with it, pointing out, however, that our decisions may be influenced to some degree by the decisions of the other governments referred to above. He should also invite the attention of the Foreign Office to the discrepancy between the request made in Nanking and that made by the Chinese Minister in Washington, pointing out that the alternative procedure suggested by the latter would appear to be preferable in that its administration would be simpler and it would obviate the long delays in the issuance by the Department of export licenses which would inevitably result from the procedure suggested by the Foreign Office. He should further state the Department’s assumption that the new requirements will not be made applicable to shipments already en route. He should express the hope that the new requirements shall not be held to be applicable to goods for the trade, such as for example sporting arms, pointing out that such shipments are of relatively small value and that this Government requires a license for the export to China of these articles, but that even prior to June 30, 1933, when the procedure was altered, permits from the Chinese Legation were not prerequisite to the issuance of export licenses.

Report fully by telegraph.