The Chargé in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State

No. 3092

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 1440, August 27, 1934, in regard to the importation of supplies for the foreign armed forces in China, whereby the Legation was authorized, provided the principally interested Legations acted similarly, to reply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as suggested in the Legation’s despatch No. 2810, June 27, 1934, to the effect that the new regulations governing the importation of supplies for the foreign armed forces in China had been carefully examined but that they had been found impracticable, and that the American authorities would continue when necessary to issue certificates to cover importation of supplies through the customs at the several ports and to give attentive consideration to and cause strict investigation to be made of any complaints which might be received from the appropriate Chinese authorities with regard to any improper practices and any misuse of supplies imported for military or naval use.

Shortly after the receipt of the Department’s instruction under acknowledgement, this Legation, and the other interested Legations in China, received a further note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcing an intention of enforcing these regulations from January 1, 1935.

The matter was accordingly taken up with the representatives in Peiping of the various interested Legations, and, as a result, communications similar to that authorized by the Department have now been addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the American, British, and French Legations. The Italian Legation is forwarding a communication of similar purport but different phraseology, while the Japanese Legation is confining its action to informing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs orally, through its Secretary of Legation at Nanking, [Page 519] that it will not acquiesce in the enforcement of the new regulations upon supplies imported for the Japanese armed forces in China. Copies of the American, British, French and Italian draft communications, together with a copy of an informal letter from the Japanese Legation, are enclosed47 for the Department’s information.

In connection with the Italian draft, it will be noted that the Italian Minister, while stating that the proposed alterations in the present procedure are not warranted, omits any assurance of a willingness to investigate any complaint of abuse of the present system, and contents himself with the statement that he is willing to give consideration to any necessary modification of the existing regulations which the Chinese Government may consider desirable.

The Japanese action likewise gives no assurance of a willingness to investigate any complaints of abuses.

The Legation has been led to believe from casual comments by officers of the Customs that the Italians and Japanese are the two Powers particularly subject to criticism in connection with this matter.

After the Italian draft and the Japanese position were made known to the Legation, it was decided, in consultation with the British Legation, to forward the American and British memorandums as drafted. The French memorandum, of the same tenor, had already been forwarded to the Foreign Office.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. None printed.