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

No. 3147

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 3092, November 2, 1934, in regard to the importation of supplies for the foreign armed forces in China.

Under date of November 8, 1934, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied to the Legation’s memorandum upon this subject and declared that the Chinese Government had absolutely no intention of controlling or limiting the importation of proper articles for the foreign armed forces in China for their own use, but that during recent years large quantities of articles which were obviously not intended for the use of the armed forces have frequently been imported either intentionally or unintentionally by some persons connected with the foreign armed forces, with a consequent loss of revenue to the Chinese [Page 520] Government. The Ministry states that the new regulations were designed to remedy this situation, that they are not difficult to carry out, and that they are not contrary to the Sino-foreign treaties. For these reasons, it again expresses an intention of enforcing the regulations at an early date.

Upon the receipt of this note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an officer of this Legation called upon an officer of the British Legation and ascertained that, allegedly unknown to that Legation, the British Consul General at Shanghai, together with the commanding officers of the British armed forces at Shanghai, had discussed this question informally with the Officiating Inspector General of Customs, a British subject, with the result that they had been able to reach an agreement which appeared satisfactory to the Customs as well as to the British authorities. This informal agreement, which has still to be approved by the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the Far East before the British Legation will acquiesce therein, provides for a slight modification of the present procedure whereby import declarations would henceforth be submitted in triplicate instead of in single copy as at present. By requiring that the original declarations be transmitted to the Customs by the concerned consular officer under official cover, and that the duplicates be transmitted in a similar manner after delivery of the goods and endorsement thereon by the commanding officer concerned that the goods have been received, the Customs anticipates that it will be able to check all importations in a manner which will prevent alterations in the declarations which it has reason to believe have been made in the past by customs brokers or other agents handling such importations. A copy of the memorandum of conversation is enclosed.48

In the light of this information, and in view of the fact that the Maritime Customs appears to have been the organ of the National Government at whose instance this question has been raised, the Legation has deemed it desirable to reply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterating its position in the matter, but at the same time expressing a willingness to give its sympathetic consideration to any reasonable modification of the present procedure which the National Government may feel is needed in order to protect the revenue by preventing irregular practices.

A copy of this memorandum, and a copy of the Legation’s instruction to the Counselor of Legation at Nanking, directing that he deliver the memorandum in person to an appropriate official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to whom he should emphasize orally the Legation’s [Page 521] position in the matter, are enclosed49 for the Department’s information.50

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Not printed.
  2. Neither printed.
  3. The Chargé in China reported in his despatch No. 3170, December 3, 1934, that the Consul General at Nanking had been informed at the Chinese Foreign Office that it had “acted in this matter merely as an intermediary between the Ministry of Finance and the Legations,” but that the “proposed change in the regulations governing the importation of supplies for the foreign armed forces in China had been immediately due to the actions of the Japanese forces.” (893.113/1581)