893.113 Explosives/8

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

No. 2928

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 2767, June 7, 1934,17 in regard to the restrictions being placed upon the importation into China of certain industrial chemicals, and to enclose for the Department’s consideration copies of subsequent pertinent correspondence upon this matter.17

In his despatch No. 7968, June 8, 1934, the Consul General at Shanghai announced an intention of making application in behalf of an American firm to the Saltpeter and Sulphur Bureau of Kiangsu [Page 563] for a permit to import a monopolized chemical, and in his despatch No. 8048, August 16, 1934, he reports the refusal of the Bureau to issue the permit requested.

From the letter of the Director of the Kiangsu Provincial Saltpeter and Sulphur Bureau which was enclosed with the latter despatch it appears that, while the Bureau is prepared to permit the importation of restricted chemicals where intended for consumption by the importer, it will not permit their importation where the importer intends to resell them to consumers in the ordinary course of trade.

In the absence of discrimination, and in view of the provisions of Item 5 of Rule V of the Rules of Trade of the Sino-American Treaty of 185818 specifically classifying certain chemicals as munitions of war and prohibiting their importation into China by citizens of the United States except at the requisition of the Chinese Government, or for sale to Chinese duly authorized to purchase them, the Legation is not inclined to believe that it could appropriately insist that American merchants be permitted to import such chemicals for purposes of further sale. The Chinese Government would appear to have chosen to consider these chemicals as munitions of war, and, exercising its sovereign right to control the traffic in such commodities, has restricted the right to import them to merchants selected by the Government and to those importers who intend actually to consume the commodities imported. So long as there is no discrimination against American merchants in this matter, the Legation does not believe that those merchants have a valid complaint against the policy of the National Government, and it does not believe that any useful purpose would be served by pursuing the general question further with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A copy of the Legation’s instruction to the Consul General to the above effect is enclosed19 for the Department’s consideration and possible comment.

Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
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  3. William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. i, pp. 222, 230.
  4. Not printed.