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

No. 1338

Sir: Reference is made to the Legation’s despatches No. 2530 of February 8, 1934, and No. 2531 of February 12, 1934,91 in regard to the efforts of the Chinese Government to establish a new pilotage authority in China.

After further study of this question in the light of the information contained in your despatches under reference, the Department finds that its previous instructions, telegrams Nos. 352, September 29, 1931, noon, 403, November 2, 1931, noon, and 441, November 28, 1931, 2 p.m. are substantially in accord with the instructions which the British Foreign Office has given the British Minister. It would appear, [Page 598] therefore, that the American and British Ministers are in position to coordinate their representations to the Chinese authorities in regard to this matter if and when it is decided that further representations should be made. In this connection the Department concurs in the view of the British Legation that, before further representations are made, the Chinese authorities be accorded every opportunity either to drop the matter or to modify their attitude on their own initiative.

With regard to the data desired by the Legation (referred to in the last paragraph of its despatch No. 2530 of February 8, 1934) for use as the basis of a reply to a statement of the Ministry of the Navy to the effect that the General Pilotage Regulations of 1868 are not in the nature of an agreement, as they were promulgated by Mandate of the Chinese Government, and that, therefore, there is no need for awaiting the approval of any other party, a search of the Department’s files reveals substantially the same information as that furnished by the British Legation at Peiping, as quoted in the last paragraph of the Legation’s despatch No. 2531 of February 12, 1934.

In the above connection, there are enclosed copies92 of two despatches to the Department from the American Minister, J. Ross Browne, one dated November 18, 1868 and the other January 29, 1869, together with copies of the enclosures therewith except the text of the General Pilotage Regulations of 1868, which is the same as that printed on pages 658–662 of Volume 2 of “Hertslet’s China Treaties”. You will note that Prince Kung in his note of October 31, 1868, to the American Minister, quoted the Inspector General of Customs as follows:

“I now inclose a copy of the ten revised rules, made out in accordance with the directions sent to me; and have to request that they may be made known to the Foreign Ministers in Peking for their examination and subsequent promulgation. They are to be regarded, in this revised form, as experimental, and can be published in that sense.”

In concluding his note, Prince Kung stated as follows:

“In accordance with this request, I have now the honor to inclose a copy of the ten revised regulations for the examination of your Excellency. If experience should prove some of their provisions not to be practicable, they can be discussed and amended at a future day; but at present it will be agreeable to regard the whole set as experimental, deserving of a fair trial.”

In acknowledging Prince Kung’s note, Minister Browne under date November 9, 1868, stated as follows: [Page 599]

“…93 yet this revised set, prepared under the direction of Mr. Hart94 seems to be so well fitted for the purpose that I have given directions to the United States’ consuls at the several ports to carry them in operation. If they are found to require any alteration after a year’s trial, it can be done upon mutual consultation.”

In view of the above exchange of notes and in view of the specific treaty citations given in the Department’s telegram No. 403 of November 2, 1931, noon, the Department is of the opinion that the General Pilotage Regulations of 1868 cannot be revised by the Chinese Government without the consent of the powers still possessing extraterritorial rights in China.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Omission indicated in the original.
  4. Robert Hart, British Inspector General of the Chinese Customs Administration.