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

No. 3152

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 2548, February 17, 1934,41 upon the question of the registration of American publications under the provisions of the Chinese Law of Publications.

Under date of October 26, 1934, the Legation received a further note upon this subject from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which acknowledges [Page 619] the receipt of the Legation’s memorandum of February 14, and, saying that it has not failed to note the contents thereof, continues to the effect that the Chinese Government has now decided that all Chinese or foreign newspapers or periodicals published in China should apply to the Ministry of the Interior for registration before the end of February 1935, in order that they may enjoy the special rights of registering at the Post Office and special postal privileges. It, therefore, requests that appropriate instructions be issued to the Americans concerned.

As the phraseology of the Ministry’s note was not as clear as might be desired, the Legation directed the Counselor at Nanking to call informally upon an appropriate official of the Foreign Office and request a clarification of the intention of the Chinese Government in this matter. A copy of this instruction, dated November 8, 1934, together with copies of a subsequent exchange of telegrams, and copies of Mr. Peck’s42 telegraphic reply of November 15, 5 p.m. and mail despatch No. 506—Diplomatic, November 16, 1934, are enclosed.43

From Mr. Peck’s despatch the Department will note that he called upon Dr. Kan Nai-kwan, Vice Minister of the Interior, instead of upon an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that, among other things, Dr. Kan remarked that by the elimination of the necessity of registration with the Central Party Headquarters the process of registration had become a mere formality, and that, in fact, the real object of the Ministry of the Interior in seeking to bring about the registration of foreign newspapers was to gain “face” for the Government and to get statistical information. He expressed the belief that the actual control exercised over the newspapers by the Government would not be increased after registration, but he said that, if necessary to attain the desired end, the registration at the Chinese Post Office of unregistered publications would be cancelled and special postal rates now enjoyed by such publications would be withdrawn.

As no new elements have been injected into this matter, the Legation perceives no reason for recommending to the Department an alteration of its previous attitude. It has, therefore, replied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reiterating its previous position, and is circulating a copy of the translation of the Ministry’s note to consular officers in China for their further information.

In its circular to consular officers, the Legation is suggesting that, should any American publishers in their respective districts find it expedient to register under the provisions of the Law of Publications in order to enjoy the special postal privileges, or for any other reason, it should be suggested that they delete from the application form [Page 620] all reference to the Central Kuomintang Publicity Department and the Party Headquarters.

The British Legation is taking a similar attitude, though it is not for the present replying to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Not printed; it reported compliance with Department’s instructions supra.
  2. Willys R. Peck, Counselor of Legation and Consul General at Nanking.
  3. Enclosures not printed.