846G.113/233: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul at Hong Kong ( Gourley )

In view of the size and frequency of shipments of small arms and ammunition to Hong Kong, the Department, in the light of the information contained in Hong Kong’s confidential despatch No. 1056 of October 24, 1934,62 has informed applicants for license to export that it desires to receive conclusive evidence that the articles are for ultimate use in Hong Kong or, in the event that the articles are for ultimate use in China, the name of the purchaser in China and a statement in regard to the express purpose for which the articles are to be used; also that in case the shipment is of a size or character indicating that it is not to meet usual and legitimate retail needs for small arms (such as small shipments of revolvers, sporting rifles and shotguns, and cartridges and shells therefor), the Department will not be in position to grant license to export until notice has been received through the Chinese Legation at Washington that the Chinese Government desires that export be permitted. American exporters have endeavored to comply with the Department’s wishes but have not been able to obtain from Hong Kong importers information of a satisfactory character.

Smith and Wesson has now presented to Department applications for license to export (a) to the Hong Kong Sporting Arms Store, 22 [Page 724] Pottinger Street, two hundred ninety-three .38 caliber revolvers and (b) to Ying Tack Kee, 44 Pottinger Street, fifty-four .38 caliber revolvers and six .32 caliber revolvers. Department desires that you tactfully endeavor to ascertain the ultimate destination of these revolvers and, in the event that the ultimate destination is China, the name of the purchaser in China and the express purpose for which the arms are to be used. It may be that the Hong Kong importers are placing these orders with Smith and Wesson on the basis of orders which the Hong Kong importers have already received in Hong Kong or from China. If this should be the case, it would be helpful to the Department to be informed by whom such orders were placed with the Hong Kong importers. In case the Hong Kong importers should have no definite unfulfilled purchase orders for these revolvers, a list of the persons or organizations to whom they have made recent sales of American revolvers would assist in forming an estimate of the probable ultimate purchasers.

Please send Department brief report by naval radio as soon as practicable and submit detailed report by mail. Department suggests that in your radio report you not list actual names of past or prospective purchasers but merely indicate them by categories such as (a) individual private purchasers in Hong Kong or China, (b) retail stores in specified cities, (c) Chinese police organizations and (d) other Chinese governmental organizations.