893.113 Airplanes/101

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Commerce ( Roper )

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The receipt is acknowledged of Mr. Mitchell’s65 letter of April 22, 1935, enclosing a copy of a letter of [Page 726] March 18, addressed by Mr. A. L. Patterson, representative in China of the Bureau of Air Commerce, to the Assistant Director of Air Commerce,66 in regard to the restrictions now in effect on the exportation of aircraft and aircraft parts and accessories to China.

In reply, I have to inform you that the situation which Mr. Patterson discusses in his letter has received the attentive consideration of the Department during the past three or four years. The principal arms exporting countries of the world have placed restrictions upon the exportation of arms and implements of war destined to China, with a view to preventing their use for the fomenting of civil disturbance in that country. We have made efforts to secure such practical uniformity of procedure among all the governments concerned, that these measures of supervision and control may not result in giving advantages to the manufacturers and exporters of one country which are not enjoyed by the manufacturers and exporters of other countries. In most respects, this practical uniformity has now been secured, except as concerns the regulations of the Belgian and Swiss Governments. Efforts are now being made to persuade these two Governments to modify their regulations so as to bring them into line with those of the other exporting governments. In one important respect, this practical uniformity has not as yet been secured. I refer to the definition in the regulations now in effect of civil and military aircraft. This definition and the distinction between the two types of aircraft which should be applied in respect to shipments destined to China has recently been the subject of discussion between this Government and the British Government. In its application to the international traffic in arms in general, it has recently been the subject of discussion in Committees of the General Disarmament Conference in Geneva. No international agreement has, however, as yet been reached on this point. In the meantime, this Department, although it is not at present prepared to modify the procedure now in force, is continuing to give this matter its careful consideration in the light of two principal objectives: (a) that the export of arms and munitions of war from the United States to China shall not promote in China conditions of domestic violence and (b) that American manufacturers and exporters be not placed at an unjustifiable disadvantage as compared with their principal foreign competitors.

I enclose, for your information, a copy of the Revised Regulations in regard to the Export to China of Arms and Munitions of War, of May 28, 1934.66a You will note that export licenses are required for [Page 727] military aircraft and for spare parts and equipment therefor. Licenses are not required for aircraft, other than those of specified types, unless the Department has reason to believe in any particular case that the shipment is to be used for military purposes, nor are export licenses required for airplane motors or airplane parts and accessories, unless the Department has reason to believe in any particular case that the shipment is to be used for military purposes.

I should be pleased to receive any further information in regard to the situation in South China, in respect to export of American aircraft, engines, parts and accessories, which may be brought to your attention.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips

Under Secretary
  1. E. Y. Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
  2. Neither letter printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. iii, p. 497.