711.00111 Armament Control/724: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck)

12. Your 32, February 6, 8 p.m. The figures referred to in paragraph 1 appeared in a routine press release issued on February 5,27 giving a summary of information in regard to export licenses for arms, ammunition and implements of war issued during January covering proposed exports to all countries. These figures indicated that licenses had been issued to cover proposed shipments to China of “machine guns, automatic rifles and machine pistols of all calibers, and their barrels” valued at $125,500, and proposed shipments of military aircraft valued at $2,799,000. Similar press releases had been given out previously in regard to licenses issued in December and in November, but the figures in respect to proposed shipments to China were not sufficiently large to attract attention. The practice of making public information in regard to licenses issued was adopted in the light of the provisions of Section 2 of the Neutrality Act of August 1935,28 under which the system of licenses was established, and of the intent of Congress as expressed in discussions in the Congressional Committees which considered the Act.

I regret that the publication of such information in this instance has caused embarrassment to the Chinese Government. Since the receipt of your telegram, the matter has been discussed with the Chinese Ambassador who stated that he would telegraph an explanation to his Foreign Office.

I am considering the problem of obviating embarrassment to the Chinese Government or other Governments in connection with the publication of information in regard to licenses issued in the future.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that all arms producing countries publish at intervals—some monthly and some annually—information in regard to exports. Furthermore for some years the League of Nations has published an annual detailed tabulation of information in regard to the international traffic in arms. Thus more detailed information than that which has been released in our monthly statements concerning licenses issued would be made public at least annually in respect to any purchases of arms which the Chinese Government might make in any country.

The above is for your information and for communication orally in your discretion to Kung.

  1. Department of State, Press Releases, February 8, 1936, p. 146.
  2. Approved August 31, 1935; 49 Stat. 1081.