The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Lindsay)

Excellency: I refer to Mr. Osborne’s34 note of September 4, 1935,35 and previous correspondence, in regard to the regulations governing the exportation of arms, ammunition and implements of war destined to China, and have the honor to inform you that I am in receipt of information which would appear to indicate that the pertinent regulations of several governments cannot be considered wholly satisfactory if judged by the criteria set forth in our former correspondence on this subject.

[Page 561]

It would appear that German manufacturers have been exporting large quantities of arms and implements of war—particularly military planes—to Belgium whence they have been shipped on through bills of lading to Canton via Hong Kong, and that they have entered China without a huchao from the Central Government.

It would appear further that French manufacturers have shipped to Canton or are proposing to ship to that city arms, ammunition and implements of war—including tanks and field guns—without securing a huchao from the Central Government.

Furthermore it would appear that the Cantonese authorities entered into contracts with the German and French manufacturers referred to above rather than with British or American manufacturers, for the specific reason that the former would be able to make delivery of the articles contracted for without obliging the Cantonese authorities to obtain huchaos from the Central Government.

If the information which I have received is accurate—and I have reason to believe it to be so—it would appear that British and American exporters and exporters of other nationalities whose governments comply with the regulations of the Chinese Government, in respect to the importation of arms into China, are placed at a disadvantage by the action of the Belgian, French and German Governments in permitting these shipments. Unless the Czechoslovak Government has modified its regulations since I addressed to you on August 31, 1935 a note,36 in regard to a shipment of machine guns and ammunition to China from Czechoslovakia, it would appear that the Czechoslovak Government should be added to the list of those governments whose regulations in respect to the exportation of arms to China are not wholly satisfactory.

In my note of April 15, 1935,37 I informed you that, in compliance with your request, I had instructed the representatives of this Government in Brussels and Bern to cooperate with their British colleagues, with a view to obtaining practical uniformity of procedure by all the governments concerned in the matter of the exportation of arms to China. Should your Government see its way clear to bring this matter to the attention of the Czechoslovak, French and German Governments and once more to the attention of the Belgian Government, I should be pleased to instruct the representatives of this Government in Prague, Berlin, Paris and Brussels to cooperate with their British colleagues with a view to achieving that degree of uniformity in the regulations of the several governments which is necessary to accomplish the purposes on which your Government and this Government [Page 562]are in substantial agreement as indicated by our previous correspondence on this subject.

Accept [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore
  1. F. D. G. Osborne, then Counselor of the British Embassy.
  2. Not printed; it informed the Secretary of State that the information regarding the reported Czechoslovak shipment had been communicated to the British Government; cf. Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. iii, p. 735.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. iii, p. 735.
  4. Ibid., p. 721.