893.61331/53: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China (Johnson)

216. Reference Department’s 124, May 22, 6 p.m., and Shanghai’s 373 [473], September 1, 4 p.m. to Department.49 Representatives of the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and the Export Leaf Tobacco Company, both companies of Richmond, Virginia, have called at the Department and stated they had reports from China that the Chinese Minister of Finance had sanctioned a proposal for the formation of a semi-official company for the purchase and sale first of the Honan flue-cured leaf tobacco crop and later of the Shantung and Anhwei crops. They expressed the view that the proposed plan, if implemented, would inevitably lead to discrimination against American exports of tobacco to China, would adversely affect the operations in China of the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and others engaged in handling Chinese tobaccos and would in a short time lead to a monopolistic control of the entire tobacco business in China. They expressed the hope that the present plan be abandoned or at least postponed until further study.

The Department desires that the Embassy make a thorough investigation into this matter and on the basis of the Department’s instruction under reference take all appropriate and practicable steps with a view to safeguarding American interests. It is suggested that you obtain details from local representatives of American interests involved. It has been suggested to Department that you might get valuable opinions from Lockhart50 of the Salt Administration.

Please keep the Department promptly and fully informed.

  1. Latter not found in Department files.
  2. Oliver C. Lockhart, Associate Chief Inspector, Salt Revenue Department of the Chinese Government.