893.61331/60: Telegram

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

463. Embassy’s 457, September 20, noon. The following telegram has been received from Shanghai:

“September 19, noon. Following message sent to Hankow regarding difficulties being experienced by Lienhwa Leaf Tobacco Company in the purchase of leaf tobacco at Hsuchang, Honan, is being repeated to Embassy. Inasmuch as the reported attitude of the Honan Provincial authorities may be result of attempt of National Government to establish leaf tobacco monopoly ‘Lienhwa Leaf Tobacco Company Federal Incorporated’, China subsidiary of Universal Leaf Tobacco Company report that their American and Chinese representatives sent to Hsuchang, Honan for the purpose of buying Honan leaf tobacco are being obstructed by local authorities at Hsuchang presumably on instructions of Provisional Government. They have apparently been told that there is objection to foreigners doing business at Hsuchang. The American company is not establishing branch office in Honan. Its representatives are there temporarily only for the purpose of buying leaf tobacco and shipping it to Shanghai. They are entitled to do this under the treaties, and with particular reference to section 3, article 6, Sino-Japanese treaty of 189558 they may temporarily rent or hire warehouses for the storage of the leaf tobacco purchased for transportation. Consulate General understands local authorities have stated that protection will be refused when representatives start buying. A more complete statement of facts is expected by mail. Meanwhile I send you foregoing and suggest that you communicate by telegraph with Honan Provincial Government reciting report, requesting investigation and making reference to treaty rights.

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American representatives now at Hsuchang are G. W. Macon and J. F. Malone, their telegraphic address is Li Wat Hsuchang”.

The Consulate General at Hankow reported in its telegram of September 20, noon, that a telegram had been sent to Honan Provincial Government as suggested in Shanghai’s September 19, noon.

The following telegram has been received from Nanking:

“September 24, 10 a.m. Telegram September 19, noon, Shanghai to Peiping, first sentence. Your attention is respectfully invited to article in first column page 11 North China Daily News of September 23 quoting Shanghai Tobacco Leaf Dealers Association as stating that control of tobacco leaf sales shall be first effected at Hsuchang, Honan as an experiment.”

In these circumstances, the Embassy has sent the following instruction to Nanking:

“September 25, 2 p.m. Your September 24, 9 a.m. Shanghai’s despatch No. 392, September 22. Please call at the Foreign Office, invite attention to the circumstances of the reported interference of the Honan officials with the right of the American company to purchase leaf tobacco in the Province in the pursuit of its trade, and request that appropriate instructions be issued to the Honan authorities to cease such interference. You should state that the Hankow Consulate General has already protested to the Honan Government direct.

It is noted that the right to purchase leaf tobacco in the interior is enjoyed as an established practice, but the Sino-Japanese treaty of 1895 may be cited as legal basis for your request should there exist any disposition on the Chinese side to deny that right.

By mail to Shanghai, Hankow”.

Shanghai’s despatch No. 392, September 22, is being forwarded to the Department.59

  1. Signed at Shimonoseki, April 17, 1895; John V. A. MacMurray (ed.), Treaties and Agreements With and Concerning China, 1894–1919 (New York, 1921), vol. i, p. 18.
  2. Not printed.