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

No. 569

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 185 of May 29, 1936, in regard to the re-registration of title-deeds to property held by American missionary organizations at Nanking, and to enclose a copy of despatch No. 254 of June 20, 1936, from the Consulate General at Shanghai46 on this subject.

As stated in the Embassy’s despatch No. 494 of June 5, 1936, the Nanking Municipal Government, according to a note received under date May 22 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the matter, has now recognized the principle that foreign missionary societies possess a qualified right of alienation of perpetual leases which are held by them. As noted in the Embassy’s instruction of June 12, 1936, to the Consulate General at Shanghai,* however, the new term-and perpetual-lease certificate forms as obtained by the Embassy at Nanking were not without their objectionable features. The Consulate General in its aforementioned despatch of June 20 agreed with this point of view. The Embassy at Nanking therefore sent under date June 30 a new note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Page 666] requesting official copies of the new lease-certificate forms and outlining the Embassy’s objections to the ambiguous features still reputedly remaining in the forms. A copy of that note is enclosed.47

There is also enclosed for purposes of record a copy of the Embassy’s instruction of today’s date to the Consulate General at Shanghai,47 transmitting copies of the Department’s aforementioned instruction of May 29 and the Embassy’s note of June 30, 1936, to the Foreign Office. This instruction records the Embassy’s belief that, the Nanking Municipal Government having thus recognized the right of alienation, the elimination by the Nanking Municipal Government of the final objectionable features found in the lease-certificate forms would satisfactorily terminate the present phase of the discussions so that American missionary organizations could be advised that they might safely apply for re-registration.

The importance of effecting a satisfactory settlement of the question as it exists in Nanking is of course discovered in the circumstance that the principles established there will probably prove to be the basic precedents used in subsequent negotiations regarding similar questions in other parts of the country.

Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Embassy’s despatch No. 519 of June 16, 1936, to the Department. [Footnote in the original; despatch not printed.]
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.