893.4061 Motion Pictures/200: Telegram

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

329. Embassy’s 553, November 17, 5 p.m. from Peiping.

I have received call today from Perkins75 representing Paramount, Hagar76 representing Cathay Finite [Grand?] Corporation, Shanghai, and Sellett, Attorney for the latter. Perkins denies emphatically that he even accepted any compromise proposal made by the Censorship Committee. He states moreover that this proposal as reported by Kao was only that positive and negative of “The General Died at Dawn” [be?] brought to China and did not include any undertaking by Paramount that the decision of the Censorship Committee after viewing the picture would be accepted without question. The proposal has been referred to Paramount, New York, but no reply has been received. Perkins believes that Paramount will be willing to come to amicable arrangements if reasonable.
These representatives of a major motion picture distributor and of the Cathay Grand Corporation, which was formed by order of the United States Court for China to liquidate the affairs of the United Theatres, Chesterton [sic] an American Corporation, represent that if the ban on Paramount films is enforced there is every indication that one of these theatres would have to close and the Cathay Grand Corporation would be obliged to operate at a loss and would therefore be obliged to cease operations, involving loss to the substantial American interests involved in the corporation and its creditors. They deny any right of the Motion Picture Censorship Committee either under the treaties or under the Chinese motion picture censorship law of 1930 or regulations issued in 1935 in pursuance thereof, to ban all Paramount pictures pending adjustment of the dispute over “The General Died at Dawn”. They assert that the principle at issue is of the utmost importance because several motion pictures now in production by major American producers contain matter relating to China and if this precedent is now established practically the entire American motion picture business in China will be involved and imperiled. The representatives therefore urgently request that the Embassy [Page 679] take the strongest measures to bring about the immediate withdrawal of the present ban on Paramount films which is equally as important as the principle described above.
I have indicated to the representatives my complete readiness to ask for interview with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Mo, to argue this matter but I believe my representations would be much more effective if reinforced by direct instructions from the Department and I shall therefore defer action for 1 day in the hope of receiving them.
Sent to the Department and Peiping.
  1. J. E. Perkins, Paramount Films of China, Inc.
  2. A. R. Hagar, president, Cathay-Grand Corporation.