693.002/802: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

3. Embassy’s 788, December 17, 11 a.m., 1938,31 Canton Customs. My British colleague32 has just sent me the following letter:

“I have now received instructions to contest the argument, contained in the Japanese Government’s reply to my note of the 24th November about the Canton Customs, that since the Canton area is now under the occupation of the Japanese forces the Japanese Government cannot accept this protest.

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I am to take the line that occupation of the area by the Japanese forces affords no justification for taking over the customs. While the Customs Administration is an organ of the Chinese Government, it is invested with an international status both on the ground that it is the subject of international agreements (e. g. the Peiping Protocol of 190133 to which Japan is a party) and because of the important international interests which it was designed to protect. Third powers have at all times been willing to discuss customs questions with the Japanese Government and they have in recent months frequently had occasion to point out the importance which they attach to recognition of the international status of the administration. The Japanese Government have on several occasions given assurances that they do not intend to destroy its integrity, and their present attitude is utterly at variance with their assurances. In these circumstances I am to ask again for an assurance that control of the Canton customs will be restored to the Inspector General of Customs.

Before addressing a note on the above lines to the Japanese Government, I should be grateful if you would let me know whether you are intending to reply to the similar note which the Japanese Government addressed to you on the subject, and if so on what lines?”

Please instruct. Repeated to Chungking, Peiping, Canton.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Sir Robert L. Craigie, British Ambassador in Japan.
  3. Signed at Peking, September 7, 1901, Foreign Relations, 1901, Appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.