811.20 Defense (M)/105: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in France (Murphy)

127. Department’s 108, July 18, 1940, 6 p.m. K. C. Li representing the National Resources Commission of the Chinese Government in the sale of wolframite and antimony to this Government, has received the following telegram from the Chinese Government:

“Cargo in French Indochina absolutely free. Selenga cargo already replaced by cargo from Hongkong. She sailed for Vladivostok June 29. Therefore, 1,200 tons wolfram, 400 tons antimony respectively, absolutely no ground for detention. Please advise State Department accordingly.”

Mr. Li has now requested the Chinese Government to send to its agents at Saigon the necessary documents supporting its claims, especially the surrender of title by the Soviet Government, with reference to both the Selenga and the Vladimir Mayakoski.

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The Department is informed confidentially by the American Consul at Hanoi that the French Admiralty does not consider the ores discharged from the Selenga and Vladimir Mayakoski to be the subject of a valid commercial contract and accordingly these ores are to be released to the Soviets.

Apparently the present Indochina Government authorities see the force of this Government’s position especially in view of the action of the French Government on July 5 in releasing the ores in question as well as others for exportation to the United States and the previous action of the French Government early in June in recognizing these ores as being included in a valid commercial contract with the French merchant Audinet.

This Government expects the French Government to clear up the misunderstanding arising out of the French Admiralty’s action and to take the necessary steps to provide for the prompt release of these ores for loading on the American vessel Birmingham City which has been sent to Saigon for this purpose and is now due there.

The Department will appreciate at least an interim report immediately.