The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State
[Received 6:45 p.m.]
366. Reference Shanghai’s No. 1142, August 23, 9 a.m., regarding Chinese customs. While I am fully aware of the fact that the present Executive [Customs] Commissioner has become little more than a figurehead, the Shanghai customs being largely controlled by a Japanese Administrative Commissioner, I believe in putting to the Inspector General that we are not prepared to endorse his yielding to the Japanese demand for the appointment of a Japanese Commissioner at Shanghai. The integrity of the customs has already been impaired by continued yielding to Japanese pressure and the situation at Shanghai seems to me to have deteriorated to a point where there is little if anything to be gained even diplomatically by giving way further to the Japanese in order to avoid a definite break. I would have sympathy with a decision by the Inspector General that it is not desirable at this juncture to appoint as Shanghai Commissioner an American, Briton, or Japanese, provided a competent Senior Commissioner of ability of some other nationality is available.
While the Japanese apparently have not made the demand directly to the Inspector General, it would seem from Shanghai’s despatch No. 667 of August 8,60 that the demand has been made through Kishimoto, the Japanese Chief Secretary of the Customs, and I believe that official cognizance might be taken [apparent omission] very conservative.
I suggest that if the situation there so permits, further representations might be made there regarding the withholding of the funds of the Inspectorate General and that the Japanese Government [be] told that we are aware of Japanese pressure for the appointment of a Japanese Commissioner in Shanghai apparently as one of the [conditions?] to the release of funds for the Inspectorate General and that we regard such pressure as in violation of the integrity of the customs which Japan has undertaken to respect.
Sent to the Department, repeated to Peiping and Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.
- Not printed.↩